THE DAILY DIRT Special Edition: Organism of the Year!
NEW! The organism of the year is bacteria!
Learn about all the things bacteria does for our soil!
Featuring Barbaric Yawp poems by your own editors! See beautiful drawings inspired by our very own soil!
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Organism of the Year
The Arlington Garden Wish Tree
Who Wore It Best?
Hope Is In Your Hands
One Wild And Precious Life Poems
Barbaric Yawp Poems
Letters From, The Editors
Above, you see a pile of weeds from the succulent garden at our school.
Organism of the Year By Frances, Amy, and Lena This year’s soil organism of the year is… OLICITY THE BACTERIA! You may be asking yourself why we chose bacteria as our organism of the year. We feel that bac‐ teria does an extraordinary amount for the soil, and it isn’t really acknowledged or appreciated. Most are super helpful to the soil and soil‐dwelling organisms. They break down organic ma er, keep away disease, and many other processes that maintain soil and plant health. They are also vital to nutrient recycling, such as nitro‐ gen and carbon recycling. All bacteria are ny prokaryotes that belong to Domain Eubacteria. There are autotrophic and heterotrophic bacteria. There are an es mat‐ ed 60,000 species. There are four main kinds of bacteria: nitrogen‐fixing bacteria, nitrifying bac‐ teria, denitrifying bacteria, and ac nomycetes. What nitrogen‐fixing bacteria does is form a symbio c rela onship with the roots of plants, like clover, lupine, and certain trees. Bumps are created where the bacteria infects a growing root hair. The plant then supplies simple carbon compounds to the bacteria, and the bacteria converts nitrogen from air into a form the host plant can use. When the leaves or roots from the host plant decompose, soil nitrogen increases in the surrounding area. Nitrifying bacteria change ammonium to nitrate. Nitrate is leached more easily from the soil, so some farmers use nitrifica on inhibitors to reduce the ac vity of one type of ni‐ trifying bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria are suppressed in forest soils, so that most of the nitrogen remains as ammonium. Denitrifying bacteria convert nitrate to nitrous oxide or nitrate gas. Denitrifiers are ac ve where oxygen is absent. They can be found in saturated soils or inside soil aggregates. Ac nomycetes are a large group of bacteria that grow as hyphae. They are responsible for the “earthy” smell of freshly turned and or healthy soil. They decompose a wide array of substrates, but are very important in degrading hard‐to‐decompose compounds, such as chi n and cellu‐ lose. They are also ac ve when there are high pH levels. Also a number of an bi‐ o cs are produced by ac nomycetes such as streptomyces.
Organism of the Year By Frances, Amy, and Lena All of these four types are extremely important to the soil. They keep away disease, are vital to the nutrient cycle, and help with the way the water and soil in‐ teract. Some bacteria help with the amount of water soil can hold and retain, which is very helpful to the soil. In one teaspoon of produc ve soil there are usually between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria. Most of these are decomposers. They break down organic ma er, especially in its early stages. They take in simple carbon compounds, and by doing so, turn energy in the soil into forms that are good for other organisms in the soil. Bacteria that are decomposers also combat nutrient loss by retaining nutrients in their cells. Besides decomposers, the rest of the bacteria are mutualists, lithotrophs, or pathogens. Mutualists partner with plants to keep both organisms healthy, and allow both to benefit. The pathogens actually aren’t good for the plants, and many cause gall forma on, which can damage trees. The lithotrophs are important because they help break down pollutants and cycle nitrogen. Soil is very important! Without it we would die. It is used in farming because the soil keeps the plants healthy. Without the food from farming, the animals wouldn’t be healthy and then we would not have plants and animals and we would die! It is also responsible, along with climate, for major forests of the world and a variety of beau ful plants. Speaking of plants, have you ever wondered how flowers get their lovely colors? They get it from the pH levels in soil! Soil is very helpful to trees, which in return help us by giving us mber, fuel, and paper! Soil helps contain pollu on, which is a very large problem right now.
