Monday, November 20, 2017

Ms. Bihari's Students Make Salsa

Ms. Bihari's 3rd grade students made yummy salsa! This cooking lesson is based upon the salsa garden that the children planted in the spring of 2nd grade. The gardens contains tomatoes, onion, peppers and cilantro.

The harvest from the garden was supplemented by tomatoes and onions donated by Frecker Farms, a vendor at the Palisades Farmers Market. Thanks to Marquez mom, Molly Sigworth for getting us the produce!

The children cut the tomatoes, onion and garlic and tore the cilantro in little pieces. They also measured olive oil and lime juice.  We used more tomatoes than the recipe called for, but that was fine with all of us!

The kids are good chefs!

Thanks to the parents who helped: Bernadette Westerberg, Shelli Schmalle, Alexys Buckner, Shah Bahador, Angie and Margarita Reyes.

Salsa Recipe

8 tomatoes
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
1/2 bunch of cilantro
3 T. olive oil
3 T. lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 jalapeno peppers (we didn't add these but you might want to at home-just wash hands immediately after cutting)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Growing seedlings indoors and transplanting them

Here are some valuable tips for growing seedlings indoors and getting them ready to transplant. Note that if your seedlings are leggy, they aren't getting enough light and you need to put the light source closer to them.

The number of leaves, instead of how tall, determines when the plants are ready to start going outside. Basically, the seedlings will need 3-4 sets of true leaves before they are ready to be hardened off prior to planting. The first set of leaves are the cotyledons. They are a source of energy for the plant but not "true leaves".

The process of hardening off takes about a week. You gradually leave the seedlings outside longer and longer-first in shade and then in sun.

Read the following articles for details.


These cool season seedlings grown under a grow light aren't ready yet to transplant.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Gardening for Wildlife and Opportunities for Citizen Science

Gardening for Wildlife

Several areas at Marquez attract butterflies and birds including the Native American Garden, the butterfly garden, some plants planted by LAUSD in the re-landscaping and some areas on the upper yard.  The landscaped area by the auditorium seems to have the most birds and the fewest squirrels. A resource for involving your students in this topic is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology  Bird Sleuth has some ideas for citizen science projects. Another resource is the National Wildlife Federation.   
The Habitat Network,, helps people to map their outdoor spaces and see how inviting they are for wildlife. This could be done at school or home.

Activities to make a school more welcoming can include bird feeders, water, more plants for food and shelter. What are you interested in doing? What birds do you see near you?

We are adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains and should have more birds visiting our campus.

Resources for native plants include Theodore Payne, Audubon,  and Las Pilitas Nursery Some natives that we have at school include poppies, monkey flower, deer grass, yarrow, oak tree, white sage, black sage, purple sage, hummingbird sage. We'll be planting ceanothus, redbud and more in the coming months.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's Time to Plant California Poppy Seeds

The California poppy is our state flower. Poppy seeds, along with lupine seeds, have been planted in the Marquez School Native American Garden by Ms. Palo's and Ms. Chaides' classes.  They were lightly covered with mulch and are watered weekly.  They hopefully will join with the seeds shed by last spring's poppies to create a mass of orange blossoms at the front of the school.  The poppy self seeds.

Since poppies like poor soil conditions, we will plant them in other areas around school as well and hope for winter rains.

Once the poppies bloom, we can cut them back and they will re bloom.  We can also save the seeds: when the petals drop off you see a long seed pod. Let the pod turn brown and cut it off or wait for it to open. The seeds will be inside.

Check out these articles:

The Davis Enterprise :;

Theodore Payne:

US Forest Service:

The poppy leaves are used by indigenous peoples for several things including  to relieve toothaches and headaches. Some also use the plant for food.

Friday, September 15, 2017


On September 14 Ms. Palo's students made succotash. The main ingredients for this vegetable dish are corn, beans and squash. These are also the Three Sisters, the plants that the many Native Americans throughout North American planted and that most of these students planted when they were in 3rd grade. (The corn stalks are still visible in the edible garden).

We reviewed the names of the tribes that the students had studied that planted the Three Sisters. The Iroquois is one. There were many varieties of corn, beans and squash used. The squash kept the ground cool, the beans provide nitrogen to the soil and the corn provides the stalk that the beans grow on.

Children worked at their seats preparing the corn, zucchini, beans and other ingredients cutting them into small pieces. The ingredients were then cooked in an electric skillet.

Thanks to Gelson's market for donating the ingredients!


1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. unsalted butter
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
4 ears of corn
3 zucchini
1 c. green beans
1 package lima beans thawed
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. thyme (not used in class)

The olive oil and butter were first heated in the skilled, next the garlic. Everything else was added together.  Cook approximately 10 minutes. Can be served al dente or more fully cooked.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ms. Connor's Class Studies Parts of a Plant

Today Ms. Connor's 2nd graders reviewed parts of a plant- roots, stem, leaves, flowers, seeds and fruit. They then matched the part of a plant to selected vegetables and herbs after identifying them.

Leaves: arugula, lettuce, beet, basil,cilantro, kale
Stem: broccoli, green onion, beet celery, asparagus
Flower: broccoli
Fruit: tomato, cucumber
Seeds: corn, peas
Roots: onion, beet potato (really a tuber)

They also wrote in their journals before having a snack of carrots.

Yay Salsa!

Today Ms. Farrell's 3rd graders made salsa. Many of the students had planted the ingredients last year as 2nd graders. Two of the children harvested tomatoes from plants in the edible garden though the majority of the tomatoes, as well as the other ingredients, came from Gelson's. (Gelson's has donated a gift card to be used for purchasing food for our cooking projects).

Each child cut a tomato into small pieces and then helped get the cilantro, onions, garlic, olive oil or lime juice ready for the salsa. We used heirloom tomatoes to make the salsa colorful.

The recipe below has jalapeno pepper but we didn't use it today.

Thanks to Alyssa Gallagher, Jenny Lee, Carla Davidson and Joyce Wong Kup for helping!