Category Archives: Gardening


Tutorial: Recycled Wine Bottle Planter

Tutorial: Recycled Wine Bottle Planter | The Zen of Making

Make your own recycled wine bottle planter with my special Earth Day tutorial!

Tutorial: Recycled Wine Bottle Planter | The Zen of Making

* Empty glass wine bottle, cleaned and dried
* Thick rubber band that will fit snugly around the bottle
* Wet/dry sandpaper, 1 sheet coarse grain and 1 sheet fine grain
* Tealight candle
* Paper towel
* Wool felt, 10″ x 3″ rectangle
* Cotton sewing thread
* Baked clay pellets, 1 cup
* Potted herb of your choice (I used rosemary)
* Hydroponic fertilizer

* Glass cutter
* Ruler
* Lighter or matches
* Close fitting household cleaning gloves
* Safety goggles or glasses
* Protective face mask that covers nose and mouth
* Sewing machine (you can also sew by hand)

Or, if you want the look without all the work, you can always pick up a recycled Growbottle kit! (No judgement here—all green is good green!)

**Please note that the links provided above are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.**

Step 1
Measure 5″ up from the bottom of the wine bottle, then use a rubber band to mark the measurement.

Once your line is marked, go ahead and put on your safety goggles and gloves. You’ll want to wear them through step 6.

Step 2
Using your glass cutter, carefully but firmly score a continuous line around the bottom edge of the rubber band.

Step 3
Use a candle to heat up the line you just scored. To increase the temperature of the glass sufficiently, you’ll need to hold the bottle very close to the frame and turn it slowly and steadily. Don’t be alarmed if you hear popping or cracking noises as the temperature of the glass rises.

When you’re done, you should see a dark mark all the way around the bottle.

Step 4
While the glass is still hot, submerge the bottle in a sink filled with ice cold water. Because of the drastic temperature change, the top and the bottom should separate right away. If they don’t, try tapping the bottle firmly on the bottom of the sink.

If you’re having trouble getting a clean cut, your scoring might not be deep enough, or your glass might have cooled. Before picking up the glass cutter again, try another round or two of heating the glass and submerging it in cold water.

Step 5
Use a paper towel or cloth to dry the two sides of the bottle, carefully cleaning the black marks off of each side. The cut glass edges will be very sharp, so make sure you’re wearing gloves and paying attention.

Step 6
It’s time to sand the rough edges on each side of the cut bottle.

Put on your face mask (you should already be wearing your goggles and gloves). Then, standing over the sink with a trickle of water running, use your course grain sandpaper to smooth the sharp edges around the top and the bottom pieces of the bottle, keeping the place that you’re sanding wet at all times. Continue sanding until both sides of the bottle are smooth to the touch, and there are no sharp edges. Smooth away any remaining rough spots with your fine grain sandpaper.

When you’re done, the entire cut edge should look dull—if you see any shiny spots, keep sanding.

Note: Unless you’re using a grinder, your edges are never going to be perfectly straight and flat. Embrace the imperfection!

Caution: Glass dust can be extremely hazardous to your health if inhaled. You should wear a mask and goggles to protect your eyes and lungs while working, and always sand glass using water, which cuts down on the amount of glass dust that is released into the air.

Step 7
Set your glass bottle aside, then cut a felt rectangle that is 10″ x 3″.

Step 8
To create the wick, fold the felt rectangle in half length-wise, then use your sewing machine to stitch the two sides together along the edge opposite the fold. Once the fold is secure, stitch two or three additional lines down the length of the felt strip.

Note: If you’re using a plant that requires a high volume of water, you may want to use thick cotton or braided polyurethane yarn. If you choose cotton, you will need to replace the wick as needed, as it will eventually rot.

Step 9
Wet the felt wick thoroughly, then insert it into the top part of the wine bottle, fishing the end through the neck of the bottle so that it sticks out about an inch below the opening. Place the top half of the wine bottle into the bottom half. (You may fill the bottom with water now or wait until after you’ve added the plant.)

