Science Fair – Will smaller seeds sprout faster?

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This site was practically started because of my oldest daughters science fair project Why Don’t Strawberries Grow in the Wintertime?  Now with my youngest in kindergarten she was very excited to have a science fair project of her own, which should be pretty obvious from the picture above.

With no influence from me she decided on answering the question if smaller seeds will sprout faster.  These days science fairs are more than just gluing some some Styrofoam balls to a couple hangers and calling it good.  They require using true scientific methods and procedures, which is pretty advanced for a 5 year old, although she didn’t seem to notice.  Here is the contents of her experiment…

Hypothesis: Smaller seeds will grow bigger in a shorter amount of time because their roots don’t need to grow as big to support the plant

Procedure: I planted 3 seeds of each plant type (lettuce, cilantro, pumpkin) and watered them and gave them sunlight and I watched them grow.

Results: I planted the seeds at the same time and measured the growth over 2 weeks.  The lettuce was the first one to sprout.  The cilantro was the next one to sprout and the pumpkin was the last one to sprout.  At week one, the lettuce was still the largest, cilantro was the second, and the pumpkin was the smallest

Conclusion: Smaller seeds sprouted and grow quicker than larger seeds.

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I was very impressed with her project as well as the hypothesis, one of those moments of thinking, “hmm…is that how actually works…”  Though you probably can think of a few plants that would break the hypothesis but pretty much on target for most plants.

Earth Day in the garden

I decided to take the day off to catch up on some things at home and as I ended up outside of course I went right to the garden. 

We have seen a few warm days here in the Northwest and in my area we haven’t dipped under 40 degrees at night so seemed like a good time to plant a few of my tomatoes spending their time this winter in the grow box.

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Above are a New Yorker and Persey both of which are new for me this year.  They have been growing great even with my neglect during their youth.  I also have some Green Zebras, Husky Cherry, Sweetie Cherry, and Yellow Cherry.  I did attempt Red Brandywine but the seeds I got appear to be duds.

Given it is always good to have a Plan B so I have twins of these tomato plants still in puts which I can bring if a cold snap comes and kills off the plants I ambitiously planted in the ground.

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Elsewhere in the garden I have some herbs: Parsley and Oregano, with Basil being an unfortunately casualty which I will plan on buying from the store and try again next year.

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Next I checked out my larger garden bed to see my peas, cilantro, onions, carrots, lettuce, strawberries and garlic

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Lastly I checked out the peppers in the grow box which they will stay until we have some warmer nights (at least 50 degrees) otherwise can cause significant stunting of growth.  So until then they will remain happy in the grow box and given they are still pretty small, still plenty of room to grow…

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Cost of Hydroponic Nutrients

The first time you walk into a hydroponic store there can be a little sticker shock.  At first it doesn’t look too bad, $14 for this bottle…oh wait I have to buy these three as well and you leave the store paying $80 to grow some basil and lettuce.  Being cheap I like to know how much I will be spending on a hobby before I start out so I did a little exercise.

I took a look at the major nutrient manufacturers and determined using their recommended feeding schedule what it would cost per gallon to complete a 4 week vegetation cycle and a 8 week vegetable and bloom cycle.

To be fair I only included products that provided the primary/secondary macronutrients and micronutrients.  Though I am not discounting the effectiveness of various supplements that these companies provide and I wanted to stick with the basics and have a close to an apples to apples comparison as possible.

  Avg, Price Size Nutrients Used
over 4 weeks (Veg Only)
Cost per Gallon of mixed nutrients Nutrients Used
over 8 weeks (Veg/Bloom)
Cost per Gallon of mixed nutrients
General Hydroponics       $ 1.08 $ 2.80
   FloraGrow $ 12.50 qt 8.08 tsp $ 0.53 12.12 tsp $ 0.79
   FloraBloom $ 12.50 qt 2.02 tsp $ 0.13 14.14 tsp $ 0.92
   FloraMicro $ 15.95 qt 5.05 tsp $ 0.42 13.13 tsp $ 1.09
Dutch Nutrient Formula       $ 0.82 $ 2.30
   Advance Grow A $ 7.50 L 11 tsp $ 0.41 11 tsp $ 0.41
   Advance Grow B $ 7.50 L 11 tsp $ 0.41 11 tsp $ 0.41
   Advance Flower A $ 7.50 L 0 tsp $ – 20 tsp $ 0.74
   Advance Flower B $ 7.50 L 0 tsp $ – 20 tsp $ 0.74
Dyna-Gro       $ 0.66 $ 2.03
   Liquid Grow $ 15.00 qt 3.5 tsp $ 0.27 3.5 tsp $ 0.27
   Liquid Bloom $ 18.95 qt 0 tsp $ – 7 tsp $ 0.69
   Mag-Pro $ 17.95 qt 0.875 tsp $ 0.08 3.875 tsp $ 0.36
   Pro-TeKt $ 13.90 qt 4.25 tsp $ 0.31 9.75 tsp $ 0.71

 

At first glance these numbers look pretty promising, until you remember the fact that this is the cost per gallon.  So if you had a 40 gallon reservoir this can make your cost obvious jump up significantly.  Fortunately in my case I only fill my tank up to 9 gallons so a 4 week cycle would cost me on average $7.68 for a 4 week vegetative cycle or $21.39 for a 8 week vegetative and bloom cycle.

