Antonio Sanchez is “Inviting California to Dinner”: on Zoom 4/13th @ 10 am

This not-to-be-missed Zoom will be a guided tour of various native plant foods, including fruits, greens, seeds and more, that can be added to your local landscapes and diets.  Lecture will include how to grow each plant in local gardens, and how to use one or various parts of the plant in recipes.  Among the many plants to be covered include:
Cleveland Sage
CA Wild Grape
Golden Currant
Hummingbird Sage
Honey Mesquite
And many more


Antonio Sanchez is the nursery manager and restoration volunteer outreach coordinator for SAMOFund in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and has been working around native plants for nearly 2 decades. He is co-founder and lead singer of the native plant band Sage Against the Machine (hear him sing “I Want to Be Native Plant“!), and was lead organizer for the California Native Food Symposium, the Southern California Monarch and Milkweed Conference, the first Ventura County Native Plant Symposium, and the California Native Sage Festival.  Antonio has worked at various native plant institutions around the state, and has managed the nurseries at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, worked as a landscaper at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, worked as a nursery technician at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Native Plants, and co-founded and ran Nopalito Native Plant Nursery in Ventura, CA, with a good friend and a cousin, for nearly 4 years.  He believes in making native plants fun and approachable to all, learning about and teaching old and new ways with native plants, and that Hummingbird Sage is probably the prettiest California native sage, but Salvia pachyphylla is a close second.

Note: a similar sold-out event is occurring at Artemesia Nursery in LA this weekend.  If you want to see details of the kind of subjects (and recipes!) Antonio will be covering, you can find them here.

Zoom Meeting August 12th @ 10 am with Robert Pavlis!

Okay, this meeting is a dream come true for our Program Chair Deborah H.

As a long-time Master Gardener, she devoured Robert Pavlis’ books on Garden Myths,  Soil Science and Compost (among other topics) and now she is making it possible for us to hear him live and (almost) in person.

Robert Pavlis has over 45 years’ experience in the art and science of horticulture, with a particular focus on soil chemistry and health. He is the owner and developer of Aspen Grove Gardens, a 6-acre botanical garden featuring 3,000 varieties of plants. A sought-after speaker, and lecturer, Robert has published many articles in magazines such as Mother Earth News and Ontario Gardening. He maintains two widely read blogs – and – and a popular YouTube channel with tens of thousands of subscribers. Robert is the author of Compost Science for Gardeners, Plant Science for Gardeners, Soil Science for Gardeners, and Building Natural Ponds.

Because he lives in Guelph, Canada this meeting will be by Zoom only.  Links and details will be sent to chapter members.  Be aware that some of his advice is Northeast-centric, so feel free to read the websites ahead of time and come with questions!

Another great meeting!

Today’s talk on Backyard Bugs was enjoyed by a large number of West LA and  LA Chapter members.  Matt Daugherty gave us a crash course in Entomology and then went into the specifics of how we can deal with the pesty (and protect the non-pesty) bugs.  He highly recommended becoming familiar with the UC Riverside Integrated Pest Management site that uses a multi pronged and more holistic approach to managing our orchards.

Matt focused especially on the Asian Citrus Psyllid which is the known transmitter of the huanglongbing (or Citrus Greening) disease in citrus.  This disease has totally decimated the Florida and Brazilian citrus industry but fortunately hit California late enough for protective measures to be put in place quickly.  Aggressive monitoring and removal of infected trees has thus far kept the disease (but not the psyllids!) contained.  We all have a responsibility to honor the guidelines about not sharing scion wood or buying citrus trees from anything but certified nurseries.  After all, the disease was first found in a multi-grafted backyard tree.

One of the easiest (hah) things, Matt mentioned we could do was control ants in our yards, since the ants vigorously farm many disease causing insects, including the Asian Citrus psyllids.

