Posts tagged ‘plants’

On Raspberries and “Failure”

I have a black thumb. Although I like planting things, maintaining the order in the garden, and harvesting the strawberries the squirrels haven’t eaten, I’m just not very good at remembering which things need pruning (and when), the types of soil and light that are best, and the over-wintering care, despite a large 3-ring binder of notes.

The over-zealous raspberry bush, which was only a 2-leaf stick last fall, is now a massive, creeping bundle of canes. So, when I pulled out some of the running shoots, I figured we could try to grow them indoors in a cup of water. Z (age 3.5) was pretty stoked to try an experiment with plants! I poked about 7 shoots through some plastic wrap (for vertical support), and left a hole open for watering.

The cup sat undisturbed on the window ledge. I figured that a couple shoots would sprout roots, and then Z and I could then plant them somewhere else in the garden. He was pretty excited for the first couple of days, but then quickly lost interest as the plants did virtually nothing. Imagine our surprise when about three weeks later, they looked like this:

Apparently, growing raspberry plants in this manner doesn’t work. Z said that our experiment failed. Also, he thought the filmy, moldy stems were pretty gross (okay, he’s right on that part).

But failure is a tricky word. For both Z and my students, I try to instill the idea that the experiment may not have worked in the way expected, but that’s not where to stop: there is still some kind of result to learn from. Clearly, raspberry plants aren’t propagated in the manner I used. Instead, I’d probably do much better by reading any outside information before trying again. Similarly, unexpected lab results in school shouldn’t be regarded as failures, but a need to explain how the results came to be. Clearly, from skimming those links about growing plant cuttings, I did just about everything wrong, starting with not-cutting the stalks.

It was strangely difficult to talk to a 3-year-old about something that he didn’t expect. The growing raspberry plants of his visions didn’t appear, and he dismissed my attempts to change his words of “failure” to “yay growing mold”. I guess mold isn’t on his success list.