For the enthusiast or commercial grower.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Strict hygiene is vital, when collecting spore; during sowing and while germinating –in all materials and equipment.
Collection of spore from plants in the wild is generally preferred because purity of spore is easier to control this way. When spore is collected in a nursery garden, with different species growing closely together; it is relatively easy to end up having two spore contaminated with spore from other species.
Spore contamination can also occur in the wild; particularly from weedy species (eg. Histiopteris incisa or Hypolepis spp)
Raise spore in any type of medium as long as it is clean (free of disease & algae) and can be kept moist. It should also be an even consistency, and relatively loose, so that young plants can be pricked out (ie. lifted and transplanted) without difficulty. Ideally the media should be slightly acidic (pH 5.5 to 6.5). Sieved peat moss is an ideal medium. Whatever medium is used; it is valuable to sterilize it before planting the spore. (NB: Sterilisation can also have a negative effect though –killing beneficial mycorrhyzae).
Place trays or pots of sown spore in an area that is away from other ferns (that might drop spore into the container); and is free of draughts or extreme heat that might dry out the pots (or bring in disease organisms).
After sowing; usually cover the container with something to keep it both clean and from drying out (a sheet of glass or plastic film might be appropriate. If the media is quite moist before sowing; the container might only need additional waterings a couple of times over a average 4-6 month period before the seal is removed to expose a mass of young ferns.
Note: For most fern species; growth of the prothalli will be visible within 3-4 weeks of sowing.
The period require before the prothalli is mature can vary according to the species –for most it is between 3 and 6 months.
Bottom heat is generally not important; but for some species it can increase the growth rate; and through increased vigor the plants may be more resistant to disease.
Once there is a good mass of young ferns appearing; the glass can be tilted so it only partly covers the container; and allows the young plants to harden up. After a week or two the cover can be completely removed to allow further hardening. A further 2-6 weeks on and the young plants can be removed and potted