May 2020 E-Newsletter
Like tiny seeds with potent power to push through tough ground and become mighty trees, we hold innate reserves of unimaginable strength. We are resilient.
Featured Instagram Photo of the Month: Spring flowers are in full bloom around the garden.
Upcoming Garden Events:
Please keep an eye on the OVF Calendar for updates as to when OVF group events are set to resume.
- The world is certainly a different place since our last update. First things first, we hope everyone is staying healthy and safe during these trying times. While the human world is mostly shut down, nature has plowed on and in some cases is thriving. The garden is in full spring mode with flowers and greenery everywhere (even where they shouldn’t be). Golden poppies are everywhere at the moment as well as other poppies in sunny hues. The fuzzy borage flowers are also a common sight along with nasturtiums, roses, irises, cactus blossoms, sweet peas, sunflowers and so many others. Some gardeners have been using their newly acquired free time to get their plots in peak shape and planted for the summer haul. Other plots are sitting covered with weeds presumably as their gardeners are essential workers working long shifts or waiting for safer at home restrictions to be lifted. It’s sad to see some of the fruit trees in the independent projects abandoned with trees full of rotting fruit or a plot that was once thriving full of mallow, stinging nettle, false garlic and all the various grasses. The paths are starting to look a little overgrown, unweeded and unmulched while the compost section is empty aside from the weeds that have quickly taken advantage of a fertile bit of unplanted ground. One thing is certain, once restrictions are lifted, the OVF community is going to have a lot of work on its hands.
- For those of you who have been gardening, how’s it been going? While it’s great to suddenly see half the nation take an interest in gardening, it’s certainly made finding seeds and seedlings a bit of a challenge this season. If you’ve found things to plant, this is one of the most rewarding time to be at the garden. The last few weeks of spring weather have been wonderful for our warm-weather crops and flowers. The plants are growing quickly and putting out buds. You can see a few early planted summer squash already setting fruit while the last of a successful fava bean season are fattening on the vine. Artichokes also seem to be everywhere this year. Spring is magic! There is still plenty of time to plant a summer garden. If you’re starting from seed indoors, you still have time to start some peppers and eggplant. Outdoors, you are good to go on cucumbers, beans and squash. Now is a good time to transplant. The days are warm enough that plants are growing fast but not too warm that they’re getting stressed and burnt. As per usual, the Gardening in LA blog has a very comprehensive list of things to do in the garden this season.
- Lastly, the UC Master Gardeners have been offering free online “Gardening in Place” workshops. Past workshops can be found here or you can join them live via Zoom via this link. Please see the below graphic for dates and times.
Board Election Results
First and foremost, we want to take a moment to thank outgoing board president Frank Harris for all he has done. For every big and visible contribution Frank has made to OVF, there are a zillion more that he accomplished quietly and humbly and behind the scenes. All with the goal of making the garden a better place. We all owe him so much thanks.
Next up we welcome Nina Rumely as new OVF President. Most of you probably have already interacted with Nina through her role as the garden’s greenhouse keeper. Nina knows her plants inside and out and has a long history with the garden.
I've been a member of Ocean View Farms for 28 years over in upper phase III. I've been a garden designer for over 30 years. I've served as the OVF Greenhouse Keeper for 8 years. I love starting herbs, vegetables and flowers from seed and I enjoy sharing that knowledge thru the seed starting classes which I've taught for several years. That class will come back!
My favorite flowers are roses and sweet peas; favorite vegetables, there are so many: leeks, bulbing fennel, Persian cucumbers, tomatoes. It may surprise you to know that I HATE kale with kohlrabi not far behind, however many members do like those vegetables so the greenhouse grows them.
Like many of us, Nina has been spending the pandemic in the kitchen. She has decided to share one of her favorite recipes with you.
Recipe: New York Times Pantry Crumb Cake
Nina: I substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour for some of the AP flour. I've used thawed frozen blueberries , diced dried apricots and dried cherries.”
President - Nina Rumely*
Treasurer - Carol Velkes*
Recording Secretary – Rena Sunshine*
Education Chair - Andy Morris*
I Middle - Karen Pinto
I Lower - Les Hairrell*
II Lower - Janet Williams*
III Lower - Wendy Scott*
IV Lower - Angie Mason*
Also of note: Marie Green has stepped in to take over the rest of the term for Upper Phase II. She replaces Pam Brissette who decided to give up her garden plot to concentrate on her studies.
