Fun Project Time: Open Terrarium

For a while, I’ve really wanted to make a terrarium.  It might have had something to do with this site.  And perhaps a friend who has a miniature one that I’ve admired for a long time.  But thanks to Kids by Hand, I was actually motivated to make one this weekend.  It was too cold to go outside with my little one yesterday, but Wren happily watched as we made strange messes on the kitchen table.

After doing a bit of my own research, I opted to make an open terrarium as I have a lot of currently unused vases.  Then I purchased two succulent mimicries (a split rock and baby toes) and a cactus.

I also bought some little pebbles for the drainage which went in first.   I picked the pretty ones since these will be seen through the glass.

The charcoal which serves to keep the soil fresh was gathered from our chiminea in the backyard.

Then we added soil and the plants.  We learned that the foundation level was too great, and the cactus was too tall, so we had to omit it from the terrarium.

What I’ve observed in most terrariums is that there is also a little objet d’art which adds charm and character.  Usually it’s a little statue.  For mine, I decided to use a white rubber cork from Horton Vineyards.  (Fun fact:  My blogging hobby started as a way to journal my adventures to Virginia wineries.)

This terrarium, due to its plants, requires a bit of direct sunlight.  A moss will not do well in this environment.  The baby toes are supposed to grow laterally so I’m hoping they will act as ground cover.

I had a lot of fun with this project, and I hope that it will do well despite my lack of green thumbs.

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful weekend!

garden update

Or rather, the wildlife refuge known as my backyard.

Okey’s grandparents grew grapes on their farm in West Virginia. When we moved into our home nearly seven years ago, Okey planted a clipping from one of their vines in our backyard. The first few years of growth were difficult for this young plant. (We had also gotten ourselves a puppy. We discovered that a young grapevine looks like a stick to a puppy, as she had chewed two years of growth down to the ground.)

The grapevine survived, and it grew weakly but diligently, in the shade. It grew better and faster when some of the trees were pruned. Yet, it still did not produce grapes. Two summers ago, as Okey and I were enjoying an evening outside, we recognized that we were giving important space to a plant that did not produce. We decided to give it one more year, and then its fate would be decided.

Did you know that grapevines have ears? Surely, you’ve heard the expression… “I heard it on the grapevine!” Well, this plant decided to get serious because last year we had grapes! So many grapes! We made juices, enjoyed fun salads, even homemade ice cream! We pruned her back (not as severe as her first pruning) and waited with anticipation for this year’s bounty.

We had a few bunches, but not many. It was enough though to know that our grapevine was alive and well. I watched as the grapes formed and grew and disappeared. I would love to say that me and mine ate the grapes, but I have another suspect in mind.

This suspect has four legs and a big tail. No, not our smart mutt. This would be her nemesis, the Squirrel. It ate every grape whether it was ripe or not.

At least I still had my blueberries, I thought before going to bed. (These were from Lowe’s and thus not an heirloom variety.) When I awoke to make blueberry pancakes for my guests (my sister and her new husband), I was shocked to have been foiled again by the Squirrel. Not a single one was left on my bushes.

I am disappointed that my garden hasn’t yielded many fruits this summer as I had hoped, but I will try again next year.

another gardening update

An image such as this hydrangea in mid-bloom is what makes gardening so satisfying for me.  The other plants look much the same right now, so this will be an image light gardening post.

One of the three unknown hops has surpassed the cascade.  Of the four varieties of hops we have, we only can identify the cascade.  This unknown vine has shot up past ten feet, up to 123″ to be precise.

My blueberries and strawberries from last year have been doing tremendously well in Virginia’s humid climate.  From our small plants, we have been harvesting two nice sized strawberries a day.  The first few we had eaten were really tart, but they are coming into their own now.  This plant will likely keep self propagating so maybe we’ll have more to share next year.  (We had bought two last year, and now we have three. Perplexing, isn’t it?)  Alas, we will have a couple of more months until we can harvest the blueberries.

I have about given up hope on my cotton.  I will continue to faithfully water them, but I’m afraid the seedlings weren’t given the appropriate care while I was in Chicago.

I have about figured out my garden layout and will be putting many of my container plants into the ground.  As much as I have enjoyed container gardening, I think my plants are outgrowing their pots and will do better in the ground.  The hops and strawberries will remain in their containers for now, though.

Oh! I’ve found a frog in the backyard.  He seems to have made a home back here (which I think is strange because we’re not near water), and I’ve spotted him often.  He hasn’t let me take a picture of him yet, but I’m hopeful to capture him on”film” soon enough.  Assuming he doesn’t reproduce en masse, I think this will be good for my garden.  If he does choose to continue living here, I think I may name him “Tobacco” since he’ll be earning his keep as an insect eater.

Our gentle mutt has paid the frog no attention.  She’s just so good natured though it’s to be expected.  Here she is with a friend she made at the farm two summers ago.

As this summer has come early, I find that I cannot bear to do manual labor outside past half an hour.  With this 90 degree weather, it is the first time I’ve ever been thankful that I have such a small yard.  I was wondering if any of you have tips you can share about keeping cool?

news about virginia gold

Yesterday, I noticed the first sign of growth from the tobacco seeds I started on March 1st.  Yes, finally, growth!  It only took 48 days to sprout just one seed so I am curious to see if any others will sprout, and if my newer batch will yield anything as well.

The poppies have grown too large for their starting containers so I moved them outside last week.  I have read that these plants are fragile and do not transport well.  I don’t know where I want them yet so they are in another temporary container.  They seem to be doing well today.

I will attempt to germinate my cotton and flax seeds next week.  These are the ones I really care about; the tobacco and poppy seeds have been practice.  I’m really having a lot of fun with all of my plants so far this year, but I really am looking to when it’s harvest time.

Other updates from the garden:  The hops are two inches shy of being seven feet tall.  (That was yesterday, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have made it to seven feet as I am typing this.)  There’s a little bit of new growth on my grapevines.  Finally, the strawberries look great!