If you really want to create your own world to conquer and command, you need to do some prep work.
For those tuning in for the first time (slackers): Sinister has chosen to build his own self-sustaining terrarium for a science project. He has already researched what he needs and the environment he needs to create; we bought a demijohn (glass jar) and he has cleaned it up.
Today, he is preparing the foundation for the plants.
The first thing he realised was how narrow the opening was. No matter what he puts in there, he needs to be careful putting it in.
Sinister came up with the idea of a funnel and a conical style tube – like a long straw. By using the long tube, he could control how much of each substance would disperse at the bottom, limiting the mess at the bottom.
It’s not just a matter of dumping some soil in the jar and hoping for the best. There are a number of elements to consider:
Gravel allows drainage, preventing water from pooling in your soil and rotting the roots.
Second layer: Charcoal
Charcoal is great for cleaning out toxins, in the soil and the air. This helps prevent too many micro-organisms in your set-up.
Third layer: Sand
Sand is, again, about drainage but it also gives some stability to the plants’ roots.
Fourth layer: Soil
The final and crucial layer, but don’t lay it on too thick. Keep it a little moist but not heavy in the plants.
There is a magical ratio for the layers, providing a good foundation while allowing plenty of air-flow with the condensation cycle.
One third of your terrarium should be made of materials which are not air.
Sinister explained the importance of ‘air-space’: the air-flow ensures the plants have fresh nutrients both above and below the surface. It allows sunlight to come through, which is a nutrient, and encourages the condensation cycle to distribute evenly through the terrarium. Stagnant air chokes the plants and that is bad for everything.
So now the foundation is in, Sinister just needs to figure out how to put the plants in.