Today, a handful of wonderful volunteers from Next Step Ministries helped transform the garden at Roosevelt High School Academy for Environmental and Social Policy. The initial work involved lots of weed removal. The fruit trees surrounding the garden were getting smothered by pesky grass so we had to get them outta there!
Just before lunch, we amended the garden beds with compost and some coffee grounds from Taza Coffee Shop in Echo Park. The volunteers also pulled out some power tools and fixed a few broken boards. What wonderful volunteers, right?!
As we wrapped up the day’s work, we put in tomato seedlings for the upcoming warm weather. It was a splendid day outside, thanks to Zeena, Hanna and Beth’s wonderful crew from Next Step Ministries!
TS Roosevelt has a problem.
Lured by the sweet ‘nectar’ left by aphids, the ant population has exploded over the course of the summer! Aphids are easy enough to manage over time, with some strategic planting (plants in the onion family are perfect for planting now, nestled among aphid attracting cruciferous veggies and lettuces) and some lady bug troops, but ants can be pretty bothersome and viscous when disturbed.
Cornmeal is often proclaimed to be an excellent organic ant inhibitor, though I have no personal experience with it. But what is a school garden, if not an place to experiment?
The way it works, apparently, is this: the ants bring the tasty corn meal morsels back to their nest where they feast on them. Unable to digest the fiber in the cornmeal, however, the ants eventually starve and the entire nest is wiped out.
Will it work? I’ll keep you posted!
TS Roosevelt’s garden hasn’t seemed to have gotten the memo regarding the heat wave and the end of the growing season. The amount of produce harvested from this garden over the course of the summer has been nothing short of astonishing!
“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.”
- Benjamin Disraeli
The garden at Roosevelt continues to be a stunningly beautiful escape for students! So far, we’ve had such a bountiful harvest of broccoli, kale, cabbage, chard, radishes, and it looks like we are due for an amazing crop of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries! And, our baby apple tree has three delicious apples, and our lemon and orange trees are loaded as well! Roosevelt never ceases amaze, with it’s bountiful crops, ample butterflies, and gorgeous colors! Such a simple and happy retreat from the rigors of conventional study for the students.
However the students aren’t the only ones to benefit from the soothing nature of the garden! We were joined this week, by a sweet, very pregnant, recently abandoned pup, who seemed quite soothed amidst this lovely growing green in the heart of Los Angeles!!
The garden at Roosevelt was absolutely loaded with gorgeous crops ready for harvest! The heat wave that caused our broccoli to bolt last week was replaced by rainy weather this week. While some of our plants were still sporting yellow flowers, most of the broccoli loved the cooler temps!
So many crops were flourishing in the garden, we spent the majority of our time harvesting!
We even discovered our first tomato!!!
Then came the best part of any harvest — eating!!!
We sliced the radishes, drizzled them with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper…and devoured them!
The radishes were so delicious with this simple dressing, that the students chopped up some of the broccoli florets and flowers to eat as well!
Even after all that eating, there was still plenty of delicious greens and veggies to take back to class!
The recent rainstorms may be great for our gardens, but they don’t make for very productive gardening! Much of the Friday gardening class at Roosevelt was on hold for the frequent downpours.
Nonetheless, it didn’t stop us from admiring the amazing crops growing in the garden! So many plants are thriving and nearly ready to harvest!
We did have just enough time to pick some delicious Red Russian Kale for a snack before the rainstorm started up again!
As requested, here is the recipe we used to make a kale, fennel and orange slaw served on sesame seed crackers. Delicious!
1 medium bunch kale
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons hemp oil (we used grapeseed)
3/4 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt
1 cup fennel bulb, thinly sliced*
1 cup orange, peeled, seeded & chopped
8 kalamata olives, pitted & chopped
1 tablespoon fennel leaves, chopped
Destem the kale. You can leave the more tender parts of the stem (toward the top of each leaf) in the salad, but the harder stems toward the bottom of each leaf should be torn out. Tear apart the kale leaves (or use a knife and chop them) into bite-size pieces.
Place the torn kale into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, hemp oil, orange zest, salt, and nutmeg. Take a minute and massage all of these ingredients together with your hands. Add the fennel, orange, olives and fennel leaves, and gently toss to mix.
It was an exciting day in the garden at Roosevelt! Not only have all the transplants and new seedlings we added last week settled in nicely,
…and the original plants flourished in the gorgeous spring weather,
…but there is not a single aphid in the entire garden!
The three-way aphid removal techniques implemented last week seem to be working!!
