Wednesday, June 21, 2017

3rd Annual Marquez Garden Celebration

The 3rd annual Marquez Garden Celebration on June 6 was a huge success! Over 20 students from grades 2-5 shared what they'd learned during the year and toured guests around the edible garden. 2nd graders talked about the salsa garden, 3rd graders talked about the Three Sisters Garden, 4th graders gave reports on native plants and Ms. Chaides' class gave tours of the Native American Garden and 5th graders acted as tour guides.  Ms. Chaides handed out an iBook with reports on native plants that were done by her students. Students also planted seeds in reusable pots. 2nd and 5th grade students prepared salsa, salad and kale smoothies for the refreshments which were served by the 5th graders. These are some of the favorite foods that we prepare as part of our seed to table program. Music was provided by three members of the Marquez jazz band who played "Watermelon Man".

Ms. Marie thanked honored guests and other donors for supporting the garden program. Honored guests included Erick Hansen, Instructional Director Elementary of the West Region for LAUSD, Diane Goldberg of the Pacific Palisades Garden Club, Carolyn Haselkorn-community volunteer, Susan Pasco Editor of the Palisades News and Ben Meritt, Principal of Marquez School. Donors not present included Kellogg's Garden Products, Gibson International Realty and Gelson's. We also thanked the 3rd grade Girl Scouts and 7th grade Girl Scouts who decorated pots in the garden and 5th grade Girl Scouts who planted geraniums around school.

Parent participation is an essential part of a successful school garden program. A special thanks goes to Laurie Vander Veen who taught gardening to many 3rd graders this year and helped coordinate the program and to Sharon Agabra who taught two of the 2nd grade classes. Many thanks to all of the parents who have watered the beds this school year.

Last, but not least, thanks to the teachers, staff and Friends of Marquez for supporting the garden program. Five years ago, just the four 2nd grade participated in the garden program. This year, 13 classes from grades 2-5 participated in the program.

A Three Sisters Garden

Making kale/banana/mango smoothies

Making Salsa

Salsa (with heirloom tomatoes)

Marquez Native American Garden
Making salad

Thursday, June 1, 2017

3rd Graders Plant Three Sisters Gardens

Third graders in Ms. Schwartz's class, Ms. Farrell's class and Ms. Bihari's class have been planting corn, beans and squash in their Three Sister's Gardens. Today Ms. Schwartz's students added corn seedlings and pumpkin and bean seeds to their bed. The bean seedlings were donated by Seed Saver's Exchange earlier in the year. They are heirloom seeds. We soaked them before planting. In addition, the students planted some sunflowers. Hopefully the plants will do well over the summer vacation1

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ms. Chaides' 4th Graders Learn More about Native Plants and Drought Tolerant Planting

This week, Ms. Chaides' 4th graders learned more about native plants. They identified deer grass, white sage, monkey flower, California Poppy and California Sagebrush. They liked the smell of California Sagebrush.  We discussed that these plants, used by the Chumash, are also adapted to our climate and need little water once established.  These plants and others in the Native American Garden attract our local pollinators.  The Margarita BOP Penstemon and red salvia are also attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds.

Ms. Marie made a bundle of white sage which we'll make into a smudge stick once the leaves are dry. The Chumash use such a stick in ceremonies. We reviewed that deer grass is woven into baskets.

The students also learned about scientific or botanical names, which come from Latin.  These names can be understood by people all over the world. Here are some examples: the botanical name for White Sage is Salvia apiana, Black Sage is Salvia mellifera, California Sagebrush is Artemisia Californica and Cleveland Sage is Salvia clevelandii.

The students helped weed the garden again. They are very industrious! We will be putting down cardboard and  Kellogg's Xerimulch to keep the weeds from growing back.

Deer Grass

White Sage being dried 

Native plants require less water and attract wildlife. Many of the plants in our garden were and are used by Chumash and Tongva.

Hummingbirds like this penstemon and it's tubular flowers.

Ms. Schwartz's 3rd Graders Plant a Three Sisters Garden

This week Ms. Schwartz's 3rd graders planted a Three Sisters Garden in the edible garden. The three sisters are corn, beans and squash. The have been planted for generations by indigenous peoples in America. By the time Europeans came to America in the 1600s, Iroquois had been growing the “three sisters” for more than 300 years!  This is a good example of companion planting.

