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Healthy Soil and Decomposers come to Foster

The students at Foster got to learn how we can make our own soil! The earth does this everyday naturally, but humans can actively make soil too! This process is called composting. For a healthy compost pile we need a balance of green materials (fresh kitchen or yard scraps, still moist) and brown materials (dead materials like dried leaves, tree mulch, newspaper or cardboard), air, water and the decomposers that live inside.

Posters for the lesson!
Posters for the lesson!

We learned that earthworms are one of the major invertebrate decomposers that help to break down all organic matter and poop it out as very nutritious fertilizer for plants. Worm poop is called castings and farmers buy bags of their poop to add to their gardens.

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Just like raising a dog or a cat, you can raise earthworms in your own home! This process called, vermiculture, is a process of composting through the process of using different types of worms (usually red wigglers, earth worms or white worms) to create a healthy mixture of organic matter and worm castings. I have my own vermiculture worm bin at my house and brought it to school so the kids could see!

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Healthy dark mixture of decomposed organic materials and worm casting.

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You don’t only find earthworms in a worm bin! Other decomposers can live there too!

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We took a look in the compost tumbler to see the process of decomposition of in action.

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Planning a winter garden at Valley View Elementary

Our new group of students are on the scene here at Valley View; they are ready to contribute to the Winter Garden!

Looking at the winter vegetables that are already growing to see what else we can add
Looking at the winter vegetables that are already growing to see what else we can add

Our plan is to plant the seed we like, take it to our school room window sill, and bring it back to transplant into the garden in 2 weeks.

filling our cups with soil
filling our cups with soil

We check out our winter seeds and choose between dino kale, swiss chard, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, acorn squash, carrots, calendula, poppies, and snap peas.

cups are planted
cups are planted

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Hopefully, we can get another round of winter veggies as health as our last groups!

 

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Can I be a worm?

Today at United Children’s Learning Academy (UCLA), the kids learned about worms and the fun and silly ways they help our gardens. We learned to wiggle down into the earth like a worm, and how to stretch and wiggle up into the air like a green bean. We triend radishes, red bell peppers, and carrots as a snack. One student said “Ms. Alexys, can I have all of the radishes?” I’d say it was a success!UCLA 4UCLA 3UCLA 2UCLA1

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You cant stop the Radish!

 

At Van Nuys middle school, the kids had plenty of work to do after the frost, but there were still some hearty veggies going strong! Radishes can never fail here, while the lettuces and edamame plants continue to grow. We even had time to dance- well, the parts of a plant dance that is!IMG_20150114_092158332_HDRIMG_20150114_105600123Our radish harvest! There were many more- this was only round 1!

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Wormies!

One of my favorite things to show kids in the garden are all the creepy crawlies that live with our plants.  Many students have not had the chance to observe or play with these helpful creatures.  At Vine Elementary School, we spent an entire class digging through the soil so that we could observe earthworms.

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Earthworms are very helpful!  They eat fruits and vegetables that have fallen and are getting rotten.  Earthworm poop is full of nutrients that help our plants grow big and strong.  Worms do not have any teeth or legs, so you don’t have to worry about them biting or pinching you.

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Baby worm!
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Two worms at once!

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These TS King students are working hard to get old roots out of the ground.

Planting Potatoes At T.S. King Middle School and Melrose Elementary

 

When these potatoes sprouted roots  we cut them into about eight pieces. We gave the pieces a few days to crust over; this helps them be impervious to disease once in the ground.

these potatoes sprouted roots. We cut into  pieces that had a root.
these potatoes sprouted roots. We cut into pieces that had a root.
These TS King students are working hard to get old roots out of the ground.
These TS King students are working hard to get old roots out of the ground.

We removed a lot of soil from the planters so that when the potato begins to show its leaves, we can “hill” them. ( cover with more dirt to encourage more growth)

 

We made our trenches for the seed potatoes
We made our trenches for the seed potatoes

We dropped in our seedlings and wished them luck!

Melrose Elementary students covering the newly planted seeds.
Melrose Elementary students covering the newly planted seeds.
TS King students planting garlic cloves
TS King students planting garlic cloves and pulling out some weeds
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Ramona BeeeeeesSsSs~~

Ramona is full of some great gardeners and artist! We had fun creating art for our garden. While the little gardeners painted we talked about the great friends and foes of the garden. We focused on the importance of bees and how to be respectful when we see them in the garden. Many of us have been told to be scared of bees but as we talked about the importance of all pollinators in the garden many of us found that they only sting us to defend themselves. We are Great BiG GiantS in the bee world and we need to remember that the bees are more then likely scared of us. So if you see a bee in the garden make sure to be respectful and walk the other way!ramona 1 jan ramona 2 jan

south gate jan 2015

South Gate Middle School yummies!

At South Gate Middle School, we are learning about the importance of eating healthy. The students had a great time harvesting and preparing their very own salad. It’s great to hear all the different ways they use and eat their veggies at home too! One great lesson we all learn when preparing a meal together is the lesson of community. Only working together will we be able to create something worth eating and enjoying. Thank you to the students at South Gate Middle School for working together to caring for a garden we can all eat from. Cheers!south gate jan 2015 south gate 2 jan 2015