Category Archives: Instructional Activities

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.

Grow LA Victory Garden Classes 2012


Proud to be teaching the Grow LA Victory Garden (GLAVG) classes again this spring. Please see registration details below and please forward to those who may enjoy.

The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative helps new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, in the backyard or at a community garden. Participants are able to turn their interest in gardening into successful, productive gardens that will generate positive changes in their homes by helping to lower grocery bills and enhance opportunities to eat healthy food.

The GLAVG classes are organized and led by UC California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners.

Place:
Hami Garden, Hamilton High School
2955 South Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Entrance on S. Canfield Ave (Between Cattaraugus and Kramerwood Pl)

The 4-week session is every Sunday for 3 hours.
Dates: April 29, May 6 May 13, May 20
Time: 1:00PM – 4:00PM

List of topics include the following:
Week 1: Planning, tools, containers, raised beds, seed starting, plant selection (what to grow and when to grow it)

Week 2: Soil preparation, soil properties, organic fertilizers, transplanting, irrigation, and mulching

Week 3: Composting, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), beneficial insects, organic pesticides.

Week 4: Harvesting, pollination, seed saving, fruit trees, recipes, review, graduation

The cost is $20 per class or $75 for the entire session. Only those taking all 4 sessions will be eligible for certificates. Part of the proceeds will go to supporting the Hami Garden.

Payment is available through Paypal.com or by check. My paypal account email address is gp305@yahoo.com. You will be confirmed registration once payment is received. Classes are always a sell-out, please register early.

Contact:
Master Gardener George Pessin
Tel: 310-779-8816
Email: gp305@yahoo.com

Mailing Address:
834 Huntley Dr #4
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Edible Petioles

celery

Pop quiz: When we’re eating celery what part of the plant are we consuming?

A celery stalk, the part of the celery plant we eat, is a special part of the leaf structure called a petiole. A petiole is a small stalk that attaches the leaf blade of a plant to the stem.

Can you name any other edible petioles?

rhubarb

If you said rhubarb, you are correct.

What about stems?  What are the tastiest stems on the planet?

Arguably asparagus.

For more info see Edible Leafs: Spinach, Celery, and Artichokes

 

A Clothing Garden – Growing Cotton and Flax

raw cotton and cotton seeds

Raw Cotton and Cotton Seeds

We make a big deal about where our food originates from, but what about our clothing? Sure much of it is man-made chemistry, but natural plant fibers also contribute greatly to our daily wardrobes. Think of t-shirts, sweaters, and skirts made of cotton and shirts, pants and jackets made from linen. All originated as plants.

Cotton is a soft, fluffy, natural fiber that grows into a boll, or protective capsule around the seeds of the cotton plant. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal.

No one knows exactly how old cotton is but archeologists have found cotton bolls and pieces of cloth in Mexican caves that date back 7,000 years. In Pakistan, cotton was being grown, spun, and woven into cloth as early as 3,000 B.C.

Linen is considered to be one of the earliest products known to civilization. It is made from the inner stalk of the flax plant and one of the first vegetable fabrics to be woven. It is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather.

There is evidence of cloth being made from linen in Mesopotamia and in Turkey as far back as 7000 to 8000 BC.  The flax plant that it comes from is believed to have first been domesticated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. Mummies in Egypt were routinely wrapped in linen.

For info on how to grow cotton see Instructions for Planting Cotton Seeds from CottonsJourney.com.

For more information about Cultivating Flax see fact sheet from Department of Horticulture, Purdue University.

Clothing Garden Curriculum Suggestions:

1) Geography
Flax plants are believed to have originated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent aka “The Cradle of Civilization” Can you locate this area on a map? Why do you think linen clothing was popular in this region?

2) Math
It takes a patch of land of about 20 feet square to grow enough cotton for one common blouse. How many square feet would you need for 12 dozen blouses?

3) History
Cotton is woven into our American History because of Slavery and the Civil War. How did cotton figure into both of these events?

4) Art
Design an outfit for a scarecrow using only cotton and linen.

Integrated Pest Management in the School Garden

aphids on tomato plant

aphids on tomato plant

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the term we use to describe the methods involved in controlling animals and insects in the garden.  Before listing them it is important to point out the following:

1) Not all insects in the garden are harmful. Familiarize yourself with who the good bugs aka beneficials are and those that do the most harm.

Good Bugs – See Meet the Beneficials, a pdf poster from IPM Online, University of California Davis that illustrates the various natural predators and parasites that feed on common garden pests.

Bad Bugs – See Plant Pest Identification Chart from Dept of Entomology, Texas A&M University .

2) Frequent monitoring of your plants is essential. Don’t let a little problem become a big problem. The earlier a problem is addressed the more quickly and easily it can be solved. Careful inspection of your plants should be done on a regular basis. If you’re fortunate enough to own a greenhouse careful monitoring of your pants indoors is recommend as well. (If you’re in the UK, Argos has a great range of greenhouses.)

3) Some level of damage can be tolerated. A few wormholes on your leaves is not going to destroy your plant. However if unchecked, and they start feeding on the grow tip the plant will not mature.

These are five methods of IPM:

1) Plant Selection
A healthy plant is better able to withstand its environment than one that is stressed by improper fertilization, irrigation, or being planted out of season. Remember to plant cool-weather crops in the fall (in California) and warm weather crops in the spring.

Plant selection also includes the planting of specialized crops. Some plant varieties are more susceptible to pests than others. Choosing the right variety may be all that is necessary to ensure a healthy plant. For example tomatoes labeled with a VFN designation are better able to resist the diseases caused by Verticillium, Fusarium viruses and Nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on plant roots). This information will be readily available in most seed catalogs.

2) Physical Barriers
A good example of physical barrier is a fence. If deer or rabbits are a problem in your garden the area will need to be fenced. Bury the fence about one foot deep to keep burrowing animals out. If gophers are a problem you will need to place chicken wire below your raised bed. Floating row covers and bird netting are other examples of physical barriers.

3) Traps
Insect traps use pheromones, visual lures or food to attract pests and capture them. Pheromones are the substances female insects use to sexually attract males to them. Visual lures use colors and shapes to attract pests.  A good example of a trap is the yellow sticky card that keeps whiteflies off your tomatoes. Aphids and white flies as well as other small flying insects are attracted to the yellow color and are then entrapped in the glue. They are not effective in a very large area but for a small school garden they are effective.

Another example of a trap is to lay a wooden board down in your pathway raised a few inches on one end to attract snails. They will try to hide there during the day. Simply turn the board over and remove the snails.

4) Biological Controls
Biological Controls rely on the use of living organisms called natural enemies or beneficials to eat or kill the pests. Two well-known beneficials are ladybugs and green lacewings.

Another biological control is BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a microorganism that occurs naturally. It is very effective with worms and caterpillars that congregate on the underside of green leaves such as beets and chard as well as on the leaves of the entire Brassica family. BT is diluted with water and sprayed onto the underside of leaves.

5) Pesticides
Pesticides are used as a last resort. If you must use a pesticide, choose the least toxic yet most effective product that targets the pest but does not also kill natural enemies or is harmful to pets and other animals. Insecticidal soaps usually fit this bill. To learn more about pesticides see National Pesticide Information Center.

For more detailed information on IPM, see Pests Listed According to Vegetable.