When Quitting Is the Answer: The Snake Terrarium

After you invest in something, it can be hard to jump ship, even if there is a far better option lying right under your nose. But even if you are out some materials and time, sometimes it is better to re-purpose those items and do yourself a favor: choose the easy road.

My apartment is a very animal friendly space. Meet the critters: Sherlock is a 1.5 year old Ball Python who be-stills my heart with his yawns and tongue flicks.


Hilina’i and Ginger are my playful rats who when not begging for treats or going on coffee shop outings are probably on their wheel, constantly reminding me of their presence.

I am currently out a foster cat since my last was adopted, but soon another feline will be on the prowl in my apartment as I work to get him or her into a forever home.

All of my critters are post worthy, Sherlock the snake and his living space will be the focus here. It is time for him to begin moving on up in the tank department, his old tank will not cut it when he fleshes out to his three foot glory.

I have been looking into building him a big terrarium for a while now, but massive fish tanks are just too expensive to buy new, and on a part time budget caring for myself, my car, and the critters, I can’t afford to spend a fortune on something I could make cheaply from a cabinet and some glass. So, I did my homework, picked up a $10 metal shelf unit at the thrift store (I have an irrational fear that my below tank heating pads will set wood on fire), $20 worth of glass and a glass cutter at Home Depot, and got to work. I cut the glass, taped up the sides, and tested the doors. YES! they slid.

Now I just had to find some snake safe paint. That, my friends, was a internet nightmare. Every time I went to find what would be safe, it would either a) be out of production, b) not work on metal, or c) be crazy expensive. Looking at the browsers were giving me a headache. Then I had ventilation to worry about, and how to make it accessible for the clumsiest snake on the plant. So I had the project sit on my floor for days, untouched.

Then, by chance, I was at the Scrap Exchange (only the best store in Durham), when there I saw it. The solution to all of my problems for $15. The only issue, I would have to scrap all the work I had done up to that point. There, on the warehouse floor, was a giant 4 ft by 18 in 55 gallon fish tank. Instead of construction, and fumes, and fear for my snake, I could just leave with this, buy a prefab lid online, add clips, and be done.

Any rational bystander would tell you the obvious, get the tank. But anyone who has ever built something, attempted to cook something in the kitchen, or even tried in vain to craft knows how hard is to give up if you have been putting hours into something else (no matter how failed or difficult it may be) it can feel like there isn’t even the option of quitting.

The truth, you can. I allowed myself to quit my first attempt, and Sherlock gets to live in a huge new space, instead of waiting weeks. My metal shelf is now incorporated into my reading nook, and the float glass is awaiting my kiln projects. In the homesteading/DIY world, there is one lesson that must be learned before any headway will be made, if there is truly a better option, it is okay to quit.

Now here is Sherlock in the garden:


And So It Begins

Here we are, my new blog.

It has been a while since I’ve ventured into the blogger-sphere. Years ago in my Hawaii hometown I kept a blog on my garden at called “My Kailua Garden” and another on recipes crafts at “Kreative in Kailua”, but college and health issues got in the way of those ventures.

That is not to say I have been sitting idle in the least, I have been arm deep in the dirt and homestead activities since, I just haven’t written it down. I’ll be combining my old content and finally getting to writing some new posts.

I missed blogging, so now, as I go to school in Durham, NC, I’m ready to help others with small spaces and busy schedules to get back to mother earth and start homesteading. Like the cucumbers above, I am excited to grow out this venture, and hope you are excited to journey with me.

For more on me, don’t forget to swing by the about me page.

Self-Watering Containers

So I’ve been using the global buckets designs for a few weeks now, but I didn’t think it made any sense to write about them if I didn’t know how they worked. Global buckets are some designs made by a set of teenage boys, fixed on saving the world. For all of our sakes, it make it a lot easier to be able to put the pot wherever you want, and have it water itself for days. I decided to try the original stacked design, and the Ola irrigation design (pretty much two terracotta pots glued together). Both designs have their pros and cons, and furthermore, certain plants are definitely better suited to one system vs. the other.

original design, seen from top
planted: peas and carrots


original design seen from side view


1. The original design is very efficient at watering itself once the plants have roots, and hold a very substantial amount of water. I say when the plants have roots because, although basic osmosis contributes to how this set-up works (two buckets stacked, the space between is the reservoir, a cup with dirt links the two cavities and when the soil dries, water is pulled into it) the roots will also draw the water up. This is not so true as to with seeds. The other downside is that there is quite a bit of set-up involved. Drilling, and carving and measuring…. I could go on. But once the system was a go, it worked swimmingly.


Ola design
planted: cucumbers


Ola design,
Here you can see the water darkening
the soil as it is doing all through the
bucket under the top bit of dirt


2. The Ola design is definitely my favorite. no drilling or anything that complex. Put plainly, I took the two pots… and wait for it…. glued them together with one of the drainage holes sealed. That was it. After a coat of white paint over the top two inches or so to stall evaporation, I was done. Then I took a five gallon bucket and buried the contraption except for the painted (don’t be like me, bury all the non-painted pot to stop evaporation) bit so I could fill the cavity through the drainage hole.
Now if you think that cheap self watering containers that you can ignore for days at a time are a cool idea then I would head to the link below. If you then decide on the Ola system (which I highly recommend) you can use the following substitutions if you don’t have tile or caulk. For the tile just go out and find a rock big enough to cover the drainage hole (not hard to do), if you don’t have caulk, hot glue from a crafting hot glue gun works just as well and its more likely you have it on hand (or a friend that does). As a final note, you can directly plant seeds in this system without having to water by hand until they sprout.
When it comes to what plants work in the global buckets, the sky is the limit. Pretty much anything will do. The only limitation is that when using the Ola system, you will be planting around the bucket unless you bury the system using the bucket-saucer method, and then glue some PVC as a channel so to fill the reservoir. (easier than creating the original system in my humble teenage opinion)
Right now:


in 1. I have peas around the edge, and carrots in the middle as filler (can’t waste an inch of soil!)
             ( I was thoroughly pleased when I discovered I placed peas and carrots together.)   🙂
in 2. I have cucumbers
      If i haven’t said it enough, I like the Ola design better, it is cheaper, easier to make, and holds plenty of good old H20.