December 2019

December 2019 E-Newsletter

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." — John Steinbeck

winter squash in fall colors


Featured Instagram Photo of the Month: Fall Colors at the Garden

Upcoming Garden Events:

Dec. 7 - Greenhouse Fundraiser - Noon - 1:00 PM 
Dec. 14 - Saturday Workday - 9:00 AM - Noon 
Dec. 14 - Potluck Lunch – Noon
Dec. 14 - General Meeting - 1:00 PM 
Dec. 29 - Sunday Workday - 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Useful info:

  • Wow!  Mother Nature sure has done a 360 degree turn!  Hello, winter weather.  It sure is nice not to have to worry about watering with our regular rainstorms.  The cool weather will also help root vegetables concentrate their sugars making radishes, carrots and potatoes extra tasty this year.  Brassicas, especially Brussels sprouts love it as well.  If you have space in your plot, you still time to transplant crops for a spring harvest.  Just know that, with less daylight, transplants will grow much slower than seedlings you might have planted September or October.  Anyone still looking for plants doesn’t need to go far. The greenhouse crew has you covered with some of the healthiest seedlings you’ll find (now that the rat problem has been dealt with).  If you’re looking for plants, definitely stop by the sale this Saturday, December 7th at noon. 
  • While the greenhouse rats have been taken care of, the rest of the garden still has several of the furry vermin on the prowl. Help protect your plots by cleaning up any nesting spots they might find.  Remove old lumber, soil bags, pots and other clutter or you might unknowingly be providing a home with an all-you-can-eat garden buffet.  While you’re cleaning, look for any places in your plot collecting standing water. Even a tiny pool can be breeding ground for another unwanted garden guest, the mosquito. 
  • The wonderful thing about a community garden is, if you have a question, there is probably a neighbor somewhere that can answer it.  However, if you and your neighbors are stumped, the Master Gardener volunteers are always on hand.  They can answer gardening questions including tree care, pest management and soil health.  The Master Gardener Helpline is accessible via phone at (626) 586-1988 or by email at
  • Mark your calendars, there will be two fruit tree prunning classes in January.  January 12th & 25th at 11:00 AM.  More information to follow in next month's newsletter. 


OVF Announcements: 

Greenhouse Fundraiser

stockWeather permitting; the OVF greenhouse will be hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, December 7th at noon. In case of heavy rain, the fundraiser will be postponed until Sunday, 12/15 at noon.  Thanks to the hard work of the greenhouse volunteers, the greenhouse seems to be secured from the hungry rats and no seedlings have been munched this round. As always, there will be a mix of popular herbs and vegetables and some more unusual varieties up for sale.  Popular favorites include bulbing fennel, multiple varieties of broccoli and cabbage, and leeks. If you have trouble with your kale plants getting powdery mildew, you might want to try the “dazzling blue” variety offered at the sale.  Dazzling blue kale is a Tuscan kale will at pink midrib and has been bread to be powdery-mildew resistant. If you’re not sure what to do with some empty space in your garden, fava beans are delicious but even if you don’t eat the beans, they make for a terrific cover crop, providing both cover from weeds and an extra bonus of returning nitrogen back to the soil.  For those of you who like growing flowers, this greenhouse sale will feature a decorative member of the cabbage family called stock. Stock is a favorite for its dense clusters of fragrant blossoms.  Great for attracting pollinators or for filling your home will a wonderful smelling cut bouquet.

During the October newsletter, we talked a little about Chinese broccoli (gai lan).  Guest contributer Anthony Lai submits his favorite recipe for the vegatble.  If you didn't pick up a Chinese broccoli plant during the October sale, there will more available during this upcoming greenhouse fundraiser.

Garlic Pan-fried Gai Lan 

Commonly referred to as Chinese broccoli, gai lan is becoming popular outside of Asia. These days you can readily find it in any Chinese, Japanese and even some American grocery stores. Packed with vitamin C and K, gai lan makes a delicious and healthy side dish. Growing gai lan is relatively easy, all it requires is rich soil, plenty of water and a spot that gets a lot of sunlight. The best time to grow gai lan is in the winter months. 

