Thursday, May 10, 2012

Make your own Terrarium

I first fell in love with terrariums earlier this year. When I saw these amazing little worlds at a local market, straight away  knew I would have to make some and immersed myself with researching how these mossy micro climates were created.
The first thing I discovered is there there are more than one type of terrarium, there are dry, arid versions and there are moist mossy counterparts and they need distinctly different conditions to survive. The lush, vibrant greens of the moss terrarium really appeal to me, discovering the key to a successful moss terrarium is creating it's own sealed micro climate makes the concept even more satisfying.

Constructing a terrarium is pretty simple and doesn't really need that many specialist supplies. You will need a glass vessel with a lid, preferably large enough to fit your hand through the opening until you become a pro. You will also need some gravel, charcoal granules (I got mine from our local pet shop as it's often used in fish tank filters), potting mix, some props to create fun scenarios and of course moss.

I collected moss from beside a local creek, you will find it growing in damp, shady spots often on rocks or wood facing away from the sun (in the southern hemisphere that is South, very confusing to this northern-hemisphere girl!)
Prise the moss away from the surface with a blunt knife or paint scraper and try to bring with it any soil or surface it is attached to, this will help when transplanting it. Pop it in a plastic bag, this will help keep it moist and alive until you get chance to replant it.
You can buy dried moss from a florist or online, once you rehydrate it eventually it will become lush and green again under the correct conditions.

Begin with a layer of the charcoal, this will prevent your micro-climate from growing mould, then add a layer of gravel for drainage. Above that place a layer of potting mix or soil, it need not be deep and the quality need not be rich, as moss gathers it's nutrients from the air. Make the soil either domed or sloped in shape as this helps with drainage then cover with the moss.

It's now time to create your own little world! There are an abundance of miniature figures and props available online used to creating model railways. I bought a chain-gang, park bums and gravestone set in N scale, this makes the figures 11mm high IE. teeny tiny. I think in hindsight I should have purchased HO scale which is a little bigger!

To make my figures stand I glued itty-bitty stalks of wire to each prop and once dry inserted into the moss to make a grave-robbing scene.

 To care for your terrarium you will need to mist it with a spray bottle every so often if the moss feels dry. Don't over water it though and if you see water sitting in the gravel then leave the jar open to allow some liquid to evaporate. If you mostly leave the jar closed it will 'water' itself through condensation. Keep your micro-world out of direct sunlight and open the lid every so often to allow air to circulate, if you want to show your terrarium off, then open the lid to let any condensation on the glass disperse.
I'm now on the lookout for a nice old magnifying glass for my visitors to view my little cemetery and think I might make some more for our shop, I think they would make really terriffic wedding or Mothers day pressies.