Monday, February 10, 2014

The Saving the Planet Experiment- Week #1 Progress


The Growing Week from 1/31- 2/6

by student blogger Kristin

I hope you all enjoyed the first addition of this new blogging effort I have started! As promised shortly after my first addition, here is the progress my beautiful plant made during week 1. We will officially title this week “From Planting to Sprouting”.

Planting Day 1/30
On Thursday January 30th, our growing experiment was officially underway. The first step of the experiment was to choose a specimen to test, meaning pick which plant you wanted to grow. Professor Murphy was nice enough to provide a variety of seeds for us. These seeds were all from the company Seed Savers Exchange. The Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 and dedicated to preserving America’s diverse garden and food crop heritage for future generations. More information about this company (including history, seed purchasing and even gardening advice) can be found at http://www.seedsavers.org/.
Once our seeds were chosen, we were given small planters filled with organic “Seed Starter” potting soil. Depending on the plant chosen, we were instructed on how many seeds to plant at once. Because the Blue Jade seeds are quite large, one of each seed was planted in each sectional of the planter. I planted two Blue Jade seeds this way and kept two to sprout separately. These two, for the sake of science, were to be sprouted wrapped in damp paper towels in a plastic bag.

The seeds were labeled with a Popsicle stick, transported home, and placed on my desk, ready for the next step.

Being Patient
For the next few days, I watched and waited. According to the seed packet from Seed Savers Exchange and from my own research, the seed would experience germination (initial growth) anywhere from 4 to 21 days after being planted. The only choice I had was to water the dirt once or twice a day and play the waiting game. This step is always the hardest with any type of gardening. It is difficult to stare at a pile of dirt and trust that nature is taking its course. It is so easy to come up with a million different scenarios as to how things could go wrong, especially when you are trying to grow things in the dead of winter.
  By day six, there was still no progress and I was convinced that something was wrong. Even though I was well within the bookends of my germination dates, I had taken all the right precautions. I was watering the seeds a good amount, kept them as warm as possible and tried not to disturb them too much. I wanted to know what was happening below the surface of my dirt!

Sprouting
I woke on the seventh day of this experiment dreading the fact that I had to write about all of my failures in my seed journal. To my great surprise however, my corn had finally sprouted! Sure it was only about a quarter of an inch tall, but it was definitely alive and growing!

Although the plants were clearly growing, the sprouts were lacking sufficient color, which made me nervous. I quickly opened the blinds and allowed the new sprouts to get some sun while I worked on my seed journal. By the end of the day, my sprouts had gained a healthy and vibrant green color. They had also visibly grown taller. I made sure to keep their dirt moist and keep the plants warm and comfortable. I was excited to charge head first into the next week of progress!

Another Method for Sprouting
So as mentioned before, I wanted to experiment the means of sprouting seeds while wrapped in something moist but without soil. I reserved two seeds to wrap in damp paper towels and sprout in plastic bags. Because my research told me that this method had a quicker sprout time than the traditional sprouting method, I started these seeds three days after my other seeds (2/2/14).

When checking the progress of my seeds on day 7 (2/6/14), I noticed that there was no progress at all on these self-sprouting seeds. After some research, I realized my dire mistake. The Blue Jade seed has no tolerance for an anaerobic environment and the plastic bag I had placed them into was not giving them enough air to grow. I quickly changed this by poking holes in the bag and opening the bag further to get plenty of air-flow. I would be paying close attention to these seeds in the week to come!       

A look to the Future
Because I am writing (and posting) this entry well after the end of week #1, I can already tell you all this: there are definitely more interesting posts to come! The progress I have seen so far on Week #2 has been quite impressive, but you’ll have to look for that post to share in my intrigue! Wish my plants good health, and I will be posting soon to keep you in on my progress!

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