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Wife's Biology Experiment - Germinations in different mixes

Posted by bencjedi 6 - Central Kentucky (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 16, 10 at 11:59

I'm helping me wife with a biology experiment for her class and jumped right in on it because I was very curious as well.

We made up 4 soil mixes for seed starting on 2/1/2010. We're germinating bush bean seeds in as identical conditions as possible and then noting the differences in germination and early growth.

Each mix consists of the same base materials with this ratio -
sifted Sphagnum pete moss:Vermiculite:Perlite:Fertilizer (4:2:1:1)

The 4 different mixes are as follows:

1) The control has an extra portion of pete. (unknown N-P-K)
2) Worm castings (unknown N-P-K)
3) Fish Fertilizer (5-1-1)
4) Standard 10-10-10

From Loris_Bio_Experiment-2010

I had to go on a business trip, so I missed getting photos of the first germination, but it was the worm castings that germinated first followed by the control 2 days later.

After the third day the fish fertilizer mix began to develop mold. No germination to date and at least 2 different molds have grown.. one green and another white fuzzy type. Looks like this right now:

From Loris_Bio_Experiment-2010

The 10-10-10 has yet to have any bean seeds sprout. It looks the same as day 1:

From Loris_Bio_Experiment-2010

11 days later the control VS the worm castings:

From Loris_Bio_Experiment-2010

15 days later the control VS the worm castings:

From Loris_Bio_Experiment-2010

Notice that the beans grown in the worm casting mix have produced taller plants with larger leaves and all 3 bean seeds sprouted faster there than in the control.

We can pretty much rule out any germination happening at all with the fish fertilizer and 10-10-10 mixes.

Just thought I would share our experiment so far.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wife's Biology Experiment - Germinations in different mixes

Nice experiment! We all hear a lot on GardenWeb about how these different items work or don't work, but it's nice to see it in action. =) Keep us updated.

- Steve


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RE: Wife's Biology Experiment - Germinations in different mixes

Am I reading this right that your mix is one eighth ferilizer? If so you probably killed your seeds and seedlings from fertilizer burn. Don't add any fertilizer until your seeds are sprouted and have their first set of true leaves, and then only sparingly. The worm castings didn't kill your plants because it is a very weak fertilizer.


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RE: Wife's Biology Experiment - Germinations in different mixes

  • Posted by bencjedi 6 - Central Kentucky (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 16, 10 at 17:33

californian you are missing the point of the experiment.. which is to germinate (or not) seeds from the get-go in a pre-mixed soil medium. The experiment shows strong fertilizers in the soil are not conducive to germination. It's a multi-tiered experiment that also is looking at the growth patterns for what does germinate. We're not trying to show the effect of fertilizer AFTER the seeds are germinated, but the effect BEFORE the seeds germinate and then closely watch the results. The fish fertilizer is 5-1-1 and nothing has germinated to date. Instead we got all that mold growth. The other aspect of this experiment is for observation notation in the project. I know what you are saying, but that's not the premise for this particular experiment. We could try reducing the amount of fish fertilizer and 10-10-10 used to see what amount allows germination and then note what kind of growth we see.


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