Organism of the Year By Frances, Amy, and Lena Soil loss is a very big problem that is going on right now! Soil loss is when the soil gets eroded away by wind and or water. It happens to mainly sandy or organic soil. Wind picks up the soil and whisks it away. The wind slowly erodes the soil layer by layer. In water erosion when there is heavy rainfall the soil gets washed away. This is very important because it is mainly topsoil that gets washed away. Topsoil is where thousands of organisms live! These organisms can be microscopic or very very large! These organisms help decompose the dead materials and turn it into im‐ portant nutrients. Without these animals in the soil the soil would be awful and un‐ helpful to plants. There is a solu on! This crisis can be fixed by you! If you add com‐ post to your soil it will give it healthy nutrients! Making a compost is quick and easy. All you need is to put your compostable food scraps in a bin with some soil (worms are very helpful). We can also use compost tea and do no‐ ll farming! Compost Tea is liquid gold for plants. This fer lizer works for flowers, vegetables and house‐ plants. Compost Tea, is all the rage for gardeners who aim for high quality vegeta‐ bles, flowers, and foliage. Compost tea is also easy to make! Fins leafy greens around your house and place them into a bucket filled with water. Leave the greens in there un l they rot (the pot should be outside). Once they are nice and ro ed, pour the mixture onto the plants. No‐ ll farming (also called zero llage or direct drilling) is a way of growing crops without disturbing soil through llage. No‐ ll farming is an agricultural technique that increases the amount of water that goes into the soil. In many agricultural regions it can eliminate soil erosion altogether! No ‐ ll farming helps increase the amount of life in the soil.
Here is another one of our We de-weeded the soil in members holding dirt balls. our rain gardens, but here We had a lot of fun getting we are carrying the plants our hands dirty. This picthat will go into the newly ture shows the fruits of our designed rain garden! labor.
We worked on enriching the soil so herbs and tomatoes for our cafeteria could grow. Soil enrichment is very important. This picture shows the hard work.
We sawed tubes so after we ﬁnish our meals we can put compostable food in with the dirt and worms. It was hard work but it pays oﬀ!
Fantas c Photos By: Lena
Before we could make our seed balls we had to smash the dirt! Seed balls are a very good way to plant plants in vast dry areas.
We had a tree walk where we learned about how much water our school uses and what trees were a good choice. This picture is showing us the placement of the trees.
The Arlington Garden Wish Tree By: Amy
The Wish Tree is a willow tree in Arlington Garden. About 20 eight year olds wrote wishes on pieces of construc on paper and ed them to the tree with neon string. I decided to draw it because I think it’s great to wish for something silly when you are li le. It gives you hope.
Who Wore It Best? Donning the fierce color of fire-engine red, these two celebrities battle it out to win our daily Who Wore it Best contest.
Shakira Strawberry 75% of readers agreed that the soft green leaves Shakira Strawberry decided to pair with the red was a lot fiercer than Tom’s. Shakira was spotted outside of the Silverlake farmer’s market on Tuesday. Readers said “Yes!” to the pale seeds topping her red and green.
Tom Cruise Tomato Only 25% of readers voted for Tom Cruise Tomatoes’ bright red suit. Tom was seen outside a plant nursery on Monday, with his daughter, Suri Cruise Tomato. Most of the readers were appalled at his bold color choice. Suri was next to him, wearing a sparkly green coat.
Above is a drawing of hands holding soil from which a plant is growing. This symbol‐ izes our connec on to the soil and earth, and that we have the power to make the world be er. We hold the future of the earth in our hands, we hold hope in our hands. In order to create a healthy, eco‐friendly world, we need to grow plants. We need to grow and buy locally, and without pes cides or chemicals. We need to grow fresh, healthy food that isn’t made with a billion ingredients. Plants are the future‐ and you have the power to make or break that future.
