Field Reports

from

Thomas Starr King Middle School

The edible garden at Thomas Starr King Middle School was completed in 2009 with the help of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, Whole Foods, Council Member Tom LaBonge, and Silver Lake Farms.

Lizard, grasshopper, squash, and apples at Thomas Starr King

Lizard, grasshopper, squash, and apples at Thomas Starr King

Today the lesson was on soil health and compost. We snacked on mint, broccoli flowers, and fennel. We were so lucky to see a lizard, a giant grasshopper, caterpillars, ladybugs, a hummingbird, and we even found an old lizardskin. We planted squash and saw that the apple tree is fruiting.

Praying Mantis hatching, fungi decomposing, garden salad

Praying Mantis hatching, fungi decomposing, garden salad

Today our lesson was on the 3 sisters, which are corn, beans, and squash. They all grow well together in the garden. We also had a preying mantis egg sac hatch during class today! More good news-our carton2gardens project is coming along niceley. The mycelium is vigorously colonizing the bags!

So Many Seeds at T S King

So Many Seeds at T S King

Today I brought in my large basket of plant seeds to show the garden students just how many different seeds exist! It is amazing to see them all.  Even in the category tomatoes, I had a dozen varieties… that isn’t even near the amount of tomato varieties that exist. I let the kids pick out…

Turbocomposting – Carton2garden entry

Turbocomposting – Carton2garden entry

We entered a contest to reuse milk and juice cartons in the garden. We did turbocomposting, which uses fungi and worms to rapidly accelerate the compost process. First we soaked the cartons until they were completely wet. Then we shredded them and put them in a repurposed plastic bag with coffee grounds and oyster mushroom…

Log swale construction continues

Log swale construction continues

Today we continued work on our wonderful log swale. The swale will keep biomass on site, retain water, prevent erosion, and host fauna. We filled it with wildflower seeds so it will sprout and attract pollinators. We also studied how annual vegetables go to seed as once they detect a change in conditions.

Garden fun and learning

Garden fun and learning

Today was a busy day in the garden! We learned about the 6 edible parts of a plant. We worked on the swale, planted potatoes, and drew on the blackboard. We also spotted a few anise swallowtail caterpillars!

Hugelkultur swales

Hugelkultur swales

We installed a hugelkultur (German for log bed) swale in the garden today! This will serve multiple functions. 1, it will slow down the flow of water down the slight grade, causing it to sink into the soil instead of washing down the storm drain. 2, the branches(from fruit trees trimmed on site) will absorb…

Fresh starts

Fresh starts

Another wonderful rainy day! Today we learned about compost and soil health. We also got to learn about aphids-tiny bugs that eat our food and are in turn eaten by ladybugs! Lots of new seeds and seedlings in the garden today. We also transplanted some artichokes to a perennial where they will grow year round.

Soil life at Thomas Starr

Soil life at Thomas Starr

Today we learned about soil and its importance when growing food. It’s more than just dirt! It is full of life and when the soil is healthy the food tastes great! Also, we found anise swallowtail caterpillars and a morel mushroom!! How lucky!

Flora and fauna

Flora and fauna

The garden is buzzing with life after the rain. The bees are enjoying radish flowers. The anise swallowtail caterpillars are hatching and munching on fennel. Today we learned about the rules and tools of the garden and explored.

Rainy days are great!

Rainy days are great!

Today was a rainy day! Nonetheless, we were out in the garden. We transplanted some mint into this small raised bed. It is good to keep mint separate because it is a vigorous grower. The rain really brings out the vibrant colors of our plants. Red chard, purple mustard, and green nasturtiums all grow together.

Root division

Root division

The beds are looking beautiful on this cloudy day. Today we learned about root division. Some plants have big root systems that can be dug up and divided. Mint is one such plant. We dug up mint roots and put them in pots to grow. The purple mustard looks great with the orange marigolds!

