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How to Swim in Soil

An in-ground miniature garden just needs a mulch of compost each spring to keep the soil nutrient-rich. Save your fertilizers for your annuals and vegetables. The bee house is about 1 inch tall.

How to Swim in Soil

I’m a self-taught gardener. I don’t like unnecessarily complicated things. When any topic gets too scientific or complex, my eyes glaze over and I start to think about lunch. With our already hectic lives, some think we must know about the microcosms and ratios in our potting soil or garden soil in order to be a gardener, but – don’t tell anyone – I don’t. I haven’t. Because I don’t need to.

Now keep in mind, I’m a gardener. I’m not a grower. I don’t have a greenhouse. I don’t have any sort of grow-your-own set-up here at my backyard nursery. I have tried it but growing my own stock but it just isn’t where my passion is. I do grow my own veggies and annuals from seed for my full-sized gardening adventures, but that’s where it stops. However, if you are getting into growing seriously, you will want to focus on the content of your soil.

There’s an old saying that if you have $1 to spend on your garden, spend 90 cents on soil, and 10 cents on plants.

And I’ve written about soil before, it’s the first chapter in our popular Miniature Gardening 101 Series: The Dirt on the Soil. And, I talk about it in here, How to Plant a Miniature Garden in a Big Pot.

But what about all the different kinds of potting soil out there? What’s the diff? What do we use for miniature gardening? What will work best? Oh, and how much? Grab a cuppa, and let’s get down to the roots of the situation, shall we?

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“If you are making mistakes it means you are out there doing something.”

For Pots and Containers

For all containers, use organic potting soil. Note that a lot of companies have hooked their wagons to the “organic” trend and, well, soil IS already organic, so isn’t that redundant? Not in this day and age, unfortunately. By organic, I mean without any added fertilizers or water-retaining polymers.

A great example is Miracle-Gro soil. It’s everywhere now and everyone sells it only because they have the money for marketing it. (It’s made by Scott’s. Monsanto owns Scott’s. Icky.) You’ll find somewhere on that bag of soil it will say ‘organic.’ But those added fertilizers and water-retaining polymers is the WORST soil you can use for your miniature garden or fairy garden simply because of the extra “stuff” in the soil. The extra fertilizers burn the roots of our plants and trees and those polymers don’t let the soil dry out often enough, then the roots can’t breathe – with that lovely combo, our plants that we recommend for the miniature gardening die.

What I love to see on the potting soil bag is that it’s from a local company. If the garden center that you frequent are worth their salt, they’ll have a variety of soil products from companies in your area or thereabouts. If you don’t see it on the store shelf, ask for it. The request will get back to the manager/buyer and they’ll know customers are looking for a local choice.

Soil for miniature gardening or fairy gardening

How Much Soil Do I Need for My Miniature Garden Container?

Because some of our plants are really tiny, it is miniature gardening after all; you might be tempted to put the tiny plants in a big pot to let them grow in. This is called “swimming in soil” and the reason this will not work is that the water will not stay around the root ball where it is needed because there is too much soil in the pot. The water wicks to the bottom of the container, away from the plant’s roots and all is futile. A basic rule of thumb is any new plants need to transplant in pots that are 2” to 5” bigger or wider. If you’re planting a group of plants, take the total of all the pots combined.

This chart was taken from my Gardening in Miniature book that has all the garden basics you need to get started in the miniature garden hobby.

Soil chart for container gardening

From the bestselling Gardening in Miniature book.

Note that 1 cubic foot bag of soil or compost is about the size of regular pillow. There are about 25 quarts in 1 cubic foot. So, using the chart above, a pot that is 8 to 11 inches wide, will take almost half a bag, or half a cubic foot, to fill it up. Note that the depth of the container isn’t accounted for in this chart but, it should say “width and depth” of pot. But here’s an awesome soil calculator for you to bookmark here.

In-ground miniature gardening

Instead of removing the grass, we planted on top of it mainly because we found clay in all our garden beds. But I always found that by the time I cleared the patch of lawn, I didn’t have the energy to do any gardening so I was all for this easy way to prep a garden bed!

