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EcoKids Report #17

Germination Lights & Flats March 6, 1999 


March 6, we met at the GED room at the Dream Center. During the week I moved the theater flats and the germinating seeds to this location about six blocks away. We glued thin plywood triangles on the backsides of all the corners. This gives the flats the strength required to move them many times for the twelve shows and rehearsals. I hope they hold up.

During the week a light source for our young plants was assembled. Five, four foot, two tube fluorescent fixtures were screwed to a four by five foot piece of 3/4 inch plywood. This will be the light source for our young plants.

Wachter Electric Company donated two used fixtures, five electronic ballasts and ten T-8 fluorescent tubes. The electronic ballasts and the T-8 tubes will save considerable energy.

Volunteer Eric Thut of Viron, an energy consulting firm, helps businesses save thousands of dollars by installing electronic ballasts and T-8 fluorescent tubes in existing fixtures. 

At our meeting, the EcoKids formed four teams. Each team was given a fluorescent lighting fixture, an electronic ballast and two, T-8 tubes. They read the wiring diagram and figured out how to replace the ballasts. When they were finished, we inspected their work for proper wiring. All teams did it correctly. I am very pleased with their solving this wiring problem with such ease. 

The lighting system was suspended over the plant trays on one gallon paint cans. As the plants grow the lights will be raised by placing 3/4 inch boards on top of the paint cans. The lights must be placed very close to the plants to keep them from growing tall and spindly with weak stems. 

We thinned out some of the plants in the containers. Instead of planting two or three seeds in each cell of the planting flat, a couple of the kids planted 25 or more. This required extra time to carefully separate out and remove the extra plants without damaging the root system of the one plant that was left.

Ellie went above and beyond the call of duty, staying to thin plants for an hour after the kids left. 

Thanks to volunteers Claire Kucinic and Ellie Dawson. 


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