The Daily Mail has a fascinating feature on David Latimer and his soon to be 54-year-old bottle garden that he started on Easter Sunday back in 1960.
Using a ten gallon carboy, Latimer poured in some compost, a quarter pint of water and carefully lowered in a spiderwort seedling (Tradescantia) using a piece of wire. He then placed the bottle garden by a sun-filled window in his home and let photosynthesis do its thing.
It wasn’t until 1972 (12 years later) that Latimer gave his bottle garden another drink and it has been sealed ever since! How exactly does this work? The Daily Mail explains:
– Bottle gardens work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients
– The eco-system also uses cellular respiration to break down decaying material shed by the plant. In this part of the process, bacteria inside the soil of the bottle garden absorbs the plant’s waste oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide which the growing plant can reuse
– The water in the bottle gets taken up by plants’ roots, is released into the air during transpiration, condenses down into the potting mixture, where the cycle begins again.