For In-ground Miniature Gardens

Use compost. That’s it. Soil is compost but will have many more nutrients in it than bagged topsoil. Just spread the compost on top of your soil each spring, and you are done!

If you are just starting an in-ground garden bed of any type, try our type of lasagna gardening. Lasagna gardening is really ‘composting in place’ but that means that you have to pay attention to the ratios, layers, timing and materials… (Oh gee, what’s for lunch?? :o)

BUT what Steve and I did with our new garden beds when we moved to our house in 2010 was incredibly easy and worked like a charm. We laid a long piece of rope down to outline the edges of the new garden bed. We covered the grass with heavy cardboard, piled as much compost on top as we could on top, cut in the edge of the garden bed and installed the border. Then planted the garden in the compost. Done.

We top it up each spring as much as we can. Now the garden bed has settled down to ground level but it works better for the miniature garden scene than a mound – the paths and patios stay level and the watering doesn’t mess everything up.

Got questions, compliments, concerns or complaints? Leave them below.

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How to Insert Charm into Your Miniature Garden with Authentic Patios and Pathways

Miniature Garden Study, Patios and Pathway Materials

Stone sheets make for a no-brainer solution for the miniature garden patio. Lock them in permanently with the Mini Patio Mix.

How to Insert Charm into Your Miniature Garden with Authentic Patios and Pathways

We’re bringing charming back to the miniature garden. For us here at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center, it never really left. Why? Authenticity.

Charm, noun
1. the power to delight or attract people
2. a feature or quality that delights or attracts (often used in the plural)

Charm, verb
1. to delight or attract people
2. To influence somebody by using powers of attraction
3. to affect somebody or something by, or as if by, the use of a supposed magic spell

Aha! Magic! That must be it! You’re probably thinking to yourself, FAIRY MAGIC….wo Green Thumbs' Mini Patio Mix Kit Ad

But no. It’s simple: scale and authenticity

(Stay with me on this one! ;o)

The key ingredients that you can easily bring to your miniature gardens are realism, proportion and scale. If your accessories are realistic and in-scale with each other, you’ll get the charm.

And something that is not so obvious but is a very valuable element for a charming garden in miniature: the authentic miniature patio.

The addition of a patio or pathway increases the appeal of a true garden in miniature because it helps the viewer to identify the fact that it is a real miniature garden instead of a container full of small plants.

http://www.TwoGreenThumbs.com

The miniature patio cinches the scale immediately because we know how big the mini patio is supposed to be. After all, we stand on them all the time, right? But it tends to be the last thing we think of when we put a miniature garden together and we end up dumping a bunch of marbles in for a path, include an odd collection of rocks for the patio, or layer-in colored stones that you would never see done in a full-size garden.

Take a look at the following examples of the different sizes of miniature gardens to get an idea of what I mean by paying attention to the patio materials in the following photos:

(Click to get into the bigger slideshow. It works better on a regular computer.)

Checkout the Miniature Garden Patio and Pathway Department in our store for easy solutions to add charm to your miniature or fairy garden scene.

Be sure to lock in your design with our Mini Patio Mix Kit. The only solution design specifically for miniature gardeners by a miniature gardener! They come in several different ways too, see them here. ;o)

We’ve remained authentic too. All our accessories are based in realism and are categorized by size here, in our Miniature Garden Center store. We’ve stayed with true with our gardening in miniature because that is where the magic really is.

Like this? Then you’ll love our Mini Garden Gazette! The world’s only regular newsletter completely dedicated to gardening in miniature. Join us here.

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Faith, Hope and Pixie Dust: Miniature Gardening with Disney

faithhope

Faith, Hope and Pixie Dust: Miniature Gardening with Disney

[Updated from November, 2010.] A trip to the toy store the other day to lurk for miniature garden ideas instigated a trip to the video store to rent the latest fairy movie from Disney, Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue. It’s all in a day’s work here at America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center.

You bet I watched it  – and no, I don’t have children, nor do I have a child in my life that I could borrow for the excuse to watch it. I just did.

