Pasadena Learning Gardens

Resourcing communities to create a healthier more sustainable future

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Compost Tea

Thriving soil is one of the goals of any edible and/or sustainable gardener.  A key part is to feed the organisms in the soil with vast numbers of microorganisms.

Hundreds of years ago, and still today farmers use Manure Tea – manure submerged in water and left to distribute the nutrients and multiply the various microorganisms in the manure.

Today organic farmers use Compost Tea with a more sophisticated blend of ingredients (e.g. compost and worm castings) in de-chlorinated water that is being oxidized (an pump pushing air out a bubbler at bottom of bucket) and appropriate food (e.g. molasses and kelp) to create a rapid growth of the microbial life contained in your “compost”. I use compost, comfrey leaves, stinging nettles, worm castings and occasionally well composted manure as inputs and am in the process of refining my formula…  Check out the slide show below.

Harvard University is evaluated Compost Tea and is now using it widely to maintain their grounds…

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Sustainable Landscapes – Plant Pallet

The toughest part in putting together a sustainable landscape is selecting and grouping the plants.  Plants need to be arranged based on soil, sun, and water requirements with an eye to their mature size.  Fortunately there are some great resources available.  FYI Pasadena / Altadena are in Sunset zone 20 and USDA zone 9

The primary reference is Bob Perry’s new book – you can download the first three sections that are lists of plants organized by multiple criteria (e.g. Mediterranean, drought tolerant, ground cover, Sunset zone, etc.).  The book is in the Reference section of the Pasadena Library.

Other great resources include:

– a web site published by the Southern California Water District:

The Garden Spot –

Native Plant Guide:

The California Friendly Garden Guide providing access to a great plant directory:

the Theodore Payne Foundation promotes the understanding and preservation of
California native flora.
They offer a great plant wiki and are local

El Nativo – mostly wholesale nursery, covers Mediterranean climate plants beyond CA natives.  Has some valuable resources – link to documents detail usage of drought tolerant plants.

Las Pilitas – great native plant nursery in San Diego county.

Monrovia Nursery – has nice how to section – link to plants selected for low water needs that grow in Pasadena area – USDA zone 9