Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Mini Bouquet

Reseeding Annuals

I call them "amazing" because this bunch of plants has the ability to surprise and delight every year that they return to the garden! Self-sowing, or reseeding plants create seeds that re-emerge as plants year after year. Some gardeners refer to these plants as “volunteers” because they come back year after year with little to no intervention or planning.

They appear in the most magical places: the cracks of sidewalks, at the edge of cultivated garden beds, in compost piles and anywhere else they see fit to call home. These plants are resilient by nature, can live most anywhere, and can adapt to many kinds of environments. They are colorful, edible, medicinal, beautiful and useful. Reseeding plants provide habitat and food for bees, butterflies and birds. They provide restoration and renewal when they show up in a vacant lot. Self-sowing plants create a sustainability that humans can only dream of, as they by definition self sow, germinate, thrive, grow, flower, set seed, and then do it all over again! These lovely plants are life renewed, for generations upon generations, for all time to come. 

In gardens that children play, grow and learn in, these plants provide a sense of wonder and imagination, magic and delight as they can be harvested, picked, touched and used for so many different things. Sprinkle the petals over snacks, create fairy, gnome or creature homes with the flowers, use Nasturtium leaves to drink water from or make a spicy pesto, delicately chew fennel blossoms for a taste of licorice, or eat a sweet viola blossom straight from the plant.

Unlike many other annual garden plants the trick to getting the most out of  reseeding annuals is to let them go to seed. Let the plants continue to develop once the blooms have faded or the plants have “bolted” (when vegetable crops send up a stalk of flower & seed), allowing plants to complete their full cycle of life from seed to seed.

Once the seed has set you have some options. Let the seed follow its natural course falling from the plant to be re-sprouted the next year or save / disperse the seeds. Saving seed and storing them in handmade envelopes makes for a great gift or class micro business opportunity. Check out our resources on saving seeds and ideas for making your own seed envelopes www.lifelab.org/seed-saving

You can also take the “lazy gardener” approach. Pull up a plant or cut off a stalk full of dry seeds taking care not to let the seeds spill from their husk or pod. Then drop or sprinkle the seeds in a new spot(s) you’d like the plant to sprout in the future. I often have kids pull up spent plants full of seeds, set the seedy stalk in a new space, and then jump on top of the plant, releasing the seeds. It isn’t an exact science, nor will you find this tip in Better Homes and Gardens, but it is fun and it works.

The following list is by no means the full list of plants that have the ability to self-sow, though they are the ones that I have experienced the magic of reseeding here in Santa Cruz, in our gardens…

Edible Edible Part 

  • Bachelor’s Buttons petals
  • Nasturtium whole plant
  • Calendula petals
  • Nigella seeds
  • Chamomile flower tops for tea
  • Fennel flowers and seeds
  • Sunflowers seeds & petals
  • Borage flowers
  • Violas / Johnny Jump ups flowers
  • Alpine Strawberries fruit

Veggies

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce and other greens
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Cilantro
  • Chard

Flowers

  • Poppies
  • Nigella 
  • Cosmos
  • Sunflowers
  • Amaranth pop seeds in a dry pan, eat like mini popcorn
  • Queen Anne’s Lace
  • Alyssum
  • Sweet Peas
  • Cerinthe “Honeywort”
  • Holly Hocks
  • Coreopsis
  • Fever Few
  • Marigolds

Herbs

  • Fennel
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Parsley

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1 week ago

Life Lab

Join us for tomorrow’s Family Gardening Winter Webinar at 3pm! Register at LifeLab.org/events 🌱Linktree in our bio as well🌱#naturejournal #compost #soil #wintergardening #family #gardening #lifelab #schoolgardens

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Join Life Lab educators for a fun, family Winter gardening webinar on February 16th at 3pm. We will focus on the various ways to plan, create, and support a healthy garden. Topics include choosing a garden space, creative container options, what to plant now, and preparing for Spring. 🌱#gardeneducation #LifeLab #schoolgardens #familygardening #wintergarden 🌻Registration link in our bio

