JayPoc
Greener Thumb
Posts: 769
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:00 pm
Location: Virginia, The mountains Zone 6a/6b

really quick sprouter for a kids project?

Son has a science project due in a couple weeks. Wants to grow some plants. Ideally these would be something that would sprout in just a few days and have a few inches of growth in a couple weeks at consistent 70 degree temps and supplemented indoor lighting. Thoughts?

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 29336
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

Radish, arugula, cabbage, broccoli,... I suppose lettuce too... are easy to sprout and watch them grow at that kind of temp. But if you want them to grow to eating size, there are other considerations.

It would be fun for him to try basil. Basil seeds develop a sort of gel-like substance when moistened, making them look kind of like tiny frog eggs.

lily51
Greener Thumb
Posts: 735
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:40 am
Location: Ohio, Zone 5

Is your son's project on plants grow or doing some sort of experiment with plants? That might make a difference on what seeds to choose.

JayPoc
Greener Thumb
Posts: 769
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:00 pm
Location: Virginia, The mountains Zone 6a/6b

lily51 wrote:Is your son's project on plants grow or doing some sort of experiment with plants? That might make a difference on what seeds to choose.
He is testing if different colors of light will affect plant growth. We didn't realize how short the date was when he came up with that idea. We basically have two weeks from tomorrow. If we can get the plants up and sprouted within 4 or 5 days, that will give about 9 days or so to run the experiment...

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 29336
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

Radish, cabbage, and broccoli, ... Oh kohlrabi too and many mustards will sprout -- I.e. emerge from soil with seed leaves in 2-3 days if kept at upper 70's with plastic cover to hold in moisture and maintain temp. Upstairs and near the ceiling might do it if downstairs is cooler.

:idea: Gardeners have used various soil/bottom heating techs in place of the somewhat expensive soil heating cables and pads sold for the purpose -- including placing the seed trays on top and near the back of the refrigerator, top of water heater, heating pad for aches and pains but you need the older kind that doesn't' turn off, waterbed heater, pet bed heater... Etc. I've used outdoor holiday lights --non-flammable surfaces and GFI outlet are a must -- but the new LED lights don't emit heat. Setting the seed trays in a storage tub lid filled with water with an aquarium heater would do the job (or on top of a tropical fish tank). A former Organic Gardening mag editor described using an old ugly living room lamp with a bare incandescent light bulb under a metal ironing board -- soon to be a thing of the past.... I recently saw a heating cable for water pipes that is plugged into thermostatically controlled outlet and wondered if that would work for soil heating and what the cost comparison would be..... :idea:

lily51
Greener Thumb
Posts: 735
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:40 am
Location: Ohio, Zone 5

All the suggestions are good. Peas also do well in experiments, as do beans.
Since seeds are inexpensive, why not try several differerent types and use the ones that come up first and second, test them both. Then your son can either use both in his project, or just the one that has the most observable effects.

Next time, for a plant project, try brassica fast plants. These are special mustard/cabbage type plants whose seeds you order from a biological supply company. These are widely used in schools for experiments for their rapid germination and growth, easiness to grow with few requirements and complete their life cycle to flower stage in just a few weeks.

Have fun with the project and may it be successful!

sepeters
Senior Member
Posts: 266
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:24 am
Location: AZ, zone 9

chia seeds

let's not forget the mighty chia! You can get whole chia seeds (white or black, germination rate/time is the same) at the grocery store or health food store in the bulk bins. I can get them for $9.99/lb and they sprout in 3-5 days, depending on the amount of light. They are tiny and easy to use in school projects because they do not need soil to grow, a pound would be thousands and thousands of seeds. My mother is a teacher and uses chia seeds in her classroom to teach the kids because they are so easy to grow. Buy a few large, cheap dish sponges (without the scrubber part) and cut into sections then get it wet and sprinkle the seeds on. Be liberal with the seeds, they have a very high germination rate and will grow practically on top of each other. (Remember the ch-ch-ch-chia pet?) Make sure the sponges are kept damp, or they will not sprout. Not too soggy or they will get moldy really quickly.
If you need them to stay alive for a few weeks buy some cheap knee high stockings and fill the toes with seeds (lots and lots of seeds) and put several inches of soil with a light amount of non-burning fertilizer and tie the ends off. The seeds will grow up through the stocking and if you have enough dirt you can just place in a shallow bowl with a bit of water and don't need to water it then. We would usually draw faces on, like a homemade chia pet.
They grow quickly so it is easy to chart the growth rate in inches instead of having to use a tiny unit of measure.

sepeters
Senior Member
Posts: 266
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:24 am
Location: AZ, zone 9

make sure they're whole

oops! if you use them be sure to avoid the ground chia used for cooking, you want those suckers whole

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Radish hands down fastest germinating plant ever.

Dillbert
Greener Thumb
Posts: 955
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:29 pm
Location: Central PA

given the short time fuze.....

consider soaking the seeds in tepid water overnight before planting.

a "pre-soak" can speed up germination considerably.

User avatar
PunkRotten
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:48 pm
Location: Monterey, CA.

Sunflowers (with shells removed) are kind of fast. I have soaked some over night and within a day later I see them sprouting.

User avatar
PunkRotten
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1989
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:48 pm
Location: Monterey, CA.

If your son is testing how plants grow with different light, he can try an aquatic plant called Elodea aka anacharis. They sell it in pretty much any fish store. I have used this plant in Biology and we did the same experiment to test what color wavelengths the plant best photosynthesizes. The plant grows fast too like a weed.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7447
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Here is another vote for radish. Being a little larger seed than the brassicas, they make nice big seed leaves quickly.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

My broccoli and cabbage sprouted in three days on heat mats.

User avatar
ElizabethB
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2105
Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Wow - I remember my school growing projects. What is wrong with beans? Use a clear plastic cup. Fill it with soil and put the seeds on the outside of the cup so kids can see them sprouting. Super easy and fail safe. Children need quick reaults not fancy.

My 2 cents.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 29336
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M(11/B)

I didn't suggest beans because it's winter time, and I wasn't sure about how quickly they would grow dependingon how cool the growing area is and moreover, concern over transporting the seedlings outside from house to school and vice versa. They also need good light.

Peas would have no problem sprouting or growing in cooler temps but need good light. I wasn't sure how well peas would grow inside, and their hollow stems make them really easy to bend and damage.

Mostly, they both need pretty big containers to grow well.
My kids did experiment with growing bush and pole beans in cut off 2L bottles which fit easily on window sills in older daughter's SE facing upstairs bedroom with no supplemental lights. They were spindly and eventually froze due to super cold freezing air during our annual negative single digit dip, but produced a 1/2 dozen pods or so of beans each.

JayPoc
Greener Thumb
Posts: 769
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:00 pm
Location: Virginia, The mountains Zone 6a/6b

We ended up going with radishes and watermelon. Funny story. My local Home Depot, where I buy a lot of garden stuff, keeps their bagged potting soil outside in the garden center even during the winter. It's been so darned cold here, the soil was still frozen several hours after sitting in my warm house. Had to get up early the next day to do the planting...



Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”