Posts Tagged condo gardening

12 Watering Tips to Help ANY Garden Beat the Heat

July 4th in the Miniature Garden

From the Archives: July 4th in the Miniature Garden

12 Watering Tips to Help ANY Garden Beat the Heat

Whoa Nelly! Heatwaves in June? I normally don’t talk about these dry topics until mid summer but here are some tips for keeping your miniature garden, and your full-sized garden, healthy during heat waves. You may be in an area with a water ban as well so it is even more critical to conserve whatever water you can. With proper techniques and knowing what to look for, you can get the most out of your watering even in extreme temperatures.

The following tips can work for containers or for the garden bed.

Watering Tips Help Your Garden Beat the Heat

Tiny firework packs are made of paper. We only put them out during parties and we take them in if it rains.

1. Test: Only water if needed. Stick your finger down into the soil at least one-full-inch deep. If it is still moist or damp, you can put off the watering for a day or so. If it’s dry, then water. For smaller pots, lift them up to feel how heavy, or light, they are. Dry soil will be much lighter than moist soil.

2. Frequency: Water your in-ground gardens deeply and infrequently. This will teach the roots of the plants to look for water on their own, and grow deeper into the soil. Watch your watering for your containers and water accordingly for the plants’ needs, not just because it is a new day.

3. Timing: Water in the early morning or at night after the sun has gone off your garden. I like watering in the evening because it cools down the garden and we can sit and enjoy the dampness – until the mosquitoes come out. The plants can recover during the cooler nighttime temperatures. “Spot-water,” meaning random acts of watering whenever it’s needed – but only if it’s an emergency and you see a plant crashing, or notice the soil it getting too dry. Otherwise, group your watering into one or two sessions a day to make it easy on yourself AND to make sure everything is getting a good drenching.

4. What to water: Water the soil, not the plant, and make sure the water gets down to the roots by waiting to see the water drain out the bottom of the pot. For in-ground gardens, get a trowel to check how-far-down your watering has penetrated for the best results.

Fairy Gardening with Two Green Thumbs.com5. What to use: Conserve water by hand watering. Sprinklers and sprays of water don’t direct the water straight to the plant’s roots where it is needed. Use a watering wand on the shower setting, and turn the tap on half-way to avoid strong, misdirected sprays of water that is just going to evaporate in the heat.

6. Corral the water: This might only work in your full-size garden: build a trough around the base of each plant to direct the water straight down to the roots. Fill up the trough with water and let it drain down a couple of times for some deep watering. This is a critical technique if your garden is planted on a hill, adjust the trough so it catches the water flowing down the hill.

7. Mulch: Mulching means to put a 2″ to 5″ layer of (usually) organic matter on top of the soil to help keep the moisture from evaporating. Organic mulch can be bark, wood chips, straw, cocoa beans, pine needles, shredded leaves, compost or cut grass. Inorganic mulch can be a variety of things like rubber chips, newspaper, or plastic. For your miniature garden, use a fine compost and keep the layer even throughout the garden bed. For pots, the fine compost works well too, but normally you wouldn’t have much bare soil in a container.

8. Cover the ground: Some of our most favorite miniature garden plants are ground covers fortunately. By covering the bare ground with plants and foliage, it will slow down the soil drying out.

9. Shade: Is your miniature garden in a container? Move it out of the full-sun into a bright shade spot, like the north or east side of the house. If the plants belong in full sun, they will be okay for a few days on the porch or under an awning until the heatwave passes. If you have new plantings in ground, use a big golf umbrella to shade them during the hottest hours. Weigh-down the handle of the umbrella so it won’t blow away!Your Miniature Garden Center

10. Plant more: It is possible to plant during a heat wave – but only the small plants that you can temporarily shelter from the sun with an umbrella until the heat wave ends. This fall, consider planting more of your full-size garden. Big trees bring shade and cooler air, and combined with big shrubs can create an naturally cool place in your garden. Planting in fall is one of the best times to get a garden established before the heat of next summer, and you’ll use less water next year, because the fall and winter rains will help them get established in their new home.

11. Give them air: Make sure you have air circulation all around each plant and/or each pot. If the plants are planted up-against each other, those spots that are touching will die-out and you’ll have a bare spot on your tree. It’s like having a band-aid on your finger for an extended period of time; the skin (the plant’s foliage,) that doesn’t get the light and air will start to suffer.

