Sunday, January 26, 2014

Building a January!

Growing up my mom and grandma both had house plants and gardens. My grandma's house was like a greenhouse on the inside, and outside she grew vegetables and flowers throughout her yard. Plants and gardens and visits to greenhouses are a vivid part of my childhood memories. I think a large part of my grandma's success as a gardener was manure and neglect. She let nature do it's thing and it turned out beautifully. While these memories are fond I also remember at a young age resolving to never have a house full of plants like my grandma did because it was messy and a little unkempt. Despite this resolve I did foster several African Violets and English Ivy for the majority of time I lived in an apartment on my own and then during the first five years of our marriage. After Owen was born all of our plants eventually died. I guess it wasn't in us to keep more than one thing alive at a time. Over the last 12 years in our house we have had a variety of outside gardens and plants and the majority of them have died with the exception of the hostas, which were here before we were and can survive just about anything, two bleeding hearts and a mish-mash of bearded iris. Plants and gardens seem to require attention that I am not capable of giving. Mainly remembering to water them or in some instances not water them so much. Gardening also requires being outside in the summer to do the weeding and the watering which always involves bugs and sweat, two more things I don't care for.

So forgetting my history with the care and feeding of plants I decided it would be fun to jump on the terrarium trend. I have a vague recollection of my mom having one when I was very young and I've always loved the idea of them. Mainly because they are contained within something and not growing with wild abandon all over the place. They also, supposedly, require little attention. Another thing right up my alley.

Prior to building the terrarium I did a little research to find out what I would need to put in it to maximize my chances of success and which plants were best suited to being grown in a terrarium. I have an assortment of glass jars and hurricanes but nothing large enough for plants. Fortunately Crate and Barrel came to my rescue in the form of an e-mail featuring some lovely large jars. Owen and I settled on the 128oz Heritage Jar that has a wide mouth and seemed just about the right size for where I wanted to put it. Rather than wandering the aisles of Home Depot or Menard's gathering the ingredients for the jar I decided to go to one of our local floral and garden centers where I hoped they would be helpful and have all the things I would need. The one closest to us, which I prefer, is not open until April so I had to settle for the bigger chain one. That was both good and bad. Good, because when I went there they had a Build Your Own Terrarium or Mini Garden kit containing all the layers of stuff I needed and bad, because I didn't think their selection of plants was that great and some of them didn't have names on them and no one could seem to tell me exactly what one of them was. But because it was easier and convenient, I grabbed the kit and selected three plants for the terrarium. Normally I take Owen on these kinds of adventures but he was off getting a haircut with Morgan. And when I asked him if he wanted to go with me he said no. Owen isn't real big on leaving the house right now anyway!

The kit came with river rocks, sheet moss, potting soil and charcoal. The small bag in the front is the charcoal. The directions in the kit said to put a layer of charcoal 1/2" thick on top of the river rocks. The kit included about 1/4th cup of charcoal. Which would provide a 1/2" layer of charcoal if I were using a small jelly jar for the terrarium. I added all of the charcoal and am hoping for the best. The purpose of the charcoal is to keep the terrarium from smelling funky. At this point I felt like the people who designed the kit didn't read the directions. I have more than enough rocks, sheet moss and potting soil for a second terrarium but didn't have enough charcoal for even one!

 Here are the terrarium ingredients. The sheet moss is in the back.

I selected cyclamen, peperomia, and arrow plant. At least that's what I think the other two are called! They are about 2" tall.
1 1/2" layer of rive rocks.
1/2" layer of charcoal.
A layer of sheet moss.
This sheet moss is the natural equivalent of glitter. Once I took it out of the bag and started working with it, it was all over the place!
3/4"- 1 1/2" layer of potting soil.
And finally the plants.
The layers of stuff on the bottom and the plants in place.
The finished terrarium on the coffee table.
The directions said to spray it all with water after putting the plants in place. I did not do that for two reasons. I don't have an empty spray bottle right now and the plants were pretty much soaked when I brought them home so I thought I'd let that water dissipate in the soil and then check on them in a few days. Today one of the plants has water drops on many of its leaves so I think for now they are okay. We'll see how it goes. I think it looks nice on the coffee table in the living room, adding a little life in there. Along with the PVC fort and the Lego war that has been taking place for a couple of weeks now. When I mention it might be nice to put the Legos away I'm met with resistance from the republic so the war wages on. The millenium falcon is currently in Mama's Lego fix-it shop though because I stepped on it (OUCH!) in the middle of the night two weeks ago. I think a smattering of Legos laid out on the floor is probably a better deterrent for burglars than having a dog or a gun.

All in all this was a fairly inexpensive and easy little project. It probably only took about 30 minutes and would have taken less time had I not been photographing it at the same time. I may add a couple of small plastic dinosaurs just for fun!