Potty Gardening Club: Growing Things
Plants are very important, they clean the air that we breath through the process of photosynthesis. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, plants do the opposite. Plants absorb light, carbon dioxide, and water to make sugar for energy to fuel growth, and release oxygen as a waste product. Plants are brilliant at absorbing gases through the pores on the surface of their leaves. Plants also provide us with food, fruit, nuts, vegetables, herbs, oats and grains (which are seeds) and cotton and flax from which cloth is made.
For a plant to grow, certain things are needed: water, nutrients, air, light and correct temperature. Like any living thing plants need water and food to survive and grow strong. Plants take up nutrients (food) in water through their roots in the soil. Nitrogen produces healthy green leaves, potassium helps the plant to stay healthy and phosphorus helps make strong roots, fruit and flowers. But too much or too little water or food is no good for the plant, correct watering and healthy soil make strong plants. Sunlight is also very important. Too little light can make plants weak, and straggly. With temperature, most plants like it cooler at night time and warmer in the daytime. Too hot, they may scorch and too cold and they will die.
Take a look at the picture of a plant I have grown in a clear plastic pot.
You can see the roots spreading out to draw up the nutrients and water in the soil. With care and the right conditions plants will grow anywhere. Did you know the astronauts on the International Space Station are experimenting with growing plants in zero gravity? It makes them grow rather strangely, but the plants are doing well! Thats amazing! Normally plants need soil to grow in, but given the right conditions, such as nutrient rich liquids, they can grow without soil. That’s one experiment they are trying on the Space Station.
You dont need a garden to grow things, sometimes all you need is a saucer or a jar. I have been doing some experiments of my own growing plants in different ways. Be a Garden Scientist! If you want to experiment with growing plants you can follow the instructions below:
Experiment 1, Magic beans [PDF Link] Plant some bean seeds in clear plastic pots with tissue paper and watch them grow
Experiment 2, Scrap Gardening [PDF Link] Use those bits of vegetables your parents throw away and grow your own scrap vegetable garden
Experiment 3, Growing a potato from peeling [PDF Link]
Use the potato peel your parents throw away to grow your own potato
These Experiments take time. Keep checking on them for 5 or 6 days (each week for the Potato ). They will grow. These are mine after three weeks:
Written by Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer