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My Herb Science Experiment

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:10 am
by a0c8c
I was at Walmart today getting dish soap when I decided to poke around the Gardening section, or whats left of it. I notice they had their kitchen herb growing kits on clearance so I decided to get one. I mainly wanted the pots, and for $6 I thought it was a good deal. I brought it home, inspected my goods, and decided I'd give their method a try.

The kit comes with:
3 - 3.5'' Red Ceramic Pots
1 - 11.5'' Ceramic Tray
1 - Packet Basil Seeds (Ocimum Basilicum; Seed Origin: Italy)
1 - Packet Thyme Seeds (Thymus Vulgaris; Seed Origin: Hungary)
1 - Packet Sage Seeds (Salvia Officinalis; Seed Origin: France)
"Starter Soil"

So I opened the box, found two weird brown discs, 3 seed packets, my pots and the tray. Uh... where's the soil? And instructions! Then I notice the back of the box, and the instructions. Here's where it becomes a science experiment.

Here's the box:

So I start reading the instructions and it instructs me to place the two soil pellets in a bowl and add 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water. Huh? The starter soil pellets will magically expand into soil. What!? I though it was a joke. Up until I saw what happened. I added the water, and sure enough it started growing exponentially. Like those snake fireworks that start a a little tiny hockey puck and expand into a black "snake".

This was short of amazing, and heres the results. From These:

To this:

It literally took about 10 seconds to transform into dirt. Of course, upon seeing this, I couldn't help but think.... how good could this soil even be? That's when I decided to start a true experiment. I decided to pit the control(the herb kit) against Compost. So I poted these as to their instructions with their dirt, and then started two more sets. Set number 2 has the same starter soil, but with mostly finished compost added. The third set has plain old nutrient vacant dirt from under a tree(you can obviously tell this dirt has no nutrition) mixed with partly finished compost(different than the second set). All three sets have seeds from the same packets.

So I took my pots and added the one missing element, rocks(I couldn't not add them):

Then filled them:

And then filled the other pots making the total 9:
(The bottom three are the control, the middle three are set number 2(starter soil + compost) and the top row is set number 3(plain soil + compost, with a little dirt on top to show how bad it looks)

I placed all of them in a row along the same window. I'll probably move them once they sprout as there's a tree in front of the window and I want to make sure they get equal light.

Now it's time to wait. I'll update this weekly to show their progress. Hopefully this will show the important benefits of compost being added to the soil. If I had more seeds I'd add another using a chemical fertilizer, but then again I wouldn't want to waste growing herbs I won't use.

Let me know what ya'll think.

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:18 am
by SP8
Great idea, but not having any control of the genetics of your seeds makes it pseudo replication at best. It will be impossible to accurately replicate a watering or light regime as well.

Then again I don’t think you're looking to get your experiment published, so it should be interesting to see how it all turns out. :D

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:23 am
by applestar
Looking forward to the results, a0c8c.

I have to say though, those kits are a joke! 3.5" pots would only be big enough for the first transplant after seedlings are sturdy enough -- and at that, I would only put one plant of sage and basil in each pot, maybe 3 of thyme. Yeah, if you start the seeds in them it'll seem like you have plenty of room, but in all likelihood, most people would sow way too many seeds in the little pots. They'll need to be thinned as above -- and who's going to do that? -- AND will still need to be up-potted -- oh, what do you think? in a months? a couple of months? :roll:

The photo on the box looks like they took established plants, clipped them and stuffed them in the pots, and photo'd them from the side (not showing the view from the top). :lol:

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:19 pm
by a0c8c
You're probably right. I'll end up thinning them down the one plant per pot, and would probably have to prune them daily else they'll overgrow the pots. But then again, it's just an experiment to see how things go. And which grows faster/stronger. I'll post pictures once they start sprouting.

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:23 pm
by LittleMama
Oh my goodness this is so something I would do ;)

I just "sort of" did this with garden dirt, taking some and trying to start seedlings in tea cups because I thought it would look pretty in my bay window. Yeah, nothing's growing:(

seedlings in teacups

Posted: Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:16 pm
by rainbowgardener
I imagine you couldn't drill holes in the bottoms of your teacups for drainage. In which case the seeds promptly drowned/ rotted.

For the look you were going for try seeds in a regular little pot, plastic or whatever, tucked inside a cache pot. The cache pot is just an outside decorative pot; they make very pretty ceramic ones. Just put a little layer of gravel in the bottom of the cache pot, so the actual flower pot doesn't sit in water.

Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:01 am
by Gary350
I think you will need a low speed fan blowing on the plants all the time when they sprout to keep them from getting stim rot in the house. Water them from the bottom and they should do fine.

Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:04 pm
by Gary350
Gary350 wrote:I think you will need a low speed fan blowing on the plants all the time when they sprout to keep them from getting stem rot in the house. Water them from the bottom and they should do fine.

Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:40 pm
by a0c8c
I'll keep that in mind when they sprout, for now I'm just using a spray bottle to keep the top moist.

What's the best way to water from the bottom? Dip the bottom half in a bowl of water or what?

bottom watering

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:54 am
by rainbowgardener
Set the pots in a tray and put 1/4 inch or so of water in the tray and just let them soak it up. My winter time seed starting operation, all my pots live in trays and the trays get watered every morning. You don't have to take them out of the trays, just be sure you don't put too much water in.

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:21 pm
by a0c8c
hmm... not sure if that little tray that came with the pots is deep enough, the rocks will keep the soil above the water, I'll just get a nice tub and get all 9 at once.. It's finally starting to cool some(from 100's to 90's) so hopefully I won't have to water as much. Next thing I need is a good light.

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:14 pm
by a0c8c
I have sprouts!

Basil from Set 1

Thyme from Set 1

Thyme from Set 2

We'll see how everything's growing tommorrow. I can already tell the Thyme from set 1 is aiming itself towards the window. Although the Set 1 is sprouting the quickest, doesn't mean it'll win in the end.

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:33 am
by applestar
Do you have artificial light to shine on them? Sunlight on the windowsill is rarely sufficient to grow good seedlings. My stand-by supplemental light is clip-on utility light with large shiny metal reflector (auto section of Walmart or electrical section of big box stores) with 100W equiv. daylight CFL bulb, originally recommended by someone else on the forum (might have been hendi_alex). I usually also use pieces of alum foil or foil pans to bounce light back to the seedlings.

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:22 pm
by a0c8c
Right now it's just sunlight from the window which I know won't be enough. I just got paid today so I can finally go get a light. I should've waited to post pics, I've got alot more sprouts now.

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:14 pm
by a0c8c
I've added a light. I was looking through the meger selection at our walmart, and ended up with a 100W GE "Plant Light" bulb. None of the light bulbs had and info about them except for wattge and expected hours. I knew I needed a full spectrum, but had no clue if any were. So since this one is for Plants, or so the name implies, I settled on it. I've got it in atable lampt stacked up on a glass pickle jar and some foil to help reflect it downwards. Now to wait and see how they grow.

Set 1 - Basil

Set 1 - Thyme
(looks like they stretched a little)

Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:38 pm
by Jou
Interesting experiment! :D

Any updates on how it is going :?:

Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2009 11:36 pm
by a0c8c
I've started a new topic: