Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Malibu Compost donated to Marquez Edible Garden

Randy Ritchie, owner of Malibu Compost, and Marquez alum, recently donated many bags of Bu's Blend biodynamic compost to Marquez for use in our edible garden. We look forward to many healthy vegetables! Bu's Blend is sold in over 250 stores in the Western U.S. including Malibu Feed Bin, Cosentino's and Anawalt Lumber.

Randy will be speaking on May 5 from 10-11 am. Please invite your friends.  Come and learn about organic gardening and the importance of healthy soil. Samples of compost tea will be available.

Notice for Marquez families and staff and community members re May 5

Sunday, May 5 will be a beautification/workday from 9 am to 1 pm.  This coincides with Big Sunday. This is open to the school and Palisades community. "Jobs" include building covers for raised garden beds, sanding bench seats in the garden, painting a design on the shade structure, painting garden signs, planting outside the upper yard (we will have the plants), reinforcing upper bed covers, amending soil, weeding, and more.  Other activities may be available. Please bring your own tools, hats, sunscreen and water. Refreshments will be available.

From 10-11 a.m. by the upper yard beds, Randy Ritchie of Malibu Compost will discuss organic gardening and composting.

We are accepting donations to defray costs of plants, paint, wood, etc. Please email Sara Houghton or Marie Steckmest if interested in donating.

A monarch butterfly, ladybugs and some salad

Today was an exciting day in the garden for Ms. Fein's class. At the beginning of the period, Ms. Conner's class and the rest of Ms. Fein's class came to the garden for the release of the monarch butterfly that had emerged yesterday. Ms. Fein helped Ms. Conner who gently helped the butterfly out of the net butterfly house where it had lived for the last day. It was quiet at the beginning but by the end of the morning it was moving its wings. Appropriately, it was set free in the middle of the butterfly garden near some plants that it will hopefully like!

Later, some kids added greens to the compost bin while others looked at the many ladybugs that are still in the garden. The ladybugs liked to land on the kids' hands!

Our two parent volunteers assembled the salad of lettuce, radishes, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and celery which the kids ate while observing the animals in the garden.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ms. Abram's class plants tomatoes and beans

Today Ms. Abram's fourth graders learned how to plant tomatoes and what the terms on the label mean. They learned that there are two types of tomatoes-determinate and indeterminate and what they mean (determinate grow to a compact height, will all fruit around the same time; indeterminate will fruit continuously throughout the growing season). They also learned what hybrid and heirloom mean. (They understand the heirloom plants come from seeds that have been grown for many, many years. I used the example that some plants are still existing from Thomas Jefferson's time). They planted two hybrids and two heirlooms.

To plant the tomato:
- remove the bottom two or three stems. When planted underground, these stems, and the hairs on the stems will become roots. The kids understand that the more roots the better!
- gently loosen the roots
- plant the tomato deeply-not just at the level of the soil in the pot it comes in.
- water deeply

They also planted some beans that had germinated in the classroom.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stories about the garden

"I learned a lot of stuff in the edible garden. I learned that broccoli must be picked in a certain time or else it will sprout flowers, but you can still eat the flowers. The soil must be nutritious or else the plant will not grow. Compost helps plants grow. Some flowers are edible and some are not." Kai

"In the Marquez edible garden I learned a lot of stuff. I learned how to transplant seedlings into the flower beds." Toby

"This year we learned about how to take care of an edible garden. We learned about many things like the following: broccoli, carrots, radish, tomatoes, marigolds and borage. My favorite things are the fuzzy caterpillars and looking for grubs." Elula

"I learned a lot about our Marquez edible garden. I learned a lot about composting. I compost with worms. You put greens and browns into a bin." Chiara

"When I go to the edible garden, I learned a lot about planting vegetables. I learned a lot about flowers and worms. I also learned that the soil has nutrients that help the flowers grow. I learned how compost helps the earth. I learned about different flowers. My favorite activity down at the garden is tasting the vegetables." Samantha

