Based on a request from the Preservation Alliance, we attempted to grow cattails in our greenhouse and transplant them at the reservoir. Cattails were once plentiful there, but have slowly disappeared. We eagerly planted our seeds and waited...and waited and waited. Nothing!
For our second attempt, we altered the conditions a little and experimented with different variables. We hypothesized that the greenhouse was too cold at night, so we moved the cattails to Aquaculture Room #2 and installed grow lights that could stay on for exteded time. Out of 500 seeds, only 4 germinated.
On to round 3 of cattail propagation. We installed a thermometer in Aquaculture Room #2 and realized that the room is just too cold for getting our seeds to sprout! We decided to place clear plastic wrap over the remaining seeds in an attempt to raise the temperature and help them germinate. Finally...success!
Based on trial and error, hopefully we now have the correct set-up to grow cattails from seed. After cold stratification for a few days, our seed cups will be placed in a partially water filled plastic container with two overhead full spectrum bulbs. We will keep the containers in our science room which maintains a constant room temperature of 70 degrees. We installed a thermometer within the containers and hope that having the lights on for 24 hours heats the seed cups to 75 degrees.
Challenger Chinampas...the Floating Gardens of Jersey City
After team research and consulting with Vinny and Steven from the Reservoir Alliance, we learned that the presence of the invasive phragmites resulted in a decrease and eventual elimination of cattails from the reservoir. After achieving our goal of raising cattails from seeds, we searched for places on site to reintroduce but each potential location was LOADED with phragmites. If planted in the same location as the mature and aggressive phragmites our "babies" would not have a chance. We were faced with once again, another challenge.
A brainstorming session of potential planting options was highlighted by the excitement of Sophia when she stated, "What about what we're learning in social studies with the Aztecs?" Team members quickly connected with Sophia and realized that she was referring to the Aztec floating garden, or chinampa! With that, team members researched floating garden designs and added new features to create the exclusive, "28 Chinampa!"
On 2/1/12, we embarked on bringing our design to life. We even created two calculated 1/8 scale models of our chinampas to experiment with buoyancy and structure strength. We plan on testing our chinampas at the reservoir when the weather warms and modify our structure based on the results. We are confident that our innovative solution will result in providing the cattails with the means of naturally reproducing at the reservoir