Cornerstone Elementary learns seed starting!

With the help of Sharona Byrnes, I assisted two classes of 5th grader volunteers in putting together a dozen flats for seed starting yesterday! Then we took the trays to the classrooms to plant winter crops. The kids had so much fun that they wanted to know if I were coming back every week. Here’s a poem I wrote to summarize the day’s learning experience:

We planted seeds to watch them sprout

The Master Gardener helped us out.

We started with seed starting soil and “flats”

And capillary action mats.


Because water molecules have an attraction

To each other, they cause capillary action.


So taking advantage of this natural phenomenon,

We placed wicking mats with the notch on

The side opposite the one where the mat flopped over

Into the tray below with the water.


We stirred seed starting soil with cottonseed meal

Then poured lots of water into the bucket to feel

The sponge-like clumps when kneaded well:

A mixture which filled each of 40 cells.


Placing one seed in each space with labels announcing

What veggies inside would soon be bouncing

Out of their seed coats, declaring their survival

And Cornerstone School Garden’s arrival!


How far the seed needs to go under

The blanket of soil is any wonder

Follow this rule and you can not miss:

How thick is the seed? The depth is this.


We learned some cool things, like how to promote

A parsley seed to burst its seed coat

With boiling water, then a soak overnight

To scarify and set it right.


We wanted to plant watermelons and such

We could not wait; we like them so much

But learned that with seed starting, the plan to uphold

Was to plant hot crops in hot weather, cold ones in cold.


So we planted our broccoli, Swiss chard, and kale

Our lettuces, dill, sage, cilantro without fail.

We planted collards, cauliflower, lavender too.

Artichokes, cabbage, and broccoli rabe for you.


What I wanted to know, but never asked

What the heck is Swiss Chard, please tell me fast!

I need to learn how to cook this weird thing

With foods like these, what does my future bring?


Chamomile tea dilution keeps away fungus

Called “damping off” which lives among us

And kills my sprouts, doing me no favor

Wherefore then I can’t taste the fruits of my labor.


There’s so much to know; so much more to learn

I can’t wait, so please Master Gardener, return!

I want to check the greenhouse and find out

What happened in my flat; did my sprouts sprout?

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