"This is what I learned at the Marquez edible garden. We made a compost bin. Our compost bin had worms in it. We also planted seeds. It was fun. We dug for grubs. It was fun. They had 10 legs. My favorite thing at the garden was digging for grubs. We also ate broccoli. We wasted the broccoli first." Calvin

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An Organic School Garden at Marquez

We practice organic gardening principles in the Marquez Edible Garden. We use organic fertilizers and compost. We do not use pesticides. We currently have an active compost bin and a worm bin. The students plant the vegetables, harvest them and eat them. We plant flowers and herbs to attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs. Ladybugs like parsley, mint and marigolds. Butterflies like nasturtiums. We have planted milkweed to feed the caterpillar stage of the monarch butterfly.

Second Graders plant and maintain the garden the third week of April

On Wednesday, Ms. Conner's class and Mr. Jacob's class planted and helped maintain the garden. Some children planted bush bean seeds, others transplanted lettuce, arugula, pepper or marigold seedlings. Still others added materials to the compost bin, weeded or watered.  We looked at the milkweed plant. We discussed edible flowers that are in the butterfly garden.

On Thursday, Ms. Fein's students and Ms. Yoshida's students also transplanted seedlings, planted bush bean seeds, added greens and water to the compost bin and reviewed edible flowers. The children pointed out the following edible flowers: marigolds, nasturtiums, pansies and violas. We discussed that these may be put in salads as decorations, but that people only eat the flower petals.   They can only be eaten if they've been grown without pesticides and they should be washed first. We also looked at the milkweed plant. The children wrote in their journals.

                                                A nasturtium flower

The Thursday groups voted on their favorite vegetables to eat or favorite treats that we've served in the garden. While kale chips and sugar snap peas are popular, broccoli with ranch dressing was the favorite. We'll have a party with food from the garden at the end of the school year.

Both Thursday groups snacked on kale chips. Here's the recipe: preheat the oven to 350 degrees; wash kale, lightly dry, take leaves off of stems and tear into bite sized pieces; put them into a bowl and sprinkle with 1-2 T. of olive oil and some sea salt. Place on baking sheet and bake in oven for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Here's an update from Max, a student in Ms. Yoshida's class: "We ate kale chips. Three girls composted. Some kids are planting bush beans. We voted what we want the most at the end of the year. Broccoli was in first place kale chips were in second place and sugar snap peas were in last."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ms. Gardner's class amends soil, composts and plants

Ms. Gardner's class came in two groups for 45 minutes each.  The main lesson dealt with amending the soil-what amend means, why we do it and what is in the amendment. One student read the label on the front of the bag which lead to a discussion of what worm castings were and why we were using organic amendment. We also discussed why we were using fertilizer and how it would get to the roots of the plants. After the lesson, the children volunteered for three activities-measuring the area of the bed to determine how much fertilizer they would add, mixing in the soil amendment and composting. The parent volunteer helped the children measure the bed and then read the fertilizer bag to determine the amount of fertilizer. The second group got to plant sugar snap peas, marigolds and bean seeds after which they watered the bed. They learned that marigold petals are edible. When the children were finished working, they each got a sugar snap pea after stating something that they'd learned.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Milkweed and a monarch chrysalis for Marquez

Today I bought a milkweed plant in bloom for our garden. Then I visited a friend who showed me two monarch caterpillars and two chrysalis. She gave me one for Marquez which the kids can see next week. They'll hopefully see the butterfly emerge!

Kindergarteners learn about monarchs and milkweed

This week the kindergarteners learned about the relationship between monarch butterflies and milkweed when they listened to the story, "Monarchs and Milkweed" by Helen Frost. They'll be getting their own milkweed plant soon. In another example of how gardening class reinforces regular classroom studies, they happen to be raising caterpillars this month!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2nd graders learn about borage, meet a caterpillar, and work in the garden

Today's garden lesson on borage dovetailed nicely with a story the kids have read in class about bees.  Here are comments from our guest bloggers from Ms. Yoshida's class and Fein's class:

We learned  about borage. We saw some carrots. We learned about snapdragons. We saw rosemary and lavender. We looked for grubs.  We made a salsa garden.  Clay soil is better for planting. We found 30 grubs.

