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!

Water Cycle At Primary Academy

We sat down last week at Primary Academy to discuss the water cycle and it’s importance in plants and nature.   The kids learned to identify evaporation, condensation and precipitation in the cycle and what each means.   Our foggy, cloudy morning was a good segueway into the lesson.  Once the kids drew and labeled…
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At Sherman Oaks Elementary Charter the Thursdays are Green

At Sherman Oaks the new green generations started to sprout. We are very excited to start this scholar year with the hands in the ground. The first generation of Organic Gardeners began to plant the first seeds and seedlings on the raised beds. We learn about some specific rules that we must follow in the…
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Vine Students’ Metamorphosis

Students transformed into plants and insects!? Is this Vine St Elementary or Hogwarts!? This month students learned that aphids move around by hoping and ladybugs move slowly and methodically. They also learned that ladybugs help the garden by eating aphids that hinder a garden from thriving. They also learned the different parts of a plants…
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Gardner Scientists and Curators

This month, Gardner Elementary students had a busy month as scientists and curators! The fourth grade students at examined the health of the soil in the garden. They first felt the soil with their hands, wrote about what the soil felt like and made hypotheses on how much sand, silt, and clay was in the soil.…
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Talking Dirt at El Sereno Elementary

The kindergartners loved getting their hands dirty! We talked about the ingredients in soil — minerals, air, water, and organic matter. We did some investigating in the soil using magnifying glasses. We gathered around the garden beds and dug our hands in the soil. The kids described what it felt like using words like fluffy…
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The Water Cycle at Atwater Elementary

The students at Atwater Elementary enjoyed learning about the water cycle! We learned that a cycle repeats over and over again. Their minds were blown when I told them that the same water they use to take a shower in is the same water the dinosaurs swam in. Woah! We worked on the vocabulary words…
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At Rio Vista the Seed is awake

Rio vista welcomed the fall. On today’s lesson we discovered the power that the compost has and also how a seed grows. We started reviewing the process of composting, how is made of  and what kind of organisms helps it to break down into a little pieces the compost’s “ingredients”. We discovered that besides earthworms,…
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Exploration at St.Patrick’s School

Last week at St. Patrick’s the kids came out into the garden and worked on some pretty spectacular haikus.  Because the students were directed to find a special place to find inspiration no stone was left unturned.   A praying mantis was discovered in the mint and another in a spiderweb.  The kids picked and…
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Red Onions and Befriending the Lunch Ladies at San Pedro Elementary

  This was my first week as a Garden Ranger at San Pedro Elementary School. I’m learning that being a Garden Ranger means doing your best at negotiating many different moving parts. These include principals, faculty, community members, students, and the overall health of herbs, fruit trees, compost bins, and vegetables. Fortunately, I am in…
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Self watering research

Problem. ….Our current system of drip irrigation works ( sort of pretty badly) but in some cases… 1. Squirrels chew it a lot in some gardens so it always needs repair and often gets chewed daily 2. The school district DOES NOT WANT our drip irrigation hooked permanently up to spigots that are on the…
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At Sherman Oaks Elementary Charter the Thursdays are Green

By Angeles McClure | October 1, 2018

At Sherman Oaks the new green generations started to sprout. We are very excited to start this scholar year with the hands in the ground. The first generation of Organic Gardeners began to plant the first seeds and seedlings on the raised beds. We learn about some specific rules that we must follow in the…

At Rio Vista the Seed is awake

By Angeles McClure | September 26, 2018

Rio vista welcomed the fall. On today’s lesson we discovered the power that the compost has and also how a seed grows. We started reviewing the process of composting, how is made of  and what kind of organisms helps it to break down into a little pieces the compost’s “ingredients”. We discovered that besides earthworms,…

Talking Dirt at El Sereno Elementary

By Sarah Heder | September 28, 2018

The kindergartners loved getting their hands dirty! We talked about the ingredients in soil — minerals, air, water, and organic matter. We did some investigating in the soil using magnifying glasses. We gathered around the garden beds and dug our hands in the soil. The kids described what it felt like using words like fluffy…

The Water Cycle at Atwater Elementary

By Sarah Heder | September 28, 2018

The students at Atwater Elementary enjoyed learning about the water cycle! We learned that a cycle repeats over and over again. Their minds were blown when I told them that the same water they use to take a shower in is the same water the dinosaurs swam in. Woah! We worked on the vocabulary words…

Red Onions and Befriending the Lunch Ladies at San Pedro Elementary

By Rocio Prado | September 18, 2018

  This was my first week as a Garden Ranger at San Pedro Elementary School. I’m learning that being a Garden Ranger means doing your best at negotiating many different moving parts. These include principals, faculty, community members, students, and the overall health of herbs, fruit trees, compost bins, and vegetables. Fortunately, I am in…

Mayberry Magicians Get Wormy

By Nicole Hernandez | October 11, 2018

The Mayberry Magicians this month got up close and personal with red worms to learn about Vermiculture! We started by reading together the “Wonderful World of Worms,” by Linda Glaser. Then we created a happy worm habitat drawing and pinpointed the parts of the anatomy we knew. The students were shocked to learn that there…

Vine Students’ Metamorphosis

By Seema Sundaresh | September 30, 2018

Students transformed into plants and insects!? Is this Vine St Elementary or Hogwarts!? This month students learned that aphids move around by hoping and ladybugs move slowly and methodically. They also learned that ladybugs help the garden by eating aphids that hinder a garden from thriving. They also learned the different parts of a plants…

Gardner Scientists and Curators

By Seema Sundaresh | September 30, 2018

This month, Gardner Elementary students had a busy month as scientists and curators! The fourth grade students at examined the health of the soil in the garden. They first felt the soil with their hands, wrote about what the soil felt like and made hypotheses on how much sand, silt, and clay was in the soil.…

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),…