Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ms. Bihari's Class Starts Seeds and Plants

On January 27, Ms. Bihari's 3rd graders planted. The first group planted seeds in seedling trays that they will monitor in their classroom. They planted two types of beans and nasturtiums. They will record when the seeds were planted, when they germinate and when they have two real sets of seeds so that they can be transplanted. We discussed that the nasturtiums will be able to be transplanted in the butterfly garden since pollinators like them. The children also planted some nasturtiums in the butterfly garden. We'll see which seeds germinate first!  We also looked at some carrot seedlings in the Peter Rabbit Garden and discussed that they were too close together. The students learned about thinning. We took out several seedlings and transplanted them in the seedling tray. We'll see if they grow!

The second half of the class planted in the class bed. First they removed the weeds carefully to avoid harming the sugar snap pea plants. They observed that there were six peas growing from their fall planting. Next the students planted seeds of lettuce and spinach as well as some seedlings of dianthus, also called pinks.

One student was the scribe and recorded what the students did today.

The next step is fertilizing the existing plants, supporting the peas with sticks or tomato cages and watering.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ms. Farrell's Class Plants Seeds to Germinate in the Room

On January 25, Ms. Farrell's students planted seeds that they'll take care of in the room. Each student labelled their seed cells so they can monitor the germination times. Seeds planted included calendula, radishes, corn, lettuce, sweet peas and more. The seedling kit has a cover which will allow for greater humidity and faster germination. Thanks to Lauren and Linda for assisting!

After each plant has two sets of real leaves it will be time to either transplant into a larger container or place in the ground.

Seed containers with labels

Ms. Fein's and Mr. Jacobs' classes in the Garden on Jan. 25

At the beginning of the garden time Mrs. Vander Veen showed the students the worm salad that they'd made in December. The food was rotten (or decomposed). The pine twig was not. She added the items to the worm bin. The students saw several decomposers in the bin-pincher bugs,  pill bugs and red wriggler worms.

At Marquez we emphasize the importance of vegetables and fruits in our diets. Today these 2nd graders generated alphabetical lists of fruits, herbs and vegetables. Some letters had many foods, e.g. "c" and "s".  There were a few unusual plants named such as dragonfruit and star fruit. Also, many were not familiar with spaghetti squash. We'll bring in some of these from the farmers' market when they are in season.

After generating the list, each student received a piece of paper with a letter of the alphabet. They then wrote the fruits, herbs or vegetables associated with the letter and illustrated their page. The pages will be compiled into a class book.

The students were given homework: on a sheet of paper they are to write the days of the week and then list the fruits or vegetables that they eat that day. Next Monday, we'll collect the sheets from their teachers and reward them with a treat!

A decomposed worm salad from December= food for the worms!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ms. Gardner's Class and Ms. Chaides' Classes in the Garden

Today Ms. Gardner's students and Ms. Chaides' students voted for their favorite vegetables. Then each student studied the seed packet for their vegetable and wrote details about them in their journals such as color, when to plant, height and how many days until harvesting. We reviewed whether the vegetables were cool season vegetables and likely to be planted in our garden this fall and winter, or warm season, and likely to be planted in the spring.

Carrots and broccoli are tied for the most popular vegetable in Ms. Gardner's class.  Carrots are the most popular one in Ms. Chaides' class.             .

After a snack of broccoli with ranch dressing, the students helped plant some seedlings and feed the worms in the compost bin.

Eating broccoli with ranch dressing.

Some of the favorite vegetables

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ms. Palo's Class in the Garden

Today some of Ms. Palo's 4th graders reviewed companion planting, some native plants and planted seedlings in the edible garden. Companions are friends, so companion planting is planting plants that are friendly to each other-i.e. grow well together. The companions that we have in the Peter Rabbit Garden are lettuce, carrots and radishes.

The students replanted kale and broccoli which will hopefully grow well this time of the year and not be troubled by the cabbage moth caterpillars. They also planted more lettuce in the Peter Rabbit Garden and calendulas in the Butterfly Garden. Calendulas are edible flowers.

