Rain Forests: Loss of Nutrients in the Soil (page 2)

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Author: Janice VanCleave

More Fun with Soil!

You can grow some plants for a time in infertile soil (soil lacking nutrients). If you plant a carrot top in sand, for example, food stored in the plant will be used to form leaves. Once the leaves are formed, they will produce food by photosynthesis (process by which plants use chlorophyll and light energy, generally sunlight, to manufacture food from water and carbon dioxide, a gas in the air).

Start by filling a small flowerpot or large paper cup about three-fourths full with clean sand, such as from an aquarium. Select a carrot with stems (part of a plant that support the leaves and flowers and transports nutrients) and leaves. The shorter the stems the better. Ask an adult to cut off ½ inch (1.25 cm) of the carrot's top. Place the cut end of the carrot's top on the surface of the sand. Push the top about ¼ inch (0.63 cm) below the surface of the sand. Use a spray bottle to spray the surface of the sand to moisten it, but do not make it dripping wet. Check the surface of the soil periodically and add water as necessary to keep it moist. Place the cup near a window with direct sunlight. Watch the top of the vegetable grow. Determine how long your plant will grow in the infertile sand. You may wish to try growing different vegetable tops, such as celery or red beets.

Rain Forest Soil

Book List

  • Dietl, Ulla. The Plant-and-Grow Project Book. New York: Sterling Publishing, 1995. Ideas for using soil and other mediums for growing different kinds of plants.
  • VanCleave, Janice. Ecology for Every Kid. New York: Wiley, 1996. Fun, simple ecology experiments, including information about soil and soil management.
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