12: Signs of over-watering: If you see the top of the soil start to get slimy and a bit green, or if you are getting those tiny little bugs flying up every time you move the foliage or water, it a sign of over-watering. It’s often said that over-watering is worst than under-watering.

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12b: What is happening is the plant’s roots are not able to breathe and your creating a different environment – one almost terrarium-like – for your plants and they can’t handle that. If this is the case, stop watering. Wait for the top of the soil to dry out to damp, then get a fork to churn up the top of the soil. Poke a longer rod, at least 1/8″ in diameter, right down into the soil around each plant to help get air down into the soil. Make sure the drainage holes are allowed to drain. Check them to see if they are blocked and look into getting the pot up on pot-feet so it can drain better. If it’s sitting in a saucer, get rid of the saucer. Let the entire pot dry out to barely damp before you water again – go back to #1 and do that test before each and every watering until you and the miniature garden, are on the same page.

Water ban? When you turn on your shower, or your tap, and wait for the water to get hot, collect the water (called grey water) in a bucket to bring out and water the garden. Better yet, plug the drain and collect your all shower water – if you take baths, use the bath water. Make a scoop by cutting out the bottom of a square milk jug or detergent container. You can also put a bucket in every sink to collect the run off every time you turn on any tap. Consider using organic soaps although I’m not sure if it does matter because this is not recommended for edible crops. You can also use the water that you boil any vegetables in too. Note that some areas have certain regulations for grey water usage.

I hope this helps you get through this extreme weather. I know that there are a lot of variable that I may have not considered because most of my experience is based on gardening in the PNW. If you have a tip for watering your garden, full-size or in miniature and live in the southern states, please help us help others by sharing it below!

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More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

Indoor miniature gardening

An indoor miniature garden with a Monteray cypress and a Sugar Vine.  This pot is about 12″ wide.

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More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

Don’t you just love this hobby? The seasons changing can only mean another miniature garden and now you can make one for the indoors! Do you want a wee beachy-garden scene to get you through the cold months? Or, create a miniature gratitude garden for Thanksgiving? Let’s recap what you need to know, and then follow with a few examples of the different indoor miniature gardens we’ve grown over the years.

Ten Golden Rules are from The Houseplant Expert, Dr. D. G. Hessayon, my favorite go-to book for indoor plants and a great reference for your bookshelf. Here’s a quick summary of his top 10 adapted for miniature gardening.AdS-LrgRec-Dog

1. Don’t drown them. Roots need air as well as water. Let the soil dry out until barely damp. Put your finger down into the soil about 1” deep to test and yes, your finger is still the best way.

2. Give them a rest. Plants need less water and feeding in the winter. Some plants may not look as good, or need cutting back, before the new growth signals their return. Be patient and follow the plant’s signals.

3. Accept the loss of “temporary” plants. Some plants are not meant to live more than a season or two. Some miniature gardeners treat outdoor plants as short-lived houseplants during the winter. The Jean’s Dilly Dwarf Spruce, or the Pixie or Pixie Dust, is often used this way because they are true miniature Christmas trees.

4. Give them extra humidity. The average houseplant needs more humidity in the winter as the forced-air heat dries out the air quite quickly. By misting or grouping your houseplants around your miniature garden, you can maintain a better level of moisture in the air around the plants.

5. Add light. There are all kinds of plant-friendly light bulbs that can fit regular lamps, find them at your local hardware store or online. Instead of trying to position the miniature garden in the window, now you can put it anywhere as long as you have a lamp on it. Use a timer to turn it off and on for at least six hours a day, 8 to 12 is ideal. Shop lights come in a variety of sizes as well and many are available as a plug-in (as opposed to hard-wired.)

5a. Direct Sunlight. Some indoor plants enjoy a dose of direct sun but do so if you know for sure that the plant will enjoy it. Otherwise, use a sheer curtain to diffuse the direct sunlight to make it safe for all your plants. ALSO, watch that sunlight beaming into your windows in the spring and the fall. As the sun moves higher in the sky in springtime, and lower in the sky in the fall, the direction of the sunbeams will change inside your house too. All of a sudden you’ll may a sunbeam beating down on your miniature garden that wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago. This is where that sheer curtain comes in handy again.

