Posts by Jeff Mailes

Rio Vista – Brick Making

Hello Garden Friends, The last couple of weeks have been pretty centered around how soil helps us grow food. This week I thought I would show them how soil can give us more! Like shelter for example! The lesson started with a question. Why do people build houses out of sticks instead of bricks? Especially…

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Calvert – Drought Tolerant Plant Adaptations

Hello Garden Friends, Still no water at Calvert. A perfect opportunity to discuss drought tolerant plant adaptations. Today we walked through the garden with the fourth graders and identified plants that were growing well, despite having the water turned off all summer. Rosemary, White Sage, and a volunteer Palm were all worth taking notice of.…

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Calvert – Seeds of Hope

Hello Garden friends, Today at Calvert, the first of the radish seeds popped up from the garden beds! This is no easy feat in a garden that has no automatic water. I am so proud of the fourth graders. Their teachers told me that they had been using the hose I bought them during their…

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Rio Vista – Saving and Planting seeds!

Hello Garden friends, Today was the second week of garden class at Rio Vista. That means we got to progress beyond the introduction and rules and move into more fun learning activities! First we started by clearing out some of the dry corn so that we could save some seeds. In doing so we exposed…

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Calvert – Kindergaten Wrapup

Hello garden friends,  Today we look back at all the magical moments we shared with the Kindergarten classes. Our first class was extremely foundational. Learning the garden rules and practicing. 1. Respect all life. 2. Don’t pick or eat plants unless Farmer Jeff says its OK. 3. Leave the garden better than you found it.…

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Columbus MS – Worms

Hello Garden Friends, Today at Columbus MS, Ms. Murray’s class had the opportunity of learning about our precious soil making friends. En espanol se llama GUSANOS! That’s right WORMS! These veggie monsters can eat up to half their body weight a day under the right circumstances. Without lungs, teeth, or eyes, they navigate through the…

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Calvert – Pink Flowers and Red Carrots

Hello Garden Friends, Yesterday at Calvert, the 1st grade students and I celebrated our last day of garden class together with carrots and songs. Everybody got to pick out and rinse off their own carrot to eat. Some students were skeptical of the red color of the carrots, after all, new things can be scary!…

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Rio Vista – Magic Potions

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday at Rio Vista we toured the spring garden and harvested ingredients to make delicious infused water beverages.. or magic potions. The garden is full of nutrients and vitamins and organic chemistry that has incredible healing abilities. Making teas and infusions is one way we can keep our bodies balanced and…

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Rio Vista – chickens and asparagus

Hello Garden Friends, Can anyone think of a better way to spend a Wednesday than to dig up some soil, plant some asparagus root stock, and then watch a chicken eat some bolting lettuce. I certainly couldn’t think of a better springtime activity. Planting asparagus in the ground has been something I have been wanting…

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Calvert – Asparagus roots and wildflowers

Hello Garden Friends, Last Friday marked the last day with the second graders. To commemorate the day we planted some tomatoes andasparagus root stock which was donated by Sylmar High School’s Horticultural Program. In the featured image you can see the students digging trenches and laying the root stock horizontally. It takes a few years for…

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Carson-Gore – Weeding and Woodchips

Hello Garden Friends, This weekend the Carson-Gore community got a big helping hand from the strong capable women in Kappa Alpha Kappa UCLA chapter. From 9 to 1 these ladies helped weed all the pathways and unloaded about 7 cubic yards of fresh woodchips on top of the bare soil. The woodchips not only give the garden…

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Holy Family School – Irrigation Renovation and Compost

Hello Garden Friends, Pleased to report that the installation at Holy Family School in South Pasadena is up and running again. After the garden got moved inside the school grounds, the community needed a little help setting up the irrigation lines again. Thursday morning Rangers Matt and Tahereh joined me to hook up the old…

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Rio Vista – Spring Cleaning and Garden Art

Hello Garden Friends, Ahhh yes the apple tree is blossoming and the fig tree is leafing out, the signs of spring are all around. The newly transplanted cabbage are growing quickly, as are the weeds; Thus the inspiration for todays lesson. After breezing through the intro with the third and fourth graders,  we identified the…

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El Sereno – a garden in a day

Hello Garden Friends, Quick update and post with some photos from the work party last Saturday. We completely transformed one of the areas of the garden that had been buried under bermuda grass. It took some heavy intern labor and loads of compost and manure for sheet mulching but we got some nice rows ready…

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Glassell Park – before and after cleanup photos