The best part, is that the garden was literally crawling with ladybugs!
The garden is coming along so nicely, and Ms. Burt’s class celebrated their hard work by harvesting lettuce!
Then, students snacked on crisp bok choy leaves, slathered with healthy homemade hummus! Hummus is a fast and healthy snack that’s easy to make and tastes great with veggies fresh from the garden.
Several students even asked for the recipe, so here it is: quick and easy hummus!
I was having a really bad day and I noticed this grape below at the Roosevelt garden that I thought was a goner. Instead it had started its climb up around the post. My day suddenly got
It was a busy day in the garden at Roosevelt High School! The artichoke, eggplant, oregano, tomato and basil plants we added last week have settled into their beds nicely, and the lettuce, strawberries and broccoli are also doing well.
While we removed a great deal of terribly infested broccoli and cauliflower plants last week, there were still quite a few of the remaining plants covered in aphids.
The problem seems to have improved, and we suspect it might be due to several ladybug larve we discovered on some of the plants! Still, we wanted to make sure we got rid of those critters, so we could enjoy the broccoli harvest!
We employed several methods to combat those aphids:
1. We mixed a natural and safe pest control to spray on the plants. It contained 1 cup of oil, 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of dish soap. While this is a great way to rid plants of aphids, and keep the plants safe from chemicals, it can be equally dangerous for beneficial insects, like the lady bug larve, so we tried to only spray the most infested plants.
2. We planted a few green onions near the broccoli and cauliflower crops. Aphids are deterred by the smell of certain plants, such as onions, shallots, garlic, dill, and rosemary, and will then find the broccoli less appealing. Alternatively, plants such as nasturtiums, mums, hollyhocks and zinnias are very attractive to aphids, so planting these in the garden, far away from the edible crops, can lure the pests away.
3. We plan to gradually introduce ladybugs and lacewing larva to the infected beds. Ladybugs and lacewings are natural predators of the aphid. Ladybugs should only be released during the evening or early morning hours, when they are sleepy and less likely to leave the desired area. Mr. Findlay, one of the Roosevelt teachers helping in the garden, will release a few of the ladybugs in the broccoli beds at dusk during the next week. The lacewing eggs should arrive soon and we will add those to our garden when they do!
After all the pest control, we still had lots to do! We transplanted parsley and oregano from the lower garden beds to the planters at the garden entrance, and then moved some of the lettuce crops from the upper garden beds to the lower garden beds.
Then we filled the remaining empty beds in the lower garden with rainbow chard and strawberries!We are all very excited for the strawberries!
In the upper garden, we filled the last of the empty beds with tomatoes, jalapenos, and some radish seedlings that Ms. Burt’s class recently started in their classroom. Nearly all the beds are now planted and our crops are well on their way!
With all our tasks completed, it was time to have a snack. The students chopped up mushrooms, bell peppers, olives and basil from the garden, then drizzled it with lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkled it with pepper. We ate these out of lettuce leaves from the lower garden.
Some of the students thought it might be good to swap the bell peppers for chili peppers! Maybe we can revise this recipe when our jalapeno crops are ready to harvest!
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!
The garden at Roosevelt ESP continues to thrive due to the dedication and enthusiasm of the students and administration!
EnrichLA-ers Tomas O’Grady and Josh Walker have clearly been working hard at the Roosevelt High School Academy of Environmental and Social Policy Garden! This hillside garden was a huge undertaking, but as you can see, the raised beds are coming along nicely, and have finally been filled with our nutrient rich 50/50 mixture!
A huge thank you to everyone that came out today and stayed with us to build this EPIC garden! It truly was an exhausting, fulfilling and fun day!
This garden is located on a hillside, which made for a challenging (and worthwhile!) build. We constructed 3 huge edible beds, leveled ground on the hillside, and poured cement to stabilize the structure! Our volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the day, breaking only to snack on delicious vegetables and hummus, and panini sandwiches provided by EnrichLA.
Below are a few pictures from the build (more to come!). If you would like to be a part of the change, please visit our volunteer page and sign up for one of our upcoming garden builds. We have one next Saturday, November 12th, and the following Saturday, November 19th.
The Roosevelt High School of Environmental and Social Policy Garden is currently in the planning stages. EnrichLA is working with the Mayor’s Partnership for Schools to build this edible garden!
We are looking forward to working with the students and community to make this garden great!
Roosevelt High School of Environmental and Social Policy
3921 Selig Place
Los Angeles, CA 90031