6. Treat trouble promptly. With Google at our fingertips, there is really no reason not to be able to identify a plant-problem quickly and easily. State the problem plainly; name the plant and search under Google Images to find it faster. For example, “brown spots on parlor palm leaves.” Search at least two or three sites to get a better perspective of the solution. Not everyone is an expert out on the Internet, most often the most simple and natural solution is best.

7. Know when to re-pot. When the plants start to look sickly after a couple of years, then it may be time to re-pot. Look for the roots growing out of the bottom drainage holes to know when.

8. Choose wisely. Right plant, right place. You can’t grow a sun-loving plant in a dark corner nor can you grow a shade-loving plant in front of a sunny, southern window.

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Recommended Tools:

  • Water can with a long, narrow spout to get the water through to the bottom of the plants. Get used to how it pours before using indoors or you’ll make a big mess the first time.
  • Mister – but know which plants like more, which like less.
  • Saucers AND protective pads with plastic on one side, felt on the other. Don’t trust any pot or saucer on your good wood surfaces. Use an extra moisture-barrier-pad recommended for plants with a plastic backing to avoid wicking. I’ve seen cork mats, but I’m not sure if they wick moisture or not.
  • Organic fertilizer. Avoid chemical fertilizers of any kind, the plants just don’t care for it and it builds up in the soil.
  • Soft sponge for cleanup.
  • Old kitchen spoon for re-potting and fork for raking.
  • Scissors or small garden shears – or both.
  • indoor Potting Soil – Use potting soil without any extra fertilizers or moisture-retaining polymers. Look for an organic, indoor potting mix for a general-purpose soil that will be okay for most of your houseplants. Succulents, cacti and African Violets need more drainage material, like vermiculite or Perlite.

You will notice that there is not a lot of variety yet in the plants that are shown here. That is because I killed the rest of them. Yep. I tend to kill indoor plants a lot better than our outdoor plants. The plants shown here are some of the tougher plants I have found for gardening in miniature. For the most part, I’ve included the plant’s names, and the growing notes under each photo.

Indoor miniature tropical garden

A Parlor Palm and Norfolk Pine anchor the garden, filled in with miniature Aloe and Hawarthias as the understory. The Pine was left in its original poly pot to help keep the roots damper than the other plants. The lagoon-shaped pond adds to the theme. (“Janit Calvo’s Lagoon Pond” is now discontinued.) This pot is about 22″ in diameter.

Indoor miniature gardening

One of our all-time most popular plants, the English Variegated Boxwood stands alone to make a simple gratitude garden for a sunny spot. This pot is about 8″ wide.

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

A baby Parlor Palm on the left and a Kingsville Dwarf Boxwood on the right. This miniature mediation gardens need regular water and bright light. This pot is about 8″ wide.

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More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

The tree in the back is the Variegated English Boxwood, to the right is Dwarf Mondo Grass, a small-leafed succulent with an elusive name ;o), in the foreground, two Kingsville Boxwood shrubs. Needs regular water with bright light. Sedum cuttings in the urns will last a few months before needing replacing. Large size or one-inch scale accessories. This pot is about 20″ across.

More About Indoor Miniature Gardening + Gallery

The same garden as above, but with medium size, half-inch scale accessories and gravel mulch in the garden beds. You can see how the smaller accessories are swimming in such a large pot, but also notice how big they make the whole garden appear.

Indoor Miniature Gardening

A custom-made miniature garden planter from England. Elwood Cypresses on the each end, Dwarf Mondo Grass behind the urn, sedum cutting in the urn, a small boxwood shrub to the right of the bench and baby tears as the “ground cover.” (Get in touch with me if you want more info about this handmade planter.) This garden needs bright, indirect light and a very cautious watering schedule as this box has no drainage holes. This container is 21″ wide by 9″ deep.

Indoor Miniature Gardening

A finished project from my book, Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World. Clockwise from the tall Elwood, to the left is a Sugar Vine (Cissus striata,) Baby Tears and a Variegated English Boxwood. Bright light with regular watering, the Sugar Vine will need cutting back every year to slow it down. This pot is about 12″ wide.

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Indoor miniature garden

A simple Fairy Vine and a handmade trellis is the perfect place for an daily empowering message. The “boulder” anchors the garden and makes it look established. This pot is about 7″ across.