Step 10
Fold the extra length of the wick over to cover the opening between the top and bottom of the bottle. The end of the strip should now reach just below the top of the rim.

Step 11
Rinse your clay pellets thoroughly to remove any dust, then fill the planter slightly less than halfway, feeding the wick up through the middle.

Step 12
Clean any dirt off of the roots of your plant, then insert it into the center of the planter.

Tutorial: Recycled Wine Bottle Planter | The Zen of Making

Step 13
Fill the planter the rest of the way with clay pellets, securing the plant in place. If you haven’t already filled the bottom of the planter with water do so now.

Tutorial: Recycled Wine Bottle Planter | The Zen of Making

Step 14
Your plant doesn’t have any soil to provide its nutrients, so don’t forget to add some hydroponic fertilizer to the water to keep it healthy!

I hope you enjoyed this bonus Sunday project! Happy upcycling and happy Earth Day!

Shared on Find Your Direction!

Tutorial: Spice Jar Mini Terrariums

Tutorial: Spice Jar Mini Terrariums | The Zen of Making

Turn your empty spice jars into mini moss terrariums with this fun, simple Earth Week project. Tiny terrariums are the perfect way to green up your home decor, and they also make great recycled gifts!

* Spice jars, cleaned and dried
* Fresh moss or Dehydrated live terrarium moss, soaked per package instructions
* Dried moss
* Polished gravel
* Terrarium soil

* Bamboo skewer or chopstick
* Plant mister

★ Please note that the links provided above are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through. ★

Tutorial: Spice Jar Mini Terrariums | The Zen of Making

Step 1
Gather your terrarium supplies, then assemble the gravel, dried moss, and soil layers as shown above. Lightly spray the soil with the plant mister to dampen. (You will add the top moss layer in the next step.)

Important: Before you start your terrarium, make sure you allow enough time to soak and rehydrate any dry materials, including dehydrated moss, dried moss, and compressed soil. The soaking process generally takes about 3 hours.

Step 2
Once your layers are in place, use a bamboo skewer or a chopstick to artfully arrange your moss, pressing it firmly into the soil. When you’re done, place a few pebbles on top of the moss to add some color and finish off the landscape.

Step 3
Mist the moss lightly, then secure the lid. Place your finished terrarium in a shady spot where it will receive only filtered light.

To keep your terrarium healthy, spray it every 3-4 weeks (or more often if it’s hot/dry) with a plant mister. The moss should be damp, but never wet.

Terrarium tips:

• If your water is very hard or contains chlorine, you’ll want to use bottled water to rehydrate your materials and water your terrarium. Chemicals in water can burn moss and cause it to turn brown and die.

• Most mosses like filtered light or shade. Avoid putting your terrarium in a window or any location where it will be exposed to direct sunlight.

• Build moss terrariums in containers with lids. Open containers dry out quickly and require daily attention.

• If you’ve over-watered or notice a ton of condensation on the glass, open the top for a few hours to allow some of the extra moisture to evaporate.

In the mood for something a little fancier? Check out my Twig Terrariums Terrarium Kits review. (You’ll love them!)

Ready for more upcycling projects? Earth Week Roundup: Top 5 Upcycling Tutorials

Tutorial: Make a Terrarium Fascinator with Your Own Hair

Tutorial: Make a Terrarium Fascinator with Your Own Hair | The Zen of Making

Terrariums are hot these days, and human hair is one of the best growing mediums around for mosses and certain varieties of carnivorous plants. So, why not take advantage of all that wasted growing space with a terrarium hair fascinator? When I rock mine down the streets of Brooklyn, I’m always the hippest hipster on the block. If you want to be the queen of your own little slice of coolsville, check out my full tutorial for planting ideas, dye maintenance, and tips for coping with the occasional gnome infestation. (I promise, it’s totally worth it.)