Oh, you’re doing it again, aren’t you? You’re laughing at me!

Now this is the kind of invaluable market research that is part of my job as leader of the hobby, researcher of everything mini garden and owner of the world’s only Miniature Garden Center dedicated to gardening in miniature. It’s this is the level of sacrifice

;o)

Nah, really, I just wanted to see if there were any cute ideas I can share and, never-to-be-disappointed-by-Disney, there were more than a few new ideas that you can put in your bag of tricks the next time the kids or grand kids want to get miniature gardening.

Miniature Fairy Garden

Get the kid’s imaginations working with some hands-on fairy fun and magic in the miniature garden.

Fairy Origins and Lore via Disney

– Each time a baby laughs for the very first time, a fairy is born. This is called their Arrival Day, similar to our Birthdays. Wait. Did I hear a giggle?

Disney latest line of fairy toys can easily be used in the miniature garden.

Disney latest line of fairy toys can easily be used in the miniature garden.

– Fairies are from Pixie Hollow and each fairy has a different purpose. They come to the “mainland” to help with the change of the seasons by coloring the flowers in the spring, they help pollinate and tend to the gardens and crops in the summertime, paint the leaves in the fall and make icicles and snowflakes in the winter. Just place what they do before the word fairy and you can create any character for your own purpose. Examples include, “Wind Fairy, Pumpkin Fairy, Dog Fairy, Spruce Fairy, etc.

– Fairies are about 5” tall and are dressed in anything natural that usually illustrate their purpose. Flower fairies wear petals and leaves, the pumpkin fairies wear the pumpkin and the wind fairies… huh? Wait. Are they naked? Lol!

– The fairies help to put the hibernating animals to sleep in the fall or to wake them up in the spring. I wish they could do that for me when I can’t sleep at night. Oh, and they also take care of wounded animals everywhere.

– They paint the stripes on bumblebees and design the patterns on butterflies. Awesome.

– They use fireflies as flashlights. When you see a firefly, it is really fairy flying around.

– Male fairies are called Sparrowmen. They look like elves with wings and acorn hats. I love that name!

A pretty fairy in the mini garden.

A pretty fairy in the mini garden.

Points of Attraction

– Fairies love shiny objects just like me. Place a small mirror or something shiny in the garden to attract them – or me. Lol!

– They sometime use buttons as stepping-stones to lead the fairies to your fairy house. If you do use buttons, please don’t relay on your fairy to keep them in place. Instead, use our Mini Patio Mix Kit. It’s easy and fun to use.

– Create a wee leaf-plate for the “fairy offering” to help lure them into your garden. Fairies eat fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and bread. Place a wee snack as an offering and see if they take you up on it.

– Fairies smell slightly like cinnamon. If you catch a whiff, there is a fairy nearby but not the fairies are still not edible.

– They use mint leaves as a toothbrush and pine needle combs. They use cotton balls as pillows and leaves as blankets. Fairies prefer the natural house and lean-to’s so they can go inside and see out the windows.

If you are NOT going to see the movie, here’s a synopsis:

The mAd-Fairyovie was very fun in typical Disney fashion. The only characters are the Dad, the daughter and the fairies. The Dad is very pre-occupied with his work collecting, studying and mounting bugs and butterflies, which is completely horrific for a fairy to see! The daughter catches a fairy by accident (Tinkerbell) and they bond. Dad eventually finds out, catches a fairy and rushes to expose his find to the world. Just before it is too late, he is swayed when he sees his daughter flying with the fairies, pleading for the release of her friend. The fairies befriend the Dad and, with a heavy dose of pixie dust, make him fly too. I love the end where the Dad, daughter and all the fairies are all hanging out spending quality time together.

Checkout your local toy store for a number of different fairy figures to use in the miniature garden that are child-safe, washable and durable. Introduce fun and magic to the children while you still can.

Sign up to be on my mailing list to stay inspired here.

Like this? Please visit the Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center here. We appreciate your support to keep us going and we specialize in superior, personalized customer service!

