MAKE A TWIG BASKET FOR SPRING PLANTS

It’s spring! Earth Day is coming up on April 22, and Arbor Day is the 27th. Here’s a fun family craft that combines all three. It gets you outside, with your eye on nature’s beauty for collecting and crafting a simple twig basket.

Head out into a park, or your own block or backyard with your kids on a windy day or after a rainstorm, and collect the sticks and twigs you find here and there on the ground. You might think of this activity as nature’s game of “pick-up sticks.”

When you get home with your preschoolers and school-age kids, sort through the collection, and turn the straightest sticks that are a quarter-inch or so wide into a lovely, earthy basket to hold a potted indoor plant or succulent. The attractive natural container also might be handy to hold fresh fruit on your kitchen counter or table.

Here’s the stuff you need for a twig basket that holds a 4-inch planting pot:

  • 33 sticks, 7 inches long, about 1/4 inch thick (to cut sticks into equal lengths, score with scissors, then snap off excess. Trim any pointy ends with pruning shears)
  • 1 18-inch-long thin, pliable stick for the handle
  • Twine
  • Nontoxic wood glue or a low-temp glue gun

Here’s the fun:

 

Construct the base: Arrange four sticks into a square on a newspaper-covered table or counter, with a 1-inch overlap at each corner. Dab nontoxic wood glue or glue from a glue gun at each corner.

Tie each corner with a 4-foot piece of twine. Knot it in the middle and let the long ends dangle.
To make the bottom of the basket, glue three twigs in a row 1 inch apart to the square base.

Secure each twig to the base with a 1-foot twine piece. Trim excess.

Make the sides: Dab glue on the twine at each corner. Lay four sticks in a square, log-cabin style, then tie corners as before. Continue layering and tying until you’ve used all of the 7-inch sticks.

Set your favorite growing plant inside.

 

 

 

 

PLANT A MOBILE MINI-GARDEN IN A WAGON

My 4-year-old friend Grace Hunt waters herbs, lettuce and kale growing in a movable wagon garden.

Beautiful things can emerge when you dig right in. A natural, glorious garden that just happens to be edible is a great place to start.

So find an old wagon at a garage sale, or use one that your kids have outgrown, let the soil run through your fingers, and plant a garden on wheels together.
This is an easy project for the beginning gardeners in your family, and the results are so rewarding. Children can plant, water, weed and tend their own plants without becoming overwhelmed by a big garden plot. And since the garden on wheels is portable, they can move it around the yard or deck for maximum sun exposure throughout the day.
Here’s the stuff you need:
–an old wagon, wheelbarrow or wagonlike toy on wheels
–drill and 1/4-inch drill bit
–wire mesh screen, such as window screen (optional)
–potting soil mix
–potted edible plants, such as herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, thyme, etc.), lettuce and kale
–kid-size gardening tools
–watering can
–Tinker Toys and waterproof pens for plant markers (optional)
Here’s the fun:
1. An adult should drill several drainage holes in the bottom of the wagon or wheelbarrow about 6 inches apart. You may wish to lay mesh screen over the bottom to keep soil from falling through the holes. Fill with potting soil mix. Leave at least 3/4 inch to the wagon edge.
2. Plant potted plants, keeping in mind their eventual size: Put taller plants in the middle, small plants along the sides. You also could plant a few lettuce seeds placed in the soil in the shape of the letter of your child’s first name. Or, choose a colorful edible flower or two.
3. Water with a watering can or slow-running hose. It’s a good idea to give it six hours of direct sun each day. Add plant food throughout the growing season, and you’ll have the loveliest garden on wheels ever.
4. If your child wishes to make small identification markers for planted seeds and plants, simply attach a Tinker Toy wheel to a stick, and draw a picture with a marker on the wheels. Poke into the dirt by the seedlings or plants.
Most importantly, enjoy your bountiful wagon harvest as summer and the wagon roll along!