Seedling mania at Thomas Starr King

Seedling mania at Thomas Starr King

We planted lots and lots of seedlings today. The kids love planting them! We planted cabbage, kale, broccoli, salad mix, and 2 kinds of mustard greens. These artichokes are volunteers! Nasturtiums are ready to climb the trellis.

Garden life

Garden life

We spent a lot of time observing these Anise Swallowtail caterpillars today. They absolutely love the fennel plants in our garden. Nasturtium leaves are like lilypads! Water beads up and runs off of their surface. We found this earthball mushroom, or Scleroderma Polyrhizum, in the garden. It is not edible, but is a useful garden…

Compost and watering

Compost and watering

Today we learned about compost and watering! By composting we can have a nutritious and healthy soil. We water with drip irrigation to minimize waste. If the drip system breaks down, we can always water by hand. This swiss chard loves conpost and water! This butterfly loves this milkweed plant!

Trellis building and perennials

Trellis building and perennials

Today construction began on our new trellis. We used string and sticks. The trellis will support climbing nasturtiums, which we have a lot of in the garden! The perennial bed includes milkweed and artichokes. Perennials grow year after year.

Pollinators and rainy days!

Pollinators and rainy days!

Plants are pollinated by a variety of methods. Milkweed attracts buuterflies to the garden. These purple peppers love the rain! Kohlrabi, marigolds and nasturtiums. Ranger Matt

Mulch and soil health

Mulch and soil health

Today we learned about mulch and soil health. Here we see romaine and nasturtium growing together. Artichokes grow year round. Scarlet runner beans are coming up. We harvested these seeds from last years garden. Ranger Matt

Mulch and herbs at Thomas Starr King

Mulch and herbs at Thomas Starr King

Today we spread straw mulch on the garden. Mulch preserves moisture and keeps weeds down. Cuban oregano looks cool and smells great. Rue is bitter and adds body to soups and stews. Ranger Matt

First day of garden class at Thomas Starr King Middle!

First day of garden class at Thomas Starr King Middle!

Today was the first day of garden class for Thomas Starr King Middle! Here are some of the cool things we found in the garden. These are dried artichokes. Very beautiful! This olive tree was planted in the first year of the garden. Fennel is beautiful and yummy. We sampled some of the fresh flowers-candy…

Thomas Starr King’s Fennel!

Thomas Starr King’s Fennel!

Last week, the Garden Ranger interns helped clean up all the tall, drying fennel plants. They were full of seeds that were taken home to be saved! There were also other plants that were cleaned up and parts that were composted. Irrigation was also checked on and fixed according to what was needed to keep…

Getting started at TS King

Getting started at TS King

Last Thursday was my first official day volunteering with EnrichLA. I met up with my fellow volunteers at TS King Middle school, EnrichLA’s first school garden. I pass this school quite often but it was my first time getting to explore, and the garden – wild though it may be now – was lovely! We…

Fennel Everywhere!

Fennel Everywhere!

There was much work to be done at King-and it was quite a productive day. Pulling up Bermuda, trimming back nasturtium, cutting back mint and oregano, and planting seeds. The fennel was everywhere and smells amazing, and brings in many beneficial pollinators. Looking forward to returning!

Garden Art at T.S. King Middle School

Garden Art at T.S. King Middle School

Thanks to testing, our art students get some time in the garden today, so let’s plant some art on you! We aslo planted a Santa Rosa Plum to help pollinate some of our stone fruit trees here!  

