Coco orchid

Coco orchid!Step one was a coco box with coco cookies. It was a great project, the cookies taste great and the coco box was a nice decoration. Still, I had the idea that we could improve the concept. After some mind-storming the coco orchid project was born. There are three parts. A coco that we use to hold the plant. A base to hold the coco, and a pretty mini orchid to provide some stunning beauty.

1. Cut/saw the top of the coco. Clean the inside and let the coco dry.
2. Smooth the edges of the coco, and smooth the outside and the inside with some sandpaper.
3. Lightly oil the inside of the coco, with a little bit of oil, to make the coco a bit more water resistant.
4. Make the base, cut a piece of plastic from a bottle, and wrap it with brown wool. The brown wool combines well with the color of the coconut.
5. Buy a mini orchid, and transplant it into the coco. Add some additional material to surround the base of the orchid to it does not move around, but there should still be lots of air/space around the roots.

Enjoy!

Mini orchid: 16 euro, coconut: 1.50 euro, water bottle: 1 euro, a ball of brown wool: 1 euro. Total: 19:50 euro
Enjoy a beautiful orchid every time you come home: Priceless!

Insect hotel

Our birdhouse showed us we that we had set our goals way to high. Our objectives were unobtainable. Maybe it was caused by the heat, or the general lack of birds in our area. We don’t know, but it is clear that after more than half a year we haven’t seen a single bird getting near the birdhouse we placed outside of Alex’ room.
We needed to refocus to something a bit more realistic. There are lots of insects, so why not make them a home, and see if we can get some results here. An insect home should be easier to make, and insects are probably less picky compared to birds.

Step one: With a couple of pieces of wood we made the basic frame
Step two: We pained the basic frame the same color as the wall, so it will not stick out so much
Step three: We collected a couple of sticks and some bamboo, which we cut in lots of pieces of 3 centimeters
Step four: All the pieces were glued inside the frame.
Step five: Leave to dry, and hang outside.

Now we only need to be patient. Maybe some insect will find the hotel and visit it for a while. We shall see.

Money plant (Plectranthus Verticillatus)

Money plant!I have heard about it a couple of times already. There is a money plant. Not a plant that grows money, but one that somehow attracts money to your environment. There is one requirement related to this mystic power. “You cannot buy this plant”. Going to the shop and buying this plant is not an option. You need to get this plant a different way:

  • Steal it. Get a little piece of someone else’ plant and get it to grow.
  • Have it gifted to you without asking for it. Someone needs to surprise you with this little plant.

We had a money plant before, but after moving it to a new spot it somehow withered and died within a couple of days. We just let it be, and continued our lives without this plant. Thinking it really didn’t matter.

During our stay on El Hierro our apartment had a money plant on the balcony. This proved the perfect target for taking a little piece, and at the same time help the kids gain some biological insights. In a plastic cup with some sand and water the small plant accompanied us the rest of our holidays. With two kids it the car at times it must have been hard for the little plant, but it survived the trip and eventually arrived at our home. We transplanted the little plant to Alex’ window and I could already see a small root developing.

What happened next week surprised us. We experienced a salary increase, tax claims were dropped, a promotion, a bonus, another bonus, insurance that suddenly paid out, bitcoin value going up (this one might be a bit far fetched). In one week! It looks like the little plant is actually working.

Eco-sphere

An eco system is a collection of things that together can form a balance and survive without outside help. This collection of living things will work together to florish. Making a small eco system is easy and very educational. The small contained eco systems are called eco-sphere. You can make one really easily and it should require very little maintenance. I did this the following manner:

