Thursday, April 30 2015 08:19

Container Gardening: Plotting & Planting with Costa Farms' Desert Escape Collection of Cactus & Succulents...

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Desert EscapeThe folks at Costa Farms recently served-up a challenge for me. They'd send me an assortment of cactus and succulents from their new Desert Escape Collection, and I'd see what kind of creative container I could whip up with them. Thing is, we live in Northern Illinois, so these will be indoor plants for much of the year - and since we don't have a desert landscape, I'm not very familiar with working with these varieties, aside from handling them on occasion in the years that I ran some Garden Centers (a few lives ago). I thought it would be a fun project for the girls and I, but had no idea just how big a production it could become. What I thought would be a one-container project actually became five, and we had a whole lot of fun with this - creating some interesting miniature landscapes where adventure was hiding just below the surface. For a couple of them, you could even say that they looked like something from "a galaxy far, far away..."

FedEx delivered three sizeable boxes of plants, including Lace Aloe, Variegated Baby Jade, Flapjacks, Echeveria, African Milk Tree, Fairy Castle Cactus and more. After the girls and I got everything unboxed and sorted out,

Hmmmmm... Plotting. From The Desert Escape collection by @costafarms. #gardening #DesertEscape

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

After a trip to Walmart and Home Depot, I ended up snagging four tall planters ($12.97 each), a half-mini whisky barrel ($9.99), four bags of Miracle-Gro Cactus & Succulent Soil ($4.88 each), a big bag of Miracle-Gro Potting Mix ($12.99), a small pump bottle of Miracle-Gro Cactus & Succulent food ($3.99), one bag of pebbles ($3), two bags of assorted moss ($3 each) and a bag of play sand ($2). With right around $100 of investment, we decided that these would make for some really cool surprise gifts for some friends and family, as there was no way we'd have enough space to keep them all when the cold seasons come back around (it's actually still too cold right now).

Costa Farms

I drilled holes in each of our new planters, and added about an inch or so of pebbles at the bottom, followed by potting mix, then cactus/succulent mix, and the plants. The sand would be used as top dressing for one of our creations. On their own, the five containers were looking pretty good...

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

But we weren't done yet. 

As many of you know, we're pretty into STAR WARS and Toyography here at Rock Father HQ, and sometimes that makes its way into our Gardening adventures... like the Jawa that has been watching over things for the past several years. So what if one if our containers were to become a Tatooine Garden, and another an Endor Garden?





Thanks to Costa Farms for sending us these plants for this Garden adventure! We ended up keeping two of our containers, while the Tatooine one (minus the figures) ended up at Grandma's house, and two of the other tall ones now have homes with a couple of our neighbors.

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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