Returning to our Roots at Atwater Ave!

My goodness, summer is here in full force already! Class was held on a windy day in the high 80s, and still our young gardeners were ready to go.

Today was all about the things you rarely see. The things that creep up on you slowly, that thrive in dark and hidden places….that’s right, I’m talking the tangled tales of plant roots!

Students learned not only about what roots do for the plant, but also what the most common roots look like. Armed with the knowledge, I asked the gardeners to get their hands dirty and help me find some weeds! First, we had to talk about how plants and weeds were different, and how to pull them from the ground. As many gardeners know, weeds are just like plants, except I didn’t plant them and I don’t want them there! A lot of plants have invasive qualities, and many typical “weeds” are often cultivated for decorative or culinary uses. For example, see the mint stalks below? While mint is delicious and refreshing, it grows like a weed –  you can see it already starting to grow out of the sides.

Everyone got to pull up 1 weed from the garden floor (certainly not from the garden beds, we’ve got seedlings going!). After everyone had their weed in hand, I asked them to shake off the soil and sand so we could get a good look at the roots. Students observed the root characteristics and classified them accordingly.

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Afterwords, we learned about some of our favorite edible roots – you guessed it – the beautiful carrot! The students helped me play chef for class today, as I brought in a mandolin slicer, a lemon squeezer, and a small microplane. We made an unusual root-inspired snack with thin slices of carrot, grated ginger root, salt, pepper, and plenty of lime juice.

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At the end of the day, it was I who learned the most important lesson of all…put enough lemon and lime on anything, and Californians of all ages will love it, including pre-kindergarteners!

Thank you so much for your hard work today, gardeners, and for your bravery to taste something new in the garden.

Until next time,

Ranger Natalie