Indoor miniature mediation gardening

Our Complete Indoor / Outdoor Miniature Garden Kit has our three most-durable indoor plants, from left to right: the Dwarf Mondo Grass, Variegated English Boxwood and Baby Tears. The Kit includes the stone, Mini Patio Mix and different accessories. This pot is about 10″ across.

Indoor miniature gardening

An impromptu miniature garden centerpiece for Halloween that I made a few years ago. It lasted about three weeks before it turned to mush. I would try this again with a taller pumpkin – the candle burnt the top of the “greenhouse.” The pumpkin was about 10″ in diameter.

SEE more of our plants that we recommend for indoor miniature gardening here.

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How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Our first display at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. A good tip: pick a pot with a lip on it so you have something to grip if you have to move it or pick it up (not like most of the pots above!)

How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot, Part 1

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

From the Archives, 2004: This pot is 17″ high and 14″ wide and big enough to put a path through the middle of it.

Planting a miniature garden in a big container creates room for more fun, more plants and more ideas. You can visually break up your design into a couple of smaller garden rooms within that one big pot, with paths leading to and fro. You can make a huge yard with several focal points happening around the container, or have enough room for a small house or building, a particular favorite of fairy gardeners. We talk about the different kinds of pots that can be used miniature gardening in our new book Gardening in Miniature: Create Your Own Tiny Living World, but here are a few more tips on how to save some time and money – and your back – when working with very large pots or containers.

What’s Deep? What’s the Minimum?

What do we consider a deep pot for miniature gardening? Any pot that is deeper than 14″, in my opinion. We recommend at least 8″ of soil so the miniature garden can stay together for a couple/few years before needing re-potting. This allows the trees and plants to grow and weave together and you still get that aged-garden-look after a couple of years that is very enchanting.

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How to Keep Your Big Pot and Plant It Too

Another popular question when planning a miniature garden in a huge pot is, “Should I put something in the bottom before I start planting?”  Yes, and there are several reasons why you can go ahead fill that big container up with some sort of filler, leaving 8″ to 10″ from the top of the pot, before you add regular potting soil that will make you, and the plants, happier in the long run.

The miniature garden plants that we recommend to use are small to start with, so they don’t need a lot of soil to get growing. I find some types of plants tend to falter when planted in a huge container full of soil, as most plants prefer a smaller root environment when they are young. We call it “swimming in soil,” when the water wicks away from the plant’s roots to the bottom of the pot where gravity pulls it, and the moisture doesn’t stay around the roots where it is needed. Then the roots dry out, the plant starts to stress and falter. By using filler, it shortens the depth of the soil, prevents the water from wicking, the soil stays damp longer and the roots stay happy.

Miniature Gardening in Large Containers

From the Archives, 2004: Planting miniature gardens in large pots leave more room for creativity.

Fill ‘Er Up

Another reason to use filler on the bottom of the pot is huge pots can get really heavy. The spot you choose may be perfect for that garden this summer and into next summer but you may want to eventually move it. The two most popular ways to fill up your pots are:

Styrofoam peanuts or popcorn: Most packing peanuts are biodegradable now so put them in a plastic shopping bag, tie the bag shut and place the bag upside-down in the pot so water doesn’t get inside and stagnate. If you are using a really big pot, use several of bags-full and fill the pot up to about 10” to 12” from the top.

Miniature Gardening in Large Pots

Upside-down poly pots make a great filler. Smush them to fit them in.

Upside-down black plastic nursery pots: Start with big 1 or 2 gallon pots in the center

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of the bottom of the pot and work in the upside-down 4” pots, squishing them so they fill in as much space as possible. You can cut a couple of pieces of cardboard and layer it on top of the upside-down pots to create the “bottom” of the pot, or you can just start filling up the pot with soil.

We’ve heard of people using upside soda-cans and they would work only if they are rinsed out really, really well. Otherwise the sugar in the soda would draw unwanted pests to your container.

Note that this is for miniature gardening with small plants. Bigger plants mean more roots. If you are creating mixed containers of regular perennials and nursery plants (aka trees and shrubs) you may want to use potting soil all through your container to leave plenty or room for root growth.

SOIL CONCERNS: Use organic potting soil with no added fertilizers or water-retaining polymers. DO NOT USE ANY KIND OF MIRACLE GRO SOIL. Your miniature garden plants don’t need it and the added fertilizer will burn the roots of the miniature and dwarf conifers.

