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 Flowers 

  • 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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3 days ago

Life Lab

Join us online for a fun family friendly “Gifts From The Garden” Webinar on November 30th at 4pm! Learn to create your own nature based holiday gifts. Life Lab staff will share tried and true crafts that we have made in our youth garden programs including rolled beeswax candles, pressed leaf & flower creations, and more! 🌸Register at LifeLab.org/events See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Fall 2020 updates. Stay tuned for NEW Life Lab developments coming soon! #sharingiscaring #change #reimagine #renew See MoreSee Less

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

🚨 Happening Today 🚨

We are grateful for the opportunity to invite you to a FREE Life Lab
screening of this important and beautiful film.

Today, October 30th at 7pm PST

Gather (Gather ), is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty and land rights, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide. With regenerative agriculture and permaculture gaining national attention, it is more important than ever to recognize the tremendous innovations and contributions of Indigenous communities and practices. We are grateful Gather has become a key part of these discussions.

To view the screening this Friday, October 30th at 7pm, please make sure that you have RSVP’d via the Storyspaces screening platform link below.

story-spaces.com/events/gather-behyat See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

In the face of the myriad challenges of 2020, all of you in SGSOs across the country are innovating in creative and inspiring ways to sustain and enhance garden education for their students. We are eager for other SGSOs to learn from you!💚

We want to honor the time and expertise you all bring to the table and, therefore, with generous support from Whole Kids Foundation we are so pleased to be able to provide stipends for peoples’ contributions to these Working Groups.🌱

This year’s SGSO Institute is open to newcomers and SGSO Institute Alumni! Applications are due Nov 6, 2020.
To learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply, visit: lifelab.org/sgso See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

The Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation is proudly celebrating five years of supporting nonprofits that teach students and communities about the goodness of fresh ingredients. This year, the Foundation awarded more than 110 Neighborhood Grants to nonprofit organizations, with Life Lab being one of them!

We are grateful for the continued support from Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. Life Lab is honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the Neighborhood Grants. Our partnership reflects Sprouts Farmers Market’s core values of education, environmental stewardship, and nutrition.

With this support we have been able to launch and sustain BackPocketLearning.org, a robust directory of easy to use activities that require no screen time, promote healthy eating and inspires creativity. This site is perfect for teachers and parents alike! BackPocketLearning.org has garnished over 7k users from all over the world, in almost every continent, since our launch in April.

Sprouts Farmers Market

#sproutsfarmersmarket #MyLifelab #local #nonprofit See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🌱 Join the SGSO Leadership Institute 🌱

Every year, we host a School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute to provide an opportunity for school garden professionals from across the country to collaborate, learn from one another, and develop resources to share with a national audience. Collectively, SGSO Institute participants have improved their own work while also sharing ideas and resources to help others do the same.

In the face of the myriad challenges of 2020, all of you in SGSOs across the country are innovating in creative and inspiring ways to sustain and enhance garden education for their students. We are eager for other SGSOs to learn from you! With generous support from Whole Kids Foundation , we are pleased to be able to provide stipends for peoples’ contributions to these Working Groups.

This year’s SGSO Institute is open to newcomers and SGSO Institute Alumni!

🚨 Applications are due November 6, 2020 🚨

To learn more about this exciting opportunity and apply, visit: lifelab.org/sgso See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Life Lab celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with special recognition of the land on which our gardens grow and by sharing beautiful family friendly resources highlighting indigenous storytelling and efforts of Native peoples to reclaim food sovereignty, cultural identity, and native land stewardship.

The Life Lab Land Acknowledgement, now shared at all formal gatherings in our Garden Classroom on the UCSC campus:

“The land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.”

*Land acknowledgement developed in partnership with the
Amah Mutsun Tribal Band Chairman and the Amah Mutsun
Relearning Program at the UCSC Arboretum.

Learn more about the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the
www.amahmutsunlandtrust.org/

Life Lab is honored to support the film, GATHER (Gather) with a
FREE virtual screening on October 30th at 7pm

📷 credit: Amah Mutsun Land Trust website See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Looking for some #garden #joy? Join us for a sweet sharing of Life Lab Reimagined: program updates, inspired learning, and community at our Fall Benefit this Saturday at 10:30am 🌱Register at Lifelab.org/fallbenefit 🌱Learn about our New Curriculum, New Life Lab Educator Certification Program, New Staff, and New Garden Additions👀Plus all the beautiful work we’re doing to support school garden education locally and nationally🌻Participants are automatically eligible to win a raffle prize courtesy of @synergyclothing ❤️ #schoolgarden #education #kisstheground #teachtheyouth #landstewardship #fundraiser See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

It’s Harvest Festival Week🌻happening virtually October 5-10th. A collaboration between the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems UCSC CASFS Farm Life Lab​, and students of UCSC Food Systems Working Group
Mark your calendar! The week-long series is full of fun virtual activities for all ages, with live streamed musical performances, a lecture on agroecology from a panel of experts, and ending the week with Life Lab’s #Funtastic Fall Benefit highlighting new program updates and staff/garden additions. Register at www.LifeLab.org/fallbenefit

Visit bit.ly/ucscharvestfest for a complete schedule of events and registration instructions.

Monday, October 5
7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Life Lab Backyard Chickens Q&A

Tuesday, October 6
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Saving Seeds, Sustaining Our Communities

Wednesday, October 7
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
The evolution of agroecology as a practice, a research discipline, and a social movement

7:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Nurture Yourselves With Nature!

Thursday, October 8
4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Cider Donut Workshop and The Everything Apple Panel

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Celebrating Queers and Nature

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Giant Green Anemone! Going Deep Into Local Tide Pool Explorations

Friday, October 9
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Planting Seeds For Success: Community Connections to Water Your Garden for Wellness!

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM
What is the Food Systems Working Group and what does it do?

5:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Rachel Carson Garden Cooking + Poetry Workshop/Mic!

Saturday, October 10
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Life Lab Fall Benefit Gathering
#schoolgardens #gardeneducation #lifelab #harvest #gratitude See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Happy weekend everyone ☀️Enjoy this sweet share of the UCSC Farm featuring Life Lab 🌱and our chickens! 🐓We look forward to sharing more with all of you as part of our upcoming Fall Benefit on October 10th. Register at Lifelab.org/fallbenefit youtu.be/uEAv4SabLoA See MoreSee Less

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Stock up your Garden Classroom

Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom
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