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Learn about the importance of soil

Fun facts about the mighty earthworm!

Exclusive nature poems inside


Organism of The Year Earthworms, or nightcrawlers, are creatures that are commonly found in soil. Usually seen feeding above ground at night, they burrow during the day and stay cool under the dirt. Earthworms should be the organisms of the year because of their contributions to the earth. They play major roles as decomposers and enrich the soil with nutrients for other plants and animals. Soil links to a majority of the necessities of life on Earth. It acts as the basis of all plants and provides food for humans and animals living on Earth. Soil is also responsible for being the heart of all nature. Being the source of

nature, billions of animals create a habitat as their home within wildlife while microorganisms live in the soil, making it rich. We humans use soil for the origin of our food, the stabilizer for buildings, and uses soil’s plants to provide antibiotics and medicine for fighting diseases. We depend on soil to grow trees so the gases in the air would be maintained. Soil is also closely linked to controlling what happens to the water from rain, snowfall, and climate change. Without soil, the beings living on Earth wouldn’t be able to survive. Soil loss, or soil degradation, is a major environmental problem. Generally,

background soil erosion removes soil at about the same rate as soil is formed. However, “accelerated” soil erosion is causing soil to be removed at a much faster rate than it is formed. This is a serious issue, because the loss of soil reduces crop productions. Plants cannot live without soil, because they need the nutrients inside the soil to grow and stay healthy. Soil loss causes the soil fertility and the quality of the soil to decline. Without soil, the land becomes barren because it loses all its nutrients. To conserve soil, people can add natural fertilizers and control the grazing of other animals. They can also in-

crease the amount of vegetation, because the roots of the plants and trees help bind the soil particles. Earthworms can help solve soil loss because they enrich the soil. Earthworms are more than just fish bait. They are important factors in nature because their continual burrowing creates tunnels and aerates the soil. Earthworms are like tiny plows that live in the garden. They help provide water and oxygen to the roots of plants. Without water and air, plants would not be able to grow as well. This is why most plants that are in dry soil are not very healthy. As earthworms live in the soil, they eat organic matter and decompose dead organisms. After the earthworms digest their meals, they produce their wastes that help enrich the soil. Their wastes, called “castings”, are rich in phosphorous, nitrogen, calcium, and magnesi-


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um. Theses are all important nutrients that help garden plants grow and stay healthy. As the scientist Charles Darwin once said, “The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man’s inventions; but long before he existed, the land was in fact regularly plowed and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” Even Darwin respected earthworms and knew of their importance in nature. Earthworms are indeed very special and that is why they should be voted as the organisms of the year.

An original by Karina


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Wild and Precious Poems Sights Around Me By: Katherine

The Garden By: Sophia

Above me I see nature preceding its own task With bright green leaves ready to make its way to earth From a distance as far as a human’s eye can perceive I see mountains holding nature’s beauty. Birds chirping, cars drifting by, motors roaring Why is that all we can hear? The scent of rosemary shields my nose as I breathe All I can capture are the flowers around me. My hand rubs against this paper I’m writing on Then I drift to the source of paper, a tree. How can two of the same feel so different? A path goes ahead on my right Going to a place no one knows A tiny window sitting on the tree trunk Waiting for someone to look through To the world like no one else has Crouching down on the soil Standing on the base of nature The source of life But feeling so small

Above me lies a light blue sky with scattering white clouds. Plants surround me, And the gentle breeze carries a faint smell of mint. I see an array of colors; yellow, violet, orange, bright pink. The colors seem to mix and melt into a giant picture. As I explore the garden, I come across a row of baby plants. Their sturdy ash-brown trunks hold them up and they stand proudly. They show off their brigjt pink-tipped leaves to the world. I run my finger along a rosemary plant and stroke the soft buds. Its fragile petals fall down, One by one, Leaving a trail of rosemary leaves. Suddenly, a spotted butterfly lands on the rosemary plant. I study the delicate creature of the creature. Its black spots are thousands of black holes, And its wings are as delicate as lace. The butterfly scratches its face with its fine legs and then floats away. So many more wonders to explore, But I have to leave. I will come to the garden again another day.


