Posted by: briellethefirst | March 7, 2011

Easter Basket Grass


M3361S-3034Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. That means I get to go to church and get a smudge on my forehead…if I’m a good Catholic and remember what day it is, which isn’t guaranteed even though I know it’s only two days from now. The problem is that Fat Tuesday is between now and Wednesday, so I’ll probably just skip to Thursday before realizing Wednesday happened. Since I usually forget to drink or otherwise partake in any mind-altering substances on Fat Tuesday I only have general flakiness as an excuse.

My other excuse is grass. No, not THAT grass! Easter grass. I started doing this when I lived in Florida. I hated the fake ‘grass’ for Easter baskets and tried to think of other things to use but settled on just growing my own. It does take a bit of planning, but not much and with even as little as two weeks head start you can get enough grass up and green to work for the Easter Bunny but starting now will give you a nice basket lawn. While you’re out and about stop by your favourite store(s) and pick up basket(s), potting soil, grass seed (annual rye is fine) and a 6-pack of flower starts for the garden. I’ve used alyssum, snap dragon, Dianthus, pansies, Johnny-jump-up and primrose but you can use whatever you like. It’s usually not hard to find packets of grass to grow inside for your kitty but it’s kind of thick-bladed so I usually go to a regular nursery and get a small bag of bulk rye grass or whatever they still have in stock. It doesn’t take much, but you will want to plant thickly for good coverage and you can always share the extra with friends, family and co-workers. I got talked about the first year I took a basket to work and shared baggies of grass (seed, really!) with other mommies. Everybody smiled as they went by my desk and ran their fingers through my grass. The chocolate kisses were nice, too. Oh, you will want to save the plastic shopping bags to make your real-grass baskets. So here’s how:

Figure out how many people you want to make baskets for. If you’re doing this on your own you can probably do it on the table, but if you do it with the kids you’ll probably want to do it outside. So, line each basket with a plastic grocery bag. Make sure it doesn’t have holes! Fold the edges over the sides as much as you can…if there’s a handle it can get in the way but just do what you can. Use a trowel or spoon to put potting soil in the basket. OK, if you’re like me and the kids you’ll probably just use your hands since you don’t need much, maybe only half way up. Plant a flower on one side of the basket, splitting the root-ball to spread it out if you have to make it not stand above the soil level. It’s amazing how much abuse plants can handle and there’s a lot of time for them to recover before Easter. Once you have the flower planted, smoothe the soil and sprinkle grass seed liberally over it. Sprinkle a light layer of soil over the seeds, press slightly and water gently. Now pull the rest of the grocery bag up loosely to form a temporary greenhouse and keep the birds out. Set it out where it can get sun and check it every day to make sure it doesn’t get dry. Watering liberally at first is OK, the seeds won’t mind and the plant should recover and can be replaced if it dies, but even so, you don’t want to over-water. When The grass gets tall enough you can cut the bag off even with the side of the basket and trim the grass every couple of days with scissors.

I re-use coloured plastic baskets every year but sometimes get a nice real basket for special occasions like birthdays, Mother’s day, showers or whatever. This doesn’t have to be just for Easter! You can substitute herbs or even veggies for

Add dirt...

Add dirt…

Spread out the plant 'feet'

Spread out the plant ‘feet’

Sprinkle...

Sprinkle…

Mini-greenhouses!

Mini-greenhouses!

Ready for Easter

Ready for Easter

flowers, too. Last week Kenzie saw the baskets in the spare room and grabbed them, telling me it was time to make “bunny baskets”…I distracted her with truffle making and we’ll make bunny baskets later this week. Toys, coloured eggs and wrapped candy can go right on the grass but I put jelly beans or other unwrapped candy in plastic eggs or cupcake liners. I also schedule the watering so the baskets aren’t soggy on Easter morning. If I have extra seed I scatter it on thin spots in the lawn and after Easter the kids get to transplant the flowers into the garden and the grass gets plugged into parts of the lawn that are still skimpy. Over all, I think it’s a vast improvement over fake Easter grass. Have fun and happy basket gardening!

Additional comments added 3/29/17: Once again I’ve forgotten to make baskets on or near Ash Wednesday. If you have the same casual relationship with calendars and planning as I do, or if this is the first time seeing this, I had another idea, especially if it’s the last-minute before Easter. If you can find some turf grass at the big box hardware stores, especially if it’s torn off the big sheets they use for lawns, see if they’ll let you buy the scraps or take it off their hands. Or you can see if any local nurseries have moss (moss gardens were in vogue in recent years) or other low-growing small ground-cover plants that can substitute for grass.

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