POTTING SOIL VS. TOPSOIL: Potting soil has all the necessary nutrients and micro-organisms for a contained environment. If you look closely, you’ll see rich, dark organic matter, bits of sand and Perlite or vermiculite mixed in to keep the potting soil from becoming a big lump of dirt over time.

Topsoil is plain soil, without the added ingredients for pots and containers. It is used to amend the soil in garden beds where any water drains naturally. The plant’s roots have all the room they want and can find nutrients on their own.

Part 2 is here. This was getting too long and I have more tips and techniques to share here.

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It’s a Mini Spring Round-Up in the Miniature Garden!

MiniatureGarden.com it's where craft and garden meet!

We’ve got our new website, a hub for all our work and research on Gardening in Miniature is now at MiniatureGarden.com!

It’s a Mini Spring Round-Up in the Miniature Garden!

Happy, happy Spring! You just can’t beat the first smell of spring in the air, can you? Here in Seattle, one day it’s sunny and warm, the next day is cold and rainy. Needless to say, it’s that time of year when I schedule my work around the weather. Hey, if you can’t beat Ma Nature, join her! Here are some more tips on how to get started with Spring, and without.

On the Spring To-Do List

We’re patiently waiting for it to stop raining so the soil can dry out so we can get busy. If you work the soil when it is wet you’ll damage the microcosms and ruin your good soil so hang-tight if you’re having the same weather that we are here in Seattle. Here’s a quick list of the 8 Spring To-Dos in the Miniature Garden.

 

Still Waiting for Spring?

Here is a blog post to get you started despite the weather. Miniature Gardeners don’t need a reason or a season to start gardening! Waiting for Spring in the Miniature Garden.

Celebrating Easter?

And here is an Easter garden that was part of our “Year in the Miniature Garden” Series a couple of years ago. See it here.

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Growing, Evolving & Updating: Miniature Gardens vs. Fairy Gardens – What is the Difference?

Fairy door and windows.

Not a miniature garden but very cute! From the “Our Favorite Miniature Gardens” – and old album from HGTV.com

Miniature Gardens vs. Fairy Gardens – What is the Difference?

This is an update to a blog that I published on the difference between miniature gardening and fairy gardening about 6 1/2 years ago. 

I opened up a little can of worms the other day on our Facebook page.

Thankfully, I’m a little hardcore when it comes to gardening and I like worms.

Fairy Gardening with Two Green Thumbs.comI had created a post for our Facebook page that linked to a series of fairy gardens on HGTV.com (link has been changed) and suggested that they should start hanging out with us “real miniature gardeners.”

I must admit, that was a bit hasty in retrospect, but I didn’t mean to offend anyone so here’s an explanation of where that comment came from.

The first picture in the album was the one shown above, with a couple of windows and a door nailed to a tree with a fairy in front of it. Inside the album, however, there were a couple of pictures that were very pretty little fairy gardens, and pictures of a fairy house and a gnome house – but they were all fairy gardens, not miniature gardens. HGTV had called them miniature gardens – thus the comment “that they should start hanging out with us ‘real miniature gardeners.'”

A very pretty little Fairy Garden

From the HGTV.com album. Fairy gardens are a type of miniature garden and if there is a fairy in it, then the word ‘fairy’ belongs in the name.

“Why?” asked Facebook follower Patti Sherwood, the founder and leader of the Miniature and Fairy Garden forum on Garden Share.com (This forum appears to be dead now.) “… because I truly believe that every attempt at creating a garden of any kind should be applauded and not criticized.”

That is STILL a great question, Patti.

But I felt like Martha Stewart. She is always made fun of because of her quest for excellence and perfection. But, you know what? She raised our game. Martha made us want for a better home and a better life through the domestic arts. Heck, we didn’t even call it “domestic arts” until she did! It was called housework and cooking. How unglamorous… until Martha  came along and redefined it for us.

Yes, I think every attempt at gardening should be applauded, especially because plants help the air, reduce our stress, help the environment, and add comfort visually and emotionally.

