Skip to main content

Remembering Stephan Megerdichian and His Gardens

Several of us are remembering a neighbor who recently passed away, Stephan Megerdichian Sahaki, with a donation to the Los Angeles Master Gardener program.

Mr. Megerdichian loved to garden.  In Iran, where he lived until the 1990s, he had rose bushes. In Sherman Oaks, his last home, he had geraniums happily tumbling through the railings of his balcony to brighten the streetscape. It is a tradition in his culture to send huge bouquets of flowers for display at the funeral and the grave. Forgive us, but we have chosen to make a gift in his name to a program that will keep blooming forever.

Master Gardeners in Service to the Community

The Master Gardener program is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension program for Los Angeles County. Offered every spring, the Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program provides intense gardening training to enable volunteers to help low-income residents grow their own food.  They learn about organic gardening, growing vegetables, fruits, flowers, shrubs, trees, soils, composting, pests and harvesting.

After their training, the Master Gardeners provide free gardening workshops and give technical expertise to community, school, shelter and senior gardens throughout Los Angeles.

In 2011, the 236 Master Gardeners volunteered 14,909 hours, serving 132,363 low-income gardeners in Los Angeles County at 271 locations including community gardens, school gardens, homeless and battered women’s shelters, senior gardeners and fairs and farmers markets.

University Caliber Knowledge Applied to Your Backyard

The 64 Cooperative Extension offices in California are local “problem-solving centers,” according to the Extension’s Los Angeles County website. They are the “bridge between local issues and the power of UC research.” Their focus ranges from helping farmers (both commercial and backyard) solve pest problems, grow more efficiently, apply smart water-use strategies, promote healthy diets and nutritious foods.

The website offers the home gardener wonderful information including Los Angeles-focused gardening tips and checklists by month, gardening articles on a wide variety of subjects, informational brochures on growing tomatoes, saving water, pruning trees and amending soils.

The Extension also offers classes as part of its Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. Planning ahead to a bounteous harvest, you can also get involved in the LA County Master Food Preserver Program. This 12-week program teaches you how to use canning, pressure canning, freezing, drying and fermenting to preserve food.

Popular posts from this blog

Hand-Knit Trellis Now Ready for Climbing Foot-Long Beans

Just as the "June" gloom is starting to burn off, I finished my knitted trellis for the garden.

It completely surrounds one of our bamboo tripods, with space at the bottom for tending the romaine lettuces growing within the tripod.

It's knit out of nylon twine on US 35 needles. While the nylon has no stretch (the way a wool yarn does), the huge gauge has loads of give. The piece was knit flat with ties attached along one edge.  It is tied to the tripod along one leg.

One some early samples for a knitted plant trellis, I experimented with lace patterns.  They look lovely, but I realized two things. One, once the plants grow up the trellis any knitting pattern is lost. Secondly, the plants and leaves need space to grow in and out of.

I used a pattern for a shawl: k1, yo, k2tog and then repeat. I got lost a number of times: the yarn-overs drifted over other stitches on occasion. As this was a speed project that won't be visible ones the beans grow over it, I didn't w…

Harvesting the butternut squash

We worried about when to harvest the butternut squash. There's no greening, yellowing, reddening, deepening or other particular sign of ripeness once the squash grow to a certain size. Google Extension Service suggested harvesting before the first frost.  In California, that would be the day before Never.
In Nature's wisdom, the plants told us. The huge green vines that had sprung up on their own, just turned brown and shrank back on their own, leaving six heavy butternut squashes dangling from their red and yellow net bags. (We'd strung them up to keep them away from the wetness of the earth and the mouths of the snails.) We cut them down and divided the harvest.
My first butternut squash, I simply seeded, roasted and scraped the flesh from the shell. Butternut is bland, a lovely gold color, but -- yawn -- not much flavor.  But it was fresh and home grown. That imparts something wonderful to it, if you have the stillness and focus to be aware.

Winter planting in the garden

My first gardening experiences were in northeastern Oklahoma. There, the gardening season ended when the tomatoes quit producing.

By then, there was a nip in the air. The zinnias were stained brown and crispy. The nastursiums were shriveled and starting to be hidden by falling leaves. Crisp, juicy apples were filling the bins at the local grocery and it wasn't pleasant to hang around outdoors unless you were moving -- fast.