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 Post subject: Science Fair
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 1:16 pm 
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Dear Mr. Garrett,

My name is Tedi Fain, I am a 7 grader at Liberty Christian School in Denton, Texas. I am doing a science fair project on whether chemical or organic fertilizer works better on growing plants from seeds. I was hoping that you could help me with this project and would allow me to us you as one of my resources.

P.S. If anyone has good sites for resources i would love to know about them!! :shock:


thank you,

Tedi :)

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Dan


Last edited by dwfain on Mon Sep 13, 2004 7:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Help with Project
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 3:43 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TX
Tedi -
We would be happy to help you in any way we can. Just let us know what you need. My two daughters did plant experiments in school for the science fair, and one of them won First Place!
Kathe


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2004 11:48 pm 
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Hi Tedi,
I've been judging botany science fair projects since 1981 so I've seen a few like yours. The sad fact is that actually determining which is "better" requires sophisticated testing. If your school can pay for the tests, you have a chance, but otherwise you might solicit other ideas for organic oriented science projects. If you want to do the testing, contact K Chandler at Texas Plant and Soil Labs. Maybe he'll give you a break on the cost of his testing.

Be sure your soils are identical starting out the project. I would suggest using Wal-Mart potting medium as a start. Leave it alone for the chemical fertilizer and amend it with compost for the organic. Then on the composted soil, you will use the organic fertilizer.

You'll need to grow at least 30 plants in chemicals and the same number in organic. Thirty is the minimum to prove to the judges that you took the project seriously. Thirty is also the minimum number to get any kind of good statistics for the differences between the two fertilizers.

Now having said all that, here's a project you can do without testing. Grow a commercial plant, like liriope, in both organic and Osmocote fertilizers. Liriope can be planted in huge flats (500 or more per flat) and photographed as the plants grow. Then at the end you could pull the plants out and measure plant and root development for your project. This would be a great project and would not involve any plant laboratory testing. Just the mass and visual differences should be obvious enough to detect the differences. You could measure four things: root mass development, top mass development, percentage of living plants, and commercial value of the plants divided by input costs. (HINT: remember the better looking plants should sell for more than the less developed/uglier plants)

If any of this doesn't make sense, it's late and I'm not sure even I understand what I'm saying :oops:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:34 pm 
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Ms. Kitchens thank you very much for your reply. One of the things I need for the fair is an interview. Would it be possible to do an interview with Dr. Garrett or you or someone you suggest? We could do it by email so I would not use too much of someone's time.

Also I need to use 2 internet sources. Can you recommend 2 other sites that have good organic information?

Thank you so much.

Tedi

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 Post subject: Science Fair -- Mr. Hall
PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 5:37 pm 
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Mr. Hall thank you very much for your suggestions. I think I will try growing the liriope as you suggested. Is liriope something that is easy to find. My dad and me have never heard of it.

Thanks,

Tedi

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 Post subject: Science Experiment
PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 11:52 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TX
Tedi - KEY QUESTION: When does this experiment start and when will it be completed? That will be important to the way you go about it. So let us know so we can give you the right advice! Also, you said growing plants FROM SEEDS, right? Liriope is commonly known as monkey grass. It's the kind with the stems of purple flowers. Just go to any store with a plant section and ask for it. However, I don't know of too many places you can buy the seeds. Your neighbors might have them if their monkey grass has dropped seeds.

Mr. Hall is a great guy and he gives good advice, but he is also a high-level (rocket - yes, REALLY) scientist and he gets a little technical sometimes. LOVE YA DAVE! :wink: So let me offer some less complicated advice so you have some options. According to my high school science teacher sister, using 5 to 10 plants for each method should do just fine at your 7th grade level. There are several plants that grow well from seeds and we can recommend different types but we first need to know how much time you have before the science fair. Radishes grow very quickly from seed, and so do pinto beans, for instance...

This advice will work no matter what you grow: Try to use a potting soil that doesn't have any fertilizer in it to start with. Read the back label of the bags in the store to see. Most potting soils have a fertilizer of some kind in them. If that's hard to do, you can just buy a potting soil with a chemical fertilizer in it like Miracle-gro and then follow the instructions using the Miracle-Gro fertilizer for your chemically grown plants. For an organic potting soil you can use a combination of things like compost, cornmeal, lava sand and green sand, or there are two or three brands available in organic stores around Denton. Schultz makes one that you can buy at Lowe's.

Put the plants in individual containers so that you can tell later how each of them did during the experiment. Measuring how tall or broad they grew, how much their roots grew, how many of the original plants are still alive at the end of the experiment and how much money you spent on each set, organic and chemical, are good things to measure. Also make sure they get the same amount of water and sun or light exposure as that makes a difference in most plants. Water them daily for the first week or so and then regularly but not too often. Few plants like to be wet all the time.

When you plant the ones on which you will use organic fertilizer, you might use liquid seaweed as a root activator and fertilizer. Generally you will want to soak the seeds in seaweed overnight before you plant them. You can buy a bottle of liquid seaweed for about $6.00. One of the fun things about organic fertilizers is that there are many kinds, and they have interesting smells and natural colors! Seaweed smells like dirt or rock. Medina Soil Activator smells like Sprite! When you spray molasses on your lawn, it smells like a sugar cookie...and stuff like that. There aren't any organic fertilizers that are blue or bright green or yellow and none of them smells like plastic.

