Ice Storm Therapy: Creating Terrariums with Kids.

It's been busy here at Garden Delights. I've spent the past two weeks in the greenhouse, sowing seeds. Lots of seeds. Dozens of varieties of herbs and cool weather crops, a full-spectrum of heirloom tomatoes, peppers with heat indices ranging from 0 to more than 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (which actually terrifies me), and flowers. So many flowers. Flowers for the bees, flowers for the butterflies, and flowers for me. I'm hoping to increase my bouquet output this year with more homegrown flowers.

SC ice storm @ Garden Delights

While the greenhouse keeps me hopping, South Carolina's crazy ice storm and cold spell meant that the kids missed two days of school this week, plus they enjoyed a two-hour school delay yesterday and today. (Honestly? I enjoyed it, too.)

SC ice storm @ Garden Delights

So, while my writing time suffered, it's been a pretty lovely week, hanging out with the kiddos, celebrating the three minutes of snow flurries before they turned into sleet and freezing rain.

SC ice storm @ Garden Delights

Really, there's nothing festive about ice.

SC ice storm @ Garden Delights

(Don't mock us, northern friends. I know it doesn't look like much, but southerns can't drive in snow and ice. We have no snow/ice removal equipment here, so even this former northern girl won't drive when we have nasty freezing weather. Plus, it's so rare for me to stay home that I love the forced lack of driving!)

While I'd been getting my gardening fix sowing seeds and planning the spring garden, the kids and I decided to plant terrariums together on the coldest day of the year here. Single digit temperatures can't stop our gardening! (Thank goodness for the very toasty greenhouse.)

True confession: I'd never planted a terrarium. I don't know why. For the longest time, I thought of terrariums as a 70s throwback, like bell bottoms and macramé vests. Of course, now they're all the rage in the gardening world, the latest trend. I'm just a little late jumping on the vintage bandwagon.

Supplies:
Jar with lid
Small rocks or pebbles
Activated charcoal (found at pet supply stores in the aquarium aisle)
Moss
Potting soil
Small plants, particularly ones that like humidity, such as African violets, maidenhair ferns, moss, or creeping fig.
Decorative objects
Spray bottle

Directions:

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Add approximately one inch of pebbles to the bottom of the container to help with drainage.

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Pour an inch of the activated charcoal on top of the pebbles. The charcoal will help filter the air in the closed environment. (Really, who wants to get a whiff of a smelly terrarium when you remove the lid?)

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Place about two inches of potting soil above the charcoal, making holes in the soil for the plants. We premoistened the potting soil, mixing it with water in a plastic container before placing it in the terrarium to ensure even moisture distribution without over saturation.

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Gently remove the plants from their containers and position them in the soil. Press firmly to remove any air pockets. Arrange the plants to your liking. Kristen wanted her terrarium to look like the forest in Lord of the Rings, so she chose plants to mimic the scene. Once the plants are in place in the soil, water gently to settle the roots.

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Now, it's time to get creative! Michael chose a Minecraft theme for his terrarium, so he placed a few Lego Minecraft characters in the jar, along with moss and pebbles.

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Kristen (who refuse to be photographed for the post, as she had fully embraced the snow day and didn't brush her hair) is enamored with Legolas from Lord of the Rings. (I'll admit, I was smitten with him when I was a preteen, too.) She originally planned a "Fan Girl" theme for her terrarium, with all of her favorite books (anything by John Green), TV shows ("Supernatural", "Dr. Who"), and movies (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings) represented. I don't think they make terrariums large enough for all of her Fan Girl addictions.

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

The kids finished their terrariums quickly, while mine just wasn't looking like I envisioned. Originally, I wanted to use a small orchid, but it was too tall for my container. I planned an entirely different theme, one with a sleeping fairy, but in the end, I liked the little gnome more. I think I was so busy trying to help the kids that I rushed my terrarium. Oh well, perhaps I'll give it a makeover another day.

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

We gave each terrarium a final spritz of water with the spray bottle to rinse stray soil off plants and the side of the containers, then placed the lids on the jars. The kids each put their terrariums in their rooms in indirect sunlight, and mine resides in the living room.

I've warned the kids, particularly Michael, that very little water should be needed. He likes to take care of his plants, and he's very good about remembering to water Amy Amaryllis, the flowering bulb that currently resides in his room. Yes, my son named his amaryllis. I think he might turn into my botany buddy.

I've changed my mind about terrariums. In fact, I think I'll find another container for the little orchid and fairy baby. Really, how can you not love a self-contained, low-maintenance, tiny indoor garden when it's 8 degrees outside?

Planting terrariums @ Garden Delights

Plus, a little gardening project in a toasty greenhouse is the perfect diversion when the kids decide they've enjoyed too much togetherness.

We all love snow days, but sometimes it's good to have a backup plan when there's too much sibling togetherness.

Have you planted terrariums? What theme would you choose to use if you were making a new terrarium?

Happy less than a month until spring, friends!

XOXO ~

Julie

tagged under: indoor gardening, terrariums, houseplants, Minecraft, Lord of the Rings, Gardening with kids, snow day, Growing gardens, Growing kids