F2S: MVHS Greenhouse Project Vertical & Project Hypothesis Testing!
This school year has been so different now that Mrs. Grinstead and Mrs. Moore retired and we no longer work with their students. Simultaneously this season we have worked much more on the local food procurement end of things with our Food Service Manager, providing produce.
While we took this break in garden curricula, we concentrated more on some structural changes, mostly what I call "Project Vertical," as we expand our growing capacity by increasing our use of the vertical space in the greenhouse. Last Friday we had a high school student working with us for the morning and he put his light construction skills to work hanging window boxes on the back wall of the greenhouse, which felt like a huge leap forward (or up)!
And we cranked out several hanging baskets that we can hang from the cross bar supports, (we planted onions, because we're also trying container methods for root veggies after losing two seasons' worth of them to varmints down at the Community Roots site.) Bonus: he also fixed that pesky door windbreak/catch that had plagued us for the past two years!
We had a set of wire shelves donated that turned out to be the perfect size for our
microgreen trays, and we were able to use those to initiate another project that created some ways to involve the greenhouse back into classrooms. That project I call "hypothesis testing," which is allowing for Mr. Patterson's classes and Science Club to work in the greenhouse once every week to two weeks, collecting data to empirically test gardening ideas we find on social media. I love this project! The test we have now is evaluating a self watering method I saw on Pinterest where the cute video depicted small space indoor gardens (apartment window sills, etc.) being watered perfectly using just a jug of water and twine (as a wick that draws the water from the jug to the soil). These videos always make these ideas look so easy and foolproof, so I wanted to check it out.
We started simply with just four trays of microgreens and two main hypothesis:
gravity -> moisture rate of flow
twine material -> moisture rate of flow
Gravity is being tested in two ways, first we placed our jugs of water below our microgreen trays (as shown in the Pinterest video; next week we will set up 4 more trays with the jugs being on the top shelf, above the trays). Secondly, we have the 4 flats dispersed evenly across two shelf heights, so 2 are closer to the jugs, with shorter lengths of twine (and less distance for the water to travel between jug and soil.
The twin material is currently a simple comparison between a natural (store purchased burlap) and synthetic fiber (bale twine).
We marked a fill line on the jugs and the students can simply come in and measure the line height changes to determine moisture flow.
So much science fun! Stay tuned and email me if you are interested in working on these projects or if you or someone you know has a class that might enjoy working in the MVHS F2S greenhouse or do some simple garden hypothesis testing.
Or let us know if you see one of those cute gardening videos and want an idea tested!
Peace, love & gardening,