The three plants help each other. The corn is the support for the beans which climb up the stalk. Beans provide provide nitrogen for the soil. The squash keeps the ground cool during the warm summer.  We planted heirloom Brinker Beans which we got from Turtle Tree Seed Initiative. We also planted Hjerleid Blue Corn, an heirloom corn which was donated by Seed Savers Exchange.

Different tribes plant different types of beans or corn or squash depending upon where they live.

Here is a link to an Iroquois Three Sisters legend:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

An Early Earth Day Lesson for Ms. Yoshida's 2nd Graders

This week Ms. Yoshida's 2nd graders learned about planting in reusable containers in preparation for Earth Day. Egg cartons, paper pots, milk cartons, toilet paper rolls and plastic tomato containers can be reused for starting seeds. The Scrapkins website as well as Life Lab has information regarding this.

Here is the link for the project if you want to share:

Today the children planted seeds in cardboard egg cartons. The egg cartons will decompose once they are planted in the soil. The children can either keep the seeds growing inside until they sprout and have three sets of leaves or they could immediately plant them in the ground.  In either case, the soil needs to be kept moist to aid germination.  If inside, the carton can be put on a small tray or plate. When the carton goes outside, make a hole at the bottoms so the roots can grow down and cover all of the cardboard with soil.

Today the children planted lettuce and carrot seeds. They planted two seeds in each section. During our lesson time we counted by 2s to determine the number of seeds each child would plant. The lettuce seeds were donated to the school from Turtle Tree Seed. They are open pollinated seeds.

After planting, the children wrote in their garden journals, watered in the garden and checked out the worm bin before eating a salad.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ms. Chaides' Class and Ms. Palo's Class Weed in the Native Garden

Last week both Ms. Chaides' and Ms. Palo's 4th grade classes weeded in the Native American Garden. The weeds like the recent rains.  This garden contains plants that are native to our local area, many of which were used by the Chumash and Tongva, our local indigenous peoples.

They were careful to avoid the California Poppy seedlings, the top of which looks something like carrots, while the weeds look like grass! The California Poppies are starting to bloom and we are eager to see more of our state flower.

We've applied mulch (small pieces of wood chips) to the area to keep the soil moist underneath and suppress the weeds. It will also eventually decompose and improve the soil.  Finally, it gives a nice clean look to the area. We'll finish mulching this week.

Ms. Chaides' class enjoyed touching the California Sagebrush and then smelling their hands. One student said that it smelled like mint.

We had to replant the garden last year after moving locations and still need to add more plants. Over the next few weeks we'll try to add more plants including white sage, ceanothus and more monkey flowers.   Here are some of the current ones which will hopefully bloom this spring:

Sticky Monkey Flower
A Monkey Flower in bloom at another location at school

California Sagebrush

Deer Weed

Cleveland Sage

California Poppy

Pink Flowering Current

Narrow Leaf Milkweed

Black Sage 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ms. Connor's 2nd Graders Planted in Recycled Egg Cartons

Today Ms. Connor's students learned about various methods for planting seeds that use recycled pots instead of plastic pots. We also discussed other ways to be good to the earth in preparation for Earth Day. Some choices besides egg cartons include toilet paper rolls, paper pots, recycled plastic 6 packs from the nursery, and plastic tomato containers.

We used a project from Scrapkins that Ms. Marie learned about from the Whole Kids Foundation. The Foundation gave the Marquez Garden a grant two years ago. The website is This recycled art project is fun and easy to do.

Basically, cut an egg carton in half, fill the holes with potting soil or seedling mix, plant 2-3 seeds in each hole, water and then transplant the entire carton in the ground or pot when there are 2-3 sets of leaves. The cardboard will decompose. Place the carton on a tray for drainage. Cut a hole for the roots to go through when planting. The students planted carrot and lettuce seeds.

After planting the children planted some more peas where they'd planted previously. Some peas and onions have sprouted. They also watered and checked out the worms in the worm bin.