GlenFeliz Soil Testers

Students investigate the very fertile soil in the concrete bed.

A strong garden foundation starts with good soil knowledge; a good gardener really knows their dirt! As the soil is pretty much the home space or incubator for every plant, it is extremely important that the sediment is a healthy and nurturing environment. Soil can consist of different layers of types of dirt, such as sand, clay, and silt – or simply exist as a single one of those elements. We see examples of singularities such as sand at the beach, mudpits, and clay beds. Each one has its own characteristics that dictate the growth and health of a plant. However, most of the time we see dirt, it is a composite of those three and sharing those characteristics.

Sand: has very large individual grains and particles which do not hold water very well. This affects the plant’s ability to absorb water and grow.

Silt: is a good soil base for plants to grow in but can be easily blown away by rains/wind

Clay: gets very heavy when wet and super strong/resistant when dry. This prevents the plant’s roots from spreading and growing.

The students and I discussed why and why not each type of sediment would be good for the plants, and some even hypothesized that a combination of the three would be the best option. This brought us to Loam, the best soil combination of those three.

After identifying loam as the best combo, we did a soil test of the beds to determine if they contained loam or other forms of soil. Each student took a soil sample from several beds, and we circled up to perform the squeeze test as well as discuss how the soil smelled, felt, tasted, and looked. Some examples were “earthy”, “moist”, and “sweet”.

Students checking out how soil feels, smells, and looks.

Students checking out how soil feels, smells, and looks.

Students investigate the very fertile soil in the concrete bed.

Students investigate the very fertile soil in the concrete bed.

Shylana Roman

Shylana (Shy-lane-uh) would say that the two greatest loves in her life so far have been gardening, and a deep emotional bond with sandwiches. Her hometown is Chelsea, MA (right by Boston), and she has lived in Los Angeles for seven years now. It took her a while before she could really notice and appreciate the beautiful and diverse nature that exists in a city in a desert. The bright poppy colors make even the rainy days colorful with the clear skies and strong contrast of the blooming succulents. The scents of the jasmine and citrus trees are especially enticing in Highland Park, where she currently lives. There is nothing more rewarding than when a student asks her if they can spend their recess in the garden. That's how she knows she is doing her job right!

Worms!

  I’ve never quite understood the fear that follows worms. From my experience, about 1 in every 100 kids fears worms but maybe 1 in 20 adults is scared of them. Why is that?  Somewhere along the way people are taught to hate them.  I believe it’s because they don’t understand them! Not only are…
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Our Scholarly Best

Working hard in our Magnolia Avenue Elementary garden, using our scientific and artistic skills.
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Garden Party!

Taking time to welcome family and staff guests to the garden and to teach them what we know. Plus, snacking. Yum!   Also, making sure our garden has good signage in as many languages as we speak at Melrose Avenue Elementary.
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ReDuce! ReUse! ReCycle!

Using reusable containers to replant our Spider Plant babies. Then we use the fence to make it a vertical garden. Afterward we need to make sure to check the moisture of the dirt everyday and water when necessary so our baby plant roots can grow strong.   Plus, the general beauty and abundance of our…
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Aspire Digs Into the World of the Roly-Poly!

Most kids know a lot about roly-poly’s; they’re cute, they roll up when they get scared and they don’t bite.  I wanted the kids to “dig a little deeper” into the world of a roly-poly, but first I gave the kids a little information about these bugs starting with their true name; pill bugs! So…
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Holy Moly! Roly Polys at Woodlawn!

Most of us have held a Roly-poly before…that gentle little garden creature that rolls up into a ball when disturbed or scared. It’s an easy creature to like; they don’t bite, they tickle your hand when they crawl on you and they can protect themselves! Today in the garden, Kinder and 1st grade learned more…
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Sharing is Caring

This week at St. Patrick’s the kids learned a lot about the precarious state that bees are in!  With 1/3 of our crops dependant on bees for pollination, we can’t afford to lose any more bees to flowerless landscapes, pesticides, or crop “food deserts”.   Bees depend on pollen for protein and nectar for carbohydrates…
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Growing Fruit at Woodlawn