Today we learned about the plant borage .  Borage attracts bees. It has these white small stick things that are very spiky and  they hurt us. Borages flowers are purple.    We also learned about 2 different types of soil one type was clay soil the other type of soil was sand soil.   We also learned that clay soil is better for planting.  We also learned that sand and clay together is silt. We found 40 grubs and a hairy caterpillar.

To see information about borage, which has edible flowers, go to: The kids passed around some borage from my garden. Some perceptive kids mentioned that the flowers looked like those of lavender, which we do have in the garden.

We continued discussion on soil. I mentioned that clay soil is better than sand for our plants but that silt, which is a combination, is best. (We add amendment and compost to our beds to improve drainage.)

Some children in Ms. Yoshida's class planted peppers in our Salsa bed. They join tomatoes and cilantro. The kids will get to eat salsa at the beginning of next school year.

The children loved the black caterpillar which I had found at home. They do love bugs!

Children in Ms. Conner's class and Mr. Jacobs' class added beans to their Three Sisters Gardens. They also picked a huge radish. The kids learned that when arugula and radishes go to seed, or are finished, they produce flowers. The white arugula flower is edible as is the blue/purple radish flower. (A reminder, only eat flowers that you know haven't been sprayed with pesticide).

Ms. Abrams' class prepares their bed and more

On April 8, Ms. Abrams' students did a great job in the garden. They did several different tasks depending upon their group: measuring the area of their bed and calculating how much fertilizer to add; added the organic fertilizer (all of them); turn the soil and removed roots to get soil ready for planting. One student found a worm that he will use for his science fair project. We discussed the Three Sistes that they will be planting in their bed.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tomatomania-for school and home

Dear Fans of the Marquez Edible Garden,
Tomatomania is a wonderful tomato event and where I purchase tomatoes every year. It will be held locally at Grow Native Nursery in the Vet's Garden, Westwood on Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. A lecture about tomato growing will be given at 11:00 am both days. I'll buy some tomatoes for the school and some for me.  The address is Constitution Ave & Davis Ave, Los Angeles, CA, United States, 90049. It's at 100 Davis Avenue just north of Jackie Robinson Stadium. Take Sepulveda north of Wilshire, turn left on Constitution, and right on Davis. 

Soil study and planting

Today we discussed soil and continued with other garden tasks. The children observed two different soil samples and voted on the "best" soil for planting. They then answered the question, "what is in soil?" Their responses included: air, water, rocks, leaves, small sticks, earthworms, pill bugs, compost, humus. Our volunteer Gretchen introduced perennial and annual plants to Ms. Conner's class through her discussion of pansies. Gretchen also brought a terra cota saucer that we are using for a bird bath.

Their other garden tasks included:
- transplanting seedlings from small containers to larger ones;
- adding cilantro and peppers to the tomato bed--now the salsa garden;
- starting the Three Sisters Garden by planting corn (Jacobs and Conner's class)
- planting basil, bean, lettuce and carrot seeds;
- adding to the compost bin;
- watering, and
- digging for grubs.

Thanks as always to the garden volunteers! In addition to some parents and Gigi (Gretchen), we had two students who were on spring break that helped today.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Room 5 and 7 Kindergarteners in the Garden on April 2

Kindergarten rooms 5 and 7:

We took this bunch to the lower yard garden.
Students checked on and composted more waste, courtesy of Eleanor Lee, three bags worth of scraps!  Our earthworms love these gifts! Students also worked in teams to water the garden, dig for grubs and work in their journals.  A small team helped weed a bed and collect seeds from broccoli rapini to make room for more seedlings.  We will save these seeds for planting next season. Per request, students noshed on peas before heading back to class.