Now given I am planning on growing some legal herbs in my hydroponic system (basil/oregano/cilantro) and maybe a little lettuce.  This would result in some pretty expensive produce.  For this reason and that fact I love chemistry and don’t get to play with it much these days I am planning on going for the less expensive homemade nutrient route, which I will provide more details once I get some more conclusive results of success or failure…

How to save coriander/cilantro seeds from your garden

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Cilantro (at least that is what we call the plant in the United States) and the seed coriander as it is know to the rest of the world is the first plant I ever collected seeds from.

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What I like about cilantro/coriander is that its flowers actually grow great and the bees seem to like them.  As an added bonus the collection of seeds really couldn’t be easier.  Like other plants I collect seeds on I let them mature as much as possible outdoors on their own and bring them indoors when the heavy rains come.

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I give them a little extra time to dry by hanging the bunches upside down in my garage until I get around to the harvest.

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To harvest simply find these flower shaped clusters of seeds and pull down to release the seeds and add to your awaiting container.  If you don’t care as much how clean your seed collection is you can also run run hands down the whole plant from bottom to top.  While this will drop many leaves in your collection, this is definitely the way to quickly harvest a large number of seeds.

Giveaway: $1354.83 worth of fresh produce

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Ok there is a little catch, you have to plant the seeds and grow the produce yourself and have perfect weather and unlimited space to do it.  Over the past season I have intentionally harvested more seeds than I needed just for the purpose of sharing them so here is your first chance to get some of CVG’s seed stash.  This should be a good addition to your current selection of seeds or great for a person just starting out next year.

The harvest values were calculated using my most profitable vegetables in your garden post, so numbers are estimated but I tried to be as accurate as possible.  Below are also links to my harvesting techniques of most of the “Self” seeds below (just realized I never wrote up cilantro and radish seed harvesting so expect to see these soon).

CVG’s Seed Stash (Variety Pack)

Seed Seed
Type
Seeds (Est.) Harvest Value
(Est.)
Jalapeno Pepper Self Collected 10 $ 45.00
Radish Self Collected 30 $ 11.66
Lavender ? 50 $ 10.00
Cilantro/Coriander Self Collected 100 $ 525.00
Bhut Jolokia pepper Self Collected 10 $ 150.00
Sunflower (Big) Self Collected 20 $ 10.00
Spinach Self Collected 25 $ 11.25
Carnation ? 30 $ 5.00
Onions (White) Self Collected 50 $ 12.94
Tomato (Early Girl) Hybrid 15 $ 233.55
Corn (Sweet Yellow) Self Collected 25 $ 31.25
Pumpkin Self Collected 15 $ 150.00
Carrots (Finger) Hybrid 70 $ 15.58
Sunflower (Evening Sun) Hybrid 10 $ 10.00
Cucumber Heirloom 30 $ 116.10
Peas Self Collected 30 $ 12.50
Mint (Spearmint) Hybrid 50 $ 5.00
Total     $ 1,354.83

As always just enter a comment and a winner will be randomly selected using my patented “CVG’s Contest Winner Pickorama” on Jan 1st, 2010.  This contest is open to everyone inside/outside the United States pending any export/import of regulations of sending seeds, which I am still doing some research on.

Hometown Seeds – variety pack give away

Recently I was approached by Hometown seeds if I would be interested in receiving a variety pack of their top selling seeds, my first instinct was “woohoo free stuff.”  Though instead I decided it would offer the seeds to my awesome readers.  Well that and with all the seed saving I have been doing this year I have more seeds than I know what to do with.

Hometown Seeds loved the idea so much that they have graciously increased the offering to three sets of garden seeds variety pack, so in normal fashion enter a comment and after a week I will somehow randomly pick three winners and the seeds will be sent out to you.

The variety pack includes (1) packet of each of the following:

  • Slow Bolt Cilantro
  • Alaska Shasta Daisy
  • Giant Tetra Snapdragon
  • Elite Mix Wildflower
  • Marvel of Peru Four O’clock
  • Yellow Pear Tomato
  • Purple Haze Carrot
  • Waltham Broccoli
  • Casaba Mellon
  • Gourmet Mix Lettuce

The total value of this package is $19.80 so good luck everyone!

Winner will be chosen at Midnight 12/9/2009 (Pacific)

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