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.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ms. Conn's 5th Graders Save Seeds Like Thomas Jefferson

This week Ms. Conn's 5th graders saved open pollinated seeds. We are saving seeds of plants that we like just as Thomas Jefferson did. The students planted open pollinated heirloom peas from Monticello earlier this year.

They saved arugula seeds from the Marquez Edible Garden and broccoli, red buckwheat, marigold and poppy seeds from Ms. Marie's garden.  The tiny seeds of broccoli, arugula and poppy are in seed pods.

Each student chose which seeds to save and labeled their envelope(s) with the name and planting instructions. Some illustrated the front of the envelope as well. They took the seeds home to plant later.

Some students weeded the Jeffersonian Garden so the the sugar snap peas, nasturtiums and marigolds have more room to grow.

Arugula seeds

Ms. Keller's Students Save Seeds and Make a Salad

This week Ms. Keller's 5th grade students learned about seed saving as part of their study of Thomas Jefferson the horticulturist. Thomas Jefferson saved the seeds from plants that he liked. Earlier in the school year they planted open pollinated seeds from Monticello in the Jeffersonian Garden. We discussed that plants grown from open pollinated seeds will be identical to the plant from which the seed came. Plants grown from hybrid plants will not necessarily be the same since they have two parent plants.

 They saved open pollinated seeds of broccoli, arugula and marigolds. They carefully took the tiny seeds of arugula and broccoli out of the seed pods. They wrote the common name and botanical names on the envelopes and directions for planting and then took them home to plant later. 

The students enjoyed a rainbow salad of yellow peppers,  tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and sugar snap peas. They like to serve themselves so they get the ingredients that they prefer. Some like the olive oil lemon juice vinaigrette dressing, others plain lemon juice or olive oil. 

Each student took home open pollinated heirloom Brinker Carrier beans donated from Seed Savers Exchange

Broccoli seeds

Arugula seeds

Salad bar

Yummy salad

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ms. Timmerman's 5th Graders Learn about Seed Saving

Recently Ms. Timmerman's 5th graders learned about saving seeds. We discussed that open pollinated seeds will have the same characteristics as the plant that they are harvested from. Heirloom plants are open pollinated. Hybrid plants are not open pollinated and will not have the same characteristics as the parent plants because they are a result of cross breeding.

The students had the opportunity to save seeds from broccoli, arugula and red buckwheat plants harvested from Ms. Marie's garden. They took the envelopes home so they can sow the seeds in their gardens.

Each student also took home a bean seed from the open pollinated seeds donated by Turtle Tree Seeds.

They then made individual salads using blueberries, carrots, broccoli, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, apple and yellow peppers. We made a lemon oil oil vinaigrette salad dressing though some kids preferred lemon juice and others used olive oil.  The kids loved the salad!  (I think they'd like a salad bar)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2nd graders Learn about Companion Plants for Tomatoes

This week Ms. Fein's and Ms. Connor's 2nd graders learned about companion plants as they planted tomato seedlings and seeds of companion plants in what will become a Salsa Garden. Ms. Connor's students also planted sugar snap pea seeds in another bed.

Companion plants are "friends" that grow well together. We planted seeds of onions, carrots, basil and marigolds as well as garlic cloves in the bed with the tomato seedlings. Nasturtiums are also companions and we already have some in the bed.

To plant the tomatoes we took off all but the top three stems of leaves and planted the seedling deep in a hole up to the leaves. All of the short hairs on the tomato plant will become roots and the plant will thus become stronger.

The kids wrote about companion planting in their garden journals.

We also reintroduced some worms to our worm bin and fed them veggie scraps. Some kids also weeded in the butterfly garden and one girl caught a lizard (which she later released)!

After planting and writing, the kids enjoyed a rainbow salad with lettuce, yellow peppers, red tomatoes, green broccoli and green peas and purple blueberries. It's important to our bodies to eat these colorful fruits and vegetables! The kids enjoyed an olive oil, lemon juice salad dressing.

