David Latimer has created a most unusual garden, one that seems to mimic the ecosystem of Earth – in a sealed bottle! On Easter Sunday in 1960, David placed compost in a large round bottle and used a wire to carefully lower a Spiderworts seedling into the mix. He then added a pint of water and sealed the bottle up tight with a plastic cork. He placed the bottle in a sunny corner and viola – the magic of photosynthesis did its thing.
Through photosynthesis, the plant acquires energy by absorbing sunlight. The plant stores part of this energy which it needs to grow. Some of the energy is used to remove electrons from water in the soil that it absorbs through the plant’s roots. This creates a chemical reaction that converts carbon dioxide into carbohydrates for the plant to use as food. But where does the carbon dioxide come from? Bacteria in the soil absorb oxygen (which the plant has released) and break down the plant’s old, rotting leaves. During this process, the bacteria release carbon dioxide that the plant needs to grow.
But wait Reeko, you said the plant removes electron from water. What happens when the water inside the bottle is all used up? At night, when the plant has no sunlight to drive the photosynthesis process, it use “cellular respiration” to keep itself alive. It does this by breaking down stored nutrients. As it does this, it releases water into the air. This water condenses at the top of the bottle and then rains back down, starting the cycle all over again.
Check here for instructions on making a self-sustaining terrarium of your own.