- Describe the ideal conditions for seed germination
- Define the characteristics of a good seed starting medium
There are stories of seeds surviving in their dormant state for hundreds of years just waiting for the perfect balance of temperature, moisture, and light to give them the opportunity to fulfill their destiny and become new plants. Extended dormancy is a good thing for gardeners that want to save seed but the need to activate the germination process when it’s time to start the garden in the Spring often requires a little outside influence.
Controlling conditions for seed germination is a science and there are numerous ways that temperature, moisture, and light can be harnessed to create the ideal conditions for germination.
This lesson starts with the “soil” or what is better described as the seed starting medium. Get the proportions right and it will help regulate the retention of moisture that seeds need to germinate and survive the early stage of plant development. The greatest challenges that a young plant faces are accessing moisture and being able to send thin roots out into compacted soil. This seed starting medium provides a loose structure for the roots to extend and retains moisture very well.
Teach the Teacher
Tools & Materials
- 5 gallon bucket
- Large scoop or container
- Seed starting medium
- Growing medium
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by briefly revisiting the ideal conditions that seeds require for germination. Inform the Students that these conditions can be controlled to some extent to provide the seeds with the best opportunity to develop into healthy plants. Introduce the ingredients that will be used to create the seed starting medium and explain the purpose each serves in promoting the ideal conditions required.
Activity (20 minutes)
Divide the Students into groups of three to five. Give each group an empty 5-gallon bucket and three 5 gallon buckets containing the three ingredients. Instruct them to transfer each in the proper proportions using the best measuring device they have…their hands! Have the Students thoroughly mix the seed starting medium by hand and then transfer it to the storage side of the planting table or another bucket.
Discussion (10 minutes)
How does this seed starting medium provide the ideal conditions for germination and plant growth? How does it allow for drainage and yet still retain moisture? How could the temperature be controlled?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you can tell me what’s in soilless soil?
- Now that you know how to mix a proper seed starting medium, how many of you think you could do this on your own?
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