Archive for the ‘Gardening with Children’ Category

Every time I see a Chia Pet in a store I’m tempted to buy one but the $19.99 price always seems a bit steep for such a useless but never the less fun novelty garden item. It might very well be worth the price but I’m a little skeptical of any of the “As seen on TV” products especially after the Sea Monkey Fiasco of 1982. I think I paid about $10 for the advertised Sea Monkey aquatic pets and they turned out to be brine shrimp.

SeaMonkeyFiasco

I don’t care what anyone says…a brine shrimp is not a pet and they do not on any way resemble the creature on the sea monkey package. I WAS DUPED!
At least that’s how I felt.
Needless to say this guerilla gardener did not want to risk being duped by a Chia Pet as well.
I could feel a Guerilla Garden Chia Pet Adventure coming on, so I went cruising the internet and found several instructions for homemade “Chia” pets. Then I did some experimenting on my own to see what worked best and this is what I came up with;

A Caterpillar,

A Grass Haired Alien,

Chia Alien

A Small “Potato” Head,

Homemade Potato Head

and A Cool Dude with Sunglasses.

Grass Head with Sunglasses

These creatures definitely have a personality all their own and literally only cost pennies to make. They are fast growing, are self watering and need only minimal care to flourish making them a great garden project for children. Best of all this Summer Garden Parent Hack could potentially help you to enjoy the last days of summer by staving off all those summer time choruses of I’m bored that your children are determined to bombard you with.

Here are some simple directions on how to create your own Chia Pet on the Cheap:

Materials Needed
stockings
potting soil
grass seed
elastic bands
glue
pipe cleaners, buttons, ribbon etc to decorate
container
rocks

1. Start by cutting the bottom section off a nylon stocking (or use an old knee-hi or nylon sock).

2. Add a small handful of grass seed to the very bottom, inside the stocking. This is where the “hair” will sprout.

3. Fill the rest of the stocking with enough potting soil to make the size and shape of “creature” you desire.

4. Tie a knot in the stocking so that the soil will hold its shape. Cut away any extra nylon, but leave a little tail as it acts as a wick to soak up water.

5. Now it’s time to give your creature some features! Use your imagination and a glue gun to create facial features and accessories by using things like googly eyes, paint, permanent markers, beads, felt, fun foam, pipe cleaners, pompoms, and yarn.

6. Once all the paints/accessories and glue are dry, the last step is to water your creature. Set your creature in a bowl filled with water, and leave it to saturate for a day. Then “stand” it up, wick side down in a rock lined container topped up with water. Check each day to make sure it remains moist and within a few weeks, your creature will start to grow hair.

Additional Tips:

  • Grass seed can be substituted with chia seeds, wheat grass seeds, alfalfa seeds, or bird seed.
  • Potting soil can be substituted with sphagnum moss, peat moss or sawdust (the kind you buy at the pet store).
  • To create a more 3 dimensional characters, twist off and tie small sections of soil and seeds using rubber bands, pipe cleaners or string. You can form legs, a head, a nose, body sections or whatever identifying characteristics that you want for your creature to truly make him one of a kind.
  • Once the “sprouted hair” is established feel free to take a pair of scissors and create a new hairstyle. Just keep in mind that if its cut too short or it dries out it might stop growing altogether. Also be aware that letting children think that it is OK to give haircuts whenever and to whoever they please usually does not end well…..if you get my drift.
  • Be sure to top up the water regularly.
  • Once the hair is growing you may want to occasionally spray your creature with half strength fertilizer.

And there you have it…..

Cheeky Grass Head

A Summer Garden Parent Hack – Making a Chia Pet on the Cheap!

