DIY Terrarium TutorialMay 02, 2013
A few years ago I developed an unhealthy obsession with terrariums. A grass and mushroom addiction of a different kind, I couldn’t get enough of creating these mini green worlds, complete with hand-crafted clay mushrooms or garden gnomes for decoration. I knew I had a problem when I had to wade through a sea of collected glass jars to get to get out of my bedroom, and friends were starting to notice the mud under my fingernails. My friends would mock me as I demanded they pull over so I could harvest the moss I had just spotted on the side of the road. (Yes, I would carry a plastic take-away container and paint scraper around with me everywhere. So wot!!?) Moss spotting isn’t always easy, even in Autumn in the UK. Before long, all I could see was green, developing a Robocop-like ability to spot, zoom in and analyse any moss-like organism. I became an expert terrarium architect and eventually my boyfriend’s house had no windowsill that wasn't covered in my contained creations. My genius plan was to get rich from selling them ready made or as a ‘DIY terrarium kits’ complete with everything you need to build your own mini moss world. With no luck on Etsy, my friends and I held a market stall at Hackney Designer’s Markets where we hoped to sell hand-made cards and jewellery and, the featured product sure to steal the show… my beautiful terrariums… Not. One. Purchase. I hit rock bottom and tried to talk myself back from the edge by telling myself that obviously no one was ready for the trend yet but me… yes that’s right… I was way ahead of the game. Yes, my friends made fun of my crazy hobby but in the end I got my own back. EVERYONE got a terrarium or DIY kit fir their birthday and/or Christmas that year. A few years on and I have almost kicked the habit completely. It's a good thing too because the terrarium trend is finally in full swing and they are everywhere! In San Francisco they have totally got on board the T-train, and there isn’t a shop in Australia that could claim to be cool or quirky that doesn’t have at least one living arrangement in a jar. So now that I won't be considered quite as weird, and in one last ditch attempt to make all of those hours spent landscaping with a spoon almost worth it, I bring to you this DIY tutorial asking for only one thing in return... Be aware of the warning signs of terrarium addiction, and remember: “If you’re seeing green, you’re way too keen.” You will need… 1. Some stones or pebbles for the bottom layer. (Those of you who develop a serious addiction like I did will trespass on neighbours front gardens and driveways for these.) 2. A cute jar or glass vase. 3. Some soil, preferably new (not from the garden) unless you want all kinds of interesting weeds growing in your terrarium. 4. Some activated charcoal. Sounds strange, but this helps your terrarium stay healthy and alive for longer! 5. Some moss! You can collect moss from damp, cold places like walls or slopes. If you use a spoon or spatula to scrape it into a container it will stay intact. Alternatively you might want to plant some succulents or short grass seeds. 6. Decorations! These can be anything from clay mushrooms to mini animal ornaments. Use your creativity! Instructions… Step 1. Wash your stones well with tap water and create a layer of them in your jar no more than an inch high. Step 2. Tap the jar to settle the stones and use a spoon to push them down/arrange them. Step 3. Sprinkle little layer of charcoal to keep your mini ecosystem happy. Step 4. Now for a layer of soil – it should reach about half the height of your stones. Step 5. Sculpt your soil layer with stones or more soil so your landscape looks interesting (not flat). Push it down gently with the back of a spoon. Step 6. Trim your moss into sections and add it piece by piece. Press the edges down with a spoon. Don’t forget to clean any mud off the remaining jar walls. Step 7. Finally, add your decorations! Congratulations on creating your own wee world! Now to keep it healthy for as long as possible, read on… Top Terrarium Tips… - Sprinkle or ideally spray/spritz your terrarium with water once every week. - Keep your terrarium in a bright room but out of direct sunlight. - If condensation builds up inside your jar, loosen the lid until it clears up.