Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eating kale chips, measuring and composting

February 6 and 13

This month we've focused on eating, measuring and composting. After our earlier success with broccoli, parent Sara Houghton prepared kale chips using some of our school-grown kale and some purchased kale. They were a big hit with the kids!

Kale chip recipe

Wash leaves well, pat, spin or air dry well. Remove most of center ribs and stems. Chop into bite-sized (1") pieces and place in a bowl. Toss with 2 T. olive oil, throw on sea salt.  Lay evenly on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until they are dark green and crunchy.

Sara also did some measuring activities with one of the beds eg. 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. We're trying to reinforce some concepts that the kids will be tested on, using a"real world" situations.

February 20

This week we did whole class lessons on composting inside the classrooms. I read "Garbage Helps Your Garden Grow" and excerpts from "Compost Critters". (Another good book is "Composting, Nature's Recyclers"). I also brought some compost from my home compost bin.  The kids enjoyed looking at the organic material in different stages of composition and also seeing the pill bugs and earthworms.  These are just two of the decomposers that help the greens and browns in the bin decay. When the compost is decomposed it becomes dark-brown humus. It is then ready to put around plants. The kids wrote in their garden journals after the lesson.

decomposers: creatures that break down organic matter and eat them,
decompose: to rot or break down,
humus: the decomposed compost,
pill bugs
worm castings: the waste from the earthworms, the basis of humus and very high in minerals. (You can purchase bags of worm castings at nurseries to use as soil amendment).

The kids will probably remember that rot and decompose are synonyms.

At school we have both compost bins and worm composting bins which we will start using in earnest.
earthworms at work

Note: If you wish to start composting at home, you can try vermiculture or use a compost bin. Vermiculture involves feeding kitchen waste (what the kids know as greens) to red wriggler worms. The waste from the worms, worm castings, are a high-quality soil amendment. Worm bins can be made or purchased. The LA City Dept of Sanitation sells worm bins and composting bins at Griffith Park. In addition, you can make them yourself. A later blog will describe this.

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