But, promoting any type of gardening is not what I do. My focus is living miniature gardening.Janit's Mini Garden Etsy Store

“Lettuce define our terms.”
              – Kermit the Frog

 

A “Little” History

The term ‘miniature garden’ used to be an all-encompassing phrase for any small sized garden, living or artificial. It could be as big as a
small backyard or as small as a thimble-sized terrarium. Dish gardens, bonsai, penjing, rock gardening, railroad gardening, gnome gardening, tray gardening, windowsill gardening, teacup gardening, terrariums, vivariums and Wardian cases (I’ve probably missed some.) were all called miniature gardening before the miniature garden hobby took off. Now, the terms have officially changed.

So here is the definition of miniature gardening.

And yes, it is my own definition, I can not think of who else would have the authority and perspective to define it so I’ll claim it. You’ll now find this definition on many websites.

Living Miniature Gardens

Living Miniature Gardens include plants, patio/paths and an accessory all in scale with one another.

Definition: A miniature garden is the perfect blend of tiny trees, plants, hardscaping and garden accessories that are in scale with one another to create a lasting, living garden scene or vignette. Miniature gardens are gardens in miniature.

That’s it, right there.

And as a leader and a professional (like HGTV.com) I feel it is part of my job to bring out the best miniature gardener in everybody.

So, when one is adding a fairy figure to a bunch of plants and calling it a miniature garden, that isn’t right, it is a fairy garden.

A window and door hammered onto a tree is not a miniature garden. It could lead to one – but I would be hard-pressed to even call it a garden. Where are the plants?

A sign propped up in the corner with a fairy a pebble path is a fairy garden, not a “miniature garden” even though it is cute as a button.

And the “Our Favorite Miniature Gardens” on the HGTV.com site was an album of fairy gardens.

The Big Boys Aren’t Getting it Right

Best selling Gardening in Miniature book

We wrote the book on it.

It’s interesting to note that these types of big “garden” websites seem to not really care about being precise nor do they seem to care about teaching the right things to their viewers/readers.

I found another great example of this from the Better Homes and Gardens website recently, where they called a planted jello-mould a ‘terrarium’ and proceeded to plant up a dish garden incorrectly, (the charcoal layer is a filter and goes on top of the gravel,) called it a bundt pan, and used plants that have completely different watering and light needs – THEN they put a pebble path and a wee bench in it, technically making it a miniature garden. It is SO not a terrarium, it isn’t even funnySee it here.

I was a bit floored after viewing so I posted it in one of my independent garden center forums and asked if this type of information should be corrected by us, the professional gardeners in the industry. I had several store owners chime-in and basically said, “So what? It’s cute and it will sell fast. They’ll have to come back and buy more plants!” 

Oh. Dear. I was under the impression that customers are people that trust independent shop owners to sell them the right solutions that will work – not die. If a customer just wants to buy plants from an untrustworthy source that will die, that’s what big-box stores are for. :o)

So it seems that some store owners just want sell you anything and these big websites just want the traffic for their advertising revenue. BUT why they mis-inform their customers/readers leaves me very perplexed when it is just as easy to create and teach proper content?

Gee, I guess I’ve been doing it all wrong all these years, but at least I can sleep at night. Please enjoy our ad-free website and online store where we care about our customers, the information and the products we sell ~> ONLY at TwoGreenThumbs.com apparently!

What do you think? Am I being too picky about nomenclature? Leave a comment below about my current definition of what we do here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center and help us define what we do so we can continue to share, enjoy and create living miniature gardens.

Sophisticated Fairy Gardening, by Janit Calvo

Our new eBook! For Advanced Fairy Gardeners only. It’s an addendum to our Gardening in Miniature book. Click the picture for more.

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Easy, Quick & Fun: A Miniature Garden Pumpkin House

Halloween Miniature Garden

Once the pumpkin house was carved, it was easy fun setting up this shot in the miniature garden.

Easy, Quick & Fun: A REAL Miniature Garden Pumpkin House PLUS Halloween Tips

After years of creating and growing with this new-again hobby of miniature gardening, it’s a wonder that you can come up with anything new, huh? But, alas, it’s the variables that rope you in and keep the ideas dancing in your head in the wee hours of the morning. So many plants, pots, accessories, sizes, themes and designs to keep you creative! Oh my!

You mean I can plant a garden now? – ‘Tis the season and you can start with Halloween, carry on through Thanksgiving and into the holidays with the same garden – or make a new one each month. Miniature gardening is season-less and can be done anytime, anywhere, so don’t wait for the seasons to have a reason to gardening in miniature!

