Monday, September 2, 2013

Indoor Gardening

Over this past spring and summer, I've come to realize how much I benefit from being outside and connecting with nature.  Just sitting out back on the deck watching the kids play is great, but actually interacting with nature - walking barefoot in the grass, lying under the tree and looking up at the branches, tending to our garden, making our yard attractive to wildlife - that brings things to a whole 'nother level.  I'm a much happier, more sane person when I can do those things.

Unfortunately, we live in Massachusetts, and those opportunities are rapidly running out.  To be honest, I'm a little apprehensive about this winter and being shut off from anything green.  So I started searching Pinterest and the Google for information about houseplants and indoor gardening.  I've tried having some house plants before, but it's never worked out too well.. mostly because of a lack of information on my part.  This time, I'm vowing to do it right and not just wing it.

I took the kids out to Kanes, a local nursery that's like the Walmart of nurseries.  But you know what?  Everything I've ever gotten there has done really well.  We had a blast in the greenhouse picking out plants and admiring the sleeping kitties tucked away in little nooks.  And we came home with these beauties:

Check out the texture on that Pilea!  How cool are those leaves?

And look at the gorgeous green and pink foliage on the Fittonia!  It almost reminds me of watermelon.  So pretty.

And look at the leaf on this.. plant!  Yes, I lost the little plant label thingy.  Oh, had I tricked you with my clever plant-name-dropping?  Well, hey.. whatever its name is, it's lovely.

I got the Aralia mostly for height, but its leaves are variegated, too, so that's a bonus!  It looks so delicate.

We also grabbed some potting mix (nothing organic here, since we're not eating any of these babies) and some horticultural charcoal, since there won't be any drainage holes in the planters.

You may have noticed the aloe off to the side in the group shot.  I had plans for other plants to be grouped together in a giant glass terrarium, but the aloe has different needs so I picked up this cute little planter from Michael's.  I want plants in each room, and I figured aloe is perfect for the kitchen.

I filled the bottom with some charcoal...

Put my aloe in, packed some potting soil around the edges, and voila!  Isn't she lovely?  By the way, yes, I was doing this all on my dining room table.  These plants all need to stay out of direct sun and I figured if I brought these all outside to plant, I'd probably get pulled away (hello, four children!) and leave them out there too long.

Now for the terrarium!  Eee!  I have to say, this project was a little more fidgety and difficult than I was expecting.  Step one:  pour charcoal into giant glass terrarium.  Step two:  clean the glass.  And again.

Once the glass was somewhat clear of dust, I put a layer of potting soil down and set my plants inside.  It became apparent right away that one plant (the mysterious nameless one) was not going to fit.  They look so tiny in the greenhouse, but huge inside the terrarium!

After the plants are in place, then fill in with potting soil around the edges and in between the plants.  You don't want to put in a ton of potting soil first and try to dig holes, that just wouldn't work.  Not that this way was a piece of cake, but still.  Once everything is firmly planted, get out your sheets of moss.  Wait, you don't happen to have sheets of moss just lying around your house?  You can get this stuff at Michael's and AC Moore.

Tear off pieces and cover up the bare soil sort of like you'd use mulch.  You'll probably need to wet it to get it to stay put - I did.  If you have some little pebbles or rocks, you can add those for decoration, too.  You should end up with something like this:

Okay, so I may have gotten a little tired of trying to clean the glass, and there might still be some smudges of soil on it.  But isn't it beautiful?