Friday, April 3, 2020

Lettuce grow some Lettuce!

I know we're all chomping at the bit to get outside and sow some seeds.  As I look out my office window the clouds are zooming by.  There appears to be chilly weather this weekend and rain is in the forecast.  What's a gardener to do?

Let's talk about growing lettuce.  

There is a method of growing vegetables in water called Hydroponic.  We will be discussing this method today.
Put on your thinking cap, where did the word hydroponic originate?


*  Small bin with a top or a LARGE plastic container (gallon ice cream, cottage cheese, sour cream)
*  Hydro growing balls OR pea gravel OR coarse Perlite these are called growing medium.
*  Liquid Fertilizer or compost tea
*  Lettuce starts
*  Water
*  Sharp knife or hole drill to drill LARGE holes in your bin top
*  Hydroponic grow cups or yogurt cup with holes in the bottom for roots to emerge into the water


Wash your hydro balls, perlite or gravel.  Soak in water while you prepare your bin.
Why can't we just grow lettuce in water?  Why does it need a growing medium?

Using your hole drill make holes in the top of your container.  Basically 1 hole per every 4 inches.  Make sure the cup that will hold your lettuce starts fits in the hole. Be sure to have an adult help you!

Add Water to your container, you want to water to touch the bottom of the cup that will hold your lettuce starts.

Add liquid fertilizer to your water in the container/bin.  Follow the directions on the label for the proper amount.
What happens if we don't add Fertilizer?  or add too much?

Fill your cups with a bit of growing medium (hydro balls, perlite or gravel).  You should be able to see the water at the bottom of the cup.

Gently remove your lettuce start from it's growing container.  Hold the lettuce in your hand and dip it in and out of water to wash off the majority of the soil.  If you leave some it's OK.  Your lettuce should look like this.

Place your lettuce in the grow cup.  Gently add growing medium around the lettuce roots up to the intersection where the lettuce leafs start to emerge.  

Lettuce all tucked in ready to grow

Place your bin in a protected area with sunlight.  These are inside Sheldon's greenhouse.  We have to put them on a table because Sheldon will eat all our lettuce!  He LOVES lettuce.  Midnight decided to get in the photo shoot too!

Here is the lettuce after 2 weeks growing!  Check out those roots!  
Hypothesize different experiments on growing lettuce.  Comment below what your findings are.

You're all set to grow some AWESOME fresh lettuce.  Lettuce generally takes 45 days to grow.  This type of lettuce is leaf.  That means you can cut leaves off the plant and it will continue to grow.  Pretty amazing....Right?

Happy Gardening.  Feel free to post comments or questions below.  

Monday, March 30, 2020

Lets Grow Living Necklaces

Here is a twist on planting seeds.  Make a "living necklace" you can wear or display around your home.   This activity is ideal for introducing the stages of plant growth and development. 

Please enjoy this engaging and educational video to learn all about seed germination, and how to grow a living necklace:

Grade Level: K-5
Time: 30 Minutes, 15 days until plant is ready for soil. 
Supplies To Grow a Living Necklace
  1. Jewelry bags or small plastic bag
  2. Yarn or any kind of string – 30” length 
  3. Cotton ball, small piece of tissue or toilet paper 
  4. Kidney/black bean seed but any kind of seed will do.
  5. Water

Germination: the process in which a seed or spore emerges after a period of dormancy under the right conditions. 

1) Dip cotton ball in water and gently squeeze out the excess moisture so it is not dripping. Flatten it like a pancake or tortilla.

2) Place the bean seed in the middle of the damp cotton ball and wrap the cotton around the bean seed.

3) Place the seed and cotton ball in the jewelry bag and seal tight. 

4) Thread a piece of yarn through the hole at the top of the bag, and tie the ends to make the necklace.

5) Each student may wear their “living necklace” home or keep them in their classroom for observation. 

6) The seed will sprout in three to five days. 

7) After three days, open the bag to allow the seedling to get oxygen and add a little water. You can either plant the seed in soil at this point, or it can live for about two more weeks on the cotton ball, as long as it is provided with water and oxygen.

 8) Share a video of your living necklace in the comments of our blog.

What does a seed need to germinate? 
A seed is alive! It needs water, soil (or cotton in this case to hold the moisture), the appropriate temperature, air or carbon dioxide.

Hypothesize and Discuss what environmental conditions affect germination. 
  1. Where will seeds will germinate best?
    (a sunny window, dark corner, warm place, cold place).   
  2. Place seed bags in the areas proposed, and record your hypothesis, monitor seed germination, and draw daily progress or seed anatomy (roots, root hairs, cotyledons, etc.).  
  3.  Discuss what a plant needs after germination and grow a crop of beans. The bean seedlings can be planted in soil, be grown and finally harvested. The harvested beans can be eaten fresh (green) or dried. The dried beans can also be planted to grow another generation of bean plants. 
  4. Discuss how humans use plants. Humans use plants as food for people and animals, clothing, medicines, housing, the control of soil erosion, aesthetics, etc.