DIY Terrarium: Now is the time!

DIY Terrarium: Now is the time!

Yep, we all have some extra time on our hands right now. It makes a DIY terrarium the perfect way to fill an afternoon. If you are looking for projects to do with your children, this is a good one! While I titled this “DIY Terrarium” it probably could also be called “Terrarium Refresh” or “Replanting a Terrarium” because this was an old terrarium that needed a new look. After more than three years sitting on my desk it was time! As you can see this terrarium is sad, S-A-D! I decided to scrap everything, including the pepperomia with the green and white leaves. With more tropical and water loving plants to go in here it didn’t seem like it would do well in the moist environment. Plants for a DIY terrarium I was surprised to find that our home improvement store had a really nice selection of small, 2″ size tropical plants. For this DIY terrarium, I used (left to right): Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera), Butterfly Plant (Syngonium sp.), and Creeping Fig (Ficus repens). Its kind of amazing that I am using creeping fig here when we used to have it as a major part of our landscape in Florida! How to put together your terrarium I left most of the soil in my DIY terrarium from the previous plants rather than taking everything out. The charcoal was still in the bottom, so I simple made a small hole to pop the plant in. I have to be honest, I was hoping this project would take longer than it did! It only took about 10 minutes to get these small plants in their new home. I did add fresh potting soil between the plants to help smooth it out and also add some new growing media. I thought that my DIY terrarium looked like it was missing something, so I collected some small bunching mosses from outside. I haven’t done this before so it is an experiment! I place the mosses on top of the soil (no planting) and they seem to be holding up well. The final step was adding a little bit of gravel as topdressing. I actually used chicken grit, which is a crushed granite, because I had it on hand but any small pebbles, seashells or even marbles would work well. I think this gives it a polished look! As I sit at my desk writing about this project I am so glad to finally have it done! My DIY terrarium project was quick and easy and I hope that it will last another three...
Hatching call duck eggs

Hatching call duck eggs

More than anything, a post on hatching call duck eggs might be just to show off some of this incredible cuteness. I mean, it is really too much! If you are receiving your eggs through the mail, unwrap them carefully and allow the eggs to rest (blunt end upward) for 24 hours before setting in your incubator.   Eggs may not be perfectly clean, but that’s okay. If there are large chunks of debris on them you can remove them with a fingernail. I have also used a small piece of very fine grade sandpaper to clean. The key here is to avoid using liquids that could allow bacteria to enter the egg. Much of the information available on incubating and hatching chicken eggs can be applied to ducks, as long as the important differences between these two species are taken into account. Since duck eggs take 28 days to hatch instead of 21, you may need to adjust your incubator. Hatching call duck eggs should be turned (either by hand or by a turner) from days 1-25 with a relative humidity of 50-55% (52% is ideal). For the last three days of the incubation period do not turn them or open your incubator if at all possible. During this time increase your humidity to 60-65%. Some folks will recommend up to 75% humidity but I find that this lower amount works for me. I do like to “cool” my eggs for 15-20 minutes each day by removing the lid of the incubator for a little bit. When I put the lid back on I give the eggs a light spritz of water. I do this from day 8 until day 25. The pencil line on the eggs that you see here shows where the air pocket is at in the eggs. I mark this right as the eggs go into “lock down” for their final three days. I’ve found that the ducklings will unzip themselves right along this line when hatching. If I am hatching call duck eggs and I see a pip outside of that mark I can keep a close eye on it to see if assistance is needed. There is lots of information online, but I really like the details at https://www.metzerfarms.com/ They have a very nice visual of what hatching call duck eggs should look like when candled during their...
Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium

Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium

I thought I was sitting down to write about dividing Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium bulbs, but upon further investigation I am finding that I’ve never written about this plant! This summer blooming bulb features a white stripe along the leaves and beautiful pink flowers. Also called netted-veined amaryllis, it is a flowering perennial herbaceous bulbous plant, in the family Amaryllidaceae, native to South America.  In my experience Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium does well in low light with minimal watering. The bright white stripe along the midrib is quite striking and adds interest throughout the year. I am growing it as a houseplant (zone 5!) but it will also do well in the landscape in warmer climates. The trumpet shaped flowers of this amaryllis are a special treat during the months of September and October. It seems so unusual to see a bulb flowering during this time, but 10-12 bloom stalks all emerged at the same time this year. The pink flowers don’t last long but put on quite the show. After three years in this 3-gallon pot this plant was ready to be divided. How did I know? The leaves coming out the bottom drainage holes were a pretty good indicator. I should mention that the large roots around the base were from a nearby Monstera plant that was mooching some extra water from its neighbors. Now, where to find this plant? That I am not sure of. I was lucky enough to receive this plant from a friend before leaving Florida but I do think it is a difficult one to acquire. A quick search online found bulbs available on Ebay but I can’t speak to the quality of that source. In the meantime, perhaps this is the next plant on your “Must Find” plant...
Gardening Tips For When It Gets Cold