Thanks to Carolyn Hasselkorn for assisting and also Ms. Yoshida and Ms. Connor. Ms. Connor took some arugula seed pods back to her class to dry the seeds for future planting.
Salad ingredients

Planting a tomato seedling

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ms. Creed's 1st Graders Plant Seeds in Root View Boxes

Today Ms. Creed's first grade students planted radish and lettuce seeds in root view boxes. They'll plant some seeds in the outside root view box when it stops raining!

Ms. Creed had read the book, Tops & Bottoms  by Janet Stevens to the students yesterday in preparation for the lesson.

Before they planted we looked at some vegetables that we eat the bottoms or roots of-radish, beets and carrots as well as a vegetable that we eat the top of-swiss chard.

The students planted the seeds near the window in their root view box so they'll hopefully be able to see the roots grow. We followed the instructions on the link below for the design of the root view boxes. Thanks to the class parents who made the boxes for the students!

The children wrote about the planting activity in their science journals while they were served a small taste of salad. They will keep track of how long it takes to see the roots and how long before the plants germinate.

Special thanks to Winter Armm for helping coordinate the project!

Ms. Schwartz's 3rd Graders Plant Seeds

Thursday Ms. Schwartz's 3rd graders planted seeds that they'll grow under grow lights in their classroom. They planted tomatoes, peppers, corn, zucchini and spinach.  Corn and zucchini are two of the vegetables in the Three Sisters Garden that they'll learn about and plant later this spring.  They made holes in the soil with a pencil after checking how deep to plant the seeds. We are using the Compact Tabletop Sunlight Garden from Gardeners Supply Company in this and other classes to get our seeds to grow quickly. When the seedlings have three leaves we'll transplant them into a raised bed in the edible garden.

They also wrote about their favorite vegetables in their journals and enjoyed a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, corn and blueberries.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ms. Bihari's Class Plants Seeds

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Bihari's class learned about "Eating a Rainbow."  We discussed how different colored vegetables (and fruits) supply different important vitamins to our bodies.  Then we planted radishes, carrots, kale, rainbow swiss chard, purple lettuce, and beets to make our own rainbow of vegetables.  We planted half of the seeds under the indoor Grow Light and half directly into their garden bed.  The class made a hypothesis that the seeds would grow equally well in both environments, but so far, most of the indoor seedlings are sprouting, and only three seedlings outside have sprouted.  Hopefully the rain will help!  When the seedlings have three sets of leaves, the students will transfer their seedlings to the garden bed near their classroom.  They will first harden them off to get them used to being outside.

These are the seeds after two weeks! 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ms. Chaides' 4th Graders Plant in the Native American Garden

Today Ms. Chaides' 4th graders learned about ethnobotany and planted in the Marquez Native American Garden. Ethnobotany is the study of how humans use plants. In our case we are studying how Native people used and still use some of the native plants around them for medicine, food and utensils or tools.  One of the students acted as scribe and took notes in the class garden notebook.

Today the students added some plants to the garden which was planted a couple of years ago as well as weeded the area. Thanks to Carol Bornstein, Director of the Nature Garden at the Natural History Museum and Nancy Cipes, sustainable landscaper, for helping get the plants.

The plants which were planted include: monkeyflower, black sage, purple sage, manzanita and deer grass. They joined the existing garden of monkeyflower, milkweed, California poppy, alum root, California Sagebrush, Cleveland sage and ceanothus.  There are many poppy seedlings growing that were sowed by Ms. Palo's class. In a couple of months the area will be full of the orange flowers of this our state flower. We also have white sage and an oak tree elsewhere on the campus. We'll add the white sage to this area soon.

This spring the students will learn some of the uses of the plants by people and by wildlife.   They are also learning the importance of mulch. Most of the areas are mulched and the dirt was easier to dig in because the soil was more moist. An easy one to remember is deer grass which native people weave into baskets. Also, sages, which are in the mint family, are used for tea.

Thanks to Sharon Agraba for helping plant.



Planting deer grass