Students Testing Garden Soil to Discover Reason for Two Struggling Crops

Mrs. Huetter’s eighth grade science class spent time in the Victory Garden recently, testing the soil for various elements that may help to reveal why some crops are struggling.
Mr. Adam, who leads garden projects, could tell the Salsa Garden and the ABC and Shape Garden were struggling since there was either nothing or very little growing in each of them. He said that even though all of the garden soil is compost from the last two years, the soil is not as nutrient rich as he would like it to be. In addition, Mr. Adam added that the content of the ground, dirt and compost can become too dense and takes a bit longer for the plants to push through and spread the roots.
This led students to test the soil of these two sections of the gardens for PH, nitrate, potassium and phosphorus.

It happened that Mrs. Huetter was introducing the periodic table to her students. Mr. Adam bought two test kits that test all of the basic elements above since they are the most prevalent elements found in soil that effect growth.

These are also elements that plants and humans use in basic building blocks for everyday function. According to Mr. Adam, the functions include:

* Potassium in plants regulate the fluid usage. In humans, it controls muscle development and heart rhythm.

* Nitrogen in plants strengthens root systems. In humans, it is essential in protein components and is 78% of the air we breathe.

* Phosphorus in plants help photosynthesis and also stores and moves energy. For humans, calcium cannot do its job without it, and it regulates our fluid levels and helps absorb Vitamin B.

 The findings? Phosphorus and nitrogen levels were low, and potassium levels were high. Mrs. Huetter said that nitrogen is good for the grass as well as leafy vegetation; phosphorus is needed for root growth and root vegetables; and potassium is important for the development of flowers and shrubs, and it also makes plants resistant to disease.
These findings from testing the soil helped students brainstorm reasons as to why these two crops are struggling. Students also made observations and gave possible solutions that can help these sections of the garden thrive.

Students came to the conclusion that in order for these two sections of the garden to be healthy, nitrogen and phosphorus need to be added to the soil. The class calculated the amounts and gave Mr. Adam suggestions of how much of each element to add based on the calculations.

Mr. Adam said that with the class’ findings, they were able to optimize the soil that they have by adding nutrients that get used up by the plants. He also said that when planting into the ground, those planting will have to aerate on a regular basis and as much as possible.

This is very impressive, eighth grade students and Mrs. Huetter! Thank you for making this discovery in order to help the Victory Garden thrive. We definitely can see the Champion behavior and teamwork in each of you.