Sponges Make Seed Sprouting Seem Like Magic

comments (2) March 13th, 2017

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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Colorful sponges in holiday shapes offer a fun way to learn about sprouting seeds.Click To Enlarge

Colorful sponges in holiday shapes offer a fun way to learn about sprouting seeds.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

One of the simple lessons about gardening is that seeds are like magic. Each little pod holds everything it needs to sprout and become a seedling. Just add water and an amazing transformation begins.

The process of germination is complex; it's a combination of metabolism, respiration, enzyme activity, and RNA and protein synthesis. Most of the time this process takes place in seed starting mix or soil. But seeds can sprout and grow without soil, too.

This seed sprouting project is a fun way to show kids (of all ages) how seeds sprout and grow on top of a damp sponge. Because it's close to St. Patrick's Day, you might want to cut a green sponge into a shamrock and sprout clover seeds. But any spring holiday can be celebrated using different colored sponges, shapes and seeds.

For this project you'll need:

  • Sponge(s)
  • Marker
  • Seeds (clover, carrot, spinach, lettuce, radish or other fast-growing seeds)
  • Tray or shallow plate; a clear cover
  • Spray mister

Instructions

  1. Use a marker to draw any shape you'd like on the top of a sponge; use scissors to carefully cut out the design.
  2. Rinse the sponges in water; squeeze out excess water so they're damp.
  3. Place sponges on a tray; sprinkle seeds on top of each sponge. Use a chopstick, tweezers or other pointy object to place seeds into the sponge's holes.
  4. Use the spray mister to gently water seeds; place cover on top.
  5. Keep the seeds moist and don't let them dry out.

In a few days, the seeds will sprout and decorate the tops of the sponges. If you planted clover seeds be sure to check for any lucky four-leaf clovers!


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posted in: seeds, sprouting

Comments (2)

WesternGardener writes: Thanks for your question--I've used these sprouted sponges just for fun, but I guess you could snip the sprouts to eat (if the sponge didn't have any residue).

I wouldn't recommend planting the sponge to grow out the seeds (not enough seed to soil contact). If you could remove the seedlings, root and all, you might be able to plant them. But it's much easier to direct sow in the garden.

If you do any experimenting, please let me know how it turns out!

--Jodi
Posted: 12:39 pm on March 17th
rosehammond writes: I like the idea of starting seedlings with a damp sponge. What do you do with them after they sprout? Can I plant the entire sponge or pull the seedlings out to plant?
Posted: 1:00 pm on March 15th
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