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🌱 Become a Life Lab Certified Educator!🌱 We only have 3 spots left in our new School Garden Educator Certification Program! Sign-up today for the entire series of courses or for individual courses by visiting website, link below. Our first course, Building Connections in the Garden, starts with asynchronous work on January 21st and our first synchronous session will be on January 28th from 3:30 – 5:00 PST. You may continue to sign up through January 27th or until all spots are filled. If needed, we highly encourage you to join the waitlist to get priority registration for our next cohort in the fall of 2021 or should there become spots available. Upon completion of the 4 courses, participants will receive a certificate and the distinction of being a Life Lab-Certified Garden Educator. Each course will last approximately 8 weeks long and include 4 synchronous meetings, at-home work, and a unique coaching model tailored to each individual’s needs.lifelab.org/educator-certification-program/

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Looking to 2021 with a magnified view of our impact on nature and our connections with each other. A healthy garden is a diverse and sustainable ecosystem full of wonder and beauty in all seasons. #LifeLab #2021 #gardeneducation #science #bettertogether

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2 months ago

Life Lab

At the beginning of the year, Life Lab launched our Healthy Futures campaign in response to the financial impact of COVID on our programs. We are grateful for our continued partnerships and our resilient staff who had to reimagine our work and how to best serve our local and national communities. The innovative outcome of this process includes new resources such as Next Generation Science in the Garden Curriculum, Life Lab Educator Garden Certification Program, Life Lab Webinar Series, Back Pocket Learning, and more!2021 is full of potential and positivity, however……🌱 WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP! 🌱Our 2020 annual operating budget is $1,300,000 and we’re almost there!!! We are only $12,223 away meeting that goal! Click here ow.ly/FP0950CSIlg to help us reach our before the end of the year. Remember, every little bit goes a long way! 💚For more information about our Healthy Futures campaign please visit here ow.ly/jwKh50CSIlf.

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2 months ago

Life Lab

The Life Lab Garden Educators just finished building and installing brand new veggie boxes at one of our partner schools, in Watsonville!!! Can’t wait to see these flourish! 🌱🥕🐝🌻#gardensofgratitude

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2 months ago

Life Lab

The Life Lab Garden Educators just finished building and installing brand new veggie boxes at one of our partner schools, in Watsonville!!! Can’t wait to see these flourish! 🌱🥕🐝🌻#gardensofgratitude

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3 months ago

Life Lab

🌱 Become a Life Lab Certified Educator! 🌱Life Lab is excited to announce our new School Garden Educator Certification Program! We’ve put together a series of 4 on-line courses that will guide and support educators in becoming a Life Lab-Certified School Garden Educator. Upon completion of the 4 courses, participants will receive a certificate and the distinction of being a Life Lab-Certified Garden Educator.Each course will last approximately 8 weeks long and include 4 synchronous meetings, at-home work, and a unique coaching model. It is also possible to sign-up for individual courses separately to learn specific content or brush up on one topic that meets the needs of your program.Registration for the full certification series opens today, December 7th. Click the link belowow.ly/ifka50CFczl

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3 months ago

Life Lab

Join us today at 1pm with nutritionist, @jocelyndubin MS, RD for a healthy conversation about nutrition especially during the holidays and the benefits of eating a rainbow. Register at LifeLab.org/events Link is also in our bio #foodismedicine #teachthekids #eatarainbow #LifeLab #schoolgardens

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3 months ago

Life Lab

Life Lab is thrilled to announce the launch of 3 new Next Generation Science in the Garden curriculum units for grades K-2🐝 These units are aligned to #NGSS and written by Life Lab staff supported by experienced classroom teachers and piloted with over 8,000 students across 12 schools. For more info go to LifeLab.org/ngsscurriculum

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