18 April 2011

Follow Up: A terrarrium in an old scotch bottle

I was unsure about how well the moss would do in the bottle. I have not had to water it at all- it appears to be fairly self-contained even with the lid off. It also turns out that i have five small unexpected inhabitants inside the tiny landscape...five snails, each about 4 mm in size! They came in with the soil i suspect. There is also a mysterious plant sprouting inside, perhaps a grass of some sort. I swear it's better than watching tv...sometimes the snails try to climb up the side of the bottle then fall back down.

You can see one of the in the photo below looking down inside the bottle (bottom right corner, the white dot). The moss itself seems to be getting longer. It looks like tiny coniferous trees if you look close, the bottle is too steamy right now to see. 

See the original post with directions here.

These are a few of my Favourite Things: 'Alive in my Apartment'

We have a small but very much alive domocile. Myself, Tom Mosher (my elven boyfriend who is also a maker and takes part in all experiments around the house), Chicken (black cat), and our family of plants, all pictured below.

Tom: Fixed-gear freestyle bike trick guy, green thumb, up-and-coming chef, playmate. (Left photo by Sungwoo Kim)

Chicken: Sits on all things i am currently working on, pretends to hate being loved.

And the plants. I have listed my favourites below, all are hearty, easy to maintain and somewhat eccentric in appearance. 

Cylindrical Snake Plant (Sansevieria cylindrica)

Each 'leaf' is a hollow spear similar to a pencil in weight and strength. Very sculptural and skeletal. Only needs watering once a month. The spears can be braided or shaped into whatever mass is desired.  Tom bought me this beautiful turquoise vase (which is also spiny) for my birthday. Thanks, tom!


Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

A slow-growing yet hearty succulent that will tolerate cold windowsills and hot humid summers. This one also requires only one or two waterings a month, produces pink flowers (which i have not yet seen), and is easily propogated by cutting off small stems and planting them in same soil. I have pruned this one for the last five years since i bought it as a two inch cutting, which allows the trunks to get thicker and stronger, more like a bonsai. 


Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina) 

We nicknamed this on 'Cascadia' since it hangs above our staircase about two metres long. It thrives in mid light (indirect). It is easy to propogate by placing cuttings in a glass of water for a few days to grow roots, then potting in a new pot. Frequent trimming helps the plant to stay full; if it gets too long, it will become thin and spindly. Makes a great 'green' chandelier!

Elephant Palm (Beaucarnea)
Also called a Ponytail Palm, this very decorative plant has a trunk that looks like an elephant's foot with curly, stringy tendrils hanging down. It grows slowly, but can reach 4-6 feet tall. Easy to care for, dark or light conditions, humid or dry.  Unfortunately, also readily available at ikea. 


Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

This canopy plant (also called 'fruit salad plant') is named after its adult leaves which unfurl to show leaves with holes in them (like the cheese). While the plant is young, leaves show no holes. Leathery leaves can become anywhere from 25cm-75cm across, providing a nice umbrella in a shady room. Fairly easy to maintain as long as it is out of the sun and away from heaters. Also provides a great focus point for speculation ('it has holes because it grows so fast') during dinner parties. 


Organ Pipe Cactus (Lenaireocereus Marginatis)
This guy had a rough beginning. He started out as four tiny spikes in the soil, then got knocked over a few times. Parts were broken off. We replanted those broken parts upsidedown thinking the whole thing was going to die anyway. What happened? It started growing tiny clones out of the exposed broken bits! Now it has aerial roots, the whole thing looks like a crash site. Fluorishing! Again, waters once a month. Pick off the clones at any point, let them dry out for a few days, then replant in soil.

Plants make great stress relievers. The clones make great gifts for friends...and they are free! It is strangely rewarding to watch them grow. You might collect so many that you will have to make a 'green curtain' as i have done in my washroom. Installed a few shelves in front of the windown instead of those nasty dirt-collecting venetian blinds:

A great source for all house plants is a book called 'The House Plant Expert' by D.G. Hessayon. 

GET THIS...the best part....NASA conducted a study in the 1980's that showed that houseplants help to purify air inside due to chemicals that offgas from building materials for decades. For a 2000 square foot home, fifteen large plants will take care of formaldehyde, benzene, and Trichloroethylene that exist in insulation, paints, adhesives and varnishes. Since I live in approximately 600 square feet, I guess my forty something plants cover all toxins.

10 April 2011

Spring has sprung!

