Seed Starting Challenge

This project compares how the quantity of vermicast can affect plants started from seed. I decided to give this a try with “Cherry Belle” radish seeds. I chose radish seeds as they tend to germinate quickly.

The Challenge

This focus of the challenge is to see how the same plant started from seed will do in with seed starting mix and various quantities of vermicast. I decided to go with the following quantity of vermicast in the cups:

  • 0 – this will be the control – just seed starting mix
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons

The Materials

  • Solo cups
  • Seed starting mix – Jiffy brand comprised of peat moss, coconut coir, and vermiculite
  • Vermicast
  • Radish seeds – 4 per cup

The Set Up

I used solo cups for this experiment as they hold moisture better than peat pots. The cups were located by a window that receives ample sunlight for 5 hours each day. The cups were watered well and additional water will be added when required. I chose Radish seeds as they tend to germinate quickly. The experiment is set up indoors to control other types of factors such as predators (rabbits) and other types of pests.

Each photo below was taken with the cups in the following order:

  • Far Left cup – no vermicast just seed starting mix
  • Middle Left cup – 1 tablespoon of vermicast and seed starting mix
  • Middle Right cup – 2 tablespoons of vermicast and seed starting mix
  • Far Right cup – 3 tablespoons of vermicast and seed starting mix

The cup on the far left has NO vermicast and each cup to the right has an increasing amount. The cup on the far right has 3 tablespoons of vermicast.

Day 3

By the third day, all 4 seeds in each cup were growing. Although very early, the cup with the most vermicast (far right) has put on the most growth.

Day 7

At the end of the first week, it is clear that the cup with the most vermicast is doing much better than the cup without any vermicast. The two cups in the middle are also showing better growth than the cup without vermicast.

Day 14

The above image was taken at the two week mark. The cups with the vermicast are showing more growth with each seedling. The cup on the left (no vermicast) has one seedling doing well but the others are small and lagging behind.

Day 24

The two photos above show the seeds in the third week. The side view shows that the cups with the vermicast are doing far better than the cup without. The top view really shows the difference in biomass.

Final Thoughts

The photos above are quite clear. The cups with the vermicast clearly did much better throughout the experiment. It also shows that even 1 tablespoon of vermicast (second from left in all photos), can greatly impact plant growth. So a little can go a long way.

The cup with the 3 tablespoons of vermicast (far right in all photos) put on the most growth compared to the others. However, the other cups with 1 and 2 tablespoons caught up in week 3. I’m not sure if this is due to the size of the cup or the size of the radish plant in general. Since there are four plants in each cup, the root might be getting crowded. Either way I think the photos tell the story that the addition of vermicast greatly improves a plant’s ability to grow.

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