Experiment 8 - Return of the instant garden
I am pleased to announce that Garden Science’s biggest and best experiment to date - the instant garden - will return this spring for its second season.
Wait… it gets better.
Garden Science gets THE WHOLE BOX this time! There is no lack of ideas (or seeds) to fill it with, either.
What’s in store this time around? There’s going to be a couple of second generation instant garden classics coming back for sure. I’ll also be planting the really old gourd seeds and crossing my fingers. Additionally, I’m looking into trading my cow in exchange for some more magic beans so that I can try a reboot of Experiment 11. That last part may or may not happen, but I’m hopeful.
Holiday Goodies - Sprouter Kit (Part 2)
I’ll admit it… Part 1 of this series was a little dry. The sprouter kit is an excellent thing, but that post basically amounted to a bunch of pictures of water and plastic and there’s nothing all too interesting about that. Don’t worry though - this post will have actual sprouts in it.
It’s actually been a while since I took these pictures, but according to the dates on the photos it only took about 5 days to go from dry seeds to delicious sprouts.
For the sake of comparison, the above photo shows what the seeds looked like dry. After the events of post 1 took place, here’s what happened next:
While they were still growing we kept the tower stacked up and when they were done we harvested them and put them in the fridge… but not before making an awesome sandwich first. To those following along at home, I again recommend making sure you read the instructions in-depth and I advise being diligent about watering and emptying the water-catching tray.
Want your own sprouter kit? You can get one from Williams-Sonoma! I can confirm that it’s not only a fun thing to own, but it makes a great gift, too!
Holiday Goodies - Sprouter Kit (Part 1)
Next up: the Sprouter Kit from Williams Sonoma! If you want to buy your own after reading this (and I wouldn’t blame you), you can order them here on the company’s website. I am splitting this feature into two posts because it looks like it will be most logical to have one for the actual planting and another for the yields.
Above you can see the multi-tiered wonder of the sprouter kit with the first batch of sprouts already brewing (more on that later). I did not take any separate pictures of it still in the packaging, but you can see it that way in an earlier post. Each tower comes with instructions. If anybody wants to follow along with their own sprouter kit at home, definitely read the instructions first as they do a better job explaining the finer points of how to actually use the kit than I do.
The kit comes with a packet of alfalfa seeds to get you started. There aren’t enough seeds to last forever, but there are certainly enough to get a few batches made before venturing forth to find some more. I plan to track down a few miscellaneous other types of sprouting seeds so that I can use one of the instructions’ recommendations and plant a different type on each tier.
Each batch demands 1/2 tablespoon of seeds. Not every set of measuring spoons has a 1/2 tablespoon measurement on it but luckily tango-mango has got the whole kitchen gadget thing covered. I compared them this morning, and there is not a huge difference between a half tablespoon and a teaspoon. My guess is that you could get away with using either a teaspoon or a teaspoon + a quarter and be fine.
To start my first batch I attempted to evenly distribute my half tablespoon of seeds throughout the bottom of the first growing tier. The very bottom layer of the kit (opaque white) is just for catching excess water, and I placed the kit’s lid under that. The lid is not relevant to the growing process, so sitting underneath the kit seemed like a good place for it to live so that I didn’t lose it. Since I am not known to eat sprouts by the handful (yet) I only seeded one tier to start with and left the top ones empty.
The tiers do not snap into place and are held down by gravity. I did not know if I liked this feature at first, but it makes accessing the sprouts easy and I am now thankful that they do not interlock entirely.
After placing the seeds where I wanted them to go I re-stacked the rest of the tower (see photo 1) and added 2 cups of water to the top tier. It gradually trickled down one layer at a time until it found the seeds.
This isn’t a great photo, but above you can see water as it entered the chamber with the seeds in it in the left part of the picture. The water completely rearranged the seeds which made spreading them evenly a little pointless. Although they eventually settle back out when all the water drains, they tend to form little clumps and my own personal recommendation is to gently redistribute the wet seeds so that they cover more evenly again. When all the water has drained, the bottom white layer can be emptied. The instructions recommend watering “twice a day (or more if necessary)” and advise not to put the tower in direct sunlight. Again, if you want to buy this product I definitely recommend reading the full instructions. They are very helpful!
That’s it for part 1! Part 2 is coming up soon.
Before I completely sign off, I want to acknowledge that I know there are unanswered questions/comments in my inbox. I have not forgotten! I will try to start responding sometime in the near future.
Holiday Loot Part 1 - Eggling
As promised, I am now just literally “breaking the shell” and delving into the first of several holiday loot write-ups. Hopefully the delay between this and the next loot post will be a short one, but everyone should keep their fingers crossed anyway just for good luck.
