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Even when classes are not in session, there is always something in the making here at the 24th Street Garden. Weeding, planning, prepping, planting, these tasks are just a few of many that must be accomplished to maintain the garden and to run our interactive classes. With our amazing and tireless group of volunteers, we have been able to accomplish so much at the garden!

Last week, we all experimented with a new project: Seed Bombs. We wanted to create an activity that would bring the garden to the students, and seed bombs do just this. This activity also teaches our students about seed identification and seed dispersal. With these seed bombs in hand, students are armed with the power to transform the world around them by beautifying vacant plots of land on the schoolyard, while taking ownership and pride in their community.

Our Seed Bombs

Rolling the adobe clay, dirt, and seeds together in the palm of our hands, we felt like revolutionaries making these seed bombs of peace and propagation.  You can join in on the fight too! Make your own by following the recipe below or come make some with our students at our Garden Workday THIS Saturday, February 11th, 2012!

Here’s the seed bomb recipe:

5 parts dry red clay

3 parts dry organic compost

1 part seed (the smaller the seed the better)

1 – 2 parts water

Step one: measure out three parts of dry compost or soil. This provides a growing medium for your seeds.

Step two: measure out five parts of dry powdered clay. Once mixed with water, the clay will hold the seed balls together.

Step two continued… I use Red Art clay, which I get from a pottery supply store. It’s cheap, food safe, and feels great to work with.

Step three: Add one part seed.

Step five: Roll the seed ball mix into balls 1-2 in. (2.5-5cm) in diameter. Be prepared to get messy!

Step six: Set aside to dry on wax paper for a few days before storing or using.

The kids at 24th Street Elementary are back in full swing here at the garden. We’ve been discussing the seasons and getting into what it means to be winter in Southern California. Winter in Los Angeles can be a confusing time since we aren’t wearing down coats or out building snowmen. So how do we know that it’s winter when the outdoor thermometer reads 70?  Luckily for us we can look to the garden for clues with a little game we like to call, Garden Guess Who.

This is what winter looks like at 24th Street Elementary.

Let’s get started with this clue: It is dark green, has a bumpy surface and long leaves. It looks like dinosaur skin but definitely doesn’t taste like it! It is delicious in a salad. It likes to grow during the winter. What could it be?!

Dinosaur Kale!

The kids then break up into teams and use their own observations about the garden to come up with clues for each other. They walk through the orchard describing the bare trees; they huddle around the thick stalks of the Brussels sprouts and look to the papery petals of our Iceland Poppies. They are taking inventory of what is growing (and not growing) in the garden during winter.

At the end of our game, we gather together to talk about their garden discoveries, and to be given their final clue.

Clue: It is oval, has a smooth surface and is small. It is in the Citrus Family and has an orange colored peel but is not an orange. It grows in the winter. What could it possibly be?!


They scan the garden and quickly spot the orange-colored jewels, all pointing excitedly to their discovery, “Miss Laila, over there! They’re over there!!” We walk over to the ripe fruits and after chanting the word, “Kum-quat! Kum-quat! Kum-quat!” we begin our harvest. Each student holds their kumquat high in the air until everyone has one and then the countdown begins. “Three! Two! One!!” Their eyes are bright with surprise, “It’s sooourrrr  and SWEET!!” “It tastes like candy!” Can you guess who loves kumquats?

It’s a beautiful beginning to another lovely year at 24th Street! And we are just so exited to get this new season started!!

We are ready for a new season of planting, growing, playing and unlocking the magic that lives all around us in the garden.

Although a winter garden often leaves a visitor wanting, at 24th Street we are filled with hopes and wishes for the months to come!!

So drop by and visit one of our cooking or gardening classes or send us your wishes for the new season. Either way, have a happy, healthy and strong New Year!!

Our fourth workday in the garden this year was another screaming success.

We had the biggest turnout of kids yet, thanks largely to the 4th grade teachers who offered their students community service credit if they came.

Here, 4th grade teacher Ms. LaFleur arrives with her daughters:

And they did come, in droves. With their help, we weeded and mulched and mulched and weeded.




more weeding

We also had help from tree specialist and master gardener Herb Machleder, who helped prune our fruit orchard. We’re hoping that with his help, and our garden manager’s capable hands, we can double our already productive crop next year.

Herb explains some fruit tree intricacies

We played games…

Are they students or a train?

…we looked for bugs…

field guide and magnifying glass in hand, this student goes hunting

…we scraped paint off tables.

scraping paint

We got done everything we wanted and more. Workdays are an incredible chance for us to make a big push in the garden — there’s only so much one or two people can do alone; it’s great to have so many hands. But workdays are also an incredible chance for us to connect with the students and their families in a whole different way, a time for us to remember what we’re trying to do and why. Plus, they’re really fun — more than one kid asked if we could have them every week!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Here’s a delicious recipe for onion dill bread.

Dill Bread
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Makes one 9×5-inch loaf

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm (105 to 115°F) water
3 cups bread flour (I replaced 1/2 cup of this flour with whole wheat)
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill or dill seeds
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 tablespoon wheat germ, toasted
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup large-curd cottage cheese
1 large egg

Optional, for top of bread:
1 egg, lightly beaten, or 1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt or a few dill seeds

Combine yeast and water in a small bowl and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about five minutes.

Combine flour, onions, dill, sugar or honey, wheat germ and salt in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add the yeast along with the cottage cheese and egg. Mix by hand or on low speed until the dough comes together, addition additional flour or warm water if needed. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 to 80 degrees) until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a 9×5-inch (8-cup) loaf pan. Punch Gently press the dough down, form into a loaf and place seam side down in the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. If desired, brush the top of loaf with the egg or melted butter, and then sprinkle with the additional salt or dill seeds. (I highly recommend the butter/salt combination.)

Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 to 40 minutes. (My bread read just about 200°F on a thermometer when I took it out.) Remove the loaf from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.

November 19 was our third workday of the school year. Both the sky and the forecast threatened rain, but we were determined to soldier on no matter what, and invited people to the garden rain or shine.

But nature complied, as did our volunteer list. It never rained, but was cool enough that no one got too hot or miserable. We had at least 50 people there (including an honors society from Santa Monica College which brought 20 people on its own. Thanks, guys!)

It's like they're playing "Camouflage," our favorite game!

We got huge amounts of work done. In the photo above, people are clearing our former melon and pumpkin patch of the final crops and the weeds that threatened to overrun that fertile soil. Once the weeds were gone, we planted cover crops of borrage and clover to stave of the grasses that want to take over, and replenish some of the nutrients our plants took out. The cover crops will grow there until we’re ready to plant in the space again, at which time they’ll be mixed directly into the soil and turned into compost right there on the spot.

While the adults were using the big tools, the kids were working too. They brought their little brothers and they weeded…:

pulling grasses

…they dug holes, filled in holes, and looked for bugs…

…they picked strawberries…


…and they planted peas.

We got an amazing amount of work done and our best turn out yet. It is so gratifying to see the pride the community — students, parents, neighbors, everyone! — takes in this garden that we love so much. At the end of the day, we were able to send families home with bags bursting with collard greens, chard, kale, mint and other herbs. All of which was grown in beds that were tended to at previous workdays.

To everyone who came: thank you so much for your help.

To everyone else: see you next time, December 10th, 9 am!