Tuesday, September 27, 2011




Executive committee members present: David King, Sarah Spitz, Linda Preuss, Albert Chang, Patty Kestin, Timothy Smith

David King called the meeting to order, and did a presentation on lettuce seed saving.


We care about cross pollination because if we are saving seed that is "true," we don't want contamination from other varieties. In the case of squash it's more critical: if a zucchini and butternut cross, the seed it produces will be neither one nor the other, nor potentially will it be edible once the offspring from that crossed seed grows out. We engage in certain practices to keep this from happening.

In the case of lettuce, this is not really a problem, even if you grow several varieties near one another. Just choose one of the varieties and let that one go to seed.

Typically, lettuce takes up to 60 days to produce leaves; in cool weather, leaves can last a long time before the plant bolts. Once lettuce bolts, it can take months to get to the point where you can harvest the seed. Helpful garden hint: in winter months, keep six packs of seedlings nearby to pop in the ground whenever you remove a lettuce plant.

Lettuce goes to seed when the central stalk shoots up (bolts) and creates flowers (goodfor attracting beneficial pests). A single hot day can cause the lettuce tobolt. It's a very long time between seed setting and seed saving.

Stop watering the plant after it bolts (the leaves will grow increasingly bitter as they grow up the stalk more sparsely) and after it has flowered, there'll be a lot of"fuzz" on top of each flower as they die back. The flowers don't die back all at once, and the order in which they do dry out seems somewhat random,it's not all “up the stalk” or “down the stalk.” This means making several visits to the plant to find the seeds that have matured – you can differentiate the really ripe ones from the immature ones after a few tries, the mature ones are darker and larger. Instead of looking for individual flowers that are ripe,you can also allow most of the seed to dry on the plant and then you can cover it with a paper bag, cut the stalk, tie off the bottom of the bag, turn it upside down and allow the seed (and a good deal of chaff) to accumulate in the bag. Blow off the chaff (delicately because lettuce seeds are not that heavy themselves) allow to dry in a warm place until they are not moist, store in a cool and dark place until ready to plant again!


The Best Practices Committee is seeking new active members, who will be involved with teaching members how to save seed from a specific "portfolio,"for which you will become "the expert" for SLOLA. This committee meets at NOON on the day of regular meetings (3rd Saturday of the month).

Sarah Spitz (secretary) shared news about the SEED Award ceremony: SLOLA was awarded the"Resource Preservation Award" by the South Bay Business Environmental Coalition; and the award is given on September 22 in Hawthorne. All members are invited to attend this free event at 3 pm at the Ayres Hotel.

Also:Thank yous were offered to KCRW's Gregg Lewis and PACE Lithographers for donating their services to create and print business cards, which Linda Preuss (chair of Database Committee) and Albert Chang (co chair of Best Practices) were able to put to use at the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa in September.

A"Food for Thought" dinner is being held to raise funds for SLOLA, courtesy of Large Marge Sustainables, a catering company that sources locally and seasonally, and CitySip LA which arranges the liquid refreshments for these intimate dinners. They are held at the Green Beacon Foundation, in a privatehome, and they raise money for good environmental and sustainable, eco causes. SLOLA was adopted for the September 24th dinner.

Davidappeared at the Hollywood Farmers Market's Peak of the Season Tomato Festivaland talked about tomato seed saving. He appeared at the Good FoodFestival at Santa Monica High School on September 17to give a general introduction to Seed Saving and SLOLA. Megan Bomba also spokeat a community garden exchange meeting at Milagro Allegro on August 25th, atwhich 8 new members signed up.

David is launching a new "Essentials of Seed Saving" seminar on three Thursdays, October 20, October 27 and November 3. He will also present "Growing Food in Southern California" on October 1, and another series of certificated classes in the Grow LA Victory Garden series, presented by the UCCE/LA County Master Gardener Common Ground program on October 1, 8, 15 and 29, 1 pm to 4 pm. All classes are held at The Learning Garden.

Special thanks to our volunteer librarians Lucia Burke, Lucinda Zimmerman, Linda Preuss, Azita and Keianna Jolaei,Veronika Gillliland, Sara Meric, Ade Anaolapo and Sharon Weiner who've helped distribute seed and bring the inventory up to date. Also special thanks to Master Gardener Julie Strnad, who has been at two SLOLA meetings answering general gardening questions for our members.

David announced that he purchased seeds that he is donating to SLOLA from Pine Tree seeds and he spoke about Landreth Seed Company, which may go out of business unless they are able to sell 250,000 of their catalogs at $5by October 1st. It is America's oldest seed company, and David bought a catalog and seeds for SLOLA.

The next meeting will be held on Saturday, October 15th at 2:30pm, with an executive committee meeting at 1 pm at The Learning Garden.

Submitted by Sarah Spitz, Secretary

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