Garden Journal - January 4th 2008

Wildchicken Garden Journal - Miranda Hodgson

 

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4th January 2008 - Looking at fern spores

No updates in December Ė I was about to do one, but then went down with one the rottenest, most stinkingest flu-like viruses ever. From the second half of December to New Year was all a bit of a blur but Ė hurrah and about time too Ė Iím now feeling much better.

"You an astonishing sight when you see them for the first time; up close, they look just like tiny worms"

So, we have this huge fern in our living room. Itís a birdís nest fern (Asplenium nidus) which I bought about five years ago when it was some 8cm high. Itís now about 1m x 1m with elegant, glossy, arching leaves, some of which produce spores every so often.

 

 

Asplenium nidus

Asplenium nidus

 

Iíve always fancied trying to propagate a fern from spores so, when it produced its last lot, I cut a leaf off and saved some by putting the leaf in a paper bag and waiting for them to drop into the bag.

 

Asplenium nidus leaf with spores

Asplenium nidus leaf with spores

 

The spores are tiny, like dust, and I wanted to see them close up so I got out our little pocket microscope for a closer look. It only magnifies up to 30 times, but thatís good enough to give you an astonishing sight when you see them for the first time; up close, they look just like tiny worms.

 

How to capture an image? It was tricky Ė I pointed the camera down the eye piece of the microscope and managed to get one or two shots. Not fabulous, but you can see the shape of them.

 

Down the microscope

What the camera saw first

 

Spores, zoomed in

The same image zoomed in

 

With that knowledge tucked away, I filled a pot with compost, sterilised it with boiling water and left it to cool. Then the spores were sprinkled over the surface and the pot covered with cling film to keep moisture in and any stray spores or insects out. If all goes well, in a month or two, a green film will be visible on the surface of the compost and, a month on from that, the first fronds should appear.

 

If I end up with 500 birdís nest ferns, thatís some of next yearís gifts taken care of.

© Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2008

 

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