 

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DinosaurGarden_Logo

This article is about turning your children into gardeners during the summer holidays.
You’re probably thinking to your self why should you even bother?
Well for one thing it will keep your kids occupied while you work in the garden and let’s face it, nothing ruins your summer gardening experience more than listening to an endless chorus of “I’m bored”.  Get your children unplugged from technology, remove them from the sofa that sits in front of the TV and wrench them away away from their computers, tablets and any other gaming or hand held devices that seem to have a permanent, invisible connection to both their eyeballs and their hands. The lack of technology will improve their posture, provide a learning experience by teaching them about nature and help to provide a connection to the earth while allowing you to spend more quality gardening time with them.
It’s most important to teach children that gardening is not all about mowing lawns or pulling weeds – after all that’s slave labor! Instead get them involved in gardening by using nature to create and spark their imaginations. Fairy Gardens have been all the rage for the past year however if dinosaur toys are a big hit at your house, I’m thinking a Jurassic Garden might just fit the bill.

Since many of today’s plants were around during the time of dinosaurs, it’s easy to create a dinosaur themed garden. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

Ferns
Ferns are one of the most ancient plant groups surviving today and were once the primary vegetation covering the earth. Some of the earliest species include the maidenhair ferns, lady ferns and autumn ferns. Here in B.C. there are a variety of ferns that grow in the wild and they could be easily dug up and transplanted for free…..if only the Parks Board would cooperate. Apparently there are fines involved for removing vegetation from crown land so actually buying a 4″ fern for $3-$5 might be a better option…..just saying.

Conifers
During the time when the dinosaurs lived, conifers dominated the landscape. These included redwoods, yews, pines, cypress and the monkey puzzle tree. If space is limited, you could use any of the hundreds of types of dwarf conifers such as pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, and junipers.

Ginkgo Tree
In Jurassic times there were many ginkgo species. Today, there’s just one ginkgo species left but it comes in several different varieties including dwarf, weeping, upright, pyramidal and bush forms, and is available in a variety of foliage colors including variegated, yellow-green, dark green and light green. The leaves turn bright yellow-green in autumn.
Ginkgo Biloba is particularly resistant to insects, fungal, viral and bacterial diseases as well as to ozone and sulfur dioxide pollution, fire and even radioactive radiation (atom bomb WWII). Even serial plant killers will be able to grow this one!

Dinosaurs
No Jurassic Garden would be complete without inhabitants.
Dinosaurs are a must as children love learning to identify the different species, where they lived and what they ate.
Realistic plastic dinosaurs are available at the dollar store or if you’re feeling creative you can create your own out of modeling clay.

Dinosaur Nibbles
Horsetail, the bane of gardeners everywhere, was a main source of food for dinosaurs. If you don’t have some growing in your garden already, I will guarantee you there is a gardener somewhere who would be more than willing to give you some for free! Horsetail can be invasive, so you might want to put it in a pot to help reduce the spread. Oh yeah, and dinosaurs get thirsty too, so if you can make room for a pond all the better!

Fossils
Encourage creativity by having children create their own “fossils” by casting concrete impressions of plant leaves and dinosaur footprints.
Alternatively, you could spark their imaginations by creating an archeological “dig site” for children by burying simulated “fossils” and “bones”.  One budget minded Guerilla Gardener (who shall remain nameless) used some large beef bones that had been cleaned off and buried them as dinosaur evidence, however this could be a problem if you have a food driven Hoover dog like mine. Luckily most dollar stores seem to carry Dinosaur Excavation Kits . Place on the garden’s surface or better yet bury it. After all, when you’re a kid nothing beats digging in the dirt!

Go Exotic and Rare
Cycads, (pronounced si’kads), are sometimes referred to as living plant fossils, because they have remained virtually unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. These exotic palm tree like plants are generally easy to grow, very hardy and are rarely bothered by pests or diseases. Cycads that grow in BC can be found at the Jurassic Plants Nursery but be aware that because of the price they are usually only grown in the most epic, larger scale, adult oriented Jurassic Gardens!
Note: Some adult/spouse/client type people might also be inspired/convinced/bribed into helping create/finance/make room for a Jurassic Garden after taking them to the upcoming Jurassic Park part 4 movie sequel Jurassic World that will be premieringin a few weeks.

