Starter Kits To Entice New Members
Dr. Mark Konrad
What better way is there to get someone involved than to present a gift that must be given tender loving care!
This can be done easily and simply using clear plastic containers that are readily available (see Figure 1). Many are found at supermarket salad bars. The lid locks into place for easy maintenance. And for the ideal control of moisture, five small holes (7 mm) are either drilled or are melted with a heated nail (held with pliers).
Photo by Mark Konrad
For the medium, I prefer equal parts of perlite, Canadian peat and shredded pine bark that has been screened through a quarter inch wire mesh. The low pH of the media avoids damping off.
Fifty or sixty seeds are sewn on the surface and, as they germinate, they are moved around with a pointed toothpick for proper spacing. This makes a gift requiring minimal preparation. Or, if you prefer, small seedlings can be transplanted into the container.
Watering can be done with simple hand misting until the seedlings grow larger (rainwater is preferred). The need for watering later is determined by the weight of the container (light weight indicating a need for more moisture).
As the seedlings grow larger a very small amount of fertilizer (for acid loving plants) can be applied to the surface of the medium. For the amateur just starting, the best advice is to suggest placing the kit next to a window with a northern exposure (fulI light without direct sun to avoid overheating).
Ongoing care is quite simple when warm weather approaches. The containers can be placed outdoors in a sheltered, shaded area.
If your gift is successful, you will soon have a member with many questions and a desire for deeper involvement in your chapter.