Yes, I will be happy to give you an interview or help you find another person like Mr. Beck or Mr. Garrett (if he's not too busy), or someone else. I know many people who work in organics and will help you find the ones you want to talk with. I know a lady who raises herbs organically, and organic farmers and ranchers, so you tell me who you want to interview and I'll help you get in touch with them.

There are lots and lots of websites you can look at. Try these:
www.malcolmbeck.com - Lots of good articles but maybe a little advanced.
www.kidsregen.org - Which also has some good links to other information. It's geared toward younger kids but it's useful and helpful to a beginner.
www.organicgardening.com - Take a few minutes to look around this one.

I know it's hard to learn about this. That's why all these forums and websites exist. Mr. Garrett's books on gardening are really helpful. I'd suggest you have your dad get one for you or check at the library for them. Rodale company makes some good ones too. Do a search on some search engines for "organic gardening" - AOL gave me over 46,000 of them!

Let us know how we can help more. That should get you started.
Kathe


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2004 8:52 pm 
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Ms. Kitchens thank you so much for the great advice and all the help. I would very much like to interview you for my project. Our science fair is in Janruary. We do not have the date yet of when our project is due. I need to be careful about the cost for everything though. My dad is in the National Guard and is being deployed to Iraq. I really appreciate all your help. I will try not to burden you too much because I know you must be very busy.

Tedi

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Dan


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 Post subject: Don't worry about cost
PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 9:47 am 
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Location: McKinney,TEXAS
Tedi-
I've read your posts and I'm very interested in seeing you succeed on this project and am willing to help.
I know Kathe quite well and you couldn't have connected with a better person. Not only is she good at talking about organics, SHE CAN DO IT!
Here's what I can do. I will send you $25.00 in the mail to get started on this project. That should be more than enough to buy some potting soil, seeds, a watering can, plants, fertilizer, etc. Just follow Kathy's advice, I'm sure she can tell you what to buy.
PM me your address and I will get a check in the mail the next day.
Please tell your Dad thank-you for all that he is doing. I was drafted many years ago and had to go into the Army. When I got out after two years I still had to go to Army camp every summer for two weeks. At that time we just had a baby and my son was only 1 week old. Although Army camp was only two weeks long, I missed him very badly.
Your Dads absence will be tough for both of you, I wish for the best.
Tony M


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 Post subject: Help and Blessings
PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 10:08 am 
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Location: Dallas,TX
Tedi-
I am going to send you a private message with my phone number so you can call me. Don't worry about asking me questions or for help. I'm happy to do what I can do help you.

Now I would like for you to do something for me. Give your dad a big hug, and tell him that it's from my family to thank him for his courage and for protecting us. We'll be praying for him and for you and your family.

Tony is a great guy. I'm proud that he's my friend and I'm proud of him for stepping in to offer help. I'll have to introduce you to him. He has a great farm I'll be we could make a field trip to sometime if you're interested.

Okay, Tedi. Now that we know how much time you have we can get to work. I'll be in touch. :D How about we post our progress on the forum so our friends can share the fun?
Kathe


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2004 11:56 pm 
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Tedi, you're getting great suggestions from these folks. Take them up on the interviews. If you can get an interview with Malcolm Beck, your life will change forever. He's a great guy and the mentor for all of us here including Howard Garett.

If you get to talk to Mr Beck, ask him about lirope and organic soil amendments. He has pictures of a wholesale grower down here who tried it.

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 Post subject: No Word
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 12:03 am 
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Just thought I'd post a followup to this post. I've never heard from Tedi.
:cry:
Kathe


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 2:39 pm 
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Good stuff guys. Thanks for all the help for Tedi. As a fall back, the experiment Logan did in the 8th grade was a very simple way of showing the power of some organic amendments. She grew garlic from bulbs in (1)potting soil, (2) potting soil with compost added and (3) potting soil, compost and lava sand.

There's a picture of the final results in the new book. I will also put it on the web site as soon as possible.

There's a trap door to watch for in the experiment being considered. Synthetic fertilizer will appear to beat organic fertilizer because the top will be fast with the artifical stuff. Tedi, if you go this route be sure to inspect and evaluate the roots as well as the top growth. Good luck Tedi.
Howard


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 10:52 am 
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Location: Tyler, Texas
Hi Tedi,
I would be happy to help and if you need any worm compost or liquid organic fertilizer, I would be happy to supply it to you for FREE! Just let me know what you are doing and what you might need. You can check out my web site for information on our products and get some ideas. I am also available for an interview. Whatever you need! My daughter also did a science project like this in High School, she just graduated from A&M, majored in AG, minored in Equine Management.
Good Luck,
Brad

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We manufacture and sell Organic Fertilizer Products. We specalize in Hay and Grazing Pastures. We also grow and sell Oranically Grown Horse Quality Coastal and Clover/ Coastal Hay. 903 858-2030
www.watsonranchorganic.com


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