Good to Self, Good to Earth

trying on more healthy ways of being, day by day


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Creating a Succulent Plant Terrarium

This was probably one of the coolest things I have ever made.  Remember making dioramas in school? I always loved those things.  This one is basically like a living diorama and I am very excited about how easy and fun it was to make.

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My boyfriend had this old fish tank just sitting in the garage and I was looking for some way to use it.  I started with a bag of small river-rocks (sort of like a medium sized gravel) as well as a bag of small gravel and a bag of sand.

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I washed everything (tank and rocks) really well with a small amount of dish soap and a lot of water.  I wasn’t exactly sure of how much rocks I would really end up using but I decided just to wash a bunch and figured I could always wash more if I needed it.

I also had a big bag of potting soil which I amended in order to meet the needs of my plants.  I was reading online about how you should really get cactus soil for these types of plants, but I explored further and found some ideas on how to mix up my own batch and see if it works out.  I added a bit of gravel, sand, eggshell powder,and coffee grounds for extra drainage, calcium, and nitrogen.

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This is what my tray of homemade cactus soil looked like once I was done.  I basically just sort of went with my gut in terms of ratios on this.  If you are interested in getting more specific measurements for creating your own cactus soil, you can search and find it online pretty easily (feel free to ask if you want to see the resources I used).

The rest of my ingredients were a mixture of succulent plants and mosses.  A friend had given me two coffee cans with Aloe plants in them that were having babies all over the place so I had spread them out in these shallow trays until I could find permanent homes for them –this terrarium became one fantastic solution.  Then I also had a snake plant which had sprouted a new plant as well and needed some space.  And I went to the store to get a few of these sweet little succulents and a bright red cactus, all of which were already sprouting babies so I knew I’d get some extras out of them too. Finally, I remembered seeing some moss out in the yard and decided I might as well scoop some up and throw it in there too.  You can see I’ve actually got three different types of moss here, hoping that each of them will like it in their new home.

 

Once I had washed all the rocks and the tank, I was ready to start layering the foundation for my terrarium.  I made a layer of larger stones first and then covered that over with some of the small gravel before adding in a layer of sand to support good drainage.  I was interested in having a sort of hilly effect in terms of the terrain in there so I just made some mounds with extra sand.

After that I was able to pour a nice and thick layer of soil over the sand and start sticking my plants into their spots.  I put all of the plants in first and added the moss and a few extra river rocks at the end to sort of fill in the gaps.  My only concern about the moss is that it will require quite a bit more water than the other plants and also quite a bit more shade.  I decided to go ahead with my plans and see how it works out, worst case scenario I can always take the moss out.  Here’s a picture of the finished landscape inside the terrarium.  I will be sure to post again later to show how it has changed over time.

 


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Recycled Vegetable Soup

Here’s one of what I call my Make-Do Recipes

The basic principles of these recipes are to make do with what you’ve got in the house.  As long as you put love into your cooking it will always come out delicious and full of nourishing goodness.

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Right now I live part time in two different places and I’ve always wanted to start a compost pile but based on where I’m living its just not really possible for me.  I always feel so bad throwing away all of my food scraps though, especially when I’m cutting up vegetables and their nutritious skins and ends are all just going to waste.

Instead of throwing them away, I’ve started putting them into quart-sized ziplock bags and sticking them in the freezer.  Once I’ve collected two full baggies of frozen veggies, I dump them into my biggest pot and fill with water just to cover them.  I bring the water to a boil on high and then reduce it to a nice low setting so that it can simmer for anywhere from one to three hours.

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Once I’m ready to move on, I pour the veggie scraps through a large strainer into a big bowl and i smush them in the strainer to make sure I get all of those delicious juices out.  At this point I have made a delicious vegetable broth for soup.   Now I can either freeze this broth and save it for later or get started right away.

I make the soup the same way I make the broth, I just use whatever vegetables I have!  I usually start by sauteing a bunch of onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil with some spices added.  Then maybe adding some (canned, frozen, or fresh) corn to the mix.  I love to roast vegetables beforehand for a nice stew flavor, you can roast things like carrots, parsnips, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, green beans, eggplant, zuccini, or any other types of squash.  Its all good!!

veggies roasted

If you’ve already roasted some veggies like I do, you can pour the broth over the sauteed onions/garlic/corn mixture and add the vegetables to the soup.  Raise the heat to a low-medium setting, you don’t want it to cook much more you just want everything to get acquainted in there.  Add a Bay Leaf and a few other spices and voila!  SOUP!!!  sooo good.  Make some rice and serve them together for a delicious hearty meal.

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