Boiling Bean Seeds To Encourage Growth - Knowledgebase Question

Needham, MA
Question by kengustin
March 18, 2001
My son is doing a science project suggested at an internet site. The experiment involves planting bean seeds uncooked, cooked for 5 min. and 15 min. to see which seeds grow best. Can you help us to understand the why of this experiment. Why would cooked beans grow better than uncooked? Can you direct us to websites that would explain this?


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Answer from NGA
March 18, 2001

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Yours is an interesting experiment and here is a little background information so you can anticipate the results: a seed is a remarkable little package of potential life. Inside a viable seed is an embryo (baby plant), plus all of the food and energy it needs to produce a root, a shoot and a set of leaves. Once the leaves develop the process of photosynthesis begins, which is the conversion of sunlight into simple sugars to sustain the plant's growth. The ability to manufacture food from sunlight happens just as the seedling runs out of stored energy. Now, back to your experiment. Seeds germinate when all the necessary requirements are in place. These include moisture, oxygen, and favorable temperature. If you planted a seed in the ground it would have to soak up moisture before it could begin to germinate. If you first soaked the seeds for a few hours in tap water and then planted them, they would germinate a few days earlier. If you boiled the seeds, or subjected them to very hot temperatures, the baby plant inside would die and the seed would not send up a sprout or develop a root. Hope this answers all your questions!

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