One Wild and Precious Life By: Karina As I gaze into the blue sky I perceive a small home beyond the woolly trees Soft trills from the fledglings fill my mind Only the slightest noise from the droning bees irritate me But the blooming flowers catch my eye Their rich and brilliant colors enliven me I see movement I see the calm wind sweeping the trees side to side The tranquil breeze presented my arms with goose bumps Above me is a gloaming green shade blocking my eyes from the beauty in the lit up heavens I sensed a velvety texture on my hand The creature did not move until the wind came Another squirrel beside me leafed through the bushes It seemed alone But I didn’t care Glancing back before I left the garden I noticed an altar Was it because I wasn’t there? No it was because I didn’t see any more life I didn’t see the squirrels I didn’t see the floating leaves Neither did I see the poky bugs The smallest difference can mean the world And I didn’t realize that Until now


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History of the Arlington Garden By: Sophia On one of our several field trips during the soil unit, we visited the Arlington Garden. Since the garden was fairly close to Westridge, the walk there took less than ten minutes. During our trip, we got the chance to explore the garden and learn more about the plants growing there. Visiting the garden was a memorable experience and I wanted to learn more about its historical background. As a result, I decided to do some research on it when I got home. Where Arlington Garden stands now was once a part of the land that belonged to John Durand. He purchased the ten acres of land in 1902 and built his Victorian home on the property. A “tropical paradise” was created in front of his home with “palms, cacti, and century plants, besides hundreds of varieties of flower bushes, including roses and chrysanthemums.” The property belonged to Durand until he passed away in 1960, and his mansion was torn down. Today, a century after Durand’s home was built, gardens are being grown again on the three remaining acres of the original property. The Arlington Garden is a perfect example of one of those gardens. In 2003, the city started discussing ideas about using the three acres of land that had been a vacant lot. A woman named Betty Mckenney came up with an idea of a Mediterranean climate garden. With the help of several organizations and corporations, the project began moving forward. An irrigation system was placed and the lot was covered in mulch. In July 2005, the first trees were planted in Arlington Garden. Since the beginning of the garden, nearly 400 hundred have been planted, as well as a wide range of plants that can grow well in our cool, moist winters and dry, hot summers. 48 orange navel trees have been planted around the perimeter of the garden. The Arlington Garden has been recognized as a major public garden in many articles and continues receiving support from the neighbors and community today. Aside from its beautiful scenery, the Arlington Garden is a truly special garden because of its location. When people visit the garden, they will be able to experience the serenity of nature in a city. Since the city is a noisy place, visitors will enjoy the peace and quiet as they explore the garden


The American Community Garden Association By: Katherine In some countries, millions of people and children are starving and malnourished and most people around the world don’t consider that their food comes from soil and the plants being grown around them. From the time American Community Garden Association (also called ACGA) was one unknown little garden until becoming one of the most exotic and well-known Community Gardens, their main and permanent goal was to build, perfect, and enhance community gardens across the United States and Canada start greening the world to help those in need. The American Community Garden Association is a nonprofit membership association that consists of workers, supporters, professionals and volunteers who have an objective of greening the United States and Canada. The reason to all their hard work is because gardening around the world creates beauty, provides medicine and food, decreases food budget, and helps with therapy and education. Starting in the early 1970’s, the ACGA began a firm start of gardening urban communities. As months passed, the price of fresh produce expanded greatly which resulted in many community gardens being complete. Over the years, the number of gardens launched from less than 20 to a 150 in 1992, and finally a whopping 400 in 1994! As the American Community Garden Association upholds their ground in an office in Pennsylvania, is supported by Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Of course, the ACGA needs workers to maintain their immense organization, they get ordinary and healthy people to become members which results in them helping green certain areas. This means we all can be a part of helping people cure their hunger and fight their diseases if we become a member of ACGA. Even one person can make a big difference by planting a garden. Within the past 15 years, many community gardens were built around the world to fulfill their goal in providing food, medicine, and reality into millions of people. Without ACGA, people wouldn’t have been inspired to research on the influence of community gardens, making education.


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Barbaric Yawp Poems The Reason By: Katherine The warmth of the past fills our hearts. I take a step back Seeing the cage I’ve lived in from lifetimes ago, My sense has never stepped foot within you. The basic things in life are never seen. The base of nature, the source of life, the soul of Earth, You give yourself away. Leaves die, humans perish, creatures fall. After swallowing each corpse to compost, How is there no guilt within you?

