Field reports from

Bryson Elementary School

The garden at Bryson Avenue Elementary School was built in Fall 2012 with the help of DirecTV and Do Good Bus. It features raised beds, including a “strip garden” utilizing a 2′ strip of land towards the rear of the school.

The (Edible) Parts of a Plant

Is it a root? A modified stem? A tuber? Root vegetables are endlessly fascinating and great for illustrating the different parts of a plant. At Bryson Elementary, students studied carrots, beets, and radishes. They learned the differences between warm and cool season vegetables and fruits. From flowers like nasturtiums to roots like carrots, we eat…

Read More...

The Cycle of Seeds at Bryson Elementary

At Bryson Elementary, students got to learn about the cycle of seeds! With summer coming to a close, it is a perfect time to collect seeds from Thai and Italian basil, cilantro, and rue. Students were given dried cuttings of each and told to find the seeds inside the flowers. From second to fourth grades,…

Read More...

Bryson Avenue Elementary

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Seed Hunters

Today at Bryson Elementary, we learned about seeds. After reading A Seed is Sleepy (review found here), we went into the garden in search of seeds. We found seeds in the runner bean’s dried up pods and coriander from this formerly cilantro plant. Meanwhile, in the garden, our broccoli continues to grow, tomato fruits continue…

Read More...

Bryson Book Review: Are you a ladybug?

If there’s one beneficial insect that kids know, it’s the ladybug. Are you a ladybug? by Judy Allen is an adorable book written for students in lower elementary. It goes through the life cycle of a ladybug and answers a lot of questions that students ask: are all ladybugs red? Do they all have spots? The…

Read More...

Assassin bugs are my friends – Bryson Elementary

In their lesson on friends and foes in the garden, students peered through magnifying glasses to look at spider mites found underneath tomato leaves. The mites appear to be nothing but dots–that is, until you start watching them move and spotting their webs. The lesson on friends and foes in the garden is always a…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Plants Feed Me!

This week at Bryson Elementary, we learned which parts of the plant we eat. Students had to identify which parts of broccoli, radishes, carrots and beets we eat. Some, of course, have more than one.   The terrific book Plants Feed Me by Lizzy Rockwell covers this topic. Although the text is for younger kids, the information…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Self-seeders

Today at Bryson Elementary, we learned all about seeds. We read A Seed is Sleepy, a review of which you can find here, and learned about the seed cycle. When it was time to go to the garden, students spotted self-seeding annuals like sunflowers, nasturtiums, zucchini and cilantro.  

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Ready, Set, Bolt!

“Getting your hands dirty is fun!” the first graders above squealed. There’s negative correlation between age and the willingness to get your hands dirty.  Transition into Kindergarteners (TK) and first graders? No problems with dirt and worms. Third and forth graders? “I don’t want to get dirty! I need gloves.” But as students learn in…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Art in the garden

Students at Bryson elementary finished up their six week rotation with posters that demonstrated what they learned in gardening class. Popular themes included soil, insects and sunflowers. The first graders had just finished James and the Giant Peach and some were inspired to put in peach trees and characters like Grasshopper and Ladybug.   Meanwhile, outside…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: The Habitat Garden

The garden is not a sterile environment, somewhere we impose our will; it is a habitat. It teems with insects, birds flying about and micro-organisms busy breaking down organic matter in the soil. Even fifth graders are not immune to squealing when they see a roly poly or an insect they have never seen before–see…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Winter tomatoes?

Strawberries and tomatoes that can be planted in the cold season seem almost to be a myth too good to be true–especially to those not from southern California. After all, don’t we usually pick tomatoes off of vines in July and August? But at Bryson Elementary, we have planted a tomato variety called “Sub Arctic…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Seeds in Action

It’s only February here in Southern California, but it’s already starting to feel like Spring–we’re immune to whether the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. The days are getting longer and warmer and plants are flourishing. Annuals that sow themselves like nasturtiums and sunflowers are popping up too, which is a wonderful opportunity…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Scat in the garden

Bat guano, chicken manure, worm castings–these are all words that just mean “poop,” I tell the children. In an organic garden where we don’t use chemical fertilizers, poop from many animals–bats, chickens, worms–is necessary to add nutrients to the soil. The first time one of the fifth grade classes saw the worm bin, I asked…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Propagating Plants with Stems and Leaves

