Monday, January 11, 2010

Recycle your Christmas tree

The City of Chicago has a free Christmas tree recycling program. They have several drop-off locations throughout the city, the closest to Pilsen being Sheridan Park near UIC. We borrow a generous friend's car, wrap our tree in a piece of thick plastic to contain most of the needles, and drop it off at the park (we bring the plastic home to reuse). This year the collections run from Jan. 1- Jan. 17. The trees are turned into mulch, which is distributed for free to tree recyclers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


The frost finally did come to kill my balcony garden (December 2 or 3 I think). In the meantime, I've been enjoying the green my houseplants offer inside, as well as becoming more and more enthusiastic about terrariums. I made two really awesome terrariums at the end of November after seeing some on Etsy.

Last spring the university was clearing out an old biology lab, so I brought home a bunch of cool glassware like this huge 2.8 L flask, not knowing exactly what I'd do with it but knowing that it was very cool. A terrarium seemed like the perfect use for it.

I had the great fortune to get some moss from an intro bio lab at school that was going to be discarded at the end of the week, so I used that. They probably got it from Carolina Biological Supply. I was thrilled to get such thick, lush moss because you just don't see moss like that in Chicago outside of the Garfield Park Conservatory!

First I laid down a layer of small rocks (collected from the shore of Lake Michigan in the fall), with a few larger ones mixed in.

Then I put down a small amount of sphagnum moss that I took from a potted plant...

...and then covered that with a layer of potting mix. I used a Cacti and Succulent Soil Mix that I had.

Then I started adding the moss. Sometimes it was a squeeze to fit the chunks of moss through the flask opening.

The sides of the flask were dirty when I finished, so I took a rag and chopstick to wipe around the inside.

Having gained some confidence using the flask with a relatively large opening, I decided to try a large bottle.

This bottle shows layers more nicely than the flask, so I layered different rock sizes.

I made a paper funnel out of junk mail that I used to help direct where the little pebbles landed. This is key if you want nice layers.

Then I added a layer of potting mix (again, using the funnel to keep it from going all over the place. When I was ready to add the moss, I used chopsticks get the moss into the jar and move it into the desired place.

Now I just need to find the photos of the finished terrariums! More about moss and terrariums in the near future.