Gardening in Southern California works a little differently than most of the rest of the country. We’ve got a dry Mediterranean climate with two growing seasons and one of the most diverse biomes in the world. To top it off, in the city the microclimates can be different block by block! Even different from one side of the patio to the other! Here are some resources our members have found to help figure out what to do in our unique region.
The U.S. has gardening programs via state extension schools through out the country.
Find one close to you in California: http://mg.ucanr.edu/
Top getting started links for selected topics:
- Get Started With Vegetables in LA
- LA Victory Garden Program with articles in English and Spanish
- Get Started With California Natives
- Monthly Garden Schedules and Tips
These are groups that encourage peer-to-peer communications between gardeners through meetings, forums, community gardens, plant and seed trading, etc.
- California Rare Fruit Growers – Multiple chapters in the region. Hosts meetings, email lists for members and annual conference. The closest to CRASH Space is the West LA Chapter (they’ve started a forum!!)
- Culver City Garden Club
- https://www.lanlt.org/ – Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, runs several community gardens
- https://lagardencouncil.org/ – Community Garden Council
- California Native Plant Society – Hosts hikes and meetups
- Los Angeles Mycological Society – Mushrooms & Fungus information, meetings and classes.
- Southern California Horticultural Society – Monthly meetings
- Seed Library of Los Angeles
- https://www.lacompost.org/ – Composting info and hub for small businesses & those who can’t easily compost at home
- Sharing the Harvest:
- http://www.ripealtadena.com/ – Altadena based organization for swapping home grown produce
- Food Forward – donate food from home fruit trees you aren’t eating
- Community Fridge – https://linktr.ee/lacommunityfridge
- Fruit-Share / #LAFRUITSHARE – Fruit swapping day organized by Alison Veit, Julia Sherman, Joanna Golvinsky and Alia Haddad
Take/Watch a Class (Local Org, Online Availability)
Some of the organizations above have meetups, including now via video. Additionally the below orgs are still offering online classes/videos.
- Events calendar by GardeningInLA.net: http://www.gardeninginla.net/events.html
- Theodore Payne Foundation is holding online events
- LA City Gardening & Composting Workshops (Online Videos)
- LA County Smart Gardening– Compost Bins, Classes
- LA Arboretum
- Huntington – Library, Museum, and Botanical Garden
- UCLA Botanical Garden
- South Coast Botanic Garden
- Cal State Northridge Botanic Garden
- Getty Villa and Center both have extensive gardens
- And more via TimeOut
Misc LA/SoCal Area Based Resources
- www.GardeningInLA.net – Blog & Resource hub by Yvonne Savio, recently retired Master Gardener program coordinator for LA.
- http://www.lagardenblog.com/ – Blog of David King of the Venice HS Learning Garden and the Seed Library
- https://www.thelearninggarden.org/ – Venice HS Garden
- https://www.facebook.com/ArchiesGarden – Gardening tips for kids
- Ron Finley Project – The man who made parkway vegetable gardens, South Central Community Garden
- Orange County Coast Keepers – In Irvine, Community Garden / Plant Swap
- GardenNerd – Christy Wilhelmi
- California Gardening (Website & YouTube Channel)
- CaliKim (YouTube)
- Epic Gardening (San Diego region Website & YouTube)
- Theodore Payne – California native plants, Sun Valley
- FIG Earth Supply – Highland Park, very knowledgable about Tomatoes
- Sego Nursery: 12126 Burbank Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607, (818) 763-5711 Edibles, house plants, interesting pots
- Armstrong Garden Centers, a SoCal local chain
- Folia Collective – House plants in Eagle Rock, has classes and workshops
- Potted – Plants and interior decor, has classes and workshops
- Blue Sky Bio Char – Thousand Oaks based Bio-Char source, has workshops and tours
- Cal Poly Farm Store for a day trip
- San Gabriel Nursery and Florist, Wide variety of edibles, ornamentals and bonsai
- Four Winds Growers Nursery that can ship citrus trees in California.
- Laguna Hills Nursery in Santa Ana. Free classes on Saturday mornings. Unusual edibles, makes potting soil blend that doesn’t break down, extensive plant info on website
- Nuccio’s Altadena, if all you really want is a Camilia
- Edible Gardens LA – lifestyle brand with online store, vegetable garden design service and vegetable delivery service
- Farmscape Gardens – Urban farm gardening service for homes, commercial ventures and institutions
- Studio-Petrichor – Landscape firm that runs many of the regenerative gardening workshops for local municipalities
Learn about where you’ll be gardening
Culver City is Tongva and Chumash territory.
Unlike much of the rest of the country we have two growing seasons. A hot season from March-October and a cool season from October-March. Each area has it’s own microclimate as well.
Find out your Climate Zones.
- First/Last Frosts
Where will the Sun be when? https://www.suncalc.org
What are the average temperatures? How much rain do you get?
- Los Angeles Precipitation and Temperatures https://wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca5115 via https://wrcc.dri.edu/Climsum.html
What would be growing there naturally? https://calscape.org/
What’s already growing?
- iNaturalist is a more general wildlife identification site, but the folks on it are very helpful!