Hope is in Your Hands By: Frances
Home By: Lena Above me is blue Imperfect with bright and dark clouds Faraway are dogs Faraway is playing Falling and tripping I smell fresh cut grass It’s sweet and sour I smell lavender Sweet and familiar The trees Sour smelling It makes me cringe But I don’t move The leaves are cracked like glass The lines like veins The slightest movement destroys it Sharp like a knife Imperfec on becomes perfect To my right are dogs Hot and red Sleeping and collapsed Heavy breaths staggering
One Wild and Precious Life Poems The leaf ﬂying down It turns and dances as it falls in the breeze The dancing leaf flips and jumps Doing an imperfect rou ne Upside down the sun whines in the wa‐ ter The light blinds me It eventually fades This place is filled with imperfec ons It is home
Above: Clay in the midst of being pounded into dust.
Ghosts By: Frances Above me, unseen birds tempt chirps that trickle through the trees. Layers of cha ering and twee ng coat the silence like honey on a warm throat. The twisted branches wave lazily to the ground, gree ng an old friend while leaves flu er in warm gushes of air. My eyes stray to the world beyond here, where palm trees bend, challenging gravity. Powerlines map the sky in dips and lines, and a blanket of so blue soars overhead. A small white swish, a cloud from a sin‐ gle paintbrush stroke. I feel the hard presence of the seat un‐ derneath me, pressing against my back and thighs, catching my shirt and gripping my shoulders, trying to keep me before I run away. My head leans back and the smell of wood and earth, of stories to tell envelops me. To my right is a small cluster of girls, a emp ng the tree pose and stumbling over.
Their sneakers leave footprints of dust on the denim over their inner thighs. I let my finger ps brush the dirt and eyes shut. The calloused skin smells sweet and flo‐ ral, and carries the mild perfume of sun‐ baked soil. Light waltzes and twirls in circles over my crinkled paper, spelling secrets lost to me, while shadows shi . An oak with a rigid spine stands proudly in the oasis of cool air. The bark is dark raindrops weaving and waving down a pale window, here and then gone, never to be remem‐ bered. I pull a crushed bundle of peppercorn from under my foot that suggests worn Valen ne’s day streamers. The breeze carries a whiﬀ of sugar cook‐ ies and petals, but with an undercurrent of sharp, piercing, unse ling spice. The cracked rosy balls are dropped into a spread of mulch and ground. The arm of a sturdy Home Depot chair catches my eye. Dark, dim malachite plas c.
Ghosts By: Frances Night will rush forward to fill day’s place, and this light is flee ng and beau ful, like many things. My shoes tread quietly to a Schinus molle, and darkness conquers my eyelids as I press my lined palms against its sandpapery surface, feeling the rough tread of hiking boots, the cracked mirrors and weathered fences, the frozen current that tracks ridges and cracks under my skin. I feel years pass and never falter, a train hurtling through many sta ons to it’s final des na on. The wind tangles branches into my curls and I imagine being li ed up and away. I pull back and am shushed into a dreamlike reality. I lie on my back, feeling dirt and leaves welcome and cling to me. The crook of my elbow oﬀers a flushed pillow. Through wooden arms and s ﬀ fingers, I see splashes of co on and a bright star
that repels my eyes and blinds onlook‐ ers near the center of grand, silky, glaucous sky. Cupped leaves with jagged perimeters dot the edge of my vision. The sound of my tranquil breathing is steady and reassuring. My calm is blanke ng me, and I am warm and content in the heart of my larger self. There is that part of me that struggles under quiet peace, bothering me with to‐do lists, worries, fears, pains, stress, hopes and dreams. I embrace it. I feel everything. Human whispers float alongside strange animal tongues, li le mysteries we shouldn’t ever un‐ derstand. The balmy breath of the garden se les around me, carrying the faintest hint of flower‐lined paths. I hear impa ent honking and the rush‐ ing of automobiles
Ghosts By: Frances My mind dri s to the drivers traveling through Pasadena. Perhaps women with lined foreheads, bags under their eyes and children screaming in the back, zip‐lock bags of goldfish with fake smiles res ng in their laps. Young college students with ink sleeves, cigare es dangling from finger ps in a world where speed limits are of no importance and they are invincible, im‐ mortal. A grandfather with white baby hair and outdated music, whose wrinkled hands with their protruding purple veins grip the ta ered leather wheel ghtly. They are
Arlington Garden Haikus By: Amy A red umbrella Strong canvas and rigid wood Not seeing the sun. Two girls One blonde, the other brune e Standing in tree pose. A sickly sweet smell Travels up into my nose Popsicle wrappers. Thick, jungle colored The leaf of a succulent Ouch! Slightly spiky. Feet thump on the ground Bright orange rays make my eyes squint I cover my face. Perched on a gray rock Squin ng at a knobby tree Con nue to write. Old, sturdy, shady Wouldn’t you like to believe
Left: Planting in progress!
