If your child has sown seed before, chances are he or she used man-made soil designed for seed starting. This soil is designed for great drainage, air circulation, the retention and release of nutrients, and something for the plant to grab onto and anchor itself. In nature, however, the earth is not as perfectly designed as potting soil. Some places are rocky, some are softer, and some have no soil at all. Will plants grow in all these places? By looking at different materials and testing if seed will germinate in these materials, your kids will learn that not all ÒdirtÓ is equal.
What You Need:
¥ A thumb tack
¥ A clean spray bottle
¥ An aluminum pan (to set all your cups into and to catch water)
¥ One packet of DianaÕs Blueberry Hybrid Dianthus, Burpee item # 47060A
¥ One clear 8-oz. cup of each of the following materials:
¥ Tap water
¥ Hardwood mulch
¥ Play sand
¥ Crumbled dried leaves
¥ Pebbles or marbles
¥ Peat moss
¥ Cotton balls
¥ Dirt (from your yard)
¥ Potting soil (control)
What To Do:
1. Ask your kids how they think each material will work as a potting soil substitute. Will the seed germinate? Will it grow into a thriving plant? If not, why? Guide their answers with hints about air, water, nutrients exchange and anchorage.
2. Punch six to eight thumbtack-sized holes into the bottom of each cup for drainage EXCEPT for the cup with only tap water.
3. Fill each cup with its designated material and set in the tray.
4. Pour one 8 oz. cup of water into each material and let drain.
5. Remove excess water from pan.
6. Plant two to three dianthus seeds per cup. Only lightly cover seed with growing material. Mist well with spray bottle.
7. Set tray and cups in a well lit window or protected location outside.
8. Continue to mist twice a day for 14-21 days. Observe which seeds germinate and grow.