A beautiful weekend allowed us to leave windows open, repot our seeds for the upcoming garden, ride bikes, play bocce with friends, and set up the slackline by the lake! Below is me and Tom at our first slackline session of the summer! Follow my adventurous boyfriend, Tom Mosher's blog here and check out his entrepreneurial/designer skills for YNOT Cycle here!!

An update to my seedlings from my post 'first steps towards summer garden'... we repotted all of our seedlings into their own pots only a week later. Only a matter of weeks before we put them in the ground!

7 April 2011

Connie - My Industrial Sewing Machine

This post is by request...my Pops has been wanting to get a look at my industrial sewing machine. He's a neat guy, I inherited his eccentric interests.

She is pretty epic. The model is Consew 230. The machine itself is all cast metal (in my estimation the whole thing weighs more than 150 pounds), as well as the oil tank and motor underneath. It is self-oiling (the oil wicks up from the silverish square tank directly under the machine) and could sew through bone if it happened to slide underneath. The presser foot is lifted up by shifting your thigh into the lever with the padded blue cover - this is great for handsfree shifting. No fancy stitches on this one, just forward and reverse with a few stitch-length adjustments, but who really needs more. I have sewn through many layers of leather anything that will fit underneath the presser foot, it will go through it.

Refer to the exploded axonometric diagram and legend for more information. This drawing in itself is also amazing!

I have been creating bags of all scales for friends and family, stay tuned for more posts about things made with Connie! Hope you enjoyed this one, Daddio!

4 April 2011

A terrarrium in an old scotch bottle

The weather this past weekend allowed so much outdoor activity... walking, frisbee, returning empties, cleaning off the balcony and prepping for a massive garden! I couldnt help but notice all the bits of greenery poking up from the brownness of winter. The brightest patches of spring green caught my eye around large trees and on sloped banks. They were patches of live moss! I have seen some sites that sell kits for $20-$30 that allow you to build your own small terrarium...but why bother purchasing when you already have all the pieces? I grabbed as much moss as my hands could carry, being careful to take a bit of the clay soil with it.

Around the house, i collected an old bottle of Glenrothes whisky that i was using as a vase. Any glass vessel will do, you just need to be able to place the chunks of plant or moss inside the soil (this is where you might need chopsticks).  Another good choice would be Bulleit Bourbon or Woodford Reserve.

Here are the steps:

1. Break up some styrafoam into smaller particles for drainage layer (about half inch)
2. Place a piece of mesh or tulle fabric between above the pellets to keep the layers from mixing
3. Top with two or three inches of potting soil. Funnels will be required if you're using a bottle (the tiny opening is hard to work around but they're so beautiful) to direct the ingredients to the bottom
4. Use the chopsticks to arrange everything on the soil
5. Spray some water into the tiny ecosystem and close it up. 

You should only have to open it once a month or so to add water or allow wetness to escape. It can also remain as an open system, you just have to water it more often. I am planning on adding some smaller plants to this mix once the moss is better established! 

If you want to start a moss garden in a shady part of your back yard, try this recipe involving some moss, buttermilk and sugar in your blender. Garden gnomes and turtles will love that you gave them a place to park.

Greener is better!

2 April 2011

First steps towards a Summer Garden

Thanks to my friend Melodie for supporting my gardening habit and setting me up with tonnes of great organic seeds for my summer vegetable garden! Tom and I got things started a few nights ago by planting seeds that will hopefully flourish in time to be repotted outside in May after the last frost. We found this great Jiffy Windowsill Greenhouse that holds 24 peat pellets.

Just add water, place a few seeds in each pellet, cover with lid, place in indirect light, and in 4 weeks you have a plant ready for the outside! We made a plan map of the box to keep track of which plant is which vegetable. Hopefully by June or July, we will be harvesting:

Little Finger Carrots
Rainbow Chard
Dward Grey Sugar Pea
Bounty Edamame Soy Beans
Vienna White Cabbage
Romanesco Broccoli
Iroquois Cantaloupe
Trionfo Violetto Pole Bean
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry
Watermelon Radish
Garden Peach Tomato
Yellow Pear Tomato
Brandywine tomato
Sugar Baby Watermelon
Carosello Cucumber
Gourmet Shallot
Green Chives
Mesclun Mix Greens

I am also going to plant Lily of the Valley Bulbs (my favourite flower in the whole world due to its nighttime aroma) and some wild grasses and lavender in large pots on the balcony for some aroma, greenery and shade. 

Happy Gardening!