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Home schooling experiments

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Home schooling experiments

Post  boffer on 3/14/2010, 10:12 pm

I've notice there's a number of home schoolers on the forum and was wondering if exchanging gardening experiment ideas would be an interesting topic. Here's one I fell into.

When I first started sfg, I was doing a lot of reading and came across a research paper published by a biologist who conducted his research in arid eastern Oregon.
He did his research in grids like we do. He found that broccoli, once established, could sustain and mature without supplemental water. By giving the plant enough room to stretch its roots to find moisture in the soil, without competition, it would produce. His squares were bigger than ours; they were 8 feet on a side. Conclusion: if you don't want to water your broccoli plant, give it 64 square feet to grow in!

My experiment happened by accident. One 1x4 box of peas were well watered. A similar box of peas not too far away ended up not receiving nearly enough water, and although it did produce, it took longer. (long story how that happened) When harvest was over and I was cleaning up the boxes, I was quite surprised at what I found in the soil. The plants in the well watered box had very small root structures. The drier box was just a tangled mass of roots that became interwoven as they searched for water.

So, keep one square of lettuce or peas or ? well saturated; keep another square very dry. Study the root development at harvest time.

I don't have a clue if this is a practical thing to do with student kids; I just thought I'd throw it out there.

Any other suggestions for garden experiments?

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 3/14/2010, 10:21 pm

Hi,
On the old list several folks remarked on how they had enjoyed marking a single flower with a ribbon and watching it mature into a fruit/veggie. I thought I might try that with my boys this summer. I think Mel may mention it in one of his books. I have not gone searching on the new site, but the old site also had school aged children's activities. Another funny trick is to grow a vegetable in a plastic bottle. I think Chocolatepop found veggie molds. I hope other folks add to your list, as it sounds interesting.

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  boffer on 3/14/2010, 10:31 pm

I remember CP saying she was going to check at school for mold options. I don't know what that means, but we'll have to ask her.

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  chocolatepop on 3/15/2010, 12:21 am

yeah i couldn't really figure out the whole mold thing. I'm quite sure I could come up with some other ideas that would work just as well. But I need it to be light weight. I wanted to make a square squash or something like that. I have some good ideas, just don't know how to impliment Wink

I was thinking making a negative using a dolls face and some how finaggling that into a pop bottle.... off to look!!!


http://www.vegiforms.com/default.asp?Mode=support

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/15/2010, 1:01 am

I am a distance learning teacher, sort of a hybrid between a school teacher and home school teacher (mom?). My project is to get away from the computer and out into the air a few times a day ....and to write about it with videos and pictures.

Deborah ....who did not know there were so many home school families.

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home school experiments

Post  homeschoolmom on 3/15/2010, 10:31 am

All suggestions, always welcome. We'll try anything! lol (almost). Thanks and I really enjoy your comments and forum topics.....you're a funny guy!

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  new2this on 3/15/2010, 10:37 am

I'm not a home-school mom...but summer gets long and boring and I try to think of things to do with my kids so their brains don't completely dry up by July. This yr we will have fun with our first SFG - 2 4x4 beds.

I was thinking of tomato plants....maybe having the girls "prune" one to a single stem, pinching off new growth, etc...and letting another plant grow undisturbed. I want them to see if one plant grows bigger fruits.

Also, we read the Laura Ingalls book "Farmer Boy"...and in it, Almanzo wants to grow an award-winning pumpkin to enter in the fair. His father helps him cut a slit in the vine and stick some sort of wick inside. Then he sets out a bowl of milk for the wick to draw up. I guess his milk-fed pumpkin was a winner! I've never heard of that before???

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/15/2010, 11:09 am

@new2this wrote: . . .I was thinking of tomato plants....maybe having the girls "prune" one to a single stem, pinching off new growth, etc...and letting another plant grow undisturbed. I want them to see if one plant grows bigger fruits.

