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

Thank you all that joined us for our Spring Benefit💚 Our esteemed guest speakers Dr Dilafruz Williams and Paco Estrada shared moving testimony to the proven impacts of school garden education. We are thankful to have the opportunity to inspire children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden based education. We are thankful for our local and national communities. We are thankful for each and every one of you! #supportschoolgardens #thewholechild #bettertogether #lifelab #interconnected #healthyfood #nature #loveoflearning #donate

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1 week ago

Readers To Eaters

Thrilled that The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter is the SC Ag in the Classroom May Book of the Month selection, just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week and United Nations World Bee Day. (WBD info: bit.ly/3cF6i2d) See book creator Shabazz Larkin read the book on PBSThirteen WNET New York‘s "Let’s Learn." bit.ly/32LQ0S0..#Bees #Pollinators #Pollination #SaveTheBees #GiveBeesAChance #BeeFear #BeeLove #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITC #FarmToSchool #TeacherAppreciationWeek #WorldBeeDay #SchoolGarden #GardenEducation #EnvironmentalEducation #ClimateEducation #OutdoorEducation #EnvironmentalDiversity #DiverseBooksNational Agriculture in the Classroom American Farm Bureau Foundation for AgricultureNC Farm Bureau "Ag in the Classroom"California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAITC) Washington Ag in the Classroom The Bee Cause Project South Carolina 4-H Youth Development Clemson Extension School & Community GardeningSouth Carolina 4-H Youth Development South Carolina State Library Charleston County Public LibraryLife Lab Big Green Pilot Light FoodCorpsHAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK! {Read through our post for giveaway info!}It’s already May, and you know what the new month brings – a NEW featured book of the month! Shabazz Larkins’ "The Thing About Bees" is a wonderful tribute to the bees that pollinate the foods we love to eat. Check out our lesson plan here: www.scfb.org/book-of-the-monthALSO – this is your last chance to sign up for our "All About Bees" workshop TOMORROW! us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZItc-qoqT4iGtF9ZoqqLnlWDGx4q2Cn-1CfAND LAST, but certainly not least, a giveaway for a deserving teacher! Every day this week we will post a giveaway for Teacher Appreciation Week. Today’s prize will be a free subscription for one year to our Ag Book of the Month program. Comment below with your school and grade level to enter today’s drawing!

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2 weeks ago

Readers To Eaters

Celebrating last day of National Poetry Month and National Garden Month with "I Am A Farmer" from A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food by Shabazz Larkin. bit.ly/3cKEucz• "Readers and eaters are taken on a comical romp through the world of food using poetry and a visual feast of photographs enhanced with playful doodles."— American Library Association Notable Children’s Book• "Varied in style and tone —much like food itself—the witty, quirky poems take on many different topics . . . This is a charming and original book that should start some quality conversation about food."—School Library Journal..#NationalGardenMonth #NationalPoetryMonth #FoodPoetry #FoodPoem #IAmAFarmer #Farming #UrbanFarmer #YoungFarmer #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #FarmToSchool #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITC #DiverseBooks National Agriculture in the ClassroomAmerican Farm Bureau Foundation for AgricultureNational Farm to School NetworkFoodCorps Pilot Light Common Threads Big Green Harlem Grown Green Bronx Machine DC Grown The Food Trust Detroit Hives Ron Finley Brown Bookshelf The Family Dinner Project Whole Kids Foundation The Bee Cause Project Life LabClemson Extension School & Community GardeningThe Edible Schoolyard Project Edible Schoolyard NYC Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

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2 weeks ago

Nikki Patterson

Join me tomorrow for an inspiring celebration of the beautiful impacts and interconnections cultivated through school gardens. This one hour zoom fundraiser begins at 11🌱Please give as you can. #supportschoolgardens #schoolgardeneducation #LifeLab Life Lab 🌻 register at www.LifeLab.org/spring-benefit

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

🌸 Growing Gardens of Hope! 🌸We are so excited for Life Lab’s Spring Benefit Brunch this Saturday at 11am! We are delighted to share our guest speakers: Dilafruz Williams and Francisco “Paco” Estrada, who will speak on the interconnected relationships cultivated through school garden education and the healing, inspirational impact on students, families, and our broader community.Dr. Dilafruz Williams is Professor and co-founder of Leadership for Sustainability Education. Dilafruz’s recent research has focused extensively on garden-based education – its conceptualization and effectiveness in engagement of children and youth that enhances their holistic and academic learning. She directs the NSF-funded project: Science in the Learning Gardens. She has studied school gardens across 12 states in the USA and in many countries across continents. Dilafruz’s passion for gardens is evident in her own delight and engagement with soil and life in its multitude of manifestations of wonders and mystery. 🌱 Register today! 🌱lifelab.org/spring-benefit/

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

The Life Lab Spring Benefit Brunch Menu is available now! 🌻 Choose from selected items provided by our generous community partners @charlie_hong_kong @newleafcmarket @companionbakeshop @steamerlanesupply 🌱Limited inventory available! Purchase at LifeLab.org/spring-benefit/#menu

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab celebrates Earth Day every day!🌎 🌱 #EarthDay #schoolgardens #gardensofhope

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3 weeks ago

Readers To Eaters

Happy Earth Day, National Environmental Education Week and National Garden Month!Good read for young environmentalists & gardeners: Zora’s Zucchini and the Spanish edition, LAS CALABACITAS DE ZORA. bit.ly/3eCjEOh"We’ll never make headway with the pressing environmental issues of our time—such as climate change, community-building and food waste—without brilliant, fun little books like Zora’s Zucchini."—EcoConsumer • See author Katherine Pryor read the book with conversation starter on food waste. bit.ly/3eRGH7m• Check out Pilot Light‘s new lesson plan for the book, with theme on "Sharing Food with Our Community" for Early Childhood and K – 2 English Language Arts. bit.ly/3gtKRG8• Hear LAS CALABACITAS DE ZORA, new in audiobook from Live Oak Media. bit.ly/32Hc9k5..#EarthDay #NationalEnvironmentalEducationWeek #NationalGardenMonth #ClimateActionMonth #EnvironmentalEducation #GardenEducation #KidsGardening #ClimateAction #FoodShare #FoodWaste #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #EarlyChildhood #LanguageArts #FarmToSchool #SchoolGarden #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITC #WIC #SNAPEdJunior Master Gardener Program The American Horticultural Society Life Lab FoodCorps KidsGardening.org The Edible Schoolyard Project Whole Kids Foundation Chef Ann FoundationNational WIC Association California WIC Association

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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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