Monday, July 18, 2011

Bring dirt into your house: Mason Jar Terrarium!

I have a new found love of canning jars. They hold the summer sun all year long in the form of canned garden goodnesses. They also store my dried goods, my bulk foods, and numerous things all over my house because they're so darn handy.
We've done pop bottle (yes, I'm from Ohio, where soda don't grow) terrariums, but I thought it might be kind of neat to try something on a small scale in, what else, a canning jar.

And so, here's what you need:
-Large canning jar
-gravel
-activated charcoal (buy this at a pet store with the fish filters)
-moss
-dirt
-small plant (leaves of three? no thanks.)
-chopsticks or thin tongs to help position things in the jar
-water

Starting at the bottom, but a small amount of gravel. This is to allow drainage of water.
After gravel, put an even smaller layer of charcoal. The purpose of the charcoal is to clean the air and water as it circulates through the closed system. (Did you see the lid?)
After charcoal comes moss, which acts as a filter so that the dirt doesn't get into your gravel.
After moss comes dirt, and that should either be potting soil or the soil around where you find your plant.
Speaking of your plant, don't be afraid of heading into the woods. Our Ohio forests have lovely little plants called wood violets that have leaves shaped like hearts, and they'll stay small.
Once you've got your plant in, put a bit more moss on the surface of the dirt, around the moss. Not only is this for show, but it also acts as a second filter and a sponge to keep the water levels at a happy place.
Chances are you're going to need to add a bit of water before you close it up. Add just enough to keep things sufficiently damp, but not floating. This may be a trial and error as you keep your terrarium for a few weeks.

Done well and kept in correct lighting, closed terrariums can last for years. (Wow!) Scientifically speaking, you can watch water condense on the sides of the jar and then percolate back down into the soil.

Plus it's just plain neat.


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