- What is this plant https://www.reddit.com/r/whatsthisplant/
More Public Climate and Weather Data
- Drought.gov Los Angeles Conditions
- Los Angeles Climate https://wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca5115
- Climate.gov – past weather by zipcode data table
- https://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/Dur_OneYear.php (2020 down?)
Vegetable & Food Growing
Head over to the LA Victory Garden Program with articles in English and Spanish.
Another way to get started is to think about “Square Foot Gardening” (Beginners Guide)
For ideas about creating themed gardens Niki Jabbour’s Ground Breaking Food Gardens has some interesting ideas to play with.
If you have a full yard to play with consider the systems approach found in Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden (Book | YouTube Videos). Home-scale permaculture can be a great way to introduce native edibles (in our case, the ethnobotany of the Tongva and Chumash tribes). Also it will make weeding less stressful as you learn that many plants labeled “weeds” (dandelions, purslane) can feed both people and their fellow plants!
- Permaculture resources: https://laecovillage.org/resources-2/permaculture/
- Current Indigenous practices via KCET series Tending Nature
- Books on edibles, foraging and area indigenous gardening
- Foraging in Southern California by Douglas Kent
- California Foraging by Judith Larner Lowry
- Chumash Ethnobotany: Plant Knowledge Among the Chumash People of Southern California by Jan Timbrook (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Monographs #5)
- Santa Cruz Arboretum PDF on native plant ethnobotany
- California Ethnobotany: Historical Uses of Native Plants hour long video of John Kipping
- Kumeyaay Nation’s hub on indigenous plant uses
For more about growing edible natives, see the vegetable & food gardening section
- Theodore Payne Foundation – Local nursery and educational center, which is hosting classes online or read one of their guides.
- California Native Plant Society Gardening Hub
- Growing California Natives – First of 4 videos filmed at Theodore Payne
- CalScape – Run by CNPS, Native Plants database and finder by zip code
- Las Pilitas Nursery – Nursery closer to San Diego, but website has extensive plant information
Growing Urban Trees
- https://selectree.calpoly.edu/search-trees-by-characteristics – Detailed database for finding the right tree for any spot.
- Growing Fruit Trees in Pots (Part 1) (Part 2) Detailed video on growing fruit trees in 1/2 Whiskey Barrel scale planters in Australia.
- BioChar for Urban Trees video via DeepRoot
Irrigation & Water Saving
Check out resources in the municipal section and classes section for more information.
Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch. You can get free mulch from the city, via Chip Drop or by making friends with an arborist directly.
- David Bainbridge‘s Gardening with Less Water
- Harvesting Rain Water | 1 hour interview with Brad Lancaster
Search Terms: “self irrigating planters” “wicking beds” “hügelkultur” “ollas” “porous capsule irrigation” “buried clay pot irrigation” “terracotta spike irrigation” “bottle wick”
Open Source Sprinkler/Irrigation Projects
- 2019 Talk on small farm system Automated, Open Source Irrigation with Christian Flickinger about OpenSprinkler
- SARE Project
Balcony and Patio
- How to Build a Raised Garden Bed | Growing Food in Small Spaces S1 E1, from Self Sufficient Me
- All Things Balconies: https://balconygardenweb.com/
Small space solutions that members have had luck with:
Pest & Disease Management
- Integrated Pest Management 101 https://biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/ipm.php
Dealing with Pest Funguses
- Homemade fungicides | John Dromgoole | Central Texas Gardener – multiple options
- How to: Make Cheap Homemade Organic Fungicide, Project Diaries
- (This is a variation of the Cornell Formula. If you can get your hands on potassium carbonate instead of baking soda, all the better!)
- 5 uses of Hydrogen Peroxide, Daisy Creek Farms with Jag Singh (Also watch the follow up video where he acknowledges that H2O2 kills ALL the microbes in your soil, so only use when there is a problem.)
- The Science of Soil Health: Going Deeper Dr. Ray Weil to USDA, 2015, 3:48
- Elaine Ingram addressing Oxford Real Farming (2015, 1:36:13)
- Permaculture Course Excerpt by Elaine Ingham (2019)
Pro Tip: Water your compost pile. It dries out here super fast.
- General Composting
- Composting For Apartment Dwellers
- About mycorrhiza in the landscape
- Mycorrhiza and crop health/human nutrition
- You don’t typically have to BUY it:
- Soil Microbiology Course – Dr. Jwan Ibbini – Assistant Professor at Hashemite University
Please don’t release your worms directly into the garden. Many aren’t native to the area and can damage the soil for native plants.
- Native and Introduced Earthworms from Selected Chaparral, Woodland, and Pacific Southwest Riparian Zones in Southern California
- Los Angeles County Public Works Worm Composting
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Vermicomposting
- Comparison to composting w/o worms
Most of the rest of these links are about Horticulture. These are about Botany.
- In Defense of Plants (podcast)
- Botany for Gardeners (book)
- Crime Pays but Botany Doesn’t (YouTube Channel)
Right to Repair
- Current Indigenous practices via KCET series Tending Nature
- https://www.soils.org/ Soils Science Society of America with courses for farmers