Do you have a summer children’s birthday to deal with?
Create a Jurassic Garden then…
With a little help from Pinterest make it a Dinosaur Themed Party!
Go ahead, make some memories this summer!

 

Fairy Garden Halloween

Not really sure if this is actually another fairy garden occupant or just a visitor to the Willow Lane Fairy Garden Cemetary. Someone (NO NAMES MENTIONED) suggested that it might just be the ghost of one of the cemetery’s occupants, but I’m thinking that slugs and snails having no skeletons of their own would look differently…..if you know what I mean.

Fairy Garden Witch

The Evil Fairy Garden that is located on the common property in my townhouse complex seems to have a new occupant. I’m thinking that a water feature upgrade might be needed to accommodate for the pet octopus however I don’t know if Strata will allow it since this garden and it’s occupants are basically squatters. I’ll keep you posted.

July Guerilla GardenerA Gardening  Revival!

It’s a fact; there is an extreme decline in the popularity of gardening.
People have less free time, they live in much smaller spaces, vegetables are available all year round and the gardening population is mostly from the baby boomer generation (people born 1946 to 1964). That means that unless I, as a guerilla gardener do something to prevent it I will be participating in what is known as an old person’s hobby!
In order to revive interest in gardening, guerilla gardeners everywhere must focus on the younger generation because unless we improve the image of gardening it could be a lost cause/art form.
It’s really easy to get small children on board with gardening, but most teenagers seem to think that gardening is a “lame old people hobby”.
To help improve the image of gardening and get teenagers involved you must understand that most teenagers rebel against authority and seek to embrace counterculture. It’s a challenge to make gardening as significant and interesting as a teenage celebrity scandal, but here are a few ideas to try:

A Goth Garden
If your teenager walks around looking like a member of the Adams family, and wears nothing but black all the time then don’t fight it, embrace their dark side. Leave a gardening article about creating a Goth Garden lying around (it is better if they think this is their idea, not yours) and give them a gargoyle (or some other creepy garden ornament)  to inspire them to garden. If there is absolutely no way to pry them outside into the light of day then an indoor carnivorous house plant such as a Venus flytrap just might be the ticket to get them interested in gardening.

Goth Garden Ornaments

Moss Graffiti and Seed Bombing
Graffiti is the ultimate counterculture art and moss graffiti brings whole new meaning to the term going green. If you have a cement wall or fence this is the end all to be all for that creative teenager who thinks that gardening is lame. As for seed bombing, well gardening doesn’t get much more rebellious than that!

The “Rock Star” Garden
The slogan for this line of plants is “Cool Plants for Rock Gardens” and their “spokesperson” is a edgy cement, sunglass wearing, Easter Island looking dude named “Cliff”.  The “Rock Star” collection of plants do not require a whole lot of attention or fussing and need very little water. Low maintenance is the key!
These plants are a good choice for any teenage garden because after all, teenagers have things to do, people to see, places to go and don’t want to spend all their time taking care of a garden.

A Fashionista Garden
So your teenage daughter is a little fashionista. For those of you who are not in the know these are the girls who love designer clothes, shoes and handbags. A shoe garden, a purse planter, or a garden with a designer logo spelled out in plants will make the statement that these girls are looking for. I would suggest an anti-fashionista scarecrow contest but lets face it they would just dress it in your clothes.

Red Shoe Planter

Baja 1000 Race Track Garden
The granddaddy of all desert races is the Baja 1000. Only half of the racers will finish this incredible test of endurance where mechanical failures and vehicle flip-overs are all part of the ride. Mention within teenage hearing to a friend that you are thinking of recreating this desert race in your garden by making a track of pea gravel, planting some desert like plants (like the Rock Star collection), and adding some sand pits. Then bring some pea gravel home, buy a couple of remote controlled cars and leave them where they will be seen daily. Teenagers (and possibly some husband type persons) will be begging/thinking  of ways to convince you to let them be involved in this garden project.

