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