Monday, July 30, 2012

Make your own ecosystem: mini-glass house style

Awhile ago, a friend sent me a link for a miniature terrarium. It was so small you could wear it as a pendant and necklace. I instantly fell in love! Having a tiny little ecosystem around my neck was far too exciting!

But... I am also super clumsy and decided that I couldn't make a tiny ecosystem. Instead, I started to make my own ecosystems in old chemistry glass wear and jars.

An ecosystem comprises of biotic and abiotic factors, and you need to put these together to make an ecosystem. Ecosystems have living microorganisms in the soil, plants and animals, all of which are biotic. It also needs mineral soil, water and chemicals, for the plants to grow, all of which are abiotic. They also need sunlight, so glass or clear plastic are containers are perfect so they can get enough light.

So to make your own ecosystem, there are some essential ingredients:
Soil - from the garden or store
Small Plant - make sure you get one that is smaller than your container!
Water sprayer
Moss or Decorations like gnomes, pebbles, etc.
Glass or plastic container. It needs to be at least 6cm tall.
Chopsticks and tissues/paper towel

* Clean your container and dry.
* Add about 1cm thick of charcoal at the bottom of the container.
* Cover the charcoal with 1cm sand
* Add soil over the top - at least 2 or 3cm, depending on the height of you container. More soil + happier plants! Don't fill it right up, as you want to put in your plant first and then add more soil.
* You can now gently place your plant on the soil, and then cover the roots with more soil. Don't squash down the roots, though.
* You can add moss or decorations using chopsticks if you have a narrow container.
* Clean the sides with chopsticks and tissue papers.
* Water your ecosystem with a water sprayer with fine spray.

You don't have to use sand and charcoal, but they will help the ecosystem live longer! Charcoal helps to regulate nutrients and contaminants, so that there aren't too many of these things going to your plant.

I love looking at my mini-ecosystems and seeing how they have changed. Have the plants grown? Can you see roots in the soil? Is there anything growing in the soil? Is it wet or dry? Are there any animals in my ecosystem? Bugs?

It is alot of fun to watch an ecosystem grow and change!

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