The Techie Garden
It seems almost impossible to pry teenagers away from their smartphones, tablets and computers but if you still want to get them on board with gardening, well there’s an app for that!
How about a planter that can monitor a plant’s health and send a message to a smartphone that it needs water, or a robotic planter that will seek the sun all on it’s own, or even a  Garden Watch Camera that will document the blossoming of your garden with beautiful time lapse technology. These are just of some of the high-tech garden gadgets that exist and can provide teenagers the opportunity to garden in a more technological way. As a Guerilla Gardener you can help bring gardening into the new millennium by sending/emailing/twittering/facebooking a teenager near you a link to the Geeks Guide to a Green Thumb. If you are still determined to get a teenager involved in gardening then buy some cool garden techie stuff for yourself and get them to set it up and show you how the software works. This is a win/win situation as teenagers love showing off technically for the “old folks” and if you don’t let on that you’re technically capable, it will be like getting a free tech call and some free software lessons too!

Computer Planter

Guerilla Gardeners Unite!

Make your next adventure about finding a teenager and start your own Gardening Revival,
because after all nothing could be more humiliating than having an old person’s hobby and you might learn something yourself!

Guerilla Garden Seedbomb

Brenda Dyck
A Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure!

 

 

 

 

Need a Reminder to Water Your Plants?

Always forgetting to water your plants at home or the office? Waterbot keeps track of the water needs of your plants and reminds you when they need water. You can create a flower avatar for each plant and set up a watering schedule for a set number of days. Android compatible; free.

– See more at: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/tools-and-products/13-useful-gardening-gadgets#sthash.feXVNphm.dpuf

GuerillaGardener_DirtCheck out this month’s article on starting your own
Gardening Revival!
June_2014_GuerillaGardenFairy
Fairy Garden Mania!

2014 is definitely the year of the fairy garden! Look around in any garden center and you will find tons of fairy garden items and accessories everywhere you go. Children, Irish people and even some adults all seem to be fascinated with the idea that fairies live among us.
However, evidence of fairies is slim and you can’t even begin to entice fairies into your garden without giving them a place to live. This year everybody seems to be on the fairy garden bandwagon and the fairies will have lots of choices for taking up residency. The competition will be stiff so you had better make your fairy garden stand out from the rest!
Here are a few tips to make sure your fairy garden the most enticing.

Step 1- Choose a Location:
A shady woodland fairy garden
If you want to attract woodland fairies then build your fairy garden in a shady part of the garden under a tree or stump and incorporate a fairy door at the base. This will create a fairy portal for the fairies to come through into your garden. Be sure to plant assorted ferns, hostas, bleeding hearts and other woodland plants. The drooping fronds of the ferns will give woodland fairies a secret place to hide and the hosta leaves make a nice canopy from the rain!
Note: You might also want to add some different kinds of moss as forest fairies love the soft, cool spongy feel of it on their feet.
A sunny flower fairy garden
Fairies love the same flowers as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Foxglove, forget-me-nots, heather, hollyhocks, herbs (especially thyme), marigolds, lavender, sweet peas and roses are some good choices. Make sure your flower fairy garden receives at least 6 hours of sun a day.
A container fairy garden
For those of you that live in a townhouse or an apartment a container fairy garden might just be the ticket to attract urban fairies. Use your imagination- a bird bath, a wooden crate, even a large wicker basket can be viewed as a potential fairy garden. For larger yards an old wagon or a wheelbarrow converted into a mobile fairy garden can be most appealing. Fairies like the added option of being able to relocate to a different part of the yard if they decide they don’t like the neighborhood.
A Guerilla Garden Fairy Garden
If you have decided to make A Guerilla Garden Fairy Garden on someone else’s property or on a public lot then you may not want to spend a lot of money. Thrift stores, flea markets and dollar stores are all great sources for inexpensive ready made miniature garden tools, furniture, tea sets, or other potential fairy garden items. However, if your feeling the least bit creative then Pinterest has lots of links and ideas on how to create inexpensive fairy houses, swing sets, fences, ladders, fairy furniture and accessories. When  guerilla gardening there is always a chance of garden theft. If your fairy garden stuff doesn’t cost a lot of money and any of it goes missing then you can just think of it as a personal donation to the Fairy Garden Emergency Fund!

