Nature Explorer

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#1000HandsDigIn! at KidSpace Museum, Pasadena May 7, 2016

Filed under: Environmental Education,Everything Under the Sun,Gratitude,Inspiration — explorergarden @ 6:11 am

I’ve been trying to post pictures of kids’ hands discovering in nature over the last two months. Last week I visited KidSpace Pasadena to share my new book Dig In! and my new twitter campaign #1000HandsDigIn and loved their new Arroyo exhibit. An arroyo, in case you don’t know, is a dry creek bed. A beautiful arroyo runs through Pasadena, and this exhibit is about the ecosystem of the arroyo. It meets all of children’s needs to experience nature with all of their senses. Here are photos of spaces where children can play in wet sand, mud and clay, make adobe bricks, weave with flowers, climb an eagle’s aerie and wear an eagle costume, go under a waterfall and splash in the water, build a sand-moving machine with dry sand and build a fort with sticks, hide in a nest of sticks and read a book, play music on nature’s own instruments. It was truly an amazing, inspiring and beautiful place for children to blossom and connect with nature.

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Pollinators Wanted — Apply Within! May 1, 2016

Filed under: Gardening,Gratitude — explorergarden @ 6:34 am

Finally, someone is pollinating my garden. I was a little freaked out when my sunflowers seemed to go for weeks without bees visiting. But today, the California poppies are full of bees, and this yellow-faced bumblebee paid a visit to my tomatoes. My photos aren’t great — he was a moving target —  but here is one from the Las Pilitas website — that wonderful garden treasure trove!

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Spring is here and Rain at Last! March 12, 2016

Early, cool spring is my favorite time of year.

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Eulalie and Jumbo

Eulalie and Jumbo

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl

play structure chicken coop

play structure chicken coop

Weeds Find a Way!

Weeds Find a Way!

Indian Hawthorne

Indian Hawthorne

Baby Apricots

Baby Apricots

Green yard

Green yard

IMG_0683 IMG_0685Last year, we got only a couple of inches of rain all year. This year, while El Nino has definitely not lived up to its promise in southern California, at least we are getting a real spring. The air is clean and cool, our apricot tree has blossomed already and is producing tiny fruit, the Indian Hawthorne bush is ready to explode with blossoms, weeds are finding a way, and the chickens are delighted with the growing garden.

 

Swimming Through the Cave September 14, 2014

While I have been swimming the mile at the La Jolla Cove most of my life, I had never swum through the Caves until this year. Several caves open up under the cliffs, and one is wide enough to swim through. We were surrounded by sea lions who had pulled themselves up on the rocks, including this mother and pup. The current was strong — and a little scary — but it was an exciting adventure. With water so warm this year — over 70 degrees — we can stay in the water for a long time. What we see in the water changes every day — today I saw an odd jelly fish with a blue rudder on top and, of course, sea lions everywhere.

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Spring Storm April 8, 2014

Filed under: Animals,Everything Under the Sun,Gratitude,Inspiration — explorergarden @ 6:10 am

When you live in a hot place, it’s wonderful to find yourself in situations in  nature that the rest of the nation deplores: a blizzard! These American Coots probably regretted coming to the Sierra early — but the 50 degree weather the week before fooled them! To us, it was an amazing experience to be blown around, freezing cold.

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Inspirations from Olivewood Gardens March 6, 2014

Filed under: Environmental Education,Gardening,Gratitude,Inspiration — explorergarden @ 6:58 am

I visited Olivewood Gardens , where I will co-teach a class in Starting and Sustaining Your School Garden on March 15. I am always so inspired by the gardens there and will bring back ideas for our school garden.

Swallowtail caterpillars

Swallowtail caterpillars

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A clever way to support blackberry bushes!

A clever way to support blackberry bushes!

Supports for berry bushes

Supports for berry bushes

Wheat, just beginning to grow strong!

Wheat, just beginning to grow strong!

The hidden world of the garden: A cool display about  insects and beneficial soil microbes

The hidden world of the garden: A cool display about insects and beneficial soil microbes

Young friends under one of many passionfruit arches. I want one of these in our school garden!

Young friends under one of many passionfruit arches. I want one of these in our school garden!

Concentric circles of herbs and strawberries.

Concentric circles of herbs and strawberries.

A tee-pea surrounded by carrots!

A tee-pea surrounded by carrots!

collecting water from the shed roof

collecting water from the shed roof

amaranth

amaranth

Another simple way to support plants

Another simple way to support plants

Tire garden -- we'll use these for our potatoetry garden!

Tire garden — we’ll use these for our potatoetry garden!

Hanging succulent gardens: volunteer Alissa Aldous helped last year's second graders make these to put on our own shed.

Hanging succulent gardens:
volunteer Alissa Aldous helped last year’s second graders make these to put on our own shed.

 

Weeds Find a Way is on bookstore shelves March 2, 2014

Filed under: Books,Gratitude — explorergarden @ 4:33 pm

Is it the height of nerdiness to run out of a store to grab your camera the first time you see your book on a bookstore shelf? With thirteen other books on the shelves of libraries and in schools, you would not think this would be so exciting, but it was a THRILL to see Weeds Find a Way in all it’s weedy glory. Thank you, bookstore owners everywhere for  making a plant geek happy and for bringing weeds to the world of children everywhere!

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Happy Birthday Little Book! February 5, 2014

Celebrating Book Launch Day for Weeds Find a Way with this book trailer by Carolyn Fisher. Happy Birthday, Little Book!

 

Everything is OK in the Garden January 22, 2014

Filed under: Gardening,Gratitude — explorergarden @ 7:56 am

Despite the skunk on the loose, by January, my greens are doing well, carrots are better than ever, and my Japanese turnips  are abundant. The sunflowers are just starting to climb and a few peas are coming up. The beans I planted as a crop cover before I put in my composted manure are all over the place, too, which was not my intention. They didn’t come up when I thought they would, but are kind of a nice surprise now in our unseasonably hot January.

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Making Cheese at Wild Willow Farm November 8, 2013

Filed under: Animals,Gardening,Gratitude — explorergarden @ 8:06 am

Our Farming 101 class at Wild Willow Farm learned how to make living foods from our produce today:

First, chevre from the farm’s goat milk;

Here are the steps to making chevre, or goat cheese.

Take goat milk — fresh, or store-bought, either will do. Cat heated  the milk to exactly 90 degrees, added cheese culture — the appropriate bacteria — then let it sit 8 hours, covered. The resulting “cake” was then drained in a colander and covered to release the whey; later, salt and herbs were added.

Delicious!!

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Susan A. Olcott

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