Hello Garden Friends, Last Thursday at Glassell Park, I went in check on the garden and did some maintenance for the next ranger that manages the space. In summary, I fixed the broken raised bed, de-weeded the classroom, and picked up tools and trash laying around the space. Check out the before and after photos! Until…

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Rio Vista – Recycling with Worms

Hello Garden Friends, Last Wednesday we celebrated Dr. Suess’ birthday by reading in the garden. With several guest readers, including  LAUSD Superintendant Michelle King, our garden time had an unusual start. To the left is a picture of several of our guests with the children. After the readers left, normal garden time resumed and I introduced the…

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Calvert – Chickens

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Calvert we did a lesson about warm season and cool season vegetables. First, reviewing the 6 plant parts and then giving then giving them some basic guidelines to think about. For example: roots, stems, and leaves are the first plant parts to come out of a seed, the vegetables…

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Calvert – War on Weeds

Hello Garden Friends, The air was cold, the ground was wet, the enemy could be seen lurking around the edges of our beds and around the bases of our trees. It was time to take up arms. With claws and hula hoes the 2nd graders spent the first half of class learning that a farmer’s…

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Rio Vista – The pulse of the garden

Hello Garden Friends, Take your index and middle fingers and place them on the right side of your neck, right under your chin on the side of your throat. You feel that? That’s your pulse! That’s how you know you are alive! Right now blood pumps through your veins and into your thinking mind, allowing…

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Calvert – Garden/City World

Hello Garden Friends, Today at Calvert the second graders and I enjoyed the warmth of our classrooms while the plants enjoyed the 3′ of rain they got today. On the whiteboard we drew pictures of the water cycle as I told the story of “Garden/City World”. Then we went outside for a moment and checked…

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Woodchips ahoy

Hello Garden Friends, This morning we moved the woodchips away from the parking lot in preparation for an upcoming lesson about weeds. (check out the lack of pile to right 😉 ) What is a weed and why do we call certain plants such derogatory names. After all, isn’t a weed just a plant whose…

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Rio Vista – Chickens!

Hello Garden Friends, Today was a unique day in the history of Rio Vista’s Hidden Garden. Today we introduced the students to a chicken! We centered the class by reminding them about respect and empathy. “Do any of you get stage fright when you are in front of lots of people and asked to perform?…

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Sanding vs Staining

Hello Garden Friends, Today took me to Melrose Elementary in Hollywood, where I sanded down the outdoor kitchen area and welcome gate. I often get asked by parents/volunteers, “why don’t we stain our raised beds or tables?” Here is the answer: Firstly, redwood is already a termite and rot resistant wood and while the aesthetic…

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Rio Vista – First generation seedlings

Hello Garden Friends, In tandem with the mud brick post, teaching the children how to make their own seedlings has been a process a few weeks in the making. I can’t tell you how many lessons I have gotten out of our new seedling station.. oh wait, I can – in this blog post! Our first…

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Calvert – 5th grade highlight reel

Hello Garden Friends, Oh where oh where has the time gone. It seems like just yesterday when I was welcoming to the 5th graders back to garden class and now they have come and gone. For those of you who missed out on the action and would like a recap of the first group, keep scrolling.…

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Rio Vista – Mud Bricks

Hello Garden Friends, Writing today to share a few highlights from the last month where we learned to make bricks from the soil! This activity was worked into a lesson I usually teach explaining all the things that come from the dirt. The kids seemed to remember from last year, “plants, food, wood, paper, clothes…”…

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Calvert – Restarting the Greenhouse

Hello Garden Friends, Last week at Calvert we brushed the dust off our greenhouse and filled it with peas and beans. Why peas and beans? Well, peas normally prefer cool weather and beans like it hot. The fall transition can be super tricky so we thought, hey lets plant both and be safe! Now we…

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Rio Vista – Peas or Beans?

Hello Garden Friends, Long time to see! Well, schools back and the garden is returning in style – with a new seedling station! Last Wednesday we talked about the seasons.. and different seeds have a preferred time to sleep in the soil. The end of summer is tricky. Will it be hot? Will it start…

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Giving TLC to Delevan Drive

We grew from 0 to 100 in a little under 4 years…that is 100 school gardens built and then added to our weekly roster….we grew too fast and some of our earlier gardens in particular suffered from our lack of attention. Enter the “Clear, Build and Hold ” strategy of Summer 2016. The plan: Clear, Build…

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Foster – Irrigation on lock!