Most of us are dealing with the tiny but widespread Argentine ants, so the ant bait sold at nurseries, Home Depot, etc is too strong to attract them.   An easy home brew involves mixing 1 cup hot water with 1/2 cup of white sugar.  When it has dissolved, mix in very slightly less than 1/2 tsp of boric acid or 2/3 tsp borax (yes, the 20 Mule Team Borax over your washer). Let it sit for several hours then mix again before using.  You can put the bait in small glass jars with an ant sized hole poked in the lid or plastic containers like hummus comes in with a hole poked in the side.  It’s easier if the containers are clear so you can see when they are filled with ants.  Throw in some cotton balls so the ants have something to sit on while they drink.   You don’t want them to die there (though some inevitably will drown) but rather bring the bait back to their nests and — hopefully — kill the queen.  Please don’t leave the bait uncovered because bees (and small children)  will also be attracted to its sweetness. Good bye bad bugs!

We need a video person!

Dear Chapter. we are slowly inching back to a new normal.  Because our Davis-based August speaker, Ernesto Sandoval, is going to be in LA, we will be lucky enough to hear him live and in person.  With our lovely MultiPurpose Room patio, we even have the option of meeting COVID-safely outside though I for one will still be wearing a mask.

This means, however, we will NOT be on Zoom unless someone volunteers to transmit it for us.  Since there is virtually no wifi in the MPR, this will require a phone with better reception than I  got when I  attempted to video the Bartlett Arborists.

Alternatively, if someone would rather not use up their data but is willing just to video the meeting, we can still put it up on our Google Drive for non attendees to view.

With 100 member, we have to have someone less wobbly than yours truly.   The chapter even owns a phone tripod if that helps.  Please, someone, for the sake of your fellow members, volunteer for this very undemanding once or twice a year job.


Photograph by Lance Anderson on Unsplash

Ernesto Sandoval on Plant Hormones and Fruit Trees: Knowing and Managing Them for Better Results

When:  August 13th at 10 am
Where:  Multi-Purpose Room, Veterans Memorial Complex, 4117 Overland Ave, Culver City (yes, we are back!)

Have you ever wondered why your plant has a sudden burst of growth after transplanting? Or how the plant “knows” to grow new parts when pruned or how a cutting knows to make roots?  Maybe you’ve even wondered about how a fruit knows to ripen or why leaves all of a sudden turn yellow when you bring a plant home?  Find answers to these questions and others about why your plants grow the way they do during this informative yet not so technical presentation by Ernesto Sandoval, Director of the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory.

Ernesto Sandoval has been wondering and seeking questions and answers to why plants grow and look the way that they do for nearly 40 years.  Now he explains and interprets the world of plants to a variety of ages and from amateur to professional gardeners. He regularly lectures to a variety of western Garden Clubs throughout the year and particularly to Succulent Clubs throughout California. Although desert plants are his particular passion within his general passion for plants, he describes himself as a “Jose of All Plants, Master of None” and loves learning from the experiences of others as well as his own.  Ernesto thoroughly enjoys helping others, and gardeners in particular, to understand why and how plants do what they do.

When he was about 13 he asked his dad why one tree was pruned a particular way and another tree another way. His dad answered bluntly “because that’s the way you do it.” Since then he’s been learning and teaching himself the answers to those and many other questions by getting a degree at UC Davis in Botany and working from student weeder/waterer to Director/Manager over the last 30 years at the UC Davis Botanical Conservatory.

Now you can book out your Second Saturdays for the rest of the year (and beyond)

Our incomparable Program Chair Deborah has lined up some amazing meetings, so take a look at this rundown. Unfortunately most of our speakers are not based in LA and can only speak to us via Zoom. If you — like me — are yearning for an actual face to face get together, and can’t wait until September at LaVerne, let us know. Maybe we can organize another ice cream social or something.


June 11, 2022 –  Vertebrate Garden Pests – Niamh Quinn – via Zoom
July 9, 2022 – Garden tour – Margaret Frane’s amazing yard! – via Zoom
August 13, 2022 – Plant Hormones – Ernesto Sandoval – via Zoom
September 10, 2022 – Field trip to Laverne Nursery – Daniel Nelson
October 8, 2022 – Cover Crops – Margaret Smither-Kopperl — via Zoom
November 12, 2022 – Field trip to Angeles Crest Creamery
December 10, 2022 – Plant sale and Holiday party at Culver City

January 14, 2023 TBD
February 11, 2023 Scion Exchange and Grafting Demos at Culver City
March 11, 2023 TBD
April 8, 2023 Field Trip to Long Beach City College to see Jorge Ochoa’s rebuilt dragon fruit greenhouse




Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

Drat! Rats! (And Squirrels?) June 11th at 10 a.m.

