The Terrarium Project

Ever have one of those days where you wake up with some random crazy idea stuck in your head for no apparent reason?

It was just such a morning that resulted in a few years of not doing a great job of keeping fish but still enjoying the keeping of fish. In hindsight it really wasn’t a great idea, though I was convinced of it at the time – I must have an aquarium and there must be fish in it!

Before the day was out, I had a little aquarium with a red betta called Robin and a corydoras called Hoover. My very first but by no means last fish.

Now, I’ll just play some aquarium video on repeat on the telly to avoid the mess.

A week and a half ago I sat up in bed with the random crazy idea stuck in my mind that I needed a terrarium. A few hours later I was at the discount store (Reject Shop for my local friends) and, lo, they had terrariums and they were ON SALE!

Suffice to say by the end of the day the store was out of terrariums and there was even less space on my dining table than usual.

It wasn’t until today, however, that I finally got around to doing something with them, following the guidance of some woman with the broadest Australian accent I’ve heard outside a press conference with Pauline Hanson or Jacqui Lambie.

She said I’d need gravel, activated charcoal, sphagnum moss, and potting mix.

I collected gravel, activated charcoal, peat moss, and potting mix. The peat moss was about $2 cheaper and said much the same thing on the bag, so, whatev.

Like so many things I’ve discovered since getting treated for ADHD (a whole other post I should write someday), building (making?) terrariums takes a whole lot less time than I thought. I expected – for some reason – that I’d be at it for the better part of the day, but no, I squeezed in three terrariums between work allocations and probably took only 15 minutes!

It’s already taken me longer to write up this post. (I’m squirrelling in another window.)

So, following the instructions by the plant lady with all the extra vowels…

My first terrariums!

A few handfuls of gravel – she said two and a half centimetres. Sure, if you have a larger container, maybe, but I just tossed in a few handfuls. Apparently, this is to collect water without getting soggy roots. I had a few pebbles to spare so I tossed some of those in as well. In retrospect, probably not a good idea in such a small container, but we’ll see.

The plant lady didn’t actually say how much activated charcoal to use, but she did mention that it’s useful for soaking up smells. So, I sprinkled in about as much as I figured would be necessary to soak up some smells. How’s that for some arbitrary calculation?

Next, she said to use spag-num moss. I’m pretty sure it’s always been sphagnum, with the ph, but it doesn’t really matter because I’ve used peat moss instead. It looks like tobacco to me. Does it look like tobacco to you? She didn’t say how much but apparently it’s a layer to separate the potting mix from the charcoal and gravel/pebbles.

Then a four-centimetre layer of fungus-gnat-free potting mix. Again, I didn’t measure it out because my container is pretty small. I may not have used enough, or I may have used too much. I guess I’ll find out when everything dies.

Finally, the plants and a little bling.

The first one I did is more of a rescue for plants I’m not sure will actually survive. The fittonia just up and shat itself recently and I still have no real clue why. I understand they like to be in terrariums so this is my last desperate effort to resurrect it. The stump is – was? – a baby alocasia (bambina?). I’m actually more hopeful that it will survive because its roots were robust and healthy. At this point all I can do is cross my fingers and hope one or both of them will pull through.

Up next was a calathea that also didn’t look terribly happy with its life and a maidenhair fern that’s been in a tiny pot for too long and was ready to explode.  They’re both a little big for the container so… fingers crossed?

And with a little bling.

Lastly, some cute little succulents from my darling friends at Passionary Plants. This is probably how a terrarium is supposed to look.

The bling rocks were gifts from my good friend Deb, who I think found them at The Big Tasmanian Rock Shop (where I spend a whole lot of time and money).

I have, of course, realised that pretty much any clear jar – glass or plastic – has terrarium potential provided it’s a good size and there’s room at the top to squeeze your hand through. Suffice to say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the shelves at the local op shops from now on!

Wish my fittonia and alocasia luck!

So, wotcha think?

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