A Fast Plant is a fast-growing brassica that was originally raised in the Nepali mountains, where it was discovered by a plant explorer, who stored its seeds at Iowa State University. The plant was recognized as a unique strain with a very rapid growing season that, in ideal conditions, completed the plant's full life cycle in 40 days. The plant is now raised by the University of Wisconsin as a classroom lesson tool to teach plant botany and life cycles, as well as to introduce basic genetics.
Germination is the process in which the dormant seed begins to come to life. For most seeds, this happens in the spring as the cool winter weather fades and the heat of the spring sun warms the seed and gets it wet with the spring rains. Once planted, the Fast Plant seed will swell as it absorbs water; within 24 hours after planting, the seed's radicle, or embryonic root, will emerge and start collecting nutrients out of the soil.
Sprout and Seedling
Within two to three days the stem and seed leaves emerge, forcing their way out of the soil and up into the air. The process of photosynthesis begins once the seed leaves emerge and begin generating enough energy within the seedling to grow a mature plant.
Between days five to eight the young plant grows stem leaves, which grow larger and more plentiful as the plant develops. Within two weeks a Fast Plant will have developed a strong enough stem and root system to support the growth of flowers. The flowers will grow out of the nodes where the leaves attach, and at the very top of the plant.
Buds develop within 14 days from germination, and by day 17 flowers open on the plant. In its natural environment, the flower petals protect the flower's pollen from blowing off the plant without fertilizing the stigma, and the bright colors attract birds and insects so that they can carry pollen from one flower to another.
Pollination occurs when the pollen from one flower's stamen fertilizes another flower's stigma. Flowers can be pollinated by insects, birds, wind, or by hand with a cotton swab, and once pollination occurs the flower starts to form the seeds that will bring the next generation of the plant. Fast Plants do not self-pollinate, so they must be fertilized by hand using a cotton swab to move pollen from one flower to another.
Once pollination occurs and the flower's stigma is fertilized, seeds start to form in the flower's ovule, which is located below the stigma at the base of the flower. Between days 18 to 20, the seeds will develop within the flower and a pod will appear. The petals will fall off the flower once the seedpod starts to develop, leaving the pod exposed so that it can eventually dry out. Decrease the plant watering once seeds appear so that the pods can dry out completely and be ready for harvest by day 40.