The Spirit of Adventure

The propagation of ferns from spores is a sporting venture for the child capable of a fastidious observance of rules. Success is not inevitable, but with care, it is perfectly possible. Sup­pliers of spores usually give full directions. Briefly, they are this:

Fill a flowerpot with a finely sifted mixture of garden loam and leafmold (or peatmoss), which has been heat-sterilized. Dust spores on the soil, cover with a pane of glass, and keep the pot out of direct sunlight in a place where the temperature is about 65°. Watering is done by setting the pot in water until the top soil is moist. Always use sterilized water, made by boiling and cooling.

Few adult gardeners can be bothered trying to grow things like lilies, iris, gladiolus, dahlias, hardy chrysanthemums and roses from seed. If a child develops an impulse to try them, don't frown it down. Seeds of such plants are usually encourag­ingly quick to germinate, even if slow to produce blossoms.

Almost anything can happen from such a venture. Seeds of hybrid plants seldom come completely true to the parent plant, of course. Sometimes they are quite close. Often they produce very attractive deviations. Occasionally some of these are outstanding enough to be worthy of becoming named varieties. Seedsmen welcome the opportunity of seeing new flowers produced by amateurs-if they are sharp departures from the norm-since they know it is always possible that something worth perpetuating will turn up from an obscure source. Many have.

If it seems ridiculous to you to try to grow watercress in a city back yard, don't belittle a child's scheme to grow it in a pot set in a pail of water, freshened daily by the hose. It works.

A banana tree in the front yard may appear to be doomed to failure. There is a chance of success, however, if the young hopeful plants the Abyssinian banana (Musa ensete) and stores the roots during the winter. He won't get bananas, of course, but he will have some rather spectacular foliage.

Growing cotton north of the Mason and Dixon line may not seem like an auspicious undertaking for a northern school-child. But it is easy enough if he plants the seed sold as "orna­mental cotton" by many seedsmen. This must be planted in pots in the house a month or so before the garden can be worked. Plants are set outside in a sunny spot when the weather is warm. There will be delicate pink buds, creamy white blos­soms, and then germine cotton bolls, which are decorative enough to use in winter arrangements.