Hello Garden Friends, Following up after the Next Step Ministries work party last week, we now have the irrigation portion of the job complete! Follow this link to see the system in action and scroll down to view the pictures below! Until next time, Jeff  

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Lassen ES – Herbs and Irrigation

Hello Garden Friends, Today I Shelby and I met with the principal and walked the garden. We admired the herbs and said our prayers for the marigolds that never made it. Our tomatoes were fruiting a little but our squash and other summer starts we not doing so well. Together, we hypothesized that the nice…

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Stevenson ES – Summer Seeding

Hello Garden Friends! Whoo hoo! The seedlings planted during the Next Step Ministries work party are really taking off. Today I added a few more seeds so that the garden will look lush when the students come back. I sowed cucumbers, beets, chard, and zucchini. In addition, I made some decorative signs, checked our irrigation…

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Toluca Lake – Independent Irrigation

Hello Garden Friends, So excited to have the control to fine tune our plants watering needs! Last week Jess and I set up a new electronic timer which controls the flow of water to our raised beds. We removed the lines which plugged into the districts sprinkler and set up a new line over a newly constructed…

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Kingsley – Seed Sprouts

Hello garden friends, The new Kingsley garden is off to a good start! The seeds that were planted are popping up! Mustard, squash, mint, oregano, peppers and tomatoes – so exciting! After thinning the small plants out I made a to do list. Before school, we need to make sure this place has a space…

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Cheremoya – Sharing harvest

Hello garden friends, Cheremoya is looking cheerful! Lots of flowers, mint is going off, and the tomatoes show promise. Today I trellised the tomatoes, watered the pots, and cut some herbs and chard for the summer staff to take home… Next visit maybe we throw in a few squash seedlings 😉   until then, Jeff

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Valley view – plus compost

Hello garden friends, First impressions of valley view drew me to the lovely herbs and friendly plant manager, Milton. Today I amended the beds with compost so we can plant some pumpkin starts in the next week.

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PAFSS – Room to grow

Hello garden friends, Jeff here, reporting live from the Primary Academy for Success School. This new garden is off to a great start! Plants look great and weeds are manageable for now. A compost system and lockable tool box would take this place to the next level. Ordering some woodchips and a few more cubic…

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Calvert – Planting for Summer

Hello Garden Friends, It is a sad, sad, day watching the kindergarteners line up and leave for the last time. With a final group hug the children left for summer. Alas, I am left to tend the garden and care for their seeds – preparing the garden so that when they return the promises of pumpkins…

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TAS – I Spy

Hello Garden Friends, I spy with my little eye something red that grows under ground and tastes sweet instead of spicy.. what am I? If you said a beet you are absolutely right! They are growing so well here that I thought I would have the students of each class find the biggest one they…

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Rio Vista – Early Summer Harvests!

Hello Garden Friends, It’s beginning to look a lot like summer! With giant squashes and zucchinis bursting forth from the beds, fresh potatoes coming out of the soil, and the scent of tomato leaves wafting in the air. Oh.. the simple things. Last week I shared these simple joys with the students while wishing them…

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ALCMC – Spring Showcase

Hello Garden Friends, I am so proud of my students. They were on time, well-prepared, and spoke with passion to their fellow students – representing their garden and the hard work that they and the rest of their classmates had put in this year. As you can see in the featured photo, the students lined…

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Eagle Rock – Air

Hello Garden Friends, Last week concluded the last of a four part series with the grey group. We talked about air and climate change and how our system of producing food makes it increasingly harder for us to cultivate vegetables. I described the system in 5 steps. 1) Production – Conventional farmers use tractors which…

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Rio Vista – Grain to Bread

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Rio Vista we made our special garden fossil tortillas. Concluding the year with a nice talk about what fossils tell us about ourselves and how we are all related. While the kids had their tortillas cooking on the cast iron I had them smash some popcorn kernels so the kids…

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ALCMC – Practice Makes Perfect

Hello Garden Friends, The final countdown begins and next week is the big showcase! Today we finished up our powerpoint slides and even got around to practicing the performance for one another. I’m so proud of these students, it was really heartwarming to look back on our progress and hear what they remember about the experience.…

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Eagle Rock – Bamboo Teepee

Hello Garden Friends, This week at Eagle Rock we were able to erect our garden teepee made completely out of plant materials – hemp twine holding together the bamboo frame. This activity was part three of the four part series covering how a garden can provide for Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs. It is interesting that…

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