Get Growing! Lesson 1

Root Vegetables


Today we talked about vegetables that grow underground - 'root vegetables' in the culinary sense. We identified and sorted them into categories based on botanical characteristics: bulbs, roots, tubers, and rhizomes. We observed their similarities and differences and discussed how they grow and fit into the meals we eat.

Activity: Forcing narcissus bulbs

To demonstrate how bulbs draw upon stored nutrients, we planted narcissus bulbs for growing indoors. The technique is called 'forcing' because we are tricking the bulbs into blooming even though the natural outdoor bloom time is still months away.

Important! Narcissus bulbs are not edible.

We put a layer of pebbles in a clear plastic cup.

Then we positioned a narcissus bulb in the center of the cup.

Next we added a few more pebbles around the bulb to help hold it in place.

We put the cup and bulb in a paper bag and stapled it so closed the pebbles wouldn't fall out on the trip home. There is also a note to parents stapled to the bag. If the note did not make it home with your child, email me and I'll send you a pdf.

Home Instructions:

Take the bulb cup out of the paper bag and adjust the bulb and pebbles if needed.

Add water when the level drops below the bottom of the bulb.

In a few weeks the bulb will flower. The blooms look like sprays of tiny yellow daffodils.

If the water stops smelling fresh, you can drain and rinse the gravel.

After the flowers fade you can compost the bulb or plant it in the garden.

Follow up questions:

Notice the roots growing through the pebbles. Why are strong roots important?

The green stem will get taller. You can measure the progress and chart it on a graph. What sort of things might make it grow faster or slower?

You may see the green stem bending towards the window. What happens if you turn the cup? Why do you think this happens?

What happens if you forget to add water and the cup dries out?

The narcissus flowers have a strong scent. What does it remind you of? Why do some flowers have strong scents? Do you like the scent?

Want to teach this lesson? - also read my post about planning and preparing the materials Lesson 1 Prep