That is a fun experiment new2. You might want to measure total yield in pounds from both plants, (sun scorching, etc) You know there are two types of tomato vines right? One grows all season instead of bushing out and setting fruit all at once. Either way, it should be fun. At least I have HEARD that about tomatoes. I live in the PNW, tomatoes are the goal, but it is always good to have some green tomato ideas in mind.

new 2this wrote: . . .Also, we read the Laura Ingalls book "Farmer Boy"...and in it, Almanzo wants to grow an award-winning pumpkin to enter in the fair. His father helps him cut a slit in the vine and stick some sort of wick inside. Then he sets out a bowl of milk for the wick to draw up. I guess his milk-fed pumpkin was a winner! I've never heard of that before???

Oh wow, I read those books as a child; I did not remember the part about the milk. I HAVE heard of slitting and wicking pumpkins, just not with milk. Another fun experiment.

You should have some expertise by season end

Deborah ....hoping SOMEONE has to write a report.


Last edited by Lavender Debs on 3/15/2010, 11:11 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : oops)

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  happyfrog on 3/23/2010, 5:49 am

this year we're planning on growing pie pumpkins and we'll be writing each child's name on a pumpkin so that as it grows, their name will grow with it.



here's a link to an example (one of many available on the 'net, *grin*) http://littlegreenfingers.typepad.com/little_green_fingers/2009/07/own-your-own-veg-writing-names-on-pumpkins.html

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/23/2010, 8:22 am

That is cute Betty Ann!

I've always thought that if I could grow them (maybe I can in town) I would etch in, "add sugar, cream and eggs"

I think it would be a kewl project to grow boxes dedicated to the local food bank

Deborah .....not ready to think about pumpkin pie

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  chocolatepop on 3/23/2010, 10:08 am

I know not really "Homeschooling" but still appropriate. I am one of those "all these kids are mine" meaning my daught goes to "school" have days (daycare) most days and i talked to the teacher and i am thinking of making them a small SFG, maybe like 2-2x6 so each kid gets a square, or so i can plant vining in back and other in front?

I don't know, but my daughters "teacher" was really excited!

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Anstar on 3/23/2010, 2:25 pm

I don't know if other states do this (I suspect some do), but in North Dakota the ag extention does "variety trials" to see what plants do well in our state. You can request seeds for a veggie type and they send you two varieties, which you plant and treat similarly. At the end of the growing season, you fill out a mini-report documenting how well each variety did, which you prefer, and if you would recommend one or both for our area. They allow (actually encourage) child-managed trials, and send you a certificate of participation at the end. It's pretty neat!

If your extention office doesn't do something like this, it would still be a good experiement. Just choose two varieties and compare them. Figure out what traits you want to look for and document them throughout the growing season, then write a report (or fill out a form, or put stickers on a sheet, whatever is age-appropriate for your children) at the end.

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/23/2010, 2:31 pm

Now that is a forward thinking state!
Thanks Anstar

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Anstar on 3/23/2010, 6:09 pm

Here's a link with the info on ND's variety trials. http://www.dakotagardener.com/trials/index.html They include a sample report too, so you can get some ideas from that.

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  boffer on 3/25/2010, 7:55 pm

Do you know what a carrot plant looks like? Or what a carrot flower looks like? Why not let a few go to seed. Carrots are cousins of the weed 'Queen Anne's Lace'. They'll grow to 3 feet tall, and the flowers (where the seeds are) look like QAL

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  happyfrog on 3/25/2010, 8:05 pm

@boffer wrote:Do you know what a carrot plant looks like? Or what a carrot flower looks like? Why not let a few go to seed. Carrots are cousins of the weed 'Queen Anne's Lace'. They'll grow to 3 feet tall, and the flowers (where the seeds are) look like QAL

steve - my kids LOVED this!!! we purposely let some lettuce and spinach and even some carrot go to seed - and wow was that fun! we even harvested the seed (even though they were hybrid!) - not for planting purposes but just to teach how to.

We did collect seed 'for real' from our morning glories and various flowers - like marigolds and zinnias. . . a few others, too but i can't remember what they were - they're in glass jars in basement right now and we did it several months ago (obviously).