The fabulous Eggling receives first honors! The pictures in this post are assembled from two different instances when I took the packaging apart, so if the scenery looks like it’s changing constantly it’s only because I’m switching between the photo shoots.
I had never heard of an “Eggling” before, but i can verify even without seeing how the result turns out that they’re pretty cool. It was a gift, but I found their website (eggling.com, appropriately enough) and they have a lot of neat things for sale there. You can grow various types of Egglings, but mine happens to be basil. This is good, because… well, I like basil.
Here are the goods. I have to say, as somebody who never has enough of those little terra cotta plant dishes, I really appreciate the fact that there was one included here.
I also appreciate the seed packet. I didn’t realize it until I read the instructions, but there are already seeds in the egg. That means that the ones in the packet are just a very cool, bonus courtesy. I am saving them for later, just in case.
The instructions seemed simple enough. There were text instructions, too, but the 4 step illustration pretty much sums it up.
It isn’t a real egg, but wow… it looks and feels exactly like one. It’s so smooth and pretty I hesitated before hitting it with the spoon.
The instructions warn against hitting the egg too hard, but it was surprisingly resilient. My dainty tapping had no effect so I gradually increased the force it up until the egg broke. That said, the egg isn’t made of steel so I would recommend heeding the warning on the instructions just in case.
After giving it some water, I placed it on the window sill in the kitchen where it will theoretically receive as much cloud-filtered sunlight as the Pacific Northwest can offer right now.
Spring is on its way, as evidenced by bulb plants starting to burst through the ground in the front yard. That should herald not only the arrival of new plants, but a wealth of new stuff to write about, too. Hooray! Stay tuned for Eggling updates and for more holiday loot!
Experiment 6 - The herbs of success
First of all, I want to thank everyone who has responded so far to the mystery of the magic beans. No definite answers yet, but I’m sure we will get to the bottom of what those beans say soon enough. If you’d like to help out, respond to my experiment 11 Q&A post!
In completely different news, the basil sticks planted way back in June have completely bounced back. The above photo shows plant 1 over a short span of time.
The above photo shows a comparison shot of plants 2 and 3 over the same range of time. Sometime prior to the first photo, the plants decided to merge into one super-herb. Superb?
Plant 4, the one planted in the instant garden, grew successfully but also much differently than the others. Its leaves are sharper and its stature slighter, almost as if it’s a different variety than the rest.
Plant 5, sadly, is no longer with us. The blazing sunlight was not kind to it, and it retired along with the lettuce before the summer ended.
At least one of the plants actually bloomed, too! Not bad progress, considering they looked like this when they were first planted:
The year’s first freeze is imminent, so at this time I would like to conclude this leg of experiment 6 by deeming it a great success. If anyone out there buys basil at the store and was curious whether or not they could regrow it and use more of its leaves later, I think this proves that the answer is a resounding “yes.” Just make sure not to plant them into direct sunlight.
Experiment 7 - Squirrels like avocados
There have been several late-breaking developments with the avocado plant.
At first I thought this happened on its own, but after monitoring the soil for several days I noticed strong evidence of squirrel activity. I have thus concluded that squirrels detached the avocado pit halves from the tree, but since the tree seems 100% fine I am not going to hold any grudges… for now.
Here’s what the newest crown of leaves looked like a couple of weeks(ish) ago.
Here’s what it looks like a bit more recently. Hooray!
In other news:
There’s a brand new experiment in the works, and the primary details on it should be up sometime in the next day or two. There are also several final experiment 8 related things that should be posting soon.
Experiment 9 and 6 - Potted pineapple
Until today, the pineapple plant really stunk. Seriously… it smelled terrible. It was also discoloring its water quickly enough that I feel obliged to change it every day. My Garden Science senses were tingling, and they told me to get the pineapple plant out of the water and put it into soil ASAP so that it didn’t rot through again.. Are my garden science senses always correct? No. I still try to follow them, though.
The pineapple plant has grown a decent set of roots, but I would have still probably waited a little longer before potting it if the smelly warning signs hadn’t appeared.
I obtained a lovely salmon-colored pot at Dollar Tree a while back that seemed perfect for this project. It’s a pretty weird color, but the pineapple is a pretty weird plant, too. They create a weird harmony together.
The pineapple in this state reminds me of one of those small turnips you pull up in Super Mario 2.
The pineapple looked right at home in its new pot. I can’t help but feel like maybe my Garden Science senses were correct this time.
10/08/2012 Edit - “smelledterrible” is not actually one word.