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Terrariums are not only beautiful, they are super cool, fun to make and can provide children with important lessons about microclimates, nature and our planet.

The boys chose narrow containers but with a little work, and the help of some tongs, we succeeded in planting and decorating a nice trio of terrariums.

work, however, the plants will require more frequent watering and you will not create a microclimate condition. It is very important to wash and rinse

your containers, especially if they have been used before, not only so you can see the plants inside, but also to prevent any contaminants from entering your ecosystem. If you have chosen a container with a narrow top, use chop- sticks or kitchen tongs to help you place plants and ornaments. Plants: When choosing plants it is

best to select plants that require little maintenance, are slow growers and will grow well together. Classic plants choic- es include, but are by no means limited to, African violets, false aralias, jade plants, miniature peperomias, nerve plants, pink polka dot plants, prayer plants, small philodendrons, Swedish ivy, spider plants, other small ferns, mosses, succulents, and cacti. Humid- ity levels can rise quickly in a terrarium, therefore, plants that prefer shade and are tolerant of high humidity, like those from rain forests or woodlands, will do well in these environments. Because

An excellent tool to learn about the water cycle. Here you can see the condensation on the walls of the jars.

this is a closed ecosystem, be sure to remove any dead foliage and overgrown plants to prevent

the introduction of

rot or mold. Leaves are likely to touch the sides, but try to keep them away to prevent burning. Environment: The bottom layer

of rocks acts as a false drainage layer which prevents flooding the plant, try to have a half to two inch base of rocks (1-5 cm). Activated charcoal will help to keep the terrarium healthy in the absence of drainage holes by reducing odours, bacterial and fungal growth. Sheet moss can be used for lining the bottom of the terrarium to soak up excess water if desired. If you decide to use sheet moss be sure to wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to prevent fungal infection. Also, avoid adding animals to your terrarium as they can damage plants and cause disease. Water: Enclosed terrariums should

need infrequent watering and need not be soaked. Keep the soil barely moist at all times, it should be damp under the upper layer of soil when a finger is inserted into the soil. Watering will

Terrariums are not only beautiful, they are fun to make and can provide important lessons about microclimates, nature and our planet.

depend on the plants chosen, the loca- tion and size of the container used. Remember to only water plants and not the mosses. Get children to observe the new environment and record how often they need to water it. Since terrariums build up humidity, if yours is airtight you will need to air it out occasionally to let the water evaporate, especially if there is too much condensation in the inside or if the plants are wilting. Light: Where you keep your terrari-

um will determine its success as much as watering. In order to remain low main- tenance, terrariums need a location with indirect light. Since glass magnifies the effects of the sun, direct sunlight will heat the interior of the terrarium, effec- tively cooking the plants. They should be kept in a warm room but not near heaters, any extreme temps or changes in temp can be harmful. This is would be a great science

project or classroom project. Children can learn about how micro ecosystems work, about condensation and humid- ity. Terrariums are both beautiful and educational, so why not try one? 

What you will need:

• Glass container, cleaned • Small stones for drainage • Charcoal • Potting soil • Plants • Accessories • Chopsticks or kitchen tongs

Our supplies, the boys picked out some containers at the thrift store while I found a great glass enclosure at Ikea.

Instructions: 1. Gently slide the stones or gravel into the base of a clean glass container, use enough to provide drainage.

2. Add a bit of activated charcoal on top of the stones; this will help to keep the soil fresh. 3. Add new soil, fill until contents are about 1/3 the height of the container. Create holes in the soil for your plants. 4. Add plants after brushing any loose soil off the roots. Plant them securely in the soil. 5. Add ornamentations such as figu- rines, moss, rocks, shells or driftwood for aesthetic appeal.

Dreaming 2016 • 29

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