Make a REAL Miniature Pumpkin House! – Alright, there are now two ways to go about getting a miniature pumpkin house in your miniature garden. This pumpkin-house blog was first published 3 years ago and, since then, a few different kinds of resin pumpkin fairy houses have been made in China and brought back here to attempt to tempt you with… if you can be temped by future landfill. (Sorry, I’m a tree-hugger and very pro-Earth.) BUT you’ll never get the satisfaction out of a resin house that you will from carving your own house design from a real pumpkin. So, release your inner architect, grab a knife and pumpkin and have some fun. I sure your fairies will enjoy a real pumpkin house too!

Halloween Miniature Garden

We tried shooting with some extra light off to the side, but found them a bit distracting from the pumpkin house. We found the light-up ghost for $1.99 at Rite Aid.

Tips for Shooting Photos in the Dark:

  • Set up your shot in the daylight and start shooting when it’s dusk. If it gets too dark, the camera can’t see the plants with the natural light and you can’t see the surroundings. Photoshopping it afterwards doesn’t look natural.
  • Use a tripod or something sturdy to hold the camera in place. The camera’s shutter will need to stay open for a few seconds, by keeping the camera steady, it will stay focused.
  • Try a couple of different settings on your camera. If you have automatic “scene” settings, try the food and/or museum settings first. Turn the flash off if the camera sets it off automatically. If you are tinkering with manual settings, try adjusting the exposure compensation to a brighter setting.

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  • Load your photos to your computer from your camera before you take the scene apart. Seeing the images on a bigger screen gives you another perspective and you can see what needs tweaking, fix it and reshoot it right away.
  • Be prepared to work fast, as soon as that sun sets you have a limited amount of time to use that dwindling light. If you can, do it again the following night. If you’re an early bird, try this at dawn but set up the shot the day before when you can see, have the candles ready to light and have a piece of cardboard or plastic to sit, kneel or lay down on.
  • Have something else that lights up in the shot. That little light-up ghost helped to illuminate some more details outside the pumpkin house. If you have string lights, see how they look just laid behind the house, or in front of the house and the edge of the shot.
Halloween Miniature Garden

I cut the squares for windows, then sliced up the cast-off pieces to make the “window panes” and just wedged them in place. The pieces will dry out and shrink so either keep some extra pieces cold and damp to replace the strips when needed. If they dry out too much, get the hot glue gun to tack them in place from the inside. (Assuming the inside flesh of the pumpkin has dried out as well. Remember that it’s only temporary.)

Miniature Garden Clean-Up Tip: For your Halloween set-up, leave the fallen leaves scattered around the miniature garden. It will look more natural. Don’t worry about detailing the garden if your photographing in the dark, the focus will be whatever is lit up. In this example, the eye will go to the pumpkin house first, the ghost second, and then take in the rest of the scene.

Miniature Halloween pumpkin house

The impromptu patio was taken out of a miniature garden and reused here. It’s made from our Mini Patio Mix Kit, a special recipe just for miniature gardens. You can customize to fit any garden and won’t wash away in the rain.

Have a happy and safe Halloween! 

In case you missed it:

How to Carve a Miniature Pumpkin

Halloween in the Miniature Garden

Our main website with galleries and FAQs

Our online store, The Miniature Garden Center

Like this? Then you’ll love our FREE Mini Garden Gazette! Join us here.

Miniature Garden Trees

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Announcing the NEW Miniature Garden Society, 2.0!

Announcing the NEW Miniature Garden Society, 2.0!

It’s a brand new, totally focused website on everything gardening in miniature with all the bells and whistles!**

If you’ve been following us for awhile, you would have heard about our Miniature Garden Society member’s only website opening up a few months ago. Well, truth be told, it did get lots of kudos, oohs and ahhs, but it couldn’t add any community, forums or post-ability to make it just that more fun. BUT, alas! Have no fear because your miniature gardener is here!

Welcome to the NEW Miniature Garden Society website! It’s all that and more. Now that we have some roots and branches to the site, it’s time to get it really growing. Personally, I can’t wait because it’s a place to share all our ideas and information that didn’t fit into this book – nor did it fit into this book either. Lol!

Yup! Can’t tell you any more – need to get back to the new site! Learn more about it here. 

**May contain fairies. :o)

 

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