February Garden Tour

Citrus is booming in San Diego County (though not here at 4,200 feet in Julian) so it makes for a perfect February/March harvest of the month.

To kick off this lesson, I bought five containers of orange juice and things that “look like orange juice.”  We did a little consumer education as the kids passed the bottles around looking for the percentage juice, other ingredients, and marketing techniques (pictures and phrases.)  We then analyzed them together based on their observations.

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After deciding that 100% juice was the best, we squeezed our own 100% orange juice and everyone received a small cup to drink.  (We did some classes inside, others outside, depending on the weather.)  I found that using an electric juicer made the process quick enough for each child to try his/her hand at it.

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Upper grade students started their lesson with a slideshow I made about citrus varieties, citrus pests, biological control and California history.  Then they spread out and played a “grapefruit fact” matching game I created a few years ago.

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A few other garden activities lately include:

A “love note” to the garden displayed on our bulletin board for Valentines Day :

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In after school class, Miss Kat continues to wow kids with her exciting lessons and field trips.

Planting peas:

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Creating mountain puma art, after lessons on local wildlife:

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Although everyone worked off the same picture, the results were wonderfully varied!

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Kaitlyn Kuiper, 1st grade

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Aryana Bennington, 1st grade

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Gavin Leck, 1st grade

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Carlo Martinez, 4th grade

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Kasen Mushet, K

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Jackson Angel, K

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Liaden Mitchell, K

And finally taking trips with Club Wild (a joint program with the Volcan Mountain Foundation) to Mount Volcan to learn about watersheds and water!  (Lucky kids!)

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Collecting garden ideas in the Capital

As has become my custom, I took pictures of some sweet ideas for children’s gardens at the United States Botanic Gardens.

Upfront, they give permission to use the senses:

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Kids cranked on this old-fashioned pump to fill the pool…

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….and then kids filled up watering cans….

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….and watered everything in sight.   ( I imagine they’ve got the most well-draining soil imaginable)….

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Brightly painted details always add a touch of whimsy.

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If you’re reading this and you’d like to help me install a mailbox in our school garden, I would take you up on it.  I love this idea as a way to store how-to handouts for visitors (i.e. One of our beneficials is working on a one-page sheet on how to construct your own gopher cages to plant in.)

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We saw an exhibit on plants that traveled because of the Perry Expedition.  I’m completely intrigued by the worldwide migration of plants, and I think it’s a good hook for pulling kids in to both botany and history.

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Rooftop gardens are big right now, but how fun that this one on top of a playhouse is accessible and eye-level (at least for adults?)

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A common element in children’s gardens: little, green spaces to crawl into.  Here: a bamboo grove of one’s own.

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Another personal interest:  how do plants, trees and flowers contribute to our sense of place?  I know I feel more “grounded” every year in Julian as I learn my plants, note subtle changes in the succession of blooms, recognize patterns in the seasons, expect certain smells, etc.

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Another angle to explore in the garden:  food across cultures.  This was built for smelling!

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A few experiential stations were set up.  At this one we made seed balls with soil, clay and wildflower seeds to toss in a garden, vacant lot, etc.  The woman encouraged me to take it home, even though I live in California. I was on vacation, so I didn’t strike up a conversation about my classified work with native plants, and just politely gave it to my D.C. friend. 🙂

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