Barbaric Yawp Poems Storm By: Frances Bunches of co on colored has ly by a small child with a black marker hang overhead. Breathy whispers whoosh through the air carrying secrets that are safe with our greedy ignorance. The torrent soaks my hair and clothes, every inch of my body penetrated by icy drops. Sunshine does not flood through the valleys of Southern California today. The gravel under my bare toes looks red, an old man with elbow patches and a stale pantry. I huddle down, folding my arms over denim‐covered knees, wind whipping through the holes in my sweater like I have a ssue paper closet. Dirty water gushes from a bald patch in the gravel, and the rain con nues to wash out
I feel freezing hands slap my face and pull at my hair, the skin of my cheeks and nose are raw and rosy, s nging and dripping while great gusts draw tears from my eyes. My fingers scrape the soggy soil, and a squirming earthworm desper‐ ately tries to escape the storm. I dig a dent into the ground and block the rain with my body, placing the worm into a drier, safer home. MGMT plays on loop in my head. I press my hands deep into the earth I feel the topsoil cave to my demand and compress under my palms. My feet are frigid, chilled to the bone. I stand up and feel an ache radiate through me, feel the weather drench me and drown me. I think longingly of my bed at home, with its toasty sheets and thick blankets, protec ng and comfor ng me. I think of warm soup and 30 Rock, hats with earflaps and sweaters with
Barbaric Yawp Poems Storm By: Frances Wind like Antarc ca pushes the thoughts from my head and carries me back here. I hold my arms out and whirl in circles, feeling twigs and stones jab the bo om of my feet. I scream as loud as I can, but the sound is eaten by winter. I slip in the mud, muck making its way up my jeans and back. My fingers clench in the soil, white knuckles standing out sharply against my tomato‐red hands. I roll and cover myself in soaking earth, pushing myself up and scraping my an‐ kle on a sharp rock. The blasts of frigid air and rain fill me to the brim. and dirt pushes eagerly at my feet. I run away from warmth and light. I run into the cold, dark unknown. With ripped jeans and sopping sleeves,
Pouring more lemonade into my glass A single drop, not more, not less Runs down the side and onto the dirt. I watch it with energe c eyes All my energy focused toward this one ob‐ ject Not even an object, more like a spirit, As it sizzles on the hot soil. I no ce how lucky I am to be staring down At rich, fulfilling dirt. Not hot sand, not dry unfurnished rocks, But this wonderous soil we grow food on. As I slowly rock the chair And get to my feet slowly The corners of my lips turn to the sky Praising the clouds, the birds, the air. My hands go above my head as I stretch out my back It is s ﬀ a er si ng rigid for One single hour. An hour is all you need to buy a water bo le, Or use thirty gallons of gas, Or produce a pound of trash. An hour is all you need to do harm to our
A Thousand Barbaric Yawps By: Lena Si ng in the dark Cross legged In the dew covered grass I look up The moon like half a kiwi Shining down I send my barbaric yawp through the mountain The dogs barking at the sound Sending their own yawp Loud and deep Small and high Growling dogs with barred teeth Small dogs with voices you wouldn’t ex‐ pect Giant dogs bark quietly Each dog’s yawp unique to them Each dog’s yawp defying expecta ons A cacophony of sounds
Yawps ring through the land One a er another A beau ful chain of freedom Each yawp unique
Above: Group members hard at work hammering blocks of clay into dust.
