Monday, May 28, 2012

Update: Scallions are less never-ending than promised

When I was a kid, I did a science experiment about growing plants. What I found is that you can take away dirt and light, but plants need water to survive. Simple, right? Not so much. 20 years later, my parents still have that hanging basket of ivy plants that we stuck together after the experiment was over. Even now, you can still tell which plants spent their time lacking soil, or light, or worse yet both. They are a little smaller, a little spindlier, a little yellower. The leaves are closer together on the one that was lacking both light and dirt.

After I posted about my scallions going slimy and shooting off their root bits, I was ruminating about that experiment. I owe a thank you to so many people for helping me learn as much about science as I have--and especially teaching me HOW to learn about science--but my mom is the one who stands out the most. We haven't always been on the same page, but she was awesome at helping to talk me through figuring out doing experiments with the scientific method and not just "doing it for me." No good deed goes unpunished though, and I'll warn you that when your kid wants to do a science experiment about how long it takes a variety of cereals to become soggy in milk--DON'T DO IT. Talk them out of it. My stomach still turns just thinking about it, and halfway through my mom had to do all the testing because I had left it too late to change topics and I couldn't put another spoonful of half-soggy cereal in my mouth.

My scallions were growing as fast as ever, but the slimy parts were getting slimier, and the more I pulled off that outer layer of now-slimy onion, the smaller and yellower they got. I know this may seem silly, but I believe that plants have feelings just like animals do (it's a big part of the reason I'm not vegetarian--I'm killing a living thing either way). I felt kind of bad, because I could tell that my scallions weren't happy and healthy living in a bowl of water with only whatever sunlight filtered in to them. Plus, you know, stanky. The kind of stink that I couldn't seem to just wash out anymore without soaking and scrubbing with soap and vinegar. Yuck.

So we planted them.



We had a glass vase/container around and threw the rocks in the bottom. This way I could SEE the water level to know if it needs more, and it looks like a nice little terrarium or something. Edible house plants FTW.
*TIP: I put a coffee filter between the rocks and the dirt, so that the dirt wouldn't filter down into the rocks. I figure the coffee filter will probably break down eventually, and I probably could have used fabric or cheesecloth, but I didn't have anything handy. So I'll figure out a better plan for when I need to re-plant.
In the meantime, the scallions are clearly happier. In one day, they're greener, hardier, and shooting up new stalks like they're going out of style.

I do like having the scallions and a few herbs at hand inside, so I think the long-term plan needs to be getting a set of wire shelves into the dining room where the rest of the houseplants are sitting in front of a window. Although that somewhat conflicts with the long-term plan of making the beds right by the patio into an herb garden with more yield. We could do both, I suppose. In the meantime, my scallions should be much happier. 


Oh, I almost forgot! The pepper plant that had broken off and was growing like gangbusters in the water with the scallions? I put it into its own little vase of water, and sprinkled a little compost in. Once the mulch settled out, it looks pretty cool. I still don't think it's going to do anything useful (since it seems to be refusing to root-out and I don't see it being strong enough to support any fruit growth). But it's been entertaining so far to see it continue growing like nothing's wrong.

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Have you been doing any household experiments lately? Or anything you did years ago/as a kid that you thought was silly at the time, but has come in handy in your adult life?

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