Step 2- Give it Curb Appeal!
Remember, when creating a fairy garden the main key element is to keep it miniature and pay attention to the details.
Fairy paths and pathways
Create a path out of tiny pebbles/aquarium gravel or place small flat rocks as stepping stones to entice fairies to roam throughout the garden. A miniature patio or deck and fencing will also add to the curb appeal.
Fairy hideouts/lookouts
Be sure to include some gnarled drift wood and rock outcroppings. Fairies like to have lookout points to stand on and adding a small ladder made out of twigs to reach a lookout is a much sought after feature. Also, fairies being ever elusive tend to make their homes in gardens that provide lots of nooks and crannies for them to hide in.
Fairy water features
Fairies love to splash and play in water fountains and ponds but any water feature will suffice. It can be as simple as using a water proof container filled with water or a small tabletop fountain.
If you are concerned that your water feature may become a potential mosquito hatchery you can always use a small mirror to create a reflection pond or use glass marbles to create a stream.
NOTE: If possible add a miniature boat to your water feature -fairies find boat rides irresistible!
Fairy rings
Celtic folklore depicts fairy rings as gateways into fairy kingdoms where fairies gather and dance.
The best fairy rings consist of a ring of mushrooms that grow in a perfect circle. However other “Fairy Garden “Experts” have had success attracting fairies using resin mushrooms or placing stones, flowers or other plants in a circle to create a fairy ring.
Warning: Fairy folklore always warns humans not to stand in fairy rings. It is said that if you disrupt them or join the dance, you will be punished. I’m guessing that’s where the phrase “Don’t Piss off the Fairies” came from.

Step 3- Add Dwelling(s):
Fairy Houses:

Legend says that fairies will come and live in a house they like-so choose carefully. For instance, woodland fairies prefer to live in homes made out of twigs, rocks, and other natural materials where as urban type fairies are only too happy to live in a home made from recycled materials. Also, some fairies are very social and will only move into fairy villages or fairy condominium complexes.
Ready-made fairy houses can easily be bought by the Creatively Impaired  but if you have access to a computer and are feeling all crafty just Google “how to make a fairy house” for inspiration and instructions. Keep in mind that no matter what fairy house option you decide on it should be able to withstand the elements if it’s going to be a permanent structure.
Children should also note that sometimes fairies like to choose an empty fairy garden lot and then custom build their house.

Step 4-Inhabitant(s):
Statues and Figurines
:
As real fairies are somewhat hard to get hold of you may want to populate your fairy garden with store bought inhabitants. It is rumored that because the fairy garden is a magical place statues and figurines come to life but if humans are around they become statues again.
Also it has been said that with the assistance of a boy child sometimes gnomes and elves have been known to build a Gnome Home and take up residence in a fairy garden. This is acceptable but do not under any circumstances let any of the Transformers move in as it can lower the Fairy Garden Property Values in your neighborhood! I’m sorry to say but this also applies to Barbie and her friends too.

Before embarking on your own fairy garden adventure remember that creating a fairy garden is a fun way to get small children involved in gardening. With a declining/aging gardening population this is more important than you think! Be sure to move or add accessories to the fairy garden as “evidence” that fairies actually inhabit your garden. Not only will the children “Believe” in fairies but the memories they will have of gardening with you will last a lifetime.

Let the Fairy Garden Adventure begin!

Guerilla Garden Seedbomb

Brenda Dyck
A Guerilla Gardener on an Adventure!