Rio Vista – Baby bugs and trees


Hello Garden Friends!

This Wednesday was the wonderful Read-Across-America event. The garden was alive with the sounds of birds, bees, and grown ups passing on a love of literacy through storytelling. After story time was over, I sang the students a song about farmers markets, saving seeds, and the joys of sharing good food with a friend. Then I passed out some delicious tangerines from our tree at home and had the students save the seeds and dry them out near the sink. Meanwhile we searched the garden for the different life stages of ladybugs. In the featured image you can see what ladybug eggs look like as well as the pupa stage.

After the seeds were dry, I taught them how to remove the seed coats so that the tangerine seeds would germinate more quickly. I instructed them to place the seeds in a wet paper towel and zip them inside a plastic bag to retain the moisture. Two weeks ago, I did the experiment on my own so that I could show the students that it actually works! Check out my babies below.

Until next week!




Jeff Mailes

Jeff Mailes is a garden designer and environmental educator working out of Woodland Hills, CA. A Los Angeles County Master Gardener and UC Davis Alumni, Jeff earned his B.S. in Environmental Resource Science in 2012 and has been growing edibles and natives for the past 6 years. Jeff's passion for plants and garden education has led him to school gardens from Los Angeles to Sacramento and all the way up to Portland, Oregon. Now familiar with ecosystems across the West Coast, Jeff has settled back home and works to bring people together over food and inspire the next generation of earth stewards to leave it better than they found it. When not writing about himself in the third person, Jeff enjoys singing with his guitar, going on camping and hiking excursions, and tossing a frisbee around with his friends.

Digging Deeper at Arroyo Seco

The Third Graders had been learning about worms in their Science class, so we dug a little deeper in the garden today. We began by learning about the anatomy of earthworms, and some fun facts about them. We then put some worms out on a damp newspaper and looked at them closely with a magnifying…
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Planting Seeds for the Cooler Season

We have been busy planting seeds and seedlings for the cooler season at Garvanza Elementary. Lots of lettuce, broccoli, kale, cabbage, arugula, beets, and radishes! The students are enjoying beans right off the vine from the garden. So yummy! Look at the huge grasshopper! The older grades worked on a Venn diagram using cool and…
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The students at Garvanza became pumpkin peddlers for a class. We discussed the life cycle of a pumpkin. We then split into groups and each group got their own pumpkin. We measured the weight, circumference, and height of each pumpkin and estimated the amount of seeds in each pumpkin. Then they got to carve their…
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Five Senses with Herbs

I read a book called “My Five Senses” by Aliki to introduce the Kinders and 1st graders to their five senses. We collected herbs from the garden such as mint, basil, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. We passed them around and used our five senses to discuss them. At the end of class, we made…
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Counting Pumpkin Seeds

El Sereno Elementary students became pumpkin peddlers during the month of October. We discussed the life cycle of pumpkins. They got into groups and measured the height, weight, and circumference of their pumpkins. They then estimated how many seeds they would find inside their pumpkins. Then the fun part — cutting open the pumpkins and…
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Guavas Galore!

Atwater Elementary is bursting with guavas and the students, teachers and staff are gobbling them up! We had so many great lessons in the garden this month. We talked about the food chain with first graders. We created Venn diagrams using warm and cool season plants with the 2nd graders. We did a fun lesson…
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Worms Worms Worms!

This week we learned all about worms and how important they are to the garden! It was raining inside, and Ranger Sanjay has a worm bin so he brought it in for all the kids to see. There were hundreds of them and we learned about how their “castings” are super healthy for garden plants.…
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Fall Spirit at Frank Del Olmo

There’s no fear of Halloween at Frank Del Olmo! With our garlic bulbs ready to harvest, we learned about the myths of Dracula and his fear of garlic as it’s said to “cure” people. We also learned how garlic can be helpful during the winter months in staving off the cold and flu. We got…
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Thankful for New Growth at Bryson!

