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Lesson 5 - Part A: GROWING SEEDLINGS
Lesson 5 - Part B: GARDEN DIARY
PREPARATION FOR LESSON 5:
Please read through Lesson 5 text for students.
This practical lesson requires some preparation from supervisors in order to complete the lesson in one class period.
You will need some seeds that are suitable for sowing at this time of year. See the Gardening Diary in Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting pp 67-121. Pages 190-299 provide detailed cultivation notes for individual vegetables, fruits and culinary herbs so that you can advise students of any special requirements for particular varieties. See Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting pp 132-136 for some tips and hints on getting maximum germination and growth from seedlings that you can pass on to your students.
Cut the base of a cardboard egg carton into individual containers, and place a small quantity of seed in each section for students to use, rather than giving them a whole packet of seeds. If students sow seeds too thickly, 'damping-off' of seedlings is likely to occur, and their efforts will be wasted.
You will need some organic-allowed seed-raising mix for the students to sow seed in pots. The seed-raising mix remaining from the Lesson 2 experiment may be sufficient.
You will also need some plant labels. 'Ice block' sticks that are used in craft work make suitable labels if a black permanent marker is used for writing.
If your students want to sow beetroot or silverbeet, please soak a suitable number of seeds in a little cold water overnight, as these seeds have a corky covering and germination can be very slow, otherwise. (Some varieties of English spinach also need soaking before sowing.) Some gardeners also soak legume seeds before sowing. However, over-wetting legume seeds can result in a failure to germinate. These seeds will germinate well in damp soil.
If you are using recycled yoghurt
containers for seedlings, please
ensure they have at least 5 holes
in the base and 2 holes on each
side of the container close to the
base. If holes are only on the base
of these containers the mix can
become sodden if the containers
are sitting on a solid surface. If
you are short of containers, the
flat section of egg cartons can be
cut into strips as dividers (as shown
in the photo) to allow two seedlings
to be grown in each container.
If you plan to use drink bottles
(recycling codes 1, 2 and 5) as
miniature greenhouses, please
cut the bases from the bottles
with a Stanley knife for a clean
cut. In commercial nurseries,
seedlings are sometimes watered
twice daily and this is not always
possible in school gardens. The
drink bottles can be very helpful
reducing the amount of attention
that sown seeds and seedlings
require. As you can see from the
photo, the top of a drink bottle
(minus its lid) makes a good funnel
for pouring liquid fertilisers into
watering cans. A piece of old panty-
hose weighted with a flat rock or jar
lid makes a suitable strainer.
If students want to sow seeds directly into garden beds and you do not, as yet, have a lot of compost in your beds, you will need some organic-allowed complete fertiliser to mix through the topsoil. Encourage students to sow or plant crops of the same type in a block rather than spread out across a garden bed. This will make it so much easier for an effective crop rotation. Try to leave a portion of one bed clear for sowing a green manure crop in a future lesson.
If students want to sow a climbing legume, you will need a trellis or some stakes or poles to make a tepee frame (see Lesson 5). Encourage students to sow some seeds now, and another lot of seeds next month. This will ensure cropping over a longer period. Don't forget to leave some space in that section of the bed for sowing seed next month!
If your worm farm is not advanced enough to provide worm castings, in a week or so you will also need a very small quantity of organic-allowed liquid fertiliser for seedlings after germination, as seedlings are fed with half-strength fertiliser.
Appoint one or two responsible students to oversee watering of seedlings to maintain constant dampness of seed-raising mix, remove bottles when required, and supervise hardening-off seedlings in sunlight in preparation for transplanting. If seeds are sown close to a holiday period, it may be easier for you to care for the seedlings at home.
You will need an exercise book for this. Encourage students to keep a class diary of their garden crops. Allow one page per vegetable variety. Ideally, the record should also include the seed variety, sowing and germination dates, the start and finish of frost or heavy rain periods, extra fertiliser requirements, times of flowering and maturity, and time for seed to mature if saving seed.
Garden diaries are very helpful in assisting optimal growth of future crops, and providing a record of what the gardening class has achieved.
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