Kwolz's Adventures in Saving the World

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -Albert Einstein

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Let There Be Life!

Posted by kevinwolz on April 8, 2010

Future Fibonacci Fun

My seedlings have sprouted! The first few actually popped through on Tuesday night, only two days after planting. Since then, almost all of the rest have joined. What a sense of accomplishment and pride I felt after seeing that first sprout! No academic activity has yet created that same rush for me. And yet, I didn’t even do anything: I put some dirt in a cup and dropped in a few seeds…

But it really is much more than that. By sowing those few seeds and shifting part of my food resources to my own local and sustainable source, I reduced carbon emissions from food miles and fossil fuel-based fertilizers, I decreased nitrate pollution, I decreased pesticide use and pollution, and I increased the nutrition and taste of my food!

Those are some real accomplishments. Just imagine if everyone would do the same.

Okay, enough ranting. Now for some quick biology that has been immediately relevant while starting my seeds so far:

Obvious enough? That's only one day!

1) Phototropism – This is the process by which a plant grows towards a light source. It’s pretty simple: plants need light to live, so they have evolved mechanisms to maximize their exposure. Here’s where it gets good, though: the mechanism is wonderfully simple! Plants have hormones just like us. One of these hormones, auxin, is more or less parallel to our human growth hormone (HGH). Auxin is present throughout the plant and mainly stimulates primary plant growth. However, auxin is easily broken down by light, so the side of the plant exposed to more sunlight contains less auxin and therefore grows less than the “dark” side. This uneven growth causes the plant to “bend” towards the light! While this is extremely cool, I don’t want to grow hunchback Brassicas. To prevent this, I will have to turn my seedlings 180 degrees everyday.

Goodbye chlorophyll.

2) Etiolation – This is the process by which a plant looses its color due to lack of light exposure. You’ve all probably seen this before when moving something that you have set on your lawn for a few days: the grass turn a pale yellow/white. Why has this been significant for me? Weeding! The soil I’m using is not a sterilized bag mix, but is directly off a farm. Consequently, there was a good deal of weed seeds already present and sprouting when I placed the soil in my containers. Those already sprouted weeds (mostly Lamb’s Quarters) were then mixed all through the soil (loosing exposure to light). Now, as these tiny weeds reemerge, they are solid white with red leaves. This makes them very easy to distinguish from my seedlings!

Whoo! Fun biology! Here’s your homework assignment: How do those weeds find their way back to the surface after being mixed into the soil anyway??

On a side note, I have finally finished Dave Jacke’s Edible Forest Gardens and have moved on to Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution. This is going to be a big one. Unfortunately, I’m only reading a few pages a night before I pass out, but I’ll get there.


3 Responses to “Let There Be Life!”

  1. Joan said

    Do weeds have auxin, too?


    • kwolz said

      All plants do! Actually, if you click on the picture of the leaning plants and then click to zoom in on the middle container, you can see the weeds bending too.

  2. Roger said

    I read Fukuoka’s book many many years ago and found it a tough read but interesting. Rog

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