We may have started with just dirt, but now we’re seeing the fruits (and veggies) of our labor! Despite being in a pretty shady area, these garden beds are doing great. When learning about the different parts of the plant, I brought in sweet potato slips for the kids to see root to stem to…
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Interconnectedness at Arroyo Seco

The semester is off to a great start at Arroyo Seco Museum Science Magnet! This week, the 4th graders modeled a food web using yarn. Each student was assigned a different plant or animal. We discussed the interconnectedness of all species, and how energy is passed along a food chain. While we haven’t been able…
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Worms Worms Worms!

By Sanjay Gupta | December 2, 2019

This week we learned all about worms and how important they are to the garden! It was raining inside, and Ranger Sanjay has a worm bin so he brought it in for all the kids to see. There were hundreds of them and we learned about how their “castings” are super healthy for garden plants.…

Plants are Alive too! Investigating Leaves at Bushnell Elementary

By Zina Denevan | November 13, 2019

After discussing plant respiration (plants breathe too!) Bushnell elementary 1st and 2nd graders used magnifying glasses to search for evidence. The students were delighted to discover tiny bubbles of oxygen coming from their submerged leaves. To help the concepts sink in we alternated between breathing like humans and animals (inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide)…

Seed Exploration at Bushnell Elementary

By Zina Denevan | September 21, 2019

This week’s lesson was all about seeds at Bushnell elementary. Students broke open pre-soaked pinto beans to discover the baby plants inside. Once located they shouted with excitement, “Look, I found the embryo!” Students then used magnifying glasses to get a closer look. After talking about the parts of a seed and what they need…

Kindergarteners love the garden at Angeles Mesa

By Harriet Shaham | November 28, 2019

Kindergardeners loves all the hands on exploring and work at Angeles Mesa. They proudly shared their successes in weeding many of the beds. Upon discovering a monarch Caterpillar, the children oohed and ahhed at its unique pattern. Before planting seeds, each youth examined and admired the potential plants they could create. Finally, the youngsters took…

42nd Street Elementary students help the decomposers

By Harriet Shaham | November 28, 2019

Learning about how bugs help the process of decomposition, the students at 42nd Street School were energized to aid in the process of breaking down weeds and other leaves to help create compost fertilizer.

Fun in Fall at Audubon Middle School

By Harriet Shaham | November 28, 2019

Students at Audubon Middle School had loads of fun in the Fall..first, they emthusiastically prepped a bed to plant potatoes by bailing half the soil out. They also learned about succulents and made their own flowery centerpiece to take home to their families for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sweet sunflower snack for 42nd Street School

By Harriet Shaham | November 12, 2019

Such sweet seeds from the sunflowers at 42nd Street School, the students succeeded in snacking on so many. Some struggled to crack open each shell, but they were delighted by the creamy kernel on the inside they didnt even notice that the seeds were not saturated in salt. They did proceed to plant some of…

Staying cool with crisp cucumbers from Angeles Mesa

By Harriet Shaham | November 3, 2019

Crisp, cool cucumbers for the students at Angeles Mesa. One special Ed child enjoyed the fresh vegetable plain. The others were delighted by cucumber tacos wrapped in sorrel leaf. It was a pleasant refreshing reward after learning about the soil that nurtured them.

New found enthusiasm for bugs

By Harriet Shaham | November 3, 2019

The students at Audubon Middle School showed their bravery in handling and talent in catching insects in the garden, helping transfer the bugs to the compost bin in order to facilitate decomposition.

Welcoming Angeles Mesa to the garden

By Harriet Shaham | October 1, 2019

Angeles Mesa students were excited to enter the garden once more.  Some brave souls reached out to handle the milkweed beetles, and the beetles almost look like painted fingernails! Many of the Special Education students were unaccustomed to eating fresh fruit, and once they were encouraged, they were ‘sold’ on the sweet, juicy watermelon.