My oldest kid can tell different seeds apart - which is pretty neat - he is given 3-4 choices (of different seeds that are not that similar - he is only 6 - (barely 5 at the time we did this last year) and he can correctly identify all of them in a multiple choice scenario. . .

and of course that lends itself to small seed->largest seed order, etc.

all sorts of stuff.

i do most of my 'schooling' relating in real world applications.

and my oldest kid all week has been helping me move the building materials for our greenhouse we're gonna build from one location in backyard to closer to the actual building site - and i had him (and me, too!) throwing each 2 liter bottle individually to hit a specific spot on our fence - from different lengths and from different body positions - it was a lot of fun and gave him (and me) a physical workout - also we ended up counting (we have around 1,000 2 liter soda bottles now - maybe a litlte more - we kept losing count, lol). . .

sure did yammer on. you get the idea, though.

oh and if you're curious what the heck i'm talkign about related to a greenhouse, this is what we're gonna build:

http://www.reapscotland.org.uk/reports/greenhouse%20v1.pdf

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  happyfrog on 3/25/2010, 8:09 pm

oh, yeah - we learned about how to harvest and store seed from books from the library - because i had no clue how to do it, so we went in search of knowledge. i read it - some parts out loud - that were particularly interesting and then we went forth and figured it out!

i will tell you that collecting morning glory seeds is the easiest thing ever and kind of addicting to do. . . just don't let your kids eat the seeds - it'll make them high (and possibly kill them) - has lsd or some such thing in it. . .

well i need to get my laundry hung and another load swishing and i really need to finish a custom sewing job so i'll be offline focused on that. my reward after i finish those tasks will be to visit this forum . . .Smile

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  quill33 on 1/30/2011, 10:24 am

while reading thru this thread, I noticed many suggestions! Smile

Something we do is to tie a cable tie around a tomato plant right where teh yellow flower is and to daily check on its progress - it's very interesting to see the changes as they transpire from a flower into a fully ripe fruit. When just assessing a plant, it's easy to overlook these small daily changes.

Curcubits are a blast for teaching male and female flowers to a child - it's pretty clear which is which and then after we observe and count the various blossoms (we've also noticed that there are usually a plethora of one kind or the other at any one time - rarely are there equal portions of male/female blossoms) we will take a small artist paintbrush and carefully tap the pollen from a male blossom into a female blossom -and of course using this method to hand pollinate all the female blossoms in order to have higher yields.

Another tip that I found most helpful - I took plastic canvas (available in most hobby/craft stores) and cut them into 11.5" squares (to fit easily into a 12" square in the raised beds) and then further made them into templates for planting 1/square, 4/square, 9/square, 16/square. Made it so much easier for the children to have more consistent results when planting seeds in the grid. simply lay the grid on the soil, put the seeds in the open slots, cover the seeds wtih some soil, lift up grid and move to next square. Makes it just about error proof - and gives a tangible example of how to equally divide up the available growing area. Smile

hope these ideas are helpful.

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Old Hippie on 1/30/2011, 3:41 pm

That greenhouse idea is very, very cool! Both my girls homeschool their children and gardening is a huge part of their learning activities.

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Miss M on 3/19/2011, 2:51 am

I love that greenhouse!

One thing I've tried to do with my kids every year (even at our apartment we used to have), is plant something a home gardener normally would not grow, so they can see what it looks like.

For example, to show them where most of their clothing comes from, we gleaned a cotton boll from a harvested field, and planted several of the seeds. Did you know cotton has breathtakingly beautiful blossoms? We got to watch the cotton slowly mature, and then we saw the bolls split and open and watched the cotton dry. Very Happy

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Goosegirl on 3/19/2011, 8:26 am

@Miss M wrote:We got to watch the cotton slowly mature, and then we saw the bolls split and open and watched the cotton dry. Very Happy

I have no kids, so no homeschooling, but I just love to try new experiments - last year I had wheat straw for mulch, so as the wheat seeds sprouted I pulled most of the wheat grass but left a few scattered among the veggies and had some beautiful golden wheat heads ripening among the late summer harvest!

TC

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Re: Home schooling experiments

Post  Megan on 3/19/2011, 12:38 pm

The cotton sounds beautiful, and what a wonderful teaching concept! Just please be careful. It's illegal to grow non-commercially in many areas since it's a cash crop and there is a boll weevil problem. I found out about this because I'd been considering growing naturally-colored cotton myself as an ornamental, and found an obscure warning in the seed catalog. In some areas, you may be able to apply for a permit.

Reference: http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=750
(Or, Google "illegal to grow cotton" and you'll get a bunch of hits.)

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