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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2 days ago

Life Lab

As we all navigate the dynamics of distance learning education, Life Lab would like to offer support.

Check out our website Lifelab.org/Covid-19/ for resources outlining the potential for outdoor learning spaces to provide "extra “classroom” space; allow for social distancing; and provide strategic and cost-effective tools for improving academic, mental and physical well being. #outdoorlearningspaces #outdooreducation #schoolgardens #lifelab #notallclassroomshavefourwalls #livinglaboratory #socialemotionallearning See MoreSee Less

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1 week ago

Life Lab

Today’s Thankful Thursday shout out goes to our @pajarovalleyusd Partner Schools: Hall District Elementary, H. A. Hyde Elementary, Starlight Elementary, Amesti Elementary, Ohlone Elementary, Ann Soldo Elementary, & McQuiddy Elementary🌱We look forward to another school year of bringing learning to life through nature based education🌻#schoolgardens #lifelab #thankfulthursday #nature #education See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Change is good and delicious #Blackberry #schoolgardens #outdoorlearning #LifeLab #gardeneducation See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

We are grateful for the continued support from @newleafcmarket Life Lab is honored to have been chosen as a community non-profit benefactor of their Bloom Wellness products that are all organic, non-GMO, & gluten free. Our partnership reflects New Leaf Community Markets’ core values of education, environmental stewardship, and nutrition. #thankyouthursday #schoolgardens #lifelab #newleafcommunitymarket #gardensofgratitude See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

Life Lab Summer Camps are always a beautiful and nurturing way to share the interconnections of nature with children. Although our campers could not join us in the Life Lab Garden Classroom this summer, we wanted to make it possible for them to have fun at home! So our camp team assembled Summer Activity Care Packages full of materials, recipes, and advice for 225 children who had already registered for camp. They then carefully and lovingly hand delivered them to each family, occasionally getting to say Hi! from a safe distance, too.

"Thank you so much!! I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for pooling your ideas together for non-screen fun and learning opportunities. We can’t wait to dive in!
With much gratitude,"
Ellie

We are grateful to each and every camp family for their kindness, generosity, and patience as we all navigated the new realities of this year. As a community, the camp families even donated more than $12,000 of their camp fees towards ensuring that Life Lab will continue cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education during this challenging time.

While we cannot deliver care packages to everyone in our broader Life Lab community, we hope that our growing BackPocketLearning.org website will help families seeking simple, fun, nature based activities and healthy family recipes to enjoy together at home this summer!🌈🐝🌻🌞

#lifelabmomentofthemonth #mylifelab #lifelab #summercamp #summerfun #gardenbasededucation #gardenlife #garden See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Emma Christie in the Life Lab garden at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville🌸#shareyourgaredLL #school gardens PVUSD Food & Nutrition Services #LifeLab AmeriCorps See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

In love with our @reneesgardenseeds flowers❤️thank you Renee for years of support & providing seeds for Life Lab gardens. We appreciate you! #reneesgardenseeds #lifelab #outdooreducation #gardensofgratitude #schoolgardens See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

“Education is a practice of Freedom” #emancipation #juneteenth #americanhistory #blackhistory #teachablemoments See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Happy National Eat Your Veggies Day!😋🥕

To celebrate today we wanted to share some of our impacts this past school year. In our seven PVUSD Partner Elementary Schools, 98% of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd teachers reported that the Fall 2019 NGSS in the Garden programs improved their 1,900 students’ attitudes towards fresh fruits and vegetables, their emotional well-being, and their connection with nature.

Our Kids Cook presentation brought exciting hands-on cooking and healthy eating to more than 1,500 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at these schools, too, in January, February and March. In tastings surveys 72% of the children reported liking or loving the fresh, healthful foods they ate, with 63% said they were trying a new fresh produce item for the first time.

278 second-graders from our partner schools enjoyed hands-on learning in field trips to our Blooming Classroom this school year. 59% reported tasting new healthy food items for the first time in lesson-based tastings, and 70% said they loved or liked what they tasted.

We would also like to remind you to eat a rainbow 🌈🥗

A diverse and colorful diet nourishes a strong and healthy body. All fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. In addition, they contain phytonutrients, which give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and also play a wide range of roles in keeping our bodies healthy.

Thank you to our partners and sponsors for making this work possible. @sagegardenproject @pvhealth @pajarovalleyusd
@unfi @foodcorps

#eatyourveggies #EatYourVegetablesDay #mylifelab #vegetables See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

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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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