December 29, 2011

Germination trials or an overview of Experiment Number One

The first thing we are going to be looking at are seed germination rates in different low tunnel treatments within the greenhouse.  The goal is to create a low tunnel that will significantly decrease the time it takes for seeds to germinate.  In cold weather seed germination can sometimes be a limiting factor in plant growth.  For example, lettuce will germinate best around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but will happily grow at much lower temperatures.

Here's an overview of what is going to happen:

The six low tunnel treatments
  1. Clear plastic - the thick stuff used to cover greenhouses
  2. White plastic 
  3. Clear plastic with holes - a light weight plastic with holes that allow for ventilation
  4. Floating row cover - often called 'remay' on farms
  5. Heat mats - to provide bottom soil heat
  6. Control - just plants in the greenhouse
The three varieties of greens
Why only these three greens?  To properly conduct a Scientific Experiment there have to be lots of replications.  For instance, if we do six replications of 24 plants per treatment that ends up being almost 2000 seedlings to plant and count for each species of green.  To keep the counting low-ish we picked three greens that represent a range of germination from fast to slow.

An abridged protocol
  1. Finish building the low tunnels.  This involves drilling into metal using tech screws.  I am not good at this and have been putting it off.
  2. Plant a lot of seeds.  They haven't arrived yet which is why I can put off the drilling.
  3. Count the number of seeds that have germinated every day for ten days.  
That's it!  I'll be writing about the process and results as they unfold with plenty of pictures.

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