Our next meeting will be on June 11th at 10 am.  with Niamh Quinn, the Human-Wildlife Interactions Advisor at  the South Coast Research and Extension Center.  Because she is based in Irvine, we will be doing this by Zoom ONLY (hooray, no video glitches this time).   If you have a specific human-wildlife interaction you would like addressed, please let us know.  More details as the date approaches.

You can see the extraordinary range of Dr. Quinn’s research here:


Squirrel photo by Carmel Rossen on Unsplash
Fruit hat from

Report on great meeting April 9th

Boy, what an amazing meeting we had this past Saturday.   Andrew Schiavone and Jeff Micka  of Bartlett Tree Service gave us a jam-packed, info-filled survey of tree care from correct planting  (not too high and especially not too low);  through best irrigation practices (watering newly planted trees right at the root ball so the water doesn’t run around it and pool underneath;  then making sure to expand the watering radius as the tree grows);   and pruning (the rule of thirds, the hormonal importance of the branch collar) while making  fascinating detours through  the underground world  of  roots and soil  plus the cultural sources of most   insect problems and disease.  (not to ignore a recommended treatment for scale!)

Even those of us who have been growing fruit for years learned a lot. They highly recommended soil samplers to give us an accurate idea of our soil’s structure and moisture; and provided business cards and soil sample bags for anyone who wants to get their soil analyzed by their lab in North Carolina, especially for suspected root rots (this would be about $50).  And of course, they are available for consultations and remedial work in your orchards.  They can be reached via

2369 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
phone (
310) 454-2033

For those of you who couldn’t make it to Culver City, I apologize for the poor quality of the Zoom.  Our dedicated and selfless facilities chair was home sick as was our Zoom host; while our fearless and innovative program chair had Master Gardener duties to fulfill. This left your humble ottoman trying to juggle all their duties while simultaneously setting up the tripod and attempting to video with low bandwidth.  If we are going to continue to Zoom live meetings, we need someone to take over the video job.  As it happens, the next two meetings will solely be via Zoom because our speakers are from out of the area.  May’s field trip, however, will also be a hybrid.  After that, if we cannot find anyone to take on the Zooming responsibilities, we will have to return to live meetings only. Barring another surge, it is so much more fun and informative to come to meetings than sit home in your jammies.  Plus, we had cookies!

April 9th @10 am Andrew Schiavone & Jeff Micka of Bartlett Tree Experts

Yes!  At long last, we are  having a real-live  meeting in Culver City!   And to celebrate  this return to semi-normalcy, Andrew Schiavone — the manager of the Westside branch of Bartlett Tree Experts — and Jeff Micka — their fruit tree expert — will be speaking to us on the planting and pruning and general care of our trees.

Jeff is a friend and colleague of  our revered Tom Del Hotal, whom Tom taught and worked with on fruit tree pruning projects.  Andrew started with Mellinger Tree Service as a climber in 2010, and worked closely with Carl Mellinger (who was the previous owner of this branch of Bartlett), to gain insight into Carl’s Shigo-esque and less is best approach to tree care.  If you have a specific tree you find problematic, please zip your question or concern to Contact Us and we will pass it on to these kind and knowledgeable gentlemen. 

Please note that our beloved MultiPurpose Room has been preempted by Culver City for April 9th, so we will be using the Garden Room which also has a patio, albeit much smaller.  The easiest way to access the Garden Room is via the electric-door  east of our normal entrance.

Also, your humble chair will try to do a better job of Zooming this meeting than I did our field trip to Deborah’s (hey, it was BRIGHT out there and I couldn’t see my phone screen);  but since both our June and August meetings will have to be on Zoom — because the speakers are based  in Northern California –, it would be really great to have as many folks as possible show up for Andrew and Jeff.

Until further notice, Culver City still requires masks and proof of vax.


Photo by Árpád Czapp on Unsplash


A note about Fang’s Scion Exchange App

You have to enter either Wants or Offers into the app to get the Exchange page to generate.   And don’t forget to click Update at the bottom of the page after entering your Wants and/or Offers.

Thank you to the members who have already done so.  The rest of you, get pruning!  With this crazy January weather, my apples are already leafing out…



Photo by Olga Thelavart on Unsplash

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