I had a great opportunity to assist with the STEM Gardening class today. It was a pleasure to see the children, the Master Gardeners, Megan and Claire, and the parents so involved and enjoying themselves.
The overarching theme of the class was the maintenance of the health of the plants and ensuring that they were in favorable conditions for growth.
The first part of the class consisted of the students making observations of the garden, and contrasting the growth and conditions of the plants from the previous week to this week. Most of our plants appeared to have been thriving. However, the cucumber plants died, as they were unable to withstand the multiple days of 90-degree weather the previous week.
The students also observed that there was a lot of noticeable crowding with the radish plants. To reduce this crowding, we thinned the overpopulation by removing some of the plants. We then replanted some of these plants in other beds to allow for them to grow in more suitable environments.
Next, the students loosened the soil to allow for water to go down and be absorbed, and then added a layer of compost to the soil. The purpose of the compost is to build a good structure of the soil, enabling the soil to retain nutrients, water, and air, and assist in maintaining a neutral pH level. The students then added a layer of mulch on top of the compost, which held in the water, kept the roots of the plants at a cool, even temperature, and prevented weeds from germinating further. The mulch blocks sunlight from hitting the plants, which is useful in protection from weed germination as weeds need direct sunlight to spur growth.
Next, the students observed the pea plants that had been planted during the second class. The peas look good and are sending out their tendrils. We put wooden stakes for the tendrils to climb on to get good sunlight and bloom.
Next, the students learned about the moisture meter probe, which is an instrument that is injected into the soil to measure its moisture content. It was observed that the soil becomes moister as you descend deeper into it, and becomes drier as you ascend towards the surface. This is because when you water the plant, you're really watering the soil and the roots of the plant that is beneath the surface. Our reading on the probe was indicated that we had nice, wet soil.
At the end of the class, the students presented their findings based on a previously assigned experiment that was to be completed for homework. They were given bean seeds, and they were to observe the growth and development of the students in three conditions: refrigeration to represent cold conditions, in direct sunlight, and in the dark. The results that were acquired showed that the germination of the seeds did not occur for the seeds that were placed in the cold climates, which taught the students that are essential for seeds to be placed in warm climates to spur the most growth.
To view all photos taken during the class, please visit https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BxO-aSnx75yIbWZROVlEclh6ZmM
Looking forward to the next class.