Happy Earth Day! On this day and EVERY day it is important to remember the importance of this tiny lil' earth in this one lil' galaxy in this one lil' universe that we are all so blessed to live on and to be able enjoy all of its vast beauty and natural wonders. Without out it, we humans would be non-existent. Simple as that. No resources, no humans. Sure, there's talk of Mars, but c'mon.. how 'bout we work to keep the amazing planet that we have in working order instead.
With that being said, it can get very overwhelming trying to be "green" in a society based on consumerism. Buy! Buy! Buy! Plastic! Plastic! Plastic! Chemicals! Chemicals! Chemicals! ARghhhhh!! It's like, get out of my face with all that crap, gawd!
In order for me to stay sane through all of the intense push marketers put out on a daily basis, I've incorporated the 3 R's (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle) into my daily mantra for quite some years now. And ya know, it's helped to keep me in check when I get that consumer itch. It's just a little reminder; "Do I really need that? Can I Re-use something I already have? "Did I Recycle that properly?"
Today I wanted to show you a fun way to incorporate all of the 3 R's into one fun project. I've teamed up with Second Chance Beer in San Diego, CA to make some fun succulent planters out of some of their cans that might have otherwise been tossed in the recycle bin. An extra cool thing about these planters is that they are made out of cans that are a limited release beer. So the planters can serve as a souvenir! Things like this make great, unique, gifts for people. And when it's something you've made yourself, it makes it that much cooler to give!
I started by drilling 3 small holes in the bottom of can. I used the smallest drill bit in the bunch. It drilled in easily as the tin is pretty thin.
I can't express the importance of drainage holes enough when it comes to planting. Especially when it comes to succulents. Succulents and cactus are very prone to root rot if their roots sit in soggy soil for too long. They like their soil to completely dry out in between waterings. Like, dry, dry. It is very easy to overwater a plant in its container when their is no way in which the water can drain out before the plants are able to absorb it all. That's how root rot happens. Once root rot happens it is almost impossible to bring plant back to life. It's like a literal drowning of the roots. Sad times dude. The extra tricky thing about root rot is that the symptoms of it are similar to the symptoms of a thirsty plant. Yikes, right?! (More on root rot and plant pests/diseases to come in near future blogs)
I then added small river rocks to fill up the can about halfway.
*Note that these cans came to me with tops already removed, but you should be able to easily remove the tops of a beer can with a can opener.
Adding the rocks serves a couple of purposes here. One being that it adds some weight to the can so it won't blow or tip over easily. The second purpose is that it adds another level of drainage for the succulents. Succulents have fairly shallow root systems and when using younger, smaller succulents, such as the ones I did, they don't need a ton of soil to root in. By the time the roots get down to the rock layer it will be time to replant them anyways. So it is unnecessary to fill up the whole can with soil.
Next up, I added a succulent soil mix to fill up the about 3/4 of the can. I left some room towards the top of can so that I could add my succulents in. Did I mention that old spoons make excellent little shovels?!
Make sure to use a succulent soil mix when working with cactus and succulents. You can buy it pre-mixed at your local nursery. It will say cactus mix or succulent mix on bag.
What's the difference between a succulent mix and a regular potting mix, you ask? DRAINAGE!
Cactus/succulent mixes are made with ingredients that allow for water to drain through it easily. As I mentioned before, succulents don't like to have their roots sitting in water for a long period of time. Ingredients such as sand, perilite, and pumice may be used in mixes to allow for good water drainage.
(Don't worry I have a whole blog coming up just on soils alone! Stay tuned for that coming next month.)
Next, I pulled off some of the excess soil from the succulents that came in a 2" nursery pots. This allowed for me to fit the succulents in the top of the can. I made a little dip in the soil in can and tucked the roots into bed. Nite, Nite lil' friends.
I used a variety of succulents to make the can planters all unique individuals. The two Sedum varieties on top came in their own bigger pots and I just pulled off what I needed of the plant to incorporate into the cans. Succulents and their roots are pretty hardy and resilient, so don't feel bad about pulling ground cover types like these apart. I mean, don't be all Incredible Hulk about it...just gently tug them apart. If parts of the plant fall off just toss them onto the top of the soil and more often than not, they will re-root into the soil.
I find that using a tiny trowel works awesome when making tiny planters. It fits perfectly in the small spaces and helps to be able to move the plants and soil around in the containers as needed. This trowel was given to me years ago by my Gramma. It was from a set she had from the 70's used for making terrariums. It is one of my prized possessions and I have used it to make many a terrarium myself with it! It came with a tiny rake also and it's so dang cute, I can hardly stand it.
Once I got all the plants in that I wanted; keeping in mind that they will need a little space to grow, so I didn't jam pack them in, I topped off with soil. Last but not least I gave the plants a thorough watering. (Until water drained out of the drainage holes) Approximately a 1/4-3/4 of a cup. This amount should sustain the succulents for a couple of weeks!
All in all I made about 17 of these lil' buddies and it was so much fun getting to design mini gardens in these groovy cans! I love collaborating with local businesses that are are eco-concious and doing their part to give things a Second Chance!
Happy Earth Day, today and Everyday! Hope you enjoyed this post. Comment below with ways on how you incorporate the 3 R's into your daily routine. :)