It doesn’t take long after my garden has been “put to bed” for the winter for me to get that itch to dig in the dirt. Perhaps it is in my blood and I hope I never get it out of my system! The good news is even during this time of year you can still “play in the dirt”. One project you may want to try is growing a terrarium. Terrariums are small containers, usually made of glass, that allow you to grow plants indoors. Terrariums became very popular during the Victorian era at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are inexpensive to make and also a great project to work on with your kids during the late fall and winter months.

The materials you need for building a terrarium are pretty simple. You need a container, potting soil, activated charcoal for filtration purposes, and some terrarium appropriate plants. The first thing you want to do is determine where you want to put your terrarium. Due to their size, they can be placed on a desk or table in any room or office. Most plants that are suitable for terrariums do require some light so you want the location to receive at least some sunlight and you may need to consider a plant light if you can’t find a suitable spot.

After you choose your container, which can be anything ranging from a glass vase to even an old fish tank, you should fill the bottom of the container with about 1 to 2 inches of the activated charcoal. The charcoal helps filter out odors that can be associated with moist soil found in a container that has no holes for drainage. Once the charcoal is in place you want to fill the container from ¼ to 1/3 full with potting soil; gently packing the soil down to get any air pockets out of it.

Now it is time to add your plants! Take the plants you’ve chosen and position them on the soil before you permanently plant them. This way you can make sure they have the look you want and you can establish the proper spacing. You’ll want to choose plants that aren’t growing above the rim of your container or at least be prepared to trim them if they are. Once planted you gently water the plants in trying not to disturb the soil and you are done! It is really that simple! An additional piece of good news is that terrariums are pretty easy to maintain. You don’t need to fertilize them and most of the watering can be done with a spray bottle to keep the plant leaves clean and maintain a favorable level of humidity.

So if you’ve got that itch to feel the dirt under your fingernails, maybe a terrarium is just what you need!

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