David Latimer opened the bottle only once, in 1972 to water his garden – and never since. He only helped the plants living inside by placing the bottle into the sun from time to time. And yet, the tiny ecosystem created by him has been alive and well for the past 54 years. And, as the photos show, this micro-version of the Earth’s ecosystem looks really good.
Bacteria living in the soil process the dead plant parts, thus favoring decomposition; on its turn, decomposition releases carbon dioxide needed by the plants. The decomposition of leaves fallen on the ground also provides foods necessary for the healthy growth of the plants. The photosynthesis regulates the humidity content in the bottle, and makes possible the development of a water cycle. Latimer, an engineer by profession, told Daily Mail that he started this experiment out of mere curiosity. The experiment was named by the British press “an example of nature’s incredible power for renewal, and of the circle of life”.
Latimer says the project has become a bit boring for him by now, but he still finds it exciting that he will leave the micro-garden to his children and grandchildren, so they can find out how long this bottle-enclosed life will last. In case his family declines having it, the Royal Horticultural Society will be the inheritors.
The video below shows how you can make a similar home for plants. We have also listed the main steps of the process:
1. You will need a glass recipient, such as a jar or a bottle. You should choose a wide-mouthed one to ensure easy access to your plants; besides, they are aesthetically more pleasing. A goldfish bowl or a jam jar makes the perfect choice.
2. You will also need some compost, sand or gravel and, of course, the plant itself. First, put a layer of sand at the bottom of the recipient, and then enough compost to comfortably cover the roots of the plant.
3. Finally, place the plants into the bottle. It is important that the plants are still small; otherwise it will be difficult to put them in. Ideal plants for this purpose are a fern seedling, feather grass or spiderwort, the same as in David Latimer’s bottle.
4. After the plants have been put into place, press down the soil around them with a long spoon or a stick, and sprinkle another layer of sand around their stalks. This way, the compost will be covered and the micro-garden will be prettier.
5. Carefully water the plants and place the recipient into a sunny place or onto the sill of a southern-facing window. Avoid exposing the plants to glaring sun.