* Manic Panic hair dye in Green Envy
* Small glass jar
* Dried terrarium moss, rehydrated per the package instructions
* Bobby pins
* Green ribbon
* Wool felt sheets in multiple colors
* Hot glue
* Potting soil

* Hot glue gun
* Fabric scissors
* Protective gloves
* Bamboo skewer
* Dye brush
* Comb

Step 1
Backcomb the section of hair that you’re going to use for the terrarium, working in small amounts of potting soil as you go.

Step 2
Once your hair is holding as much dirt as possible, begin mixing in the green hair dye a few drops at a time.





Tutorial: Make a Terrarium Fascinator with Your Own Hair | The Zen of Making
Gnome photo care of Flickr user robswatski.

C’mon. You didn’t really want gnomes living in your hair, did you?

Review: Twig Terrariums Terrarium Kits

I talk a good game about fire escape gardening and air plant chandeliers, but the only part of my anatomy that’s even close to green is the turquoise streak in the front of my hair. And, while I’ve always loved the idea of making awesome terrariums of my own, I was also convinced that they’d require crazy gardening skills that I just didn’t have. Lucky for me, the ladies at Twig Terrariums created a series of terrarium kits—with versions for both beginners and for more experienced makers—that walk you through the whole terrarium-making process from beginning to end! (Did I mention that they have an exciting new book coming out too?!)

If, like me, you’ve always wanted to make a terrarium but didn’t know where to start, this post is for you!

The details:
For this review, I tried out the Le Petit Singularite kit.

According to the Twig Terrariums website:

Le Petit Singularite

Looking for a little green gift to keep that someone fascinated? Look at this one! Le Petit Singularite is a small, well-made, cork-topped jar, made from 40% post-consumer recycled glass. Its design is simple and it looks good everywhere (we’ve checked around our homes). Kit comes attractively packaged and with one figure—please specify male or female.

Height: 3 3/4″
Width: 3 1/8″
Length: 3 1/8″

Price: $25.00
P&P;: $9.50

What I loved:

1. Everything I needed came in one box, so I didn’t have to run out and pick up extra supplies before getting started.

2. The instruction sheet included both step-by-step directions and an illustrated diagram, which kept me from accidentally mixing up the layers as I worked.

3. Each bag—from rocks to moss—contained more than enough of each material to complete my project.

4. The moss contained in the kit was completely dried, so it didn’t die or get damaged in transit. After three hours of soaking, it was green, happy, and ready to go.

5. The hole on top of the container was wide enough for me to use my fingers to arrange the rocks, moss, and figure, so I didn’t need to have any additional tools on hand. (A bamboo skewer or a chopstick would perfect for making more detailed placements, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

6. The glass container was thick and sturdy, so I wasn’t afraid to pour in the rocks/display it in a busy area.

7. Moss thrives in filtered light and shade, so it’s the perfect plant for my Brooklyn cave. I haven’t tried keeping a terrarium in an office or a dorm room, but I bet it’d be pretty happy there too.

Tip: When the instructions tell you to put your terrarium in a shady spot, they’re not kidding. If you put a freshly planted terrarium in a sunny window, the moss will fry, and you’ll be left with an ugly brown mess. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) Moss loves shade and filtered light, so put it in a cozy, low-light spot and it’ll stay green and healthy!

What I didn’t love:

1. There was only one kind of moss included in the kit. Adding a bit of variety would have opened up more possibilities for getting creative with texture and landscape.

Update: I’ve just been informed that this kit now comes with two kinds of moss. Huzzah!

2. I’d love to see a larger set of standard options for the figures (say, different hair colors or adults vs. kids). Right now, you can choose between a male figure and a female figure, but adding a second option like hair color would allow for a more custom feel, which would be especially great for gifts.

Overall Impression:
I thought that the Twig Terrariums terrarium kit was easy to work with and yielded the same great results that were promised on the site. The materials included in the box were high quality, and created a finished product that was, in my opinion, worth the $25 price tag. I would definitely recommend this kit to friends!

Ready to make a terrarium of your own?
You can order Twig Terrariums terrarium kits here!

Full disclosure:
I am pals with Michelle and Katy, the owners of Twig Terrariums. They generously provided a sample kit for review, but the opinions expressed here are honest and my own.