A Single Hour By: Amy
Pouring more lemonade into my glass An hour is all you need to buy a water A single drop, not more, not less bo le, Runs down the side and onto the dirt. Or use thirty gallons of gas, I watch it with energe c eyes Or produce a pound of trash. All my energy focused toward this one An hour is all you need to do harm to object our Not even an object, more like a spirit, Wondrous environment. As it sizzles on the hot soil. But an hour is all you need to bike to I no ce how lucky I am to be staring work, down Or recycle a bo le, At rich, fulfilling dirt. Or choose to use reusable containers. Not hot sand, not dry unfurnished rocks, Or you can choose to use that hour But this wonderous soil we grow food To work with the hot sun on. Making a compost pile, out of old bana‐ na peels and moldy le uce As I slowly rock the chair Then you spread the compost out And get to my feet slowly On the dry dirt The corners of my lips turn to the sky Making the soil worthwhile. Praising the clouds, the birds, the air. It’s only fair, My hands go above my head as I stretch A er all that the soil has done for us. out my back It is s ﬀ a er si ng rigid for One single hour.
Brad Pitt was sleek and sharp, dressing in balsamic. His dark brown, shiny outfit was completed with a dash of sparkling salt.
Rachael Ray went wild west with her daring choice of ranch dressing. Her frilly green accessories went perfectly with her pale, dotted dress.
Amy Adamsâ€™ warm brown gown went perfectly with her body shape. The asian sesame dressing was modest and flattering, and the trend of dots continued onto her outfit with tiny, light flecks.
Isabella Kidman reflected a recent trip to Europe, dressing in italian. Her nude dress with its dark flecks was reminiscent of Italy, and her bright accessories added a dash of color.
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Letters From The Editors: Frances Dear Readers, Just a week or few ago, I had no idea how vital soil is to our survival. Soil is the founda on to life on earth, but we never really take the me to consider what we walk, run, play, and dance on every day. Soil allows plants to grow, which we need. I’ve started to really appreciate the world around us that wouldn’t be possible without soil‐ my larger self. We are so focused and obsessed with our smaller self, and in a way that’s good, but we need to open our eyes. Once we can accept and un‐ derstand how soil and resources are necessary to survival, we will probably be less likely to destroy earth without thinking about how we are destroying ourselves. Every tree chopped down, or area of soil covered by concrete, or animal killed, we are lessening our ability to survive. And maybe this gen‐ era on or the next won’t realize the value of soil un l it’s too late, but we can do are best to contain the damage before it destroys us. I had this moment of realiza on during wri ng my poem in the Arling‐ ton Garden, when I was able to focus all my a en on on the world outside my head, and how it was perceived by my senses. That was challenging, but ul mately rewarding. I was also able to
go outside myself while walking the labyrinth, which I was doub ul about. My thoughts went along the lines of: Oh, so now we’re walking in circles. Great. But I was able to center myself and calm my thoughts, which was quite surprising. I recommend it to an‐ yone who struggles with stress and busy thoughts. My mom does a lot of work for the community garden near our house. She leads the mee ngs, among other things. She grew hundreds of plants for the plant sale in which they raised thousands of dollars for the im‐ provement and expansion of the gar‐ den. I rarely tag along, preferring to stay home and read a book. When learning about community and victory gardens, I was really surprised by all the benefits. My mom gets to encour‐ age and experience those benefits, and I now find that really cool, and her work even more interes ng. I think I took for granted the fresh food that came straight from our garden to our plates, and a er learning about food growing and produc on, I am ex‐ tremely grateful to be so lucky. I thought the documentary we watched on food produc on was fascina ng. I definitely am more aware of what I put in my body now, especially a er
Letters From The Editors: Frances I felt like we were taking ac on to help, even if it was small. And a small group of us cleared more than an en re hill! Way more! I won’t say it wasn’t challenging‐ slipping down the hill or ge ng red were both frus‐ tra ng. I learned just how invasive mustard is! I don’t like mustard anyway, and I definitely like it less a er that! But you don’t have to go out and clear hills of mustard plant to help with soil problems. You can learn more about soil and it’s issues‐ knowledge is power. You could also plant a community gar‐ den‐ it has endless benefits for you and your health, as well as the environ‐ ment. Learning about the Fibonacci se‐ quence opened my eyes to pa erns in nature, as well. I find myself observing plants and coun ng leaves! The rabbit Above: We loved gardening on Tuesday, in‐ cluding weeding, enriching the soil, and problem was extremely diﬃcult, though! I recommend it to math lovers plan ng! who like a challenge. You’ll learn in our ‘Organism of the Year’ ar cle how important bacteria is to the soil. That was something that was interes ng and surprising. It was amazing learning how many organisms depend on and live in the soil. Three cheers for soil!
