Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lovely Ladybugs . . .

Winter weather might keep us indoors, but we're still having lots of garden-related fun! This past week, our pre-K classes completed a unit on ladybugs. They learned that ladybugs play an important role in the garden by eating aphids, which eat the plants. We read a few ladybug-focused books (including Eric Carle's The Grouchy Ladybug - everyone's favorite!) and practiced math skills by counting ladybugs and their spots. We also made some super ladybug hats which the kids didn't want to take off!

Pre-K kids paint their ladybug hats.

Adding detail with spots, googly eyes, and pipe cleaner antennae . . .

Two pre-K students show off their lovely ladybugs.

A pre-kindergardener is transformed into a ladybug, no pupa involved.

Watch out, aphids: we've got a roomful of ladybugs ready for lunch!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year!

City Blossoms is gearing up for what promises to be our busiest year yet! We're in the process of expanding our garden classes at local schools, breaking ground for a new community garden in Shaw, and planning for the upcoming RootingDC conference in February. We'll keep you posted on all our projects!

Our fourth graders at DC Bilingual Public Charter School have been learning about herbs. They have participated enthusiastically in growing, harvesting, drying, and learning about the various uses (culinary, medicinal, etc.) of these fabulous plants. To celebrate the New Year, some of our students paused to reflect on their herbal activities of 2009 and their garden hopes for 2010:

“I loved when we took the herbs and hung them up to dry. I liked doing jobs like taking the leaves off the stems. My favorite was when we made the Tummy Soother tea. My stomach was really hurting that day, and it made me feel better. Before garden class, I never knew that lemon balm and other herbs were really herbs – I thought they were just normal plants that you can’t eat.

I hope that we get to plant flowers and herbs in our garden." -Kessya

“My favorite activity for the herbs was anything with eating because I’m always hungry! I also liked cutting the herbs and cutting them off the stems. The mint tea was my favorite to drink. Before garden class, I didn’t know that mint came in so many flavors.

I hope we get to make mint ice cream!” -Alex

“I love the herbs, because after growing them, we get to eat them and do things with them! We made tea, and we also made cream cheese with chives, which is my favorite herb.

I hope that we can make pizza in the oven with the herbs we grew.” -Julissa

“I like that we learn how to take care of plants and trees – they’re important because they give us oxygen and we can’t have food without plants. My favorite was when we made tea, because the tea was so good! My favorite herb is cebollitas [chives] because it tastes so funny in your mouth.

I hope we get to make pizza with the herbs!” -Marilyn

Fourth graders at DC Bilingual remove dried oregano leaves from the stems.

Students carefully cut dried lemongrass leaves into small pieces for use in cooking.

Fourth graders used the herbs they harvested to brew two kinds of herbal tea.

Our tea connoisseurs sampled both Tummy Soother tea and Relax tea. (They concluded that Tummy Soother, with its spearmint and ginger flavors, was the general favorite.)

They also enjoyed preparing and eating Swiss chard wraps seasoned with their favorite herbs - yum!