Does Compost Work? T.S. King

Does Compost Work? T.S. King

So I preach compost, so let’s do an experiment and see how important it really is! I have these two twin like tomatoes, they grew up together, and have been the same size. We transplant one in soil, and one in soil and compost mixed together. We will keep them together in this plastic tub,…

So Many Seeds at TS King

So Many Seeds at TS King

Today I brought in my large basket of plant seeds to show the garden students just how many different seeds exist! It is amazing to see them all.  Even in the category tomatoes, I had a dozen varieties… that isn’t even near the amount of tomato varieties that exist. I let the kids pick out…

Artichoke Fever at T.S. King

Artichoke Fever at T.S. King

In addition to the artichoke gardens we have here, someone left an artichoke flower that was dried up laying on the ground. We dissected it to find out if there may be seeds. Tons of seeds, and some larger ones trapped in the thistle. We plant both…soon we will find out. We found some of…

ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AT T.S. KING MIDDLE SCHOOL

ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AT T.S. KING MIDDLE SCHOOL

Ms. Williams class is feeling an air of change. Time to get a school wide compost program. No more good soil nutrients going into landfills! With all the scraps from Breakfast in the Classroom, we can return nutrient rich compost. We spend the morning planning how to get the posters and information out. We will…

Releasing New Praying Mantis AT T.S. King Middle School

Releasing New Praying Mantis AT T.S. King Middle School

Besides harvesting some radishes and carrots we bugged out today. Lucky thing, Mrs. Mitsuse’s praying mantis case hatched right at the start of garden class on ” insect lesson day”. There were hundreds od these babies, so everyone had the opportunity to find a good place in the garden to release them. Paying mantis are…

Compost Competition at T S King

Compost Competition at T S King

Today with our new group of garden students, we plan on learning how to make compost by breaking into 4 groups and seeing who will get their leaves and greens into black gold ( AKA humus). Each team gets a bucket, and they learn the process, then they are off to win. Compost is a…

Learning Skills in the Garden at T.S. King

Learning Skills in the Garden at T.S. King

  Today we planted our strawberry garden at King Middle School. We used red sheet mulch, and put our strawberry roots and plants on our mounds of soilWe cut slits in the sheet mulch and planted through the mulch. Then we trimmed up our paper and transplanted a few other berries from another area. We…

Planting Strawberries at T. S. King

Planting Strawberries at T. S. King

This morning we checked on the status of our pineapple plant that has now been in the ground for 5 weeks… it looks great, it is hard to believe we can grow such a range of crops here in Los Angeles. You can see the top of the pineapple has many fresh new leaves growing…

Important Native Bees At T.S. King

Important Native Bees At T.S. King

Native VS. Exotic What if the european honey bee keeps on diminishing? What would happen to these beautiful apple blossoms? Native bees are great pollinators, we have a fantastic habitat here for them at King… We decide to look at some of the 4,000 native bees that inhabit the USA, 1600 are in California. Better…

Making Kale Chips At T.S. King Middle School

Making Kale Chips At T.S. King Middle School

Today is a great day to harvest some of our Kale and make chips! We Pick some nice leaves… We take off the spine of the leaf, and make some bite size pieces…We toss in some garlic powder, a dash of salt, and squeeze some lemon. We bake in our toaster oven for 8 minutes…

Science, Garden, and Art at T.S. King Middle School

T.S King is a Certified Wildlife Habitat: We feed, water, and nurture creatures that come in. Today was hot, so this science/art class stayed in the shade observing the butterflies and bees buzzing all around us. We made some pictures of insect garden helpers, and a few drawings of garden destroyers… We made an art…

Nature Art Boards at T.S. King

It was nice today to not only talk and look at the nature that surrounds us, but to ask why things are important. Soil is important because it is a habitat for insects, plants grow in it, and soil sequesters carbon. We set off to draw up a card about something important, and if we…

Planting Carrots at T.S. King

Planting Carrots at T.S. King

Today we ended our garden day by planting carrots… We also put in some more lettuce, and green onion in hopes of future salads! Here’s the bed we planted a few months ago! Our apples are finally ripe.

Planting Pineapple at T.S. King

Planting Pineapple at T.S. King

Planting pineapples in California might be pushing it, but we will give it a try anyway. It is supposed to be as simple as cutting off the top, and putting it in soil! Of course we enjoy the yummy fruit first. We talked about the importance of nature and diversity, and made a nature board.…