Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Saving the Planet Experiment- Week #3 and #4

by student blogger Kristin

Growing Weeks from 2/7-2/26

Hello there! For any of you following this project, you may have noticed that I skipped a week in posting any information or progress. I regret to inform you all that this is because I have run into some troubles with the plants. I will try to fully explain the slight heart break I have been going through.
(You can check out Week 1 and Week 2 progress posts to learn more about this experiment.)

Week #3
If you can look at the very tips of the leaves on this
plant you can see that the edges have begun to
brown and split.
At the beginning of week #3, I experienced my first obstacle. The two corn stalks that had been sprouted using the traditional method (in dirt) had started to brown on the edges of their leaves. I watched this cautiously and hoped that maybe the leaves would turn a deep purple just as the sprouts had done. However, the next day, the brown on the leaves had crept further towards the stalk and I knew something was wrong. I tried to solve the problem with more sun and more water, but the problem still continued.

 At this point, I felt a bit lost. I did not know how to save these two plants. What was even more confusing was that their paper towel counterparts were still growing taller every day and displayed a bright hue of green. Then, the culprit made itself apparent. On the last day of week #3, small patches of white mold emerged to the surface of the soil. My plants were experiencing root rot.

What is root rot?
Root rot is a type of mold that develops due to poor drainage. Plants that are either overwatered or planted in a vessel without proper drainage will be waterlogged and can become affected by this mold. The water makes it impossible for the roots to get the air that they need and the plant begins to die from the roots up.

So, before I could continue with my saving the planet experiment, it was time to conduct the “Save the Plant” experiment first.

Week #4
Unfortunately for me and my corn, there is no fool proof way to save a plant from root rot. In fact, when root rot develops to proper stages it can actually infect other plants and the dirt it is contained in. My only option was to try to move these plants and remove whatever roots were already affected.

I took the new container for my plants and cut holes in the bottom to make sure of proper drainage. I also got new dirt to completely start over. After doing some research, I found that some soil is actually too heavy to get proper air and water flow for certain roots. This time, the soil I’m using is known to help with moisture control. I carefully lifted each plant out of the contaminated soil, brushed off all the dirt, and removed any roots that looked dead. I plated them carefully in the new dirt, gave them water and prayed that this would work.

It is now the end of week #4 and time for the bad news. The two original plants are almost completely dead. Their stalks are still green and show signs of making an effort to come back but the leaves are completely browned. I think I have to officially call it on these two.

But, now time for the good news. Because the two plants that were sprouted in paper towels were a few days behind the progress of the other plants, they seem to be unaffected by the root rot. They are still showing some signs of wilting but after tweaking some sunlight and watering habits they are still healthy and growing well. These two now are my only chance so wish them luck! Hopefully I will not have more bad news for next week’s post! 

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