We had another good day at the STEM Garden class. Thanks to our Master Gardeners, Claire and Mike for coming fully prepared and imparting all the knowledge to our students and parents.
Lessons for this class: Observe beds, Soil and Air Temperature and Compost.
We began our lesson by observing our beds. We had a lot of rain this past week which damaged one squash plant. We will keep observing and tending to this plant. Other than that, most of our plants seem to be doing very well! We learned that a volunteer plant is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by gardener. We noticed that we have a few “volunteer” plants of tomato growing in our garden. We will keep observing them and see if the plants grow to produce tomatoes! The tomato plants that we planted are doing well despite the fact that they were planted weeks ahead of the last frost. We noticed some weeds in our garden and learned about them. Weeds are anything that we didn’t intend to grow in our garden. Our volunteer tomato plant could technically be a weed but generally weeds are useless and take nutrients away from our good plants. We took out a bunch of weeds from our garden. We did not need to water our plants because the rain left our soil sufficiently wet.
We also noticed that our spinach plants are crowding a bit. We will need to thin out the spinach plants as crowding will prevent the spinach from growing to its full potential. When it does become an issue, we will try to take out the spinach plants from the roots and relocate them. We noticed crowding with radishes too but learned that it radishes don’t need a lot of free space and will grow well despite the crowding.
Next we measured the soil and air temperature. We learned how to read the thermometers. The soil temperature in the high bed was 55 degrees; 53 degrees in the mid-level beds and 52 degrees in the low beds. This pattern of higher the bed, higher the temperature is as expected. The air temperature was 66 degrees. We learned that different plants need different temperatures to grow. Temperature in 50s is good for the plants we have planted.
Next we learned about compost. Ms. Claire brought various examples of compost for us to see. There are two kinds of compost – brown and green. Brown has more carbon and less moisture. Some examples are shredded paper, bark, and leaves. Green compost is nitrogen intensive and is moist such as kitchen scraps (vegetable and fruit peels), grass (with no pesticides sprayed). Egg shells are high in Calcium and form excellent compost. Also used coffee and tea leaves. Almost any organic material is suitable for composting (no meat, dairy, or cooked things). We need a good mix of both brown and green compost in layers for a good compost. It takes about 4 months to compost.
Next we got homework for the week. We will observe germination of seeds in different conditions. We were each given six bean seeds and instructed to use three test conditions with two seeds each. Put two seeds in damp (wet a paper towel with water and squeeze out all the water) and properly wrap the paper towel around the beans. Then put each paper towel in plastic bags.
Put one bag in a dark place where light does not go through;
One bag in a refrigerator;
and one in a well-lighted area.
Take out the beans from the bags, observe each day and draw the shape of the beans. If the paper- towel gets dry, make it damp again.
We will discuss the findings in our next class.
For all pictures, please visit: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BxO-aSnx75yIZ1gzdy1BbWxyM3M
Looking forward to the next class on Sunday, 5/23rd.