At one time in my life, the word roots meant where you came from or what your ancestry happened to be. This was probably driven by that famous movie starring LaVar Burton as Kunte Kinte in Roots. Yes, I’m old enough to have watched that when it was released on television the first time! It was 1977.
Roots also meant, staying somewhere or getting settled, as in where are you going to “put down your roots?” This interpretation of the saying began to have more meaning as I went away to college, moved to another city, moved out of state with my husband, moved back to the area where we grew up, and finally moved out of state again, to an entirely new region of the country. We’ve been in the mid-west 18 years, next month! I’d say we put our roots down.
But, as I’ve aged and despite being interested in ancestry and being settled, the word roots has come to mean something more biological. Roots. Plant roots. Bulb roots, Tree roots. In 2004, after completing master gardener training, I founded a garden club for chldren at our local elementary school. Soon, I found myself finding ways to show and explain plant roots to children. One of the earliest lessons I taught ws on forcing paperwhite bulbs – this was back in December of 2004! I was as green as my students!
But, what I found about bulb roots was fascinating.
Roots are first!
The first thing to come out of bulbs are the roots! They act as the plant’s anchor (literally, putting the roots down). Roots also act as the plant’s mouth, sucking up water and nutrients to help nourish the bulb and help it to grow. Water is a necessary ingredient in the chemical reaction of photosynthesis! The sun cannot turn the plant green all by itself!
Roots are strong!
Once the paperwhite bulbs, which is the type we used for those first experiments, got going, the roots would lift the bulb right up out of the pot if it was too shallow or not planted in dirt. We planted in clear plastic glasses with some vermiculite to help drainage and we were soon able to see those bulbs standing right up on their roots! Like stilts! It was really cool! I’ve used some form of this lesson for 10 out of the 12 years of garden club. My students know a lot about roots. Maybe not theirs, but the roots of the plants they grow.
Roots. They mean lots of things. They connect us, grow us, and nourish us (as well as our plants) in many ways.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt: Roots