In one of her first acts as OVF President, Nina Rumely contacted the Venice Little League for permission to use their dumpsters temporarily. Ed Mosman and Bob Gallion were able to move the three extra dumpsters closer to the tops of phases I, II and III. The OVF dumpsters had been constantly overflowing with green waste soon after being emptied. All dumpsters are emptied on Monday morning so please make sure not to block the trash truck access to them.
Unusual Stuff We Grow
Tara here; your friendly OVF newsletter editor. Once again, please excuse me for a second while I transition to the first person voice. You might remember in March, I introduced a newsletter column intended to spotlight some of the less common varieties of plants grown by garden members. I kicked things off highlighting a less common plant that I grow, the pepino melon. This installment, I asked Dean Cleaverdon and Nancy Nyberg to speak about a root vegetable they introduced me to called the yacón (a.k.a. the Peruvian ground apple). Dean and Nancy are well known as enthusiastic tomato growers. They spend the entire year prepping the soil and getting ready for tomato season. There is very little room in their double plot for much else but tomatoes – so I was quite surprised when I learned that they made space for a vegetable that I had never encountered before. Dean and Nancy were gracious enough not only to answer my questions about yacón but provide lots of wonderful photos and resources to share. I hope you enjoy reading about this lesser known plant.
Please let me know if you grow something at the garden that you think would be fun to share. The plant can be edible, ornamental or something else entirely!
Q: What is Yacón?
A: The yacón is tuber related to the sunflower family. Historically, it was grown in the Andes by the Incans. There are indications that yacón may have a positive effect for people with diabetic conditions [see study in link below]. People buy it in stores in powdered form or as a syrup.
Q: How did you discover yacón?
A: To the best of our knowledge the three gardeners who consistently grow yacón from year to year are Ned Bader (Lower Phase I), Karl Lisovsky (Upper Phase II) and us (Upper Phase I). Ned gave us our first seedling in February 2011 and we have been growing it from harvested corms ever since. We had never heard of it before; not sure how Ned came across it.
Q: How do you grow yacón?
A: Yacón grows to seven to eight feet tall and is started from the red/purple corms from the bottom of the stalks harvested at the same time as the brown tubers. The corms have ‘eyes’ like potatoes. Most people plant directly into the soil but we plant our seedling in a 15-gallon nursery pot. The pot has been split down two opposite sides but leaving the bottom intact; this makes it much easier to harvest.
The inside is lined with a loose piece of plastic to keep the dirt in. It is secured at the top with a bungee cord. At the end of the season we remove the bungee cord and open the pot to harvest the tubers and corms.
We came about this method the hard way. One year the tubers were so big they pushed into the inside walls of the pot, got stuck and absolutely would not budge. We had to cut the pot open to get them out and, voila, a new planting concept was born.
You will know it is time to harvest after the plant has bloomed with clusters of small yellow flowers and the leaves have all died back.
We generally harvest in early December and immediately start corms in small pots, picking the strongest seedling to transplant up into the 15-gal pot. We give the rest of the seedlings away.
One year we made a mistake of trying to put the corms aside in a dark corner for a few weeks. It was not a good way to preserve them and they all rotted away out of sight. Oops.
Q: How do you eat it? How would you describe the flavor/ texture?
A: Yacón tubers look a lot like potatoes but they do not cook like potatoes; too much moisture in the flesh. (Tried roasting them in the oven the first year like potatoes; what a miserable failure that was).
When eaten raw (Karl Lisovsky’s favorite method) they have a flavor and texture close to jicama.
They are really good on salads that way or as a hors d'oeuvre platter (just like jicama).
Nancy and I like to cut them into chunks, either steam or boil them until soft, then stick wand them into a puree. They make a great base for soups or stews because their mild flavor does not compete with the other ingredients. We also can them for future consumption.
Cleaning tip: the skin is very thin and delicate and can be scrubbed off with a brush; no peeling necessary.
Q: If someone wants to grow their own yacón, where would they begin?
A: The easiest way to get started growing yacón at Ocean View Farms would be to get corms or seedlings from someone who is already growing them [sorry, we gave our last one away two weeks ago]. Yacón seedlings or corms can be found on the internet but you are going to have to look around for them.
Annie’s Annuals and Perennials
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!