Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If at First you Don't Succeed Suc-ulent it Up

I alluded to this change way back in March and sadly this has been a work in progress since then.  The target for this operation..... our original 60's built in bookshelf/planter at the top of the stairs.
Unfortunately, this, was the typical state of affairs for this fun original feature...

Yeah, not so fun.  As a flat surface in the center of our home it was the dumping ground for stuff to put away somewhere else, stuff to remember loose, etc.  Basically, it was a total crap collector that was on display for EVERY visitor of our house to see all the time!

Uggg, just looking at those pics give me the heeby geebies!  So, H and I decided enough was enough it was time to bite the bullet.

We wanted easy low growing, low maintenance plants that could handle a lot of sun, as our front entry faces South there is a whole lot of sun that come through those big windows.

Our solution..... succulents.

We were mid basement reno, so we were frugal cheap.  After scouring the Internet, we learned that we could grow succulents from cuttings, so we scoured our garden for plants that could be re-purposed.

And, we got a pretty good haul of candidates.


After setting them out in a tray for a few weeks they started growing new roots, so it was time to prepare the planter.  I believe that originally our planter would have had a metal liner, but sadly in the 50-ish years of our house's life, this has disappeared.  And, being cheap-o's we decided to make do with what we've got.

H put his new found handyman skills to work and added a false bottom to the planter, so it would have less dirt in it.  To make sure the dirt and moisture didn't wreck the wooden planter exterior, we then added 2 layers of heavy plastic and sealed the seams the top with Tuck tape.

Then it was planting time.   To make it succulent friendly growing mix, I filled the planter with a mix of play sand and dirt, and gently tucked them into the dirt, followed by a water spritzing...

We left a little room at the top for the final step, a layer of river rock to completely cover the dirt.  And waited to see how it would fair...


Fast forward to last month, and they had all had died from me over-watering them!  I watered the planter along with the rest of our houseplants weekly, and apparently the poor desert plants didn't like that much action....oops!!

So, we re-evaluated things and decided to try again.  This time we splurged on some actual store bought plants which were more substantial in size and therefore hopefully a bit tougher (decadent I know!).  We also decided the multiple colours of the river rocks was a bit too busy of a look, so we took the opportunity to switch them out for white rocks.

We also added a cute new friend to the entry side of the planter/bookshelf - we've named him Rhino-sarus- so things are looking pretty gosh darn clean and cute as you come in our front door.


And, since we all like to know project costs:
  • Wood to make a false bottom to the planter:  leftover scraps, FREE
  • Thick Plastic Liner: leftover vapour barrier plastic, FREE
  • Tape: Leftover Tuck Tape, FREE
  • Dirt: Leftover planting soil, FREE
  • Play Sand: $5
  • Plants: Round 1: garden cuttings, FREE
                      Round 2: 5 x $3.99= $20
Total: $25 

Now, we just have to wait for them to fill out.  Oh yeah, and work on cleaning up the view from the kitchen/hallway side....

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