Barbaric Yawp By: Karina I wonder I wonder why the sparkling sun shines down on us Or why the moon lights up at night Or why they are even important to life I have imagined life without soil My picture was greener And had more trees But without soil there’s no life It never occurred to me that soil was so important Without soil there will be no plants No animals No humans

Within the rising mountains Grows plush fruit, Scarred with the richness o soil

No one ever thinks about soil Picture a life with nothing A dull earth with crawling humans Trying to get a teaspoon of water

You are the reason birds croon each morning, The reason we are arrogant, The source of our energy, The cause of life.

The least thoughts are usually the most important ones Soil is not a common topic Be honest Have you ever thought about soil?


Barbaric Yawp Poems Barbaric Yawp By: Sophia It’s early April in my bare garden, And the compost bin is two feet deep. A muddy brown, its color is so dark it looks like spilled ink. Full of wastes, it gives off a foul odor of dead cheese and rotten cheese. At the back of my garden, The compost lies waiting for its next meal. I look at the pile of waste and feel sick from the stench. It is filled with apple peels, egg sheels, mulch and plants. Trying not to breathe in the odor, I stick my finger into the cold and clammy soil. It is as moist as a wet sponge. I picture pink earthworms that look like bits of brains, Twisting and squirming in the rich soil. Unable to stand the smell an longer, I leave the compost. It is a mixture of wastes that only plants and worms will appreciate.


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Letter From Katherine In the past two weeks of our seventh grade soil unit, I have experienced many inspiring understandings to help me think differently of soil. Like taking a nature hike through the mountains, planting beautiful gardens, visiting the Arlington Garden to have more knowledge of soil and performing science experiments, and going to the Pasadena Community garden to learn how to plant a healthy garden. Throughout the soil unit, I truly enjoyed visiting all the striking gardens which included the Arlington Garden, the Pasadena Community Garden, and the Descanso Garden. I appreciated how in each garden, we experienced and performed different activities. In the Arlington Garden, we completed science experiments of the organisms in the soil, meditated in the labyrinth, and wrote poems to inspire us to think more deeply about soil. The Arlington Garden helped me have more knowledge of soil, how microorganisms live in soil, and that it is linked to many necessities in our lives. During the visit to Pasadena Community Garden, we were taught how community gardens are created and pulled out weeds from their garden which inspired me to consider planting my own garden. Right beside the Descanso Garden, the seventh grade class participated in a brief hike where, even though we had a challenging time hiking up and down the steep hills, we passed by many different kinds of beautiful flowers and were in sight of a spectacular view. My favorite part of the soil unit was working on different stations with the experienced gardeners. Not only did we get to interact with worms in their habitat, making a Westridge garden, and study various trees, we developed our own poppy seed balls and received a strawberry plant to take home with us! While forming two Westridge gardens with Karen and Linda, I discovered there is a mint plant that tastes just like chocolate and how the poisonous Australian plants were eaten by certain insects. I also learned that those insects are a certain color that shows other animals not to eat the plant they are eating. Overall, these two weeks of soil unit have been a truly great experience for me and all of my classmates. We learned tons of facts that we have never known before and that without soil, there would be no life on Earth. Doing all the different kinds of activities inspired us to think dd differently of soil and to possibly plant our own gardens!


Letter From Sophia Dear reader, The soil unit was a very memorable experience for me and I bet that you would have enjoyed it too if you got the chance to take part in it. Not only did I learn more about the importance of soil, I got to go on field trips, perform a science experiment, and help plant plants for our Westridge gardens. One of my favorite parts of the soil unit were the field trips that we took to different gardens. We visited the Arlington Garden, Descanso Gardens, and Pasadena Community Garden. Out of the three gardens, Descanso Gardens was the most enjoyable because of the activities we did there and the scenery. Before entering Descanso Gardens, the students hiked up a trail near the garden. The weather was great that day, and I got to see beautiful flowers as we hiked. On our way down the trail, it was a bit challenging because the hills were very steep. I almost slipped several times and had to slow down to regain my balance. Luckily, I wore my hiking shoes that day and was able to make it down the hill without getting hurt. Overall, I really enjoyed the hike and was glad that I got to take part in it. I also enjoyed the activities that we did in the different soil stations with the experienced gardeners. Not only did I learn how to make seed balms, I received a free strawberry plant! I love strawberries, so I was very excited when I learned that we would get our own plants to take care of. I also learned about the different types of weeds that grow in gardens and why it was important to take them out. The experienced gardeners instructed us on how to remove the weeds and taught us about gardening too. We learned about the different types of herbs and trees and the correct way of taking care of plants. In my last station, I got to dig holes and plant plants for the Westridge gardens. Overall, I really enjoyed the soil unit. I learned facts about soil that I never knew, such as the fact that it takes 200 to 400 years to form one centimeter of soil. I also learned about soil loss and why it is important to conserve our soil. I got to take care of a garden and planted plants for the first time. Now, I know more about the dirt on earth and know how to take care of my own garden. Sincerely, Sophia


