July 17, 2010

Summer Science Project {Conclusion}

My parents sent us to summer school every year - At least while we were in Grade School. It was more a way of giving us something to do other than spend all day at the river or off in the wood unsupervised - Versus needing extra help with a subject - In fact it had everything to do with keeping us out of trouble when during the summer . Oh don't get me wrong - Muffy and I spent a fair amount of time skipping class and trying to catch frogs at the Bull Frog Pond outside the Tea House in Child's Park. But it was {3} classes - You could pick a maximum of {1} sport, so we always took tennis - and FIRST THING in the morning before it was too hot and muggy to be on the courts, let alone chasing after fuzzy green balls. Then {2} "academic" classes. It seemed I always took some variation of the same {3} classes. Creative Writing, Science and Theater. Usually Creative Writing and Science.

I remember vividly one summer morning Muffy and I stopped our bikes at the foot of a girlfriend's driveway. We were on our way to summer school and stopped to say hello to our friend and her mother on our way by. Our girlfriend's mother asked where we were off to so early in the morning. When she heard we were on our way to summer school, she asked "Why? Do your parents think your stupid or something?" I will never forget that conversation as long as I live. I couldn't believe someones mother would say something like that. No credit was given towards the upcoming academic year. I am not even sure there were "grades" it was more like going to camp for half a day.

The classes I liked the best, beside tennis were science. I got to dissect earth worms, watch butterflies hatch {our next science project!!} and sprout beans. Those three projects stand out the most in my mind. A few weeks ago, remembering how simple it was to "sprout" beans and from always having a garden how quickly beans grow. As in a visible change from day to day I though that might be a fun "science" project for the girls and me to take on this summer. I debated just sprouting beans because that would only take a few days and the girls might get a kick out of it, but in the end - Their favorite vegetable is green beans and I always had a garden with fresh summer vegetables to munch while growing up and living in the 'burbs - The dusty desert, sun baked, 'burbs was not conducive to a vegetable garden. Still... I wanted to see if we couldn't grow at least a handful of green beans so the girls "reward" at the end would be growing something they could eat!

So.. I bought a packet of beans and dug out a large empty plant pot from the garage and some potting soil.

The packet of beans was the most intriguing part of this first stage of our project. Grace kept shaking and shaking the packet. Listening to the sound and then pausing to think about it. Then shaking it back and forth some more. Finally she asked me what was in the envelope. So I cut it open and shook some of the "seeds"{beans} into my hand. I explained to her " These are the seeds we were going to plant in the dirt. We were going to put our "Garden" {pot} in the sun, plant the seeds in the dirt, water it a few times a day and watch them grow just like 'Jack and the Beanstalk' - Then in a little while we will have yummy Green Beans to eat growing right here in this pot! " --- Now to me an understandable question would be something about being able to climb the beanstalk.... Or if there would be a giant up in the sky at the top of the beanstalk.... Some question referencing "Jack and the Beanstalk". Not my Grace --- Instead she looks as the handful of seeds I am holding. Thinks about it for a moment, looks right at me and says...
"That's gonna' be a lot of cans!"
Jaw dropping... shame creeping in... I grew up around farm land. While Northampton was technically a "city" it was the furthest thing from. It was a small town where everyone had a decent piece of property and most people had a garden even if it was only flowers. There were road side farm stands all over the place in the summer and fresh summer vegetables made their way to your table from no further than 10 miles from home and that was a haul. I don't know that we ate canned vegetables ever when I was growing up - but my kids.... My kids eat canned green beans. My kids eat canned green beans so often that Grace thinks green beans grow in cans! -- My-child-thinks-beans-grow-in-cans! -- Oh the shame... Guess it's a good think we're doing this little project! Next year I might have to figure out how to dig a real garden in the backyard!

So proud of her little garden!

The garden sign would not last - First the HOT Arizona Sun would melt the glue and it would fall apart - Later Lily would use brute force strength to pull the "Grace and Lily's Garden" part off.

DAY 5 - The bean sprouts began poking through the soil. I have no idea why I do not have a photo of that. Day 5 was by far the coolest day of the entire project to day. Grace and Lily amazement that something was growing where just a few days earlier there was nothing but dirt and some beans they pushed down into the soil - If the project never went any further than that - Well that was a really, really cool moment!

The first leaves!

Starting to grow!

Getting bigger by the day!
{They would be even bigger if Lily hadn't pulled off half the leaves!!}

Almost time to put in stakes and tie the stalks!

Okay this is pretty fun for all of us now! Every morning the stalks are visibly bigger than the day before!

July is in full swing the temperatures are well above 100* now.  It has been crucial to water in the morning and again in the evening. Yes, a watering can is more efficient , but the girls have more fun "misting" the plants with their squirt bottles.
{Don't worry. Mom & Dad give the plants a good soaking with the hose when the girls aren't looking!}

They are growing like cray and looking good but still no flowers. It has been almost a month and the packet of seeds says 54 days to mature. We shall see - We are still having fun and that is all that really matters!

116* yesterday.
In the heat of the mid-day sun I decided they beans could use and extra drink.
I fried them. Or maybe "boiled" would be an more appropriate term. The water on the leaves coupled with triple digit temperatures boiled the leaves. within a few hours of their afternoon drink the leaves were curled and crucnhy {I know very scientific terms} This morning they are starting to fall off.

Althought the packed of seeds says "Direct Sunlight" I do not think that meant direct desert sunlight. Our "Garden" probably could have used partial sunlight. The heat here is so oppressive.
After 30 days we wera able to grow a decent sized stalk. Not nearly as tall as one would see in a vegetable garden but growing at a decent rate.  It is sad but it was fun while it lasted. Truthfully I think the girls were the most impressed with the sprouting stage and who can blame them?

I am going to look into way to have improved our success. We may have to try again!

My Suggestion:

Try this at home!
Get a sprouting tray and just sprout beans.
Or even sprout the seeds in a pie tin like my step-mother did as a child.
The sprouting stage can be done indoors.
{an appealing alternative if you live in a desert climate}

Be on the lookout for our next attempt at growing Green Beans.
For now it's back to the drawing board!

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Grow them inside, next to a window and away from a vent. I grew up in Arizona, things CAN grow here, you just have to do it inside or under a carport. Never water between 11 and 4. I learned that the hard way when I gave my turtle "direct" sunlight to help his shell harden and cooked him instead. At least it's just plants

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