Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator
I made my first miniature garden at a recent Master Gardener meeting in Canton. It's such a pretty, fun little garden that I smile every time I see it. Are you searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family? As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, here are some pretty, fun ideas to consider for the gardener on your shopping list.
Make them a miniature garden or give them supplies to make their own. Use similarly scaled containers, small houseplants, and decorations that the recipient. For kids, you might place army men, Disney figurines, or Barbies playing and marching among the foliage. For adults consider miniature gnomes, fairies, motorcycles, or animals.
Recently I saw a Chia-pet gnome at a Goodwill Store. The "Chia" series uses simple materials and plants to make a container seem to "grow" hair, fur, or feathers. Of course, the "Chia" system makes the process easy, but you may have the materials already in your home. All you need is a clay or terracotta pot and a small seeded plant. Clay and terracotta are porous containers that allow water and air to move through it. Small-seeded plants that work well for this are mustard, alfalfa, and grass.
A fun project for children is to create a head of green hair on an upside-down flower pot. For this project, you will need a clay flowerpot, dish, colored crayons, grass seed, and soil. Turn the flower pot upside down and draw a face on one side with the crayons. Place the flowerpot in the dish. Put a thin layer of soil on the top of the pot and cover it with grass seeds, pressing them gently into place. Keep the dish below the flowerpot filled with water. The water will soak up through the porous pot, and the grass will grow longer and longer on top of the "head." Don't forget to give it a haircut sometimes!
How about growing mustard greens in your very own mustard farm? This is simple, provided you have mustard seed available. For this project, you need paper towels, a saucer, and mustard (or alfalfa) seeds. Place a few paper towels in the saucer and soak them with water. Sprinkle the seeds on the towels and keep moist. Keep the saucer in front of a window or under a light. In about two weeks you will have fresh mustard greens to put in your sandwiches or salad.
Prepackaged indoor gardens are available in many different themes. They usually have a small plastic tray, paper or plastic sack-type container, seed, and sometimes a decorative outer container. These gardens are simple to make. The soil is already in the sack-type container. The tricky part is getting the peat-based soil to take up water. A hint is to poke drainage holes in the bottom and then set the containers of soil in the kitchen sink in water. Allow the soil to soak water from the bottom until the top is wet to assure the mixture is wet throughout. When planting the seed, use good judgement, since the directions often call for much more seed than you need.
Happy shopping! Oh, and if you are the gardener, cut out this article and leave it in an obvious spot for your loved one to see and get the hint!
MEET THE AUTHOR
As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.
After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.
ABOUT THE BLOG
ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.