  The Woodlawn garden is in full production mode!  We have been harvesting lots of lettuce, Swiss chard, and collard greens in the past few weeks.  Just recently, the warmer temperatures have given our fruit-bearing plants the boost they needed!  Kindergarten and 1st grade searched the garden for fruit that was ready to harvest. We…
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A Snail’s Trails at Aspire

I brought a little bit of the garden into the classroom on this rainy day. Fortunately, the rain and cloudy weather made it easy to find snails and slugs in the garden. In the classroom, I told the kindergarteners  that I brought with me a garden creature for them to observe.  We talked about the…
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Flower to Seed to Flower

It was a beautiful day in the garden this morning at Toluca Lake Elementary! Many of the plants are flowering and the garden is fi lled with vibrant colors and buzzing pollinators. The students were also buzzing with excitement to be among the plants in the sunshine. Today’s lesson was about pollination and flower reproduction.…
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Bruschetta at Kingsley

By Justine Tyler | April 1, 2018

Bruschetta is an antipasto (starter dish) from Italy consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt. The wonderful kids and I at Kingsley Elementary made this classic dish today. Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil Recipe Prep time: 15 minutesCook time: 20 minutesYield: Makes 24 small slices, serves 6-10 as an…

A plant is what?!

By Sarah Shutman | March 29, 2018

When teaching about gardening, it is impossible to engage students if they don’t know what part of a plant I am talking about! For this lesson, I covered the parts of a plant. I discussed the roots, stem, leaves, fruit and flowers. I brought in a dug up mallow plant (to show roots, stem, leaves),…

Beets are rad(ish)!

By Sarah Shutman | March 27, 2018

Beets are rad(ish)! This year, Valentine’s Day was full of nostalgic excitement, as I remembered my days of elementary school, full of sugary candy and a “holiday”. This was my first year teaching on Valentines Day, and I wanted to share something special with the students of 2nd  Street Elementary. I decided to do a…

That makes a plant?!

By Sarah Shutman | March 22, 2018

For this lesson, I planned to cover plant reproduction via parts of a flower. This was the first lesson that required thinking on my toes and adapting my plan (something that I am quickly learning). I drew out a picture and went over the descriptions. The pre-K and 2nd graders were  lost and distracted. They…

Love Nature

By PJ Johnson | April 12, 2018

Valentines Day at Gardener School Love Nature. We showed our love for nature at Gardener School. The students were allowed to pick the most interesting leaf in the garden from any place in the garden and they had  to write something to it like a poem or a love letter. Ms. Thaviphone class created leaf…

Gardener School – Composting

By PJ Johnson | April 11, 2018

2nd-grade class: We visited the three compost bins in the garden.  Finding Mr. Brown carbon examples and Mr. Green Nitrogen examples to put in the bins.  They gathered brown leaves from the ground and picked three things to identify which it was carbon or nitrogen.  We also looked at a compost thermometer, talking about the…

Pollination at Gardener Street Elementary School

By PJ Johnson | April 10, 2018

Talk to the class about pollination today.   The kids identified the stamen and pollen on the flowers in the garden.  They also took herbs from the garden lemon balm, mint, lavender, sage.  They also identified the pollen on some herb plants.

Van Ness Deep in the Dirt

By PJ Johnson | April 9, 2018

We cleaned up the beds and Ms. Chelsea and Udie pulled weeds together. The students in the VI part of Vaness got their hands deep in the dirt.  Pulling out weeds from the beds especially in areas where we have overgrown vegetation.  We have eaten a lot of Romain lettuce with Hummus because the kids…

Compost Learning at Van Ness School

By PJ Johnson | April 8, 2018

New group of kids learning about compost.  We took a poll as to what [a cup of worm castings] worm poop was just by looking, touching and smelling the worm castings.  The students really were interested in what they could put in the Darth Vader like compost bin

Van Ness School making seed bombs with the VI kids

By PJ Johnson | April 7, 2018

This was a great exercise for the kids especially Udie.  Chelsea the OT specialist at Vanes and I partner to play with our students at Vaness.  Udie also helped to crush roasted eggshells for the compost.