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Yuan-Yu Chang, Wei-Chia Su, I-Chun Tang, and Chun-Yen Chang

There is a growing body of literature that explores the benefits of school gardening for children, but few studies have been conducted in Taiwan. Even fewer studies have examined which factors influence the benefits that children derive from these activities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the benefits of school gardening for children in Taiwan and also identify the factors influencing these benefits. This study used qualitative research methods, which consisted of interviewing 43 elementary school students who had extensive experience with gardening, and used a general inductive approach to analyze the data. The study also used a quantitative approach to statistically compare gender differences, which found that there were some differences in preference for gardening between boys and girls in Taiwan. The results also identify seven benefits children can derive from school gardening, including increasing life skills, producing pleasant feelings, improving relationships and having plants as companions, acquiring new knowledge, experiencing the aroma and flavor of fruits and vegetables, improving health, and increasing connection to nature. Some of these benefits of school gardening have not been mentioned in previous studies and can be considered to be new, such as having plants as companions. Additionally, this study found 20 factors that influence the benefits of school gardening. Of these, eight were about plants, seven about activities, two about outdoor environments, and three about other participants. Most of the factors provide more than one benefit. The factors with the greatest impact have the most number of benefits that influence children and include “appearance, odor and texture,” “hands-on,” and “outdoor natural elements.” These factors help us to realize the unique characteristics of gardening, highlight the distinctiveness, and increase the indispensability of gardening activities.

Open access

Furn-Wei Lin, Kuan-Hung Lin, Chun-Wei Wu, Yu-Sen Chang, Kuan-Hung Lin, and Chun-Wei Wu

Plant biostimulants have received increasing attention in recent years because of their positive effects on crop performance and contribution to agro-ecological sustainability. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of betaine and chitin treatments, alone and in combination, on lettuce plants by changes in the morphology and physiology of plants exposed to regulated deficit irrigation (RDI). Plants were subjected to full irrigation (FI; no water deficiency treatment, field capacity >70%) and RDI (field capacity <50%) conditions until the end of each experiment. We recorded plant yield–related traits, net photosynthesis, and water use efficiency (WUE) values weekly for 4 weeks and carried out three individual experiments to assess the efficacy of biostimulant and irrigation treatments. Betaine (0, 50, and 100 mm/plant) was foliar-treated every 2 weeks during Expt. 1, whereas chitin (0, 2, and 4 g/kg) was applied to the soil at the beginning of Expt. 2. We then applied the optimal concentration of each chemical alone or in combination to the plants as Expt. 3. Compared with negative control, the application of 50 mm betaine and 2 g/kg chitin significantly increased leaf area (LA) per plant by 48.5% and 25.6%, respectively. Furthermore, 50 mm betaine and 2 g/kg chitin treatment showed a clearly protective effect in RDI plants, enhancing their total fresh weights by 26.10% and 75.0%, respectively, in comparison with control. Comparing WUEyield and WUEbiomass, chemical-treated plants had higher values than control. Betaine (50 mm) or chitin (2 g/kg) treatments alone significantly elevated LA, fresh shoot weight, total fresh and dry weights, net photosynthesis, and WUE values, and boosted the water stress tolerance of lettuce under RDI compared with controls. However, a combined treatment of 50 mm betaine and 2 g/kg chitin did not increase the levels of all yield traits under RDI compared with individual chemical treatment. Most leaves appeared healthy, green, and had visually less leaf chlorosis when treated with chitin or betaine under RDI compared with untreated plants subjected to RDI. Our study indicates that applying betaine and chitin improves plant performance against water supply limitations and highlights their potential for the sustainable production of lettuce.

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Kuan-Hung Lin, Shao-Bo Huang, Chun-Wei Wu, and Yu-Sen Chang

Exogenous application of either salicylic acid (SA) or calcium chloride (CaCl2) to alleviate heat stress has been extensively studied. However, the effects of combined SA and CaCl2 treatment on the heat tolerance of poinsettia have been poorly studied. This study investigated the role of a foliar spray comprising SA and CaCl2 in managing heat tolerance of three poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.) cultivars, Noel, Winter Rose (WR), and Ice Punch’ (IP). Plants were pretreated with SA, CaCl2, or combined SA and CaCl2 and then exposed to a temperature of 42 °C for 1 hour. Changes in the relative injury (RI) percentage, malondialdehyde (MDA) content, and antioxidant enzyme activities were determined. All plants were then placed in an environment-controlled greenhouse for 14 days and evaluated. Lateral bud sprouting (%), new leaf numbers, and phenotypic appearance were recorded. Results revealed that the three poinsettia cultivars varied in their appearance, morphological growth patterns, and ability to tolerate high-temperature stress. Plant growth of ‘Noel’ was more robust than that of ‘WR’ and ‘IP’, which were considerably affected by heat stress, resulting in brown, withered leaves and defoliation. In general, the effects of the combined application of SA and CaCl2 on heat-tolerant ‘Noel’ were superior to those of individual applications and no treatment (for control groups) in terms of the RI percentage, lateral bud sprouting (%), and appearance under heat stress. Application of combined SA and CaCl2 for ‘Noel’ plants was more beneficial for enhancing catalase activity and resulted in the effective alleviation of decreased malondialdehyde content under heat stress. Treatment including 200 μΜ SA and 10 mm CaCl2 may alleviate heat stress and may prove useful in breeding programs focused on improving poinsettia cultivars.

Open access

Yi-Chen Chen, Wei-Chun Chang, San-Tai Wang, and Shu-I Lin

Grafting is widely used in the commercial production of cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae) and solanaceous (Solanaceae) vegetables, but seldom in the production of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage (Brassica oleracea Capitata group). In our study, we developed a tube grafting method for cabbage using the ‘K-Y cross’ cabbage as the scion and ‘Tsuei Jin’ chinese kale (B. oleracea Alboglabra group) as the rootstock (K-Y/TJ), and then used the K-Y/TJ grafted seedlings to identify the best healing conditions. The examined healing conditions included temperature (15, 20, or 25 °C), relative humidity (RH; 75%, 85%, or 95%), and light intensity (high light intensity, 79 to 107 μmol·m–2·s–1; low light intensity, 38.6 to 58.8 μmol·m–2·s–1; or full darkness, 0 μmol·m–2·s–1). Considering all the healing conditions, the K-Y/TJ grafted seedlings healing at 20 °C, 95% RH, and high light intensity exhibited survival rates of up to 96.7% and overall superior seedling quality. ‘K-Y cross’ cabbages were then grafted onto chinese kale rootstocks, and the head traits of all grafted plants were comparable to those of nongrafted and/or self-grafted ‘K-Y cross’ plants. ‘K-Y cross’ plants grafted on ‘Jie Lan’ chinese kale rootstocks had greater ascorbic acid and total soluble solid (TSS) contents than nongrafted and self-grafted ‘K-Y cross’ plants. Overall, this research describes a successful tube grafting method and the optimal healing conditions for grafted cabbage seedlings, which can be used as a tool to improve head quality.