Plants sprout from seeds, right? Well, yes, but as the Bryson Bulldogs learned, there are other ways to propagate plants–through stem and even leaf cuttings. In our school’s garden, there are plenty of other plants that propagate easily via stem. Our oregano and nasturtiums are growing and spreading with each rain–which, exceeded nine inches in…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Book Review of a Seed is Sleepy

While not as lyrical as my all time favorite children’s gardening book Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt, A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston is definitely worth reading to children of all ages. Beautifully illustrated in watercolors by Sylvia Long, the book goes through the cycle of seeds. Along the way there are interesting facts…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Winter Greens Thrive

Like I always tell the students at Bryson Elementary, we are very lucky to have such a long growing season in Southern California. The lacinato, or dino, kale is a great example. With the winter rains finally here, the plant has flourished in our garden, along with other dark, leafy greens. Here’s to the New…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: The wonder of seeds

Leo Buscaglia, noted educator at the University of Southern California’s Department of Special Education said the following: “The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.” There…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Student transplant seedlings

(Photo: “I am in charge of all seeds” by poppet with a camera is licensed under CC by 2.0) For many gardeners, planting is the most exciting part of gardening. Students are no different–except for those who go crazy for worms. For those students, worms come in first place every single time. But for those…

Read More...

“Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt” by Kate Messner: an enchanting story your kids will love

It’s all about the soil, I tell my students each and every week. This is a point beautifully told and illustrated in the book Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal. The publisher recommends the book up to grade three, but when I read…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: School of Soil, Part II

“What is the most important thing in a garden?” “SOIL!” Week after week, my students get the same question. To drive home the point, students experience soil in as many ways as possible. Besides smelling soil, which I wrote about in my last post, students dig in the soil with both trowels and their bare…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: School of Soil, Part I

(Photo: “Radish Sprouts and Radishes” by Jess is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0) Jim Folsom, the director of the Huntington Library and Garden, likes to say that his institution is the “temple of soil.” I like to think of Bryson as the “School of Soil.” At the beginning of each class, I ask, “What is…

Read More...

A Celebration of Gardens at Bryson Elementary

On the last day of their six week rotation of gardening classes, students got into groups to make posters demonstrating what they learned. Their posters ranged from the plant cycle to the long-horned beetle attacking the California Oak. The students also presented their posters to their classmates and fielded questions from the audience. “Do you…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Students Start Seeds

Students use a variety of inorganic and organic containers to plant bean seeds. Germinating fast and reliably, beans are nitrogen-fixing and improve the soil. With words like, “organic,” “inorganic” and “decompose,” the lesson is an opportunity to go over prefixes and connect to literacy.    

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Worms, worms, worms

Students at Bryson Elementary peer into a worm bin while learning about soil and composting.

Read More...

Bryson Elementary’s Garden Detectives & The Case of the Powdery Mildew

Gardens are places of high drama. In one year, students observe plants germinating from seeds, growing, flowering, and dying. Aside from being awe inspiring places that yield fruit and vegetables, gardens are also places where plants get sick and are preyed upon by pests. While diseases and pests plague the average gardener, they present opportunities…

Read More...

Bryson Elementary: Students spy things big and small

Students need little help when it comes to finding interesting things in the garden–especially when it comes to insects: “It’s a wasp!” “A Bee!” “A Ladybug!” As an EnrichLA Garden Ranger, I think a large part of my role is to guide their observations and pique their interest. I know I’ve succeeded when they have…

Read More...

Beautiful Flowers

At Bryson, we fixed an irrigation issue, we harvested, we pruned, and we admired all of the beautiful flowers Lead Ranger Hope and interns planted. We are looking froward to the beautiful pumpkins coming in!

Read More...

Revamping Irrigation and Planting @ Foster

Today we had two teams from Next Step Ministries helping out at two sites in Compton: Foster Elementary and Bryson Elementary. At Foster, we accomplished improving the irrigation, amending the beds, weeding the footpaths, planting new seedlings and mulching the pathways. Likewise, at Bryson, we installed new irrigation dripline and planted new seedlings. What a…

Read More...

Bryson has a new composter!

In the heat of the day, Intern Cindy and I worked together to build a new compost tumbler, post an EnrichLA banner in the garden and in front of the school and plant some new seeds. Bryson’s garden is looking better and better each week!

Read More...

Last Day at Bryson

This week at Bryson students made a salad that most of them loved. In previous classes, students have asked for the recipe for the salad, so here it is: dressing: juice of 1 lemon olive oil (2-3 tbs) sea salt to taste additions: strawberries or grapes (3-5, diced very small) harvest anything from the garden….