Here is a simple recipe that is popular in Asian households. Many gai lan recipes online use oyster sauce, but I prefer no added sauce to really showcase the mild, sweet and earthy taste of the vegetable. 


  • 1 bunch of gai lan (approximately 1lb.) 
  • 2 teaspoon peanut oil or olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Kosher salt

* Serves 3-4 as a side dish.

gai lan

  1. Cut off 1/4 inch from the bottom stalk of the gai lan.
  2. Wash the gai lan.
  3. Separate the leafy parts from the stems and cut the stems into 2 inch slices.

cut brocolli

  1. Blanch the stems for 1 min and the leafy parts for 15 seconds. 
  2. Slice up the garlic.
  3. Heat up a frying pan with medium fire and pour in the cooking oil.
  4. Add in the garlic and stir around. Make sure the garlic does not burn.
  5. Add the stems and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cook for 3 mins and occasionally stir the stems around to avoid burning. 

on stove

  1. Add in the leafy parts, stir around with the stems and cook for 2 mins.
  2. Plate and pinch in some extra salt if desired. 


finished recipe

Community Service Hours... time is running out!

There are precious few opportunities left in the year to complete your community service hours.  If you need hours, please join us for one or both of the workdays or join the composting crew. Looking for inspiration for next year?  Here is a list of workgroups at the garden that you can join.


Watch Out For Rat Traps

Rat traps have been placed in Phase 4.  They are marked by orange stakes.  Please be careful.  Keep a close eye on dogs and children near the traps.

filtered water tsp

Go Green: Bring Your Own Bottle

In the interest of going green, we will be getting rid of the plastic water bottles on workdays.  There is a filtered water tap next to the main shed for all your hydration needs. Please remember to bring your own bottle to workdays and help cut down on plastic waste.


Help Needed: Saturday Compost

We need volunteers for the Saturday compost. It’s hard work, but you get lots of hours and it’s the black gold of the garden!  Stop by the compost area below the shredder and chipper sheds at 9:00 AM any Saturday to help. 

compost crew

OVF Animal Rescue
This past October an animal rescue was conducted by Ocean View Farms, Garden members found a wounded bird in the path of Upper Phase 1.  Nora Dvosin (E18) and Mary Harrison (C1) contacted multiple wildlife agencies seeking help for the bird. They had little success until they reached the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter, which provided immediate assistance.  Although they normally do not take wild birds into their facility the WLA Shelter was kind enough make an exception to pick up the bird and arrange a transfer to the California Wildlife Center.  

From images provided on social media Marc Spigelman (F46), a birder, identified the bird as belonging to the Whip-Poor-Will family.  This was confirmed by WLA Animal Shelter Officer Lopez when he retrieved the animal from the garden.  Marc followed up with the shelter several days later and learned the bird was not injured but only dehydrated.  It had been given fluids and released after it had recovered.  

The shelter positively identified the bird as a Common Poorwill which is a nocturnal, ground dwelling insect eater and takes shelter during the day by blending into the ground cover.  

It took a village but the job got done; thank you, garden members.  

If you see an animal in distress, the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter contact information is:
West Los Angeles Animal Shelter
11361 W Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Please note:  the California Wildlife Center does not pick up animals; they must be taken to the Center.
California Wildlife Center
26026 Piuma Road
Calabasas, CA  91302

For additional reading, Mary Harrison provided this article from the Mother Nature Network website regarding an animal rescue by first responders during one of the recent California wildfires.
Firefighters save great horned owl from ashes of California wildfire
(Mary Jo Dilonardo, Mother Nature Network, 5 November 2019)

Photo courtesy of Dean Cleverdon (G16) © 2019

bird rescue

As always: we want to hear from you!  Send us an email, reach out on Facebook, or tag us on Instagram @oceanviewfarms. 

That’s all for now.  Happy gardening!