Watering an open terrarium for the first time
I've been a little bit confused about how much water should be used the first time after the plants are planted in the aquarium. I've read a variety of things on the internet, from you should water just around the plant, to just mist enough to wash off the soil from the glass and finally to water until you see water at the gravel layer.
I read everywhere to not overwater and that terrariums can go for weeks to month without watering. I also see people talk about looking at how much condensation is on the glass to tell if you need to water or not.
So, my setup is a 10 gallon converted aquarium that I washed out and autoclaved the gravel to make sure it is clean. I have about an inch of gravel on the bottom, then a thin layer of charcoal, then a layer of dry sphagum moss followed by some normal potting soil from Home Depot on top. The home depot in manhattan didn't exactly have a wide array of flowers and since I've never even had a potted plant before, I decided to just try with some cheap plants and go from there before I set up something more complex. I got some impatiens and begonias and planted them in the tank. I decided to leave the top off because I read that you have less to worry about in terms of mold and such and since I see the tank everyday at work, I don't mind watering it a little bit more often. The tank sits by a westward facing window and gets a lot of light and sunlight through the shade in the afternoon.
After I planted using the regular potting soil, I misted the terrarium but aside from the top quarter inch being wet, the rest of the soil, about an inch and a half, still looked dry. I tried to hold off watering more so I left it uncovered. The next day, there was no condensation on the glass, the gravel was dry and the soil didn't stick to my finger when I pushed down on it. I misted some more but it was still about the same the day after.
So, sorry for the long post but here are my questions.
1) How much should I water the first time after I've planted? It is a 10 gallon aquarium so should I try to get the soil wet enough that some drains down to the gravel layer and I can see it?
2) If I don't have the tank top sealed with saran wrap, will I still see any condensation on the glass? If not, is the water cycle not happening so I will need to just water more often?
3) If I do need to water more often, how much should I water each time? Like a quart of water or so when the soil is dry?
Sorry for the long post and I appreciate any help you can give me! Thanks.