Adding lettuce to the Peter Rabbit Garden

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ms. Yoshida's Class and Ms. Connor's Class Learn about Worm Composting

On January 11, Ms. Yoshida's class and Ms. Connor's class learned about decomposition and how the red wriggler worms in our worm bin help with recycling our food waste.  The students first learned about rot and the process of decomposition that occurs with the food that is placed in the worm bin for the worms to eat.  They then contributed to the chart that listed what worms can and cannot eat. After writing in their journals, the students made worm salad with fruit and vegetable scraps which they fed to the worms. They had carrots for a snack in the garden and their teachers were given gummy worms to pass out later. Thanks to Mrs. Vander Veen for teaching this lesson.
Vermicomposting is the use of worms to produce compost. Vermicompost or castings are worm manure, also called castings. They are very good soil amendments. 

Quinoa and Vegetable Salad

On January 14 the Marquez 5th graders made their own salads. The following recipe was the basis of the salad, but the kids could choose from the following ingredients: quinoa, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, cilantro, parsley and feta cheese. The dressing choices were buttermilk dressing, olive oil and lemon juice.

Quinoa and Vegetable Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups red or white quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 1 pound broccoli, trimmed, cut flowers and stems into small pieces
  • carrots sliced thin (can also add red onions or other veggies)
  • 4 oz. feta cheese (if desired)
  • handfull of cilantro, mint, parsley ( we had parsley and cilantro that the kids could add to their individual salads)

Prepare quinoa per directions on package. Rinse before adding to water.

Either steam or roast broccoli.
If steaming, steam for approximately one minute, until bright green, remove from heat and put into ice cold water to stop cooking.
If roasting, preheat oven to 450. Toss broccoli with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat broccoli. Roast, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly; add to bowl with quinoa.
Cut broccoli in smaller pieces if desired.

Dressing #1 Buttermilk Dressing (from Bon Appetit)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch (or more) fine sea salt
Dressing # 2 (not used at Marquez, but looks good)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Note: You can also substitute almonds for pine nuts and add other herbs that you may have on hand.

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and shallot in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add parsley, cilantro, mint, feta, and 2 Tbsp. pine nuts to quinoa; pour vinaigrette over. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with remaining 2 Tbsp. pine nuts.

Friday, January 15, 2016

5th Graders Propagate Plants by Cuttings

The 5th graders learned about propagating plants by taking cuttings this week. Propagating is reproducing or multiplying. Thomas Jefferson propagated plants by saving and planting seeds but also by taking cuttings.

We propagated by using the stem of the plants and placing the cutting in a soilless mixture such as perlite or vermiculite. The kids did this after dipping the tip of the stem in rooting hormone that increases the chance that roots will develop.

The students chose their cuttings from the following plants: pothos, geranium, African violet, Mexican sage, rosemary, lavender and red buckwheat.  Each class now has several pots containing the cuttings that they will be taking care of.

The procedure:
1. Fill pot with perlite or vermiculite.
2. Select freshly cut stem of plant about 3" long.
3. Dip tip of stem in rooting compound.
4. Stick stem in pot. If necessary, make a hole in the perlite with a pencil.
5. Spray perlite with water.
6. Tent the pot with plastic wrap or a baggie to create humidity.
7. Keep perlite moist.
8. Keep pot in a bright area, but not in direct sunlight.
8. Check pot in 3-4 weeks to see if roots have developed.
A future geranium plant

After planting, the kids washed their hands and made salad. They chose their ingredients from quinoa, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, parsley and cilantro. The dressing options included buttermilk dressing, olive oil and lemon juice. I find that quinoa tastes best when combined with vegetables and herbs and they seemed to like it that way too! The carrots were raw and the broccoli was either steamed or roasted. Thanks to Carolyn Hasselkorn for volunteering today.
The kids love broccoli!

The buttermilk dressing recipe is from Bon Appetit magazine.

Buttermilk dressing
Makes 1/2 cup
• 3/4 cup buttermilk
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to incorporate. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.
Choosing ingredients for salad