T.R. Roosevelt was one of the most challenging builds Enrich LA has undertaken to date! Built into the side of a hill, it took several additional weekend builds to complete, but the finished garden is a gorgeous space with many raised garden beds, a trellis for grape vines, and all surrounded by fruit trees, native plants and lots of sunshine.
Friday, the EnrichLA Garden Curriculum Program began at Roosevelt, with approximately 40 Roosevelt high school students attending. Our first priority was to explore and assess the gardens. So we split into groups and became acquainted with the various parts of the new garden.
In the lower gardens, we discovered several beds contained gorgeous red and green lettuces that were flourishing in some cool shade.
We sampled a few of the lettuce leaves, as well as some parsley and oregano. In addition to the lettuce and herbs, we discovered a small patch of strawberries full of green little berries. Strawberry season is almost here!!
In the upper garden beds, we found several tomato plants that needed watering, as well as a couple of basil plants. The gardens also had a large crop of miniature broccoli heads.
But upon closer inspection, we discovered our broccoli was in trouble!Nearly ever plant was coated in aphids, a small insect that can be terribly destructive to plants in the Brassicaceae family. After a brief moment of revulsion, we discussed ways that we could safely combat these crop invaders, such as planting companion plants to both deter the aphids and attract beneficial critters (such as aphid-snacking ladybugs), as well as making and using safe, non-chemical pesticides.
Unfortunately, we ended up sacrificing some of the broccoli plants that were terribly infested. In their place, we planted artichokes, eggplant and more oregano. We also added additional tomatoes and basil plants to the tomato beds.
Once everything was planted and watered, it was time for a snack.
Students mixed up strawberries, tangerines, and grape tomatoes, drizzled them with honey and a splash of balsamic, then served it in bright green lettuce leaves from the lower garden beds.
Some were wary of the addition of the tomatoes, but after tasting it, everyone agreed it was delicious!! Thanks to the school cafeteria for giving us some containers so students could bring the leftover fruit ‘burritos’ home!
Thanks also to Principal Bruce Bivens, teachers Felicia Burt, Findlay Bunting, Rebecca Pellman, and all the 2nd period students who worked so hard on our first day in the new garden at Roosevelt!