Terrarium surgery

jar terrarium v2

My jar terrarium had spent a loveless 2½ years on our shelf. Soon after making it, I did replace the sphagnum with stringy moss purchased from a florist warehouse. But after that came months of sealed, airtight neglect.

Tiny gardening was so satisfying when I started, but that changed suddenly. I was annoyed at how hard it was to find nice moss in shops, and annoyed at having to buy it in the first place, because I didn't want to upset an ecosystem elsehwere by stealing pieces of it. My attempts at moss milkshakes sucked, and pouring milk on things seemed kind of disgusting.

More recently, I came into new moss - unwanted surface 'weeds' in pot plants, and furry green winter stuff growing between the garden bricks. Arf ya luck! Into the terrarium they went. It was a slapdash job, and in my attempt to pour out excess water, I upset a number of things.

So, fine - whatever - I'll just redo the damn thing. Cue Sunday project.

terrarium in pieces

This meant taking everything apart. Here's what it looks like when the world is in pieces.

The pebbles in the jar are the bottom-most layer of a terrarium. They provide drainage, so you don't end up with a jar of swamp - though that might be cool too.

Just below the plants in the photo is a pile of sphagnum moss. This sits between pebbles and soil like a filter, so you don't end up with a drainage layer full of dirt. In hindsight, I should have bought new sphagnum, but hindsight rarely occurs when you need it most, so I had to be very careful extracting materials for re-use. This includes the tiny chips of charcoal you sprinkle in a terrarium to absorb odours and help balance the pH.

I decided to add a plant as well, though I'm not sure what kind it is, or how big it will grow. Hopefully, at least one root will tendril down into the pebbles and help manage any water that pools in the bottom. I once had a terrarium with a tomato plant, and noticed water bogs could be taken up within a day just through transpiration. So in terrarium v2, I'm trusting the magic of science.

I'm older and more patient now, and I miss tiny gardening. :) I'm more comfortable with plants, and how much you can take from an ecosystem without spoiling it. I would still cry if milk went everywhere, but paintbrushing it on things might be okay. Did you know you can spray milk on plants to fight powdery mildew? It's not that gross if it's totally a thing.

I'm hoping for more rain and gentle shine for the next few weeks, so the garden brick moss can thrive for harvest before the season's out.