Letters From The Editors: Amy
Dear Reader, The Soil Unit was such an eye‐ opening experience. I had no idea soil was this important to our earth! I went into it, thinking that it would be boring and that I already knew about soil‐ it’s dirt! But soil has so many us‐ es and nutrients and it is essen al for us to live. I learned that it grows our food, provides support for plants and trees, and is home to thousands of organisms. During these two weeks, I had tons of awesome experiences. The Soil Unit started oﬀ with a bang, going on a field trip the first day. We collected data in prepara on for a lab later in the week, took a journey in the labyrinth, and made observa ons about our environment all under the shady trees of the gorgeous Arlington Garden. On Tuesday, we explored vic‐ tory gardens, and saw why they were so important in World War I and II, and why they are s ll essen al to‐ day.When I was researching victory gardens, I saw a shocking sta s c. The average meal travels about 1500 miles from farm to plate
. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my food coming that far. Have you ever pulled wild mus‐ tard out of a slippery, sandy moun‐ tainside? That’s what I did on Thurs‐ day. The group learned about how in‐ vasive plants take over and make the soil worse for the na ve plants we want to thrive there. It was very tedi‐ ous, but we managed to get about 40 trash bags full of wild mustard plants, dead and alive. Even though it is good for soil to have many diﬀerent plants growing in it, this will help the na ve California plants we like not be taken over. One thing that stuck with me was how important it is to get the roots of the plants. If there are roots stuck even a er you get the visible part of the plant, if will reproduce and grow more plants. Overall, the Soil Unit was a great experience. I had so much fun llearning about all soil does for the environment. Go soil!
Letters From The Editors: Lena
Hi, I’m Lena one of the editors for the Daily Dirt. I had a lot of fun during the soil unit. When I first heard about the soil unit I did not expect it to be as fun. I thought it would be all learning and not as fun as the water unit. The soil unit really impacted how I live my life. I started to really no ce what type of food my family eats and what our soil was like. When we watched Nourish: From Seed to Table, I saw how important ea ng healthy was. Over the follow‐ ing weekend I planted two gardens in my home which I filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and a few lovely flowers. When were de‐weeding a weed called mustard. I was so surprised with how many weeds were there. It seemed that there were more weeds than ac‐ tual plants! I didn’t know how fast weeds grew or how they reproduced. When I learned how bad weeds were for the soil I was excited and ready to de‐ weed. A er much much de‐weeding it looked like we barely made a dent, even though we had a ton of plas c bags filled with the weeds. During the five rota ons I learned something really cool during each rota‐ on. In the first rota on I learned how important de‐weeding is. In the second rota on I learned about how seed balls work. The third rota on really impact‐ ed my outlook on Westridges plants and trees. It was also very impac ng because that day many people in California woke up and did not have water. The fourth one showed me a bit more of the importance in having healthy soil. The fi h and last rota on I found very inter‐ es ng because of the worms. I was very surprised when I saw the diﬀerence between compost when it started and compost a er two weeks with worms in it. I think that this magazine es up everything we learned about in our fun‐filled two weeks. The magazine was really cool to work on because there are so many diﬀerent components so everyone has a special sec on that they get to do.
Published on May 29, 2014