  • Get a big glass pot (Eat some bottled vegetables, or simply buy one. I got a really big 5 liter pot for around 5 euros)
  • Get some decoration. I made two eco-spheres. One with seashells (which I first cleaned with fresh water) and one with lots of small pieces of sea glass.
  • Get some fresh water. Either use water from the tab (which require a day or two before adding any life to the eco-sphere) or get some water from river or a pond.
  • Get some small water plants from a local river or pond.
  • Get some living things. I have a couple of small snails (which came with the plants I got from the pond), and I have two shrimp in each eco-sphere. The shrimp are the only animals I bought in the store for 2.50 EUR each.
  • As an extra I went online and bought a moss ball (around 1 EUR) on AliExpress. This is a (small) ball of moss which serves as the perfect decoration, and sometimes the shrimp will be found sitting on the ball, cleaning it a bit.
  • Put your eco-sphere in a nice place where they will have daylight. This is needed for the plants to make oxigen and to grow. Do not place the eco-sphere in a place where it will be hit directly by the sun. This will heat up the water way to much and you will end up with cooked shrimp. It there is to much light entering your eco system you should notice an abundance of green or brown algea. This tells you you will need the eco-sphere to a place where it is a little bit less bright.

    The shrimp can eat the algea that will grow in the eco-sphere. The snail(s) will also eat the algea and everything else they can find. The snails should also keep the glass clear. The poop from the snails and shrimp should function perfectly as food for the plants, and thats it. You just made yourself a really nice eco system!

    Dry?

    You can also try an eco system without so much water. You will then need to add some dirt and some plants. I tried this a couple of times, but after a while the plants just got to big or simply died. Making a water based eco system is much easier.

    Baby shrimp

    Our shrimp has some young. In the mini eco system that we have there where two shrimp living. I think they are happy with their home, especially since I started giving them some extra food every day. They must be happy because they decided to have kids. When I was giving them their food today I noticed a very small animal on the glass. A closer observation made it clear it was a very small shrimp. Great!

    Monarch butterfly!

    It took quite a bit of preparation and quite a bit of time, but we did it! We ‘hatched’ a couple of Monarch butterflies at home! Months ago we started by getting seeds for the correct plant that is used by the butterflies. It is the only plant they will lay their eggs on and the only plant the catterpillers will eat. Slowly the plants grew and they even got some flowers. Then suddenly we hit the jackpot. 5 little catterpillers were walking around the leafs. After a couple of days only two remained, but these were growing fast. In about a week the catterpillers were very fat and started to create their cocoon.

    Chimbroek, Espinita and two shrimp

    Alan takes care of Chimbroek, a black and blue fish. Alex has Espinitas, a purple and blue fish and I got tho shrimp. We all got some pets. Alex and Alan’s fish need three grains of fish-food twice a day every other day. A good way to start developing a bit of responsibility.

    Both fish have already been upgraded to version 2.0. The first versions were not a good buy and were floating up side down after two days already. They were changed without problem for better versions. Alex understood perfectly that the new Espinitas was a different fish. Alan had his doubts and noticed something had happened. He now keeps asking if his fish is dead again (even when its just sleeping) and he has figured out that sometimes dead fish revive with a bit more blueish color.

    My shrimp are (for now) the easiest. I just put them in a big pot with a little plant and they do all the cleaning. I don’t think I even need to feed them.

    Beer!

    Beer!Una cerveza por favor. This is a much heard phrase in Spain. It is the way to ask for a beer and it is one of the first sentences I mastered when studying Spanish.

    But… I will not be needing this sentence anymore because we are going to try and make our own beer. We already have a big package of natural ingredients, two huge plastic buckets a a lot more stuff. I look forward to making a all natural beer.

    We need to think about a good name for our beer. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Plant-a-tree day

    Last weekend it was plant-a-tree day and of course we went out and planted some trees. The trees were planted near a forest close to Moya. Ana planted a Madroño, a typical tree from Madrid. I planted a Laurel and Alex also planted a Laurel. It was a nice event which included a picknick and a nice walk through nature. After planting the trees some heavy rains broke out, so the trees got a nice drink.
    Plant-a-tree day!Plant-a-tree day!Plant-a-tree day!Plant-a-tree day!