Gardening Tips For When It Gets Cold

Trying to do your gardening when it’s freezing cold outside is not everyone’s idea of fun. However, just because the sun has stopped shining, doesn’t mean your plants can survive and thrive on their own. Here are some helpful gardening tips for when it gets cold to help maintain your beautiful garden. Keep On Top Of Any Weeds Weeds can be a nuisance and can affect the growth of your garden and plants in general. If you’re not going out and pulling up these weeds, you might be harming your plants and flowers for the warmer months when it’s time for them to bloom. So try to keep on top of the weeds as often as you can. Try to do this during the daytime so that you have the available daylight to see all of the weeds in the ground visibly. Protect Water Features Any water feature that you have will need to be protected from frost. Be sure to keep the water running on these features in order for the pipes do not freeze up. You might benefit from getting a Sta-Rite booster pump to keep the water flow at a good constant pressure. Wrap your piping outside the home with insulation to keep them warm. There’s nothing worse than having burst pipes. Give any vulnerable features protection and look for a protective coating that you can apply to certain materials in order to protect them from going rusty in the rain. Build Structures To Protect Sensitive Plants Not every plant or flower is going to be able to last the winter weather, especially as frost can damage the plant and makes it go dormant. So you might want to think about building some protective structures that will take care of the more sensitive plants. There’s plenty of gardening accessories out there to choose from, so pick something that’s going to stop heavy rainfall and snow from weighing down the plants or causing damage. There’s plenty of inspiration online if you’re struggling with ideas. Use Lighting To Add Warmth There is not much you can really do to help keep your plants warm when they’re exposed to the open air. However, certain lights can produce a lot of heat, and so you may find that draping some fairy lights or installing warm lights around certain areas of the garden will be beneficial for keeping the frost off your plants. Lights can also provide your garden with a more inviting feel and so you might find yourself spending more time out there anyway. Maintaining your garden over the winter can be difficult, but it’s certainly worth investing some time into your outdoor space in order to keep it looking presentable. Do what you can to keep your plants safe so that they can be ready to come alive again once the cold weather moves on and the warmer weather comes...
How to Make Gardening Projects Easier

How to Make Gardening Projects Easier

We all go through a phase when we want to get our yard into shape. It’s like the motivation we have for getting into shape. We can see the end result in our mind’s eye, but getting there? Oh, that’s the difficult part, an area where we usually fall short. Part of the problem is that we set our standards too high. We make the process too complicated, with too many components. It’s little wonder that things become too difficult, and projects are often abandoned before they’re realized. So it’s a good idea to make things easier for yourself. We take a look at a few ways how to do this below. Don’t Be Too Ambitious You might want to create the most magical yard space in the neighborhood, but you’ll need to keep in mind that things will be pretty complicated if you do! In general, it’s best to avoid being too ambitious. It’s easy to get lost in the ideas stage and try to come up with some big plans, but things won’t be quite as exciting when you actually get down to business. If things are simple and straightforward, then it’ll be easier to keep things stress-free.  Easy to Care for Plants There’s a whole world of plants out there, and some of them will look truly magical in your yard. But unless you want to keep yourself overly busy just to keep them alive, then it’s probably best that you leave them on the shelf at the gardening store. It’s much easier to care for plants that belong in the climate in which you live. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t have one or two exotic species throw in there somewhere, but in general, it’s best to have plants that won’t stress you out or take up too much of your time. The Usual Tasks There are some tasks that require some skill and can be enjoyable, and then there are others that just need to be completed. When you think about enjoying a day of work in the garden, it’s unlikely that you imagine yourself mowing the grass, for example. So why not look at making these tasks more straightforward? Instead of cutting the grass yourself, you can hire a lawn mowing service, and let them take care of the job for you. It’ll allow you to concentrate on the more fun aspects of gardening life. Getting Family Involved It might be your gardening project, but do you need to do all of it yourself? If you have a family, then the answer is no. Remember: many hands make light work, so get them involved for some of the laborious parts of the job. As well as making the task easier for you, you’ll also be giving your children some experience of working in the outdoors, which will do them a lot of good. Plus, it’ll make it more fun, too, which is always helpful when you’re trying to power through with a...
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