Edible Gardens around Los Angeles

Some of my favorite Edible and Functional gardens around Los Angeles.  All these gardens are open to the general public during selected hours (see their websites for hours and directions).

in Westchester/LA 90045 …

  • Community Garden at Holy Nativity – a small, very public teaching garden that grows food charity-style to benefit the local Food Pantry; renowned as the starting place of many other projects.  Open to the public 24/7/365 (no fences).  http://envirochangemakers.org/projects/gardens/cgathn/
  • Emerson Avenue Community Garden, Westchester/LA 90045.  A merged-function school garden + community plot-style garden + community pocket park, built on the grounds of an LAUSD middle school.  http://eacgc.org/site/
  • LIONS Garden at Loyola Marymount University – community plots tended by and for LMU students, plus growing for donation to the local Food Pantry http://admin.lmu.edu/greenlmu/gardens/lionsgarden/

Elsewhere in and around Los Angeles

Crop rotations in So. Calif: When to change seasons

VCRW front 100 It’s autumn in Southern California.  Or is it?  The weather has changed.  Wait, it’s changed back again…

Contrary to what East Coast people say, Southern California does have its seasons.  But there’s rarely a clear “cutoff” date.  Add climate-change-driven Weather Weirdness to the mix and it can be totally confusing, even for veteran gardeners.

How do you tell when it’s time to change crops in your rotation?

Fig ‘Black Jack’

Black Jack dwarf fig

Black Jack dwarf fig

Delicious black-skinned, ruby-throated fig, juicy with sweet flavor.  Tree is a genetic dwarf, which means it is easily kept under 6-8 feet, and will never grow too big for your city garden.

The Black Jack fig performs wonderfully here in the LAX area.  Mature trees may fruit twice a year, giving you a large harvest in late summer, with a few smaller fruits in spring.  For full sweetness, allow fruits to ripen on the tree until they are dark purple and very soft. 

Collards ‘L.A. Green Glaze’

collardsKale grabs the media spotlight, but did you know that collards are botanically the same plant?  And they are heat-tolerant and crazy-easy to grow?

When I started growing homegrown collards, it was like I had discovered a new vegetable.  Homegrown collards are nothing like the grocery store vegetable, with none of that bitter aftertaste.  Homegrown collards are sweet-flavored, tender, and delicious.

Cut-and-come-again harvesting

collardsCut and what?  Cut-and-come-again harvesting is the name for the technique we use at the Community Garden at Holy Nativity for harvesting all of our leafy greens.  Chard, kale, collards, all are handled this way.

Think of the little girl’s game with the daisy:  “he loves me, loves me not.”  She plucks the petals one by one.  Shift the little girl over to a rose, and imagine she’s pulling the big petals off first.  That’s how we harvest greens, leaf by leaf.

Amaranth ‘Westchester Red’

amaranthAmaranth is the star of our late summer gardens.  Its dramatic burgundy spires are eye-catching, and never fail to have passers-by asking “what is that!?”  It doesn’t mind the peak intensity of SoCal summer heat, and looks great when all else in the garden is wilting and giving up.

Amaranth is the source of the very tiny “amaranth grain” that you might recognize from healthy-food store crackers.  Its greens are edible, and are a great hot-weather substitute in any recipe that calls for “spinach.”  Many Asian cultures use amaranth greens in their cuisine.