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Letter From Karina Dear Readers, This April, the class of 2018 from Westridge School for Girls was required to have a weeklong class about soil. It was a unit that really opened my eyes about an area that I had never thought about before. The class of 2018 got to experience some fun and challenging times, but at the end I think we all agreed that all of our hard work was worth the time. On Tuesday, we got assigned our groups and watched a video clip about a Victory Garden in New York. A Victory Garden is a garden that was started back in World War l that produced food during hard times. Victory Gardens were also a good way to save money and have fresh produce that had no chemicals. I learned so many interesting things like, 40% of America’s food came from a Victory Garden and how on average a meal travels 1,500 miles to get to a farm to your home. At the end of the day, it really amazed me that an average meal journeyed about 1,500 miles to get on my plate. Most of us were excited for today. It was the 3rd of April. We were going to Arlington Gardens in Pasadena. During our stay at the beautiful garden we made poems based on our surroundings, filled petri dishes with different soil types and a choice of two other things, had lunch, walked through a Labyrinth, and of course took lots of pictures. A labyrinth is a maze-looking path. When you reached the center of the path, you are suppose to let go of all your stress and negative thoughts and walk freely until the path is over. The design of the Labyrinth is older than 5,000 years. I found the Labyrinth really fascinating and pretty. While sitting on the tarp that was laid on compost, bugs of all sorts were attacking me. It wasn’t the best idea to wear the Taylor Swift Wonderstruck perfume to a Community Garden. A community garden is an area of land that is gardened by different people in that community. The whole 7th grade class got to be a part of this garden in the making. We were able to weed the victory garden and also got to help spread soil around. The most enjoyable part of this trip is when I actually got to weed because I got to do something I probably won’t ever do.


Friday was a pretty calm day. Katherine Kurohara, Sophia Chen, and I got done a good amount for our magazine. We were able to finish our Propaganda Poster and our Wormy Times magazine cover. I learned that Katherine, Sophia and I work really well together and it was also fun drawing together. We finally got to record our data and see our petri dishes from Wednesday. Many of the sealed dishes had bacteria, mold, and fungus growing in it. For our petri dishes, we put wet soil, dry soil, damp soil, a flower with a bee, and a petal. On our last petri dish, we left the container open for the whole time while my team members and I were collecting our samples for the other dishes. After collecting and sealing the damp, wet, and dry soil, a flower with a bee, and the petal petri dish, we closed the air container and sealed it. All of our petri dishes had bacteria in it, but not all bacteria were the same. Some petri dishes contained white and/or yellow and/or tan circles, swirly bacteria, and/or fuzzy bacteria. The air-controlled petri dish contained the most different types of microorganisms because it was let out open in the fresh air for about 10 minutes. Today was our last field trip. In the morning we went for a beautiful hike at Descanso Gardens. Many people were a little frightened because we were told that the hike was full of poison ivy. We were lucky that no one got in contact with the plant. The weather was very hot but windy while hiking. I thought the weather was perfect but some people thought otherwise. After finishing the 45-minute hike, we were given a sheet of paper with different tasks to perform. Katherine, Sophia, and I chose the task to pick a color and take at least 6 different plants consisting of that color. We took pictures of roses, flower buds, plumerias, and we even spotted pink leaves! We soon left Descanso Gardens and headed back to Westridge. After lunch, the class gathered around. Our teachers told us we were going to be doing different activities, switching out every half an hour. The activities contained planting and revitalizing a rain garden outside of our classroom, constructing and learning about a compost bin, studying the beauty of trees, making strawberry plants and seed bombs, and lastly we got to plant a whole new herb garden. Everyone had lots of fun and it was an amazing experience for the whole 7th grade. Sincerely, Karina


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Our Propaganda Poster


Pictures of the Editors K A R I N A

S O P H I A

K A T H E R I N E

Soil KK Sophia C Karina  

Soil Unit 2013

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