See more:
Whimsical Fairy Swing DIY
About Miniature Fairy Garden Moss
Declutter Your Fairy Garden 

Checkout Disney’s wonderfully Interactive Pixie Hollow Website here.

Sophisticated Fairy Gardening, by Janit Calvo

NEW LOW PRICE!! Click the Picture to read the intro! An expert view on fairy gardening and how to make them look authentic in your miniature garden.

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5 Ways to Start Your Own Miniature Garden

How to Start a Miniature Garden

There are many reasons to grow your own world – they are fun to give and fun to get! This scene is approximately 10 inches wide.

5 Ways to Start Your Own Miniature Garden

I’ve made well over 1,300 miniature gardens since I started this business in 2001, [Update to 2015: we are over 3,000 gardens, in-ground and in containers.] and I have found that there are a number of ways to begin the journey of creating your own wee world.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Choose your site for your mini garden

Right plant, right place applies in miniature as well. Where is your miniature garden going to live: In ground or in a container? Indoor or out? Then figure out what kind of light does that spot have: Full shade? Morning sun? Then choose the plants that will do well in that environment. (Note that indoor plants are tropical plants that like to stay 60 degrees or above all year ‘round. No, you can’t grow an outdoor plant indoors.)

Use the search to find your miniature garden plants for your area up on your Miniature Garden Center store (- click on the little magnifying glass in the upper right corner and type in your zone.)

2. Choose your favorite tree

If you have the luxury of planting anywhere, checkout the miniature and dwarf trees and shrubs that are ideal for miniature gardening, and pick a tree that sings to you or tweaks your interest. Some trees can be “limbed-up” to show some more trunk so it looks more like a tree than an shrub. Choose your “mini bedding plants” (a.k.a. ground covers) by matching the same light and water requirements as the tree. If you haven’t been bitten by the miniature conifer bug yet, be warned: they are both numerous, gosh-darn cute and easy to grow.

See all our plants for shade here.

See all our plants for sun here.

http://www.MiniatureGardenSociety.com

We’re digging deeper. Join us at our members-only website! Membership reopens in the summer!

3. Choose your favorite theme

Forest? Backyard? Formal? Rustic? Re-creating your grandmother’s life-sized garden in miniature? While there may not be an exact miniature version of the full-size tree, you can more-than-likely find a similar, slow-growing, small foliage tree that is similar in growth shape. Use images of life-sized gardens to help kick-start your brainstorming session and Google it. Look for iconic items that will weather well, classic a rose arbor or grandma’s favorite garden chair, to add to your miniature garden rather than clutter the small scene with tiny details that will get lost in the living miniature garden.

4. Choose a container

Sometimes the container just beckons to have a wee world in it. Let the colors and the personality of the pot help or dictate the mini garden theme. An unglazed, terra cotta pot would be the perfect pot for a rustic backyard garden-theme. A big, black, glazed, ceramic pot would look smashing with a formal-style miniature garden planted with a Blue Pygmy Juniper, Hens & Chicks and Wooley Thyme for the understory that all enjoy the full sun and tolerate the odd dry soil.

See all our miniature garden trees, plants and accessories for miniature gardening here.

 

Your Miniature Garden Center

5. Try a complete kit.

I have a variety of Miniature Garden Kits in my online store, to suit a number of different environments. They come complete with full color instructions that guide you through the simple steps to create a mini garden in a container, and it can be applied to an in-ground garden too.

Miniature gardens make great gifts for that hard-to-shop for person in your life, hostess gifts, centerpieces for family gatherings or weddings. They do very well at charity auctions and raffles too.

There are just as many reasons to grow your own world, as there are reasons to live in this one. Enjoy your mini garden journey and adhere to the most important, number one rule of gardening in miniature: Have fun and grow your own world.

Need more?

 

Visit the source of the miniature garden hobby here.
Visit America’s Favorite Miniature Garden Center’s here.

Like this? You’ll love our weekly Mini Garden Gazette! It’s free! Join us here.

 

Gardening in Miniature, now in it's 5th printing!

