Category Archives: Instructional Activities

Saving Carrot Seeds

single carrot harvest

We first planted carrot seeds in September. We harvested them in January. We also left a few plants to flower so we could save seeds from them.  The flowers appeared towards the end of April and today, the end of July, they are ready to be harvested for seed.

Allowing carrots to go to seeds not only provides seeds for next season but the flowers also attract beneficial insects that snack on the pests attacking your summer plants.

carrot flower

A few things to know when saving seed from carrots:

1) Make sure you are starting with an heirloom or open-pollinated variety and not a hybrid.

2) It takes a long time to go from seed-to-seed. Plan for it. We sowed seeds in September and harvested seeds in July. That’s 10 months total.

3) It takes a lot of space. One carrot plant sends up one main stalk and multiple side stalks. Instead of one carrot plant needing only 2 inches square, one carrot plant going to seed needs about 2 feet square.

4) Reduce watering after the plant has flowered. Stop watering once the plants start turning brown and the seeds have fully matured. When they’ve completely turned brown the seeds are ready to harvest.

5) Hang seed stalks upside down in a cool dry place for another week to assure complete dryness.

6) Separate seeds from stem over a newspaper or plate.

7) Gather seeds into a plastic bag or glass jar and store in a cool dry place.

mature carrot seed

School Garden Creates Jobs at John Muir HS in Pasadena, CA

John Muir High SchoolFarm

Job creation has been an important theme in our country the last couple of years.  President Obama is struggling with it, the presumptive GOP nominee is struggling with it, and Congress is struggling with it.

At John Muir High School in Pasadena, CA, three volunteers have come up with a school garden model that is creating jobs for students.

On about an acre and a half of land Master Gardener/Project Manager, Mud Baron, Master Gardener/Retired School Teacher (and alumnus of John Muir High), Doss Jones, and Pasadena Unified School District Facilities Grounds Coordinator, Shirley Barrett, have succeeded where so many others have been left baffled.

John Muir High School Farm

Under their guidance and tutelage and with help from many other dedicated volunteers, students are turning this school garden into a mini-farm enterprise. They are also getting help from various grants and foundations as well as commercial growers and seed companies that provide seeds and seedlings.

Produce and flowers are sold at the Pasadena Farmer’s Market and the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. Partnership with local farms has created a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) drop-off hub at John Muir HS for local residents to purchase healthy, organic fruits and vegetables. Produce from the school garden is added to each box.

Students are learning lessons that go far beyond the typical high school experience; they are learning nutrition, commerce and cooperation. They are learning the responsibility of holding a job, showing up on time without excuse, and perhaps for the first time in their lives, earning an honest wage from work completed with their own hands.

Any person who takes pride in their work takes pride in themselves. This is a lesson that cannot be taught without experience. John Muir High School Farm is giving students this experience.

For more information see these video interviews:

1) Interview with Mud Baron
http://youtu.be/A6r3BKDXFno

2) Interview with Doss Jones
http://youtu.be/-9lRJukIwkY

3) Interview with Shirley Barrett
http://youtu.be/RMUaNCYv6mY

 

School Garden Summer Reading


School’s out. Gardens are growing. During the summer you’ll want to inspire your children to stay active both physically and mentally. Reading and gardening both are excellent activities especially when the reading involves garden themes.

Multi-award winner, Dawn Publications, of Nevada City, CA specializes in quality children’s books about nature. I have had the pleasure of reading two of their latest publications, Molly’s Organic Farm (ages 4-10) and Jo MacDonald Had a Garden (ages 3-8).

What I loved about these books besides the well-told stories and beautiful illustrations are the curriculum components at the back of each book. These can range from topics of discussion such as crop rotation and beneficial insects to indoor activities and garden tips.

