Build a Terrarium – Laying Down the Foundation

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 57,818
    This video will show how to build a terrarium and how to lay down the foundation.

    Kacy Paide: Hi, My name is Kacy Paide of Small World Terrariums and you are watching how to make a Terrarium. This next process I am going to teach is about how to mix and layer the soil. This is probably the most important piece of the entire process because if your soil is too wet or too dry, terrariums are going to struggle and you have to get it right at this point in the process. So, there are a few elements. I just use gravel on the bottom, it's aquarium gravel and this helps with drainage. So you will see once it through here I usually just let it come up for about an inch or two high in something that's just steep. If it is a shallower container you only need a real shallow level. But this is so that if you over-water your terrarium which is easy to do it and happens often, the terrarium soil is not sitting and soaking water. It drains through to the bottom. Now the next piece is horticultural fabric and again sometimes I will use an old screen but this is preferable. Now of course I have pre-cut this but it's important to have the fabric, cover the gravel and then some.

    If the fabric is touching the glass it prevents the soil from falling down into the gravel. For aesthetic reasons I like to keep the layers very separate and this just keeps the soil above the gravel line. So this piece of fabric is actually cut from quite a large square and your favorite nursery or garden shop very well might sell these squares and again it's horticultural fabric and ask if you can get a small cut, a sample size otherwise you will be sold a bolt which runs 100s of yards even. So mixing the soil is one of the important element to the entire process and the reason why I killed so many plants in the beginning is because I didn't get this right. It is hard to learn. I, in all my research couldn't find anybody who taught exactly how to make soil that will help keep your terrarium alive. So this is the point where we get the moisture content right and we have to mix the soil in with some charcoal, and again this is gardening charcoal which you can get at any gardening shop and this isn't an exact science but basically I will just take a small cup about this size, throw it on top, we'll see if that's enough. You just have to mix it in with your hands eyeball it, and what you are looking for is the charcoal. If you can't see the charcoal after you have mixed it in, you probably don't have enough. If you see way too much charcoal then you just want to add more soil on top of it. So once you have your charcoal-soil ratio correct then you just want to add some water enough, so it's pretty, pretty moist. Because at the end of this entire process we are actually not going to do much watering of the terrarium. So again the reason why it's important to start with moist soil is so that in the end we are not watering dry soil and then what happens when you water dry soil, is the water just sinks straight to the bottom instead of dispersing into the entire terrarium. So we are going to add a little bit more. I want to make sure that it's pretty wet, but not so wet that there is a lot of water falling to the bottom of the terrarium.

    You can tell, you have got the moisture wet when about this much sticks to your hands. So, before we add the soil on top of the fabric, we are going to take another small cup of gardening charcoal and actually sprinkle a little bit on top, not too much, it doesn't have to be solid, just about this much, that only took about half of the small cup. Again what the charcoal does is that, purifies the soil since there is no drainage, it acts as a filter. If you think of your water filtering system in your fridge, it is the exact same thing. So it keeps the soil fresh without charcoal, the soil would become a little bit dirty, maybe too dirty, too much bacteria for the plants to survive. So, next step is to take little bit of soil. Just kind of break it up as we are dropping it into the terrarium and again the reason why I do this a little slow is so the soil doesn't fall around the edges onto the gravel. At this point I am just putting in a relatively thin layer of soil because once we have the plant, they will have their own soil and then to finish it, we will just put soil around the plant, so you don't need too much on the stub, a little more. Now that the layering process is done and the soil is mixed-in in here, next step will be adding the plant to the terrarium.