Read More...

Seed bombs at Bryson

This week Bryson students participated in a number of fun and functional activities in the garden , including seed bomb making. Students had fun using some of our left over seeds including beets, sunflowers, radishes and marigolds. Students also helped add compost to the garden as well. Its wonderful to see how the Bryson compost…

Read More...

Soil & Compost at Bryson

This week Bryson students learned about the different elements of soil. They did their own soil test at various parts of the garden, finding that they have mostly loamy soil in their garden. After finding the sandiest box, students were interested to know that watermelons grow best in sandy soil and are excited to plant…

Read More...

Garden food chain and new intern at Bryson

Bryson elementary had their lesson on the garden food chain, just in time for their standardized testing. This lesson served as a great review for the students who will be tested on related subjects. Students also helped with composting and are making plans to grow summer squash. Students also welcomed a new intern from Csula,…

Read More...

Busy hands at Bryson

Bryson students worked together beautifully this week planting, composting, and seed saving. Students planted marigolds and tomatoes, added more cardboard from the recycling bin into the compost tumbler, and picked seeds from a dried up borage plant for saving. Students also made small bouquets of flowers from the garden that included nasturtium, calendula, and sunflowers.

Read More...

Friends, foes, & borage at Bryson

Bryson students had their lesson on friends and goes in the garden this week. They played a game of friends and foes tag to further illustrate the relationship that plants and bugs have with each other in the garden. Students also learned about the Borage herb and it’s function as a great companion plant in…

Read More...

Soil & Composting at Bryson

Bryson students learned the basic components of soil that include sand, silt, and clay. Students had a chance to collect samples of soil from their own garden to see what they are working with. Students then learned the basics of composting and checked out their own tumbler to see what they might need to add…

Read More...

Utilizing resources at Bryson

A new rotation of students began garden classes this week at Bryson elementary. Students explored the existing plants in the garden, harvesting chard and cauliflower to create a simple, tasty salad with lemon, olive oil dressing. Students then added left overs and cardboard bowls to the compost, working together as a team to give the…

Read More...

Friends and Foes discovery at Bryson

Bryson students learned about the benefits of friends and foes in the garden this week by exploring the garden with magnifying glasses and small containers. Students helped plant more snap peas all over the garden and watered all plants by hand. Students picked nasturtium flowers, and drank nectar just like the hummingbirds. Students will continue spring…

Read More...

Planting at Bryson

The Bryson garden has come a long way since the start of the school year when this garden was covered in Bermuda grass. It’s great to see how Bryson students have come together to help make their school garden productive, flourishing, and beautiful. This week we planted beets, peas, and more marigolds. We are also…

Read More...

Harvest picnic at Bryson

Bryson students completed a six week rotation and celebrated by harvesting vegetables from their garden today. Studens created a wonderful colorful salad full of fresh ingredients such as kale, chard, cauliflower, nasturtium flowers, mint, and lettuce. Students worked together wonderfully and shared with other students and teachers at recess and lunch time. It’s great to…

Read More...

Butterfly garden prep at Bryson

Students at Bryson learned about the importance of butterflies as pollinators this week. They paid tribute to butterflies by creating butterfly paper decorations out of recycled magazines. Students also planted an assortment of flowers to attract butterflies such as marigolds and wild flowers. Students look forward to watching these flowers grow and bloom, awaiting the…

Read More...

Protecting the Garden at Bryson

Students learned about companion planting this week at Bryson Elementary. Students worked together to plant garlic and nasturtium, two beneficial protectors of many plants in our gardens. Students worked together to identify existing plants in the garden and whether or not they get along. Students planted potatoes with cabbage and radishes. Lunch helpers are essential…

Read More...

Our beautiful Compton gardens

While traveling south, I was able to visit 5 of our beautiful Compton gardens- Foster ES, Whaley MS, Dominguez HS, Sullivan Pre-K, and Bryson ES. Our rangers and students are doing a wonderful job maintaining these spaces. I loved visiting Sullivan Pre-K, which is maintained by Garden Ranger Hope and Garden Volunteer Extraordinaire Dee, and…

Read More...

Kale feast at Bryson

Bryson students are glad to be back in the garden after their three week break. This week students learned about Friends and Foes in the garden and were pleasantly grossed out by the root maggots that still linger here. Students also helped harvest the abundant kale and rainbow chard growing. Many had not tried kale…

Read More...