If you go to the Dawn Publications website, you can also download activity ideas relating to the different books. For example, when looking through the pages of All Around Me I See by Laya Steinberg you can find animals, insects and birds hiding in their habitat. In the downloadable activity, Classroom Camouflage, students will discuss how camouflage helps keep animals safe from predators.

See downloadable activities by book here -> http://www.dawnpub.com/downloadable_activities_book/

Gardening with your kids and reading with your kids about gardening will make for an enjoyable summer for both you and your kids.

Edible Activities – One Bite Lessons

one bite lesson

LifeLab.org and California School Garden Network(csgn.org) are teaming up to compile a list of “One Bite Lessons” in preparation for the California School Garden Training Program’s Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education (GENE) Workshops.

This compilation of activities will end up being posted on the csgn.org site.

What is a One Bite Lesson?

A One Bite Lesson is an edible activity that doesn’t require a kitchen or excessive preparation. It is a fun and creative way to have kids sample plants right from the garden.

Examples:
One Bite Salsa – Harvest a pepper and snip off some onion greens. Have kids harvest a couple of cherry tomatoes. Break pepper into pieces, tear up small pieces of onion greens. Eat cherry tomato, pepper piece, and a bit of onion in one bite.

Flower Feast – Discuss which flowers in the garden are edible. Harvest a variety of edible flowers and eat a mini bouquet or go on a floral walk sampling different flowers as you pass them.

Six Plant Part Burrito – As a group, harvest edible roots, stems, leaves (large ones like roman lettuce), flowers, fruits, and seeds. Wash veggies. Use a cutting board or plate and cut plant parts up in small pieces (minus the large edible leaf part). Have kids fill their leaf up with samples of each plant part. Roll up your “burrito” and munch on down or sample each part separately. Also know as 6 Plant Part Tacos, Finger Salads, and many other creative names.

Share your One Bite Lesson ideas and view what others have shared at http://csgn.org/node/846

FYI the free Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education (GENE) Workshops will be piloted and offered during the 2012-2013 school year. Announcements will be sent this summer. To be added to the e-list go here www.lifelab.org/csgt

Garden Classes for Teachers

Getting Your Green Thumb” is a free, fun, and practical professional development series for primary or secondary educators. Classes cover topics in garden planning, gardening techniques, and curriculum connections. Each class includes classroom instruction, hands-on activities, practice in an outdoor garden space, and free materials. We welcome gardening beginners as well as those who are looking to take their next gardening step. Participants can choose to take all of the classes or can select the ones that best fit their needs.

All classes are held on Saturdays at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Classes for elementary school teachers will be held from 9:00-12:00. Classes for secondary school teachers will be held from 1:30-4:30. The first class in the series is on May 12th. For more information, to view the whole series of offerings, and to get the application, visit the Huntington website.

Did I mention classes are free? What a great opportunity. Sign up today!

Using Eggshells to Protect Your Seedlings

Springtime means new plants sprouting from the soil and small transplants being added. If you have slugs or snails in your garden they will see these young, tender seedlings as dinner. One method we use to protect our seedlings is to create a ring of eggshells around them. Snails and slugs have soft underbellies and can be harmed if they slither over the crushed eggshells. Their brains may be primitive however they are smart enough not to cross over.

See the two photos below. The first is a zucchini plant without eggshells. Notice how the leaves have been chewed off the stems. The second is a zucchini plant with a ring of eggshells around it. Perhaps you can conduct your own experiment.

Squash plant with no eggshells

Without Eggshells

 

squash plant surrounded by eggshells

With Eggshells

 

Make Your Own Bird Feeder

DIY Birdfeeder

Attracting birds to your garden is a good way to keep away harmful insects. A good project for pre-school and elementary school students is to make your own bird feeder. Its so simple…

1) Recycle toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls
2) Smear on peanut butter generously
3) Roll it in bird seed and press bird seed into peanut butter
4) Place tube on sturdy branch

Photo courtesy of Annie Moffatt, The Moffat Girls
For more pictures and complete, original article click above link.