a peek inside the fishbowl

09 May, 2008

Our latest project: plants we can’t kill

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|File under crafty

It took me awhile, but I can finally face the truth. I was born without a green thumb. My thumb is kind of turquoise-coloured. Or maybe periwinkle. But green? No.

That’s why, when I saw this terrarium project I knew it was A Good Kind of Project For Us. It was one we could totally handle. And hopefully, no plants would be murdered in the process. (Sidebar: I just realized we used cacti and succulents and should probably keep the lid off otherwise they will rot. Darnitall. I really wanted something to help illustrate the water cycle.) 


I really struggled to find a secondhand glass jar with a lid. These are hard to come by. The one we used was from the SallyAnn and cost two dollars. ETA: It dawned on me that an ideal container would have been an oldskool goldfish bowl.

We already had a bag of dirt, so all we needed were the plants.

The small cacti only cost $1.97 at Home Depot. We bought two of those. The Hens and Chicks (which I love) were part of a larger package which cost nine. I’ll move the extras into our garden.

We did this project outdoors so I wouldn’t have to care about the crumbs of dirt that were inevitably going to cover everything.

First, we filled the jar with pebbles.

 pebbles in the terrarium

Then we mixed a bit of water with the soil to make it damp. (Damp enough to make a ball with it, but not so wet that the water drips out while you’re squeezing.)

 dirt mixing

Some of us really didn’t care if we got our hands dirty.more dirt

And then we put some of the wet soil into the jar.

 getting the hands dirty is a good thing

… and added the plants. The tallest one was put in the middle. One kind of Hen was put on one side, another type of Hen was put on the other.


As it turned out, we bought a few too many plants. Emma re-potted one of the extras. She’s named it Rosie. Rosie lives on her windowsill now.

Emma potter

the one that didn't fit 

Here it is, almost finished. I’d like to find a dinosaur or a robot to tuck in the corner, and then it will be perfect.

 terrarium with lid

4 Responses to "Our latest project: plants we can’t kill"

1 | LO

May 9th, 2008 at 4:38 pm


I was just at Ikea and they have greatly reduced the price of these rectangle tin containers so i bought a few and will plant succulents and stuff in them and then have rock on top-not sure i know what i am doing but it will be fun for my daughter and I.
Will post pics afterwards.
Always enjoy reading you!

2 | Nadine/Scarb

May 9th, 2008 at 10:27 pm


Totally unrelated, but I bought those exact same shoes for Lucy from Winners. And she can’t even walk yet! What will I do when my girl is as big as yours?

3 | andrea

May 10th, 2008 at 5:40 am


You don’t know big yet Nadine.
Emma is about to turn nine and wears size 6.5 shoes. (That’s the ADULT shoe section. No more Kiddie Kobbler for us!)

4 | Saturday thrifting at a peek inside the fishbowl

July 6th, 2008 at 8:23 am


[…] went in looking for a glass goldfish bowl to make a second terrarium but didn’t find […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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