Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Easter Bunny Nest (instead of a basket)

A few years ago my parents came to visit us around Easter time (they visit from California every year at different times of the year). My Mother told a story about how as a kid she use to make an Easter Nest for the Easter Bunny. I decided to make this a tradition for my family. My Mother's family didn't have a lot of money so she and her siblings made their own Easter Nests instead of having a basket. My Mother was born in Russia, though both her parents are of German descent. When she was little they moved quite a bit. Times were tough in the 40's. They moved from Russia back into Germany and then finally here to the US when she was a teenager. So this little tradition traveled a long way to get to me and my family.

I like the idea of growing a nest rather than buying plastic grass to fill a basket. We have a tradition of our own for Easter. On Easter morning the boys wake to find that the Easter Bunny has left two trails of eggs (plastic eggs with coins, packets of seeds, a piece of candy in them or something small that fits our theme). Each boy has their own basket to collect their eggs. The trails lead them to their items the Easter Bunny has left them. My husband and I have different views on religion so we celebrate Spring and the sort of rebirth it brings every year. So instead of a lot of toys or sweets (since we can't do chocolate bunnies or the like) the Easter Bunny will leave a couple pieces of candy, new gardening supplies for the boys and maybe an outside toy. Last year they got a butterfly pavilion and were very excited to be able to watch caterpillars grow and become butterflies. They always get new rain boots to wander around the yard in. One year they got a whole bunch of plants and pots to make a secret garden of their own under their fort of the swing set. These days it is very easy to find children's gardening tools and they make a great addition to any Easter basket along with magnifying glasses and bug boxes. My own children love putting their nests together and then tending them till Easter. Not to mention spraying everything with the spray bottles.

What you will need:
A drip tray or some other shallow pan
Potting soil (moisture control will help keep it from drying out too fast)
Grass seeds (I bought some wheat berries from my health food store)
Left over white clover seeds if you have some (optional)

For our nests we used large drip pans that go under pots to catch the water over flow. I added some water gel crystals to the bottom of our pans. (Last time we had a hard time keeping the grass alive long enough. I think the heat just dried it out too fast) You could opt to use a moisture control soil instead of adding water gel crystals.

Fill your pans with potting soil. Have your kids help you with this. Do it near or in your garden so that any soil that does not make it into your pan will not be a mess to clean up. We did this on our patio and I swept the soil into the grass.

Have your child sprinkle the grass seeds on top of the soil. Use a generous amount. You can always add more to fill in bare spots later as well. (It is best to soak the seeds overnight. This will help them to germinate)
Then they can "rake" it in a little with their hands (fingers spread like a rake). Or add a light layer of soil on top.

The white clover seeds were really tiny so I put them in my son's palm and then had him put his hands together and rub them. You can add them to sand to help spread them out evenly if you like. I found that using the rub method helps to spread them out more evenly than when he pinches some between his fingers. Little children tend to drop seeds in clumps. We didn't have as many clover seeds as grass seeds. If you are already growing your clovers from St. Patrick's day you can add them to the pot before you put in the grass seed. We put the clover seeds in after raking in the grass seed because the clovers don't really need to be raked in. When you water they will get covered up enough with soil.

Give your child a watering can or a spray bottle and have them water their nest every day. Like any seeds they need to be kept moist till they germinate. Be careful not to flood your nest with too much water since these don't have drainage holes. Loosely cover your tray with plastic wrap to create a green house for your nest. This will help to keep in the moisture till the seeds sprout. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap once your seeds have sprouted. They can tend to this little nest for the Easter Bunny to rest in for a bit before he goes off to the next house.

If you use wheat grass berries and clover he will even like it as a snack. By the way, I used wheat grass and clover because our guinea pigs can eat it when we are done with this after Easter. I have done a little checking and rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters all can eat both wheat grass and white clover (be sure it is white clover because other types of clover can be deadly to your little friends) I have plans to put our trays in our guinea pig garden when we are done. Also pet stores sell little pots of wheat grass for dogs and cats as a treat. Both dogs and cats like to eat grass some times. I like double duty projects. This one will give your kids something fun to do till Easter and if you have pets they will get to enjoy it after wards.
Be sure to start this soon if you want your grass to fill in by Easter.

Don't forget to add your photos to our flickr page. We would love to see what you did for your nests. Stop by our flickr ground and see updated photos of our nests. click here to go to our flickr page


Lucky Mom said...

I love