The bestselling book on the hobby! Click in to get your autographed copy or find it on Amazon.com!

 

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April Fools in the Miniature Fairy Garden

April Fools Day in the Miniature Garden

Foolin’ around with the fairies for April Fools Day.

April Fools in the Miniature Fairy Garden

Fooling around with the fairies for April Fool’s Day! Click to enlarge the photos.

 

April Fools Day in the Miniature Garden

What did YOU think that fairies needed that nobody talks about? Leave your comments below, we would love to hear from you!

April Fools Day in the Miniature Garden

The backdrop was made from a bamboo placemat. We glued stakes on the back to hold it rigid, and to stake it. The trees were painted for more color. That back vase is just that – it’s not planted up – the branches will last for a couple of months before they will need replacing.

April Fools Day in the Miniature Garden

I found this miniature bathroom set many years ago at a miniature show. It’s discontinued, but it’s the PERFECT fairy bathroom! Lol!

April Fools Day in the Miniature Garden

Customized fairy figure. It’s a Mary Brown fairy that I glued material onto, painted, painted and painted in layers, and remade into my own lil’ fairy.

Come and play with us – we just have a little fun in the miniature garden! Join our email list here to receive your FREE weekly Mini Garden Gazette, the world’s most popular newsletter about miniature gardening. It’s written by miniature gardeners, for miniature gardeners. Sign up through our main website here.

Want to dig deeper? Join us at the NEW Miniature Garden Society! It’s a members-0nly website that is dedicated to collecting, sharing and studying the art of gardening in miniature. Click in here for more information and what you’ll get by being an exclusive member!

April Fools Day in the Miniature Garden

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Spring into Easter in the Miniature Garden

Spring / Easter in the Miniature Garden

Happy Spring!

Spring into Easter in the Miniature Garden

This is a continuation of our super-fun holiday series where we are keeping the same miniature garden, but switching out the accessories to match the occasion or holiday. Find the previous ones here:

Valentine’s Day in the Miniature Garden

St. Patrick’s Day in the Miniature Garden

And, would you like to see us celebrate an occasion or holiday that is close to your heart? We’ve got the “regular” occasions on our radar, but let us know if there is anything special you would like to see us explore for you. We love a good challenge! Leave your suggestion in the comments below.

 

Spring / Easter in the Miniature Garden

I could not find my Fimo polymer clay stash (Crisis! ;o) so I had to use some eggs I made a few years ago that were a combination of browns, dark purples and golds.

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Spring / Easter in the Miniature Garden

I had a few extra bunnies left over so I painted them brighter colors that complemented the duller egg colors. I needed to liven up the scene!

Mini Garden Easter

I used double-sided tape on a scrap block of wood to keep the wee bunnies in place while I painted them. I could pick up the block of wood and turn it around to get to all sides of each bunny.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

Spring / Easter in the Miniature Garden

I was grateful the egg and bunny color worked with the blue pot and blue-green plants. That cedar deck is stained with acrylic paint to look older than it is.

The plants in this container, counterclockwise from the bottom:
Hens and Chicks
Wooley Thyme
Silver Mist Lily Turf
Blue Moon Sawara Cypress
Miniature Juniper – ‘Compressa’ works too. ~>  Find them here. Note that all plants are not available at all times.

Spring / Easter in the Miniature Garden

Now onto the next holiday!

Find the miniature garden decks here. Made of cedar, they come in “L” shaped too.

Find the tan colored bench here. Available in gray and ivory colors too.

Join us for your FREE Mini Garden Gazette here.

The Miniature Garden Society - it's where craft and garden meet!

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Miniature & Fairy Gardeners: Enjoy A Cyber Monday Sale All Week Long!

CyberShopping

 

Miniature & Fairy Gardeners:
Enjoy A Cyber Monday Sale All Week Long
From Your Miniature Garden Center Store:
TwoGreenThumbs.com !

True miniature plants and trees, realistic and durable mini accessories, kits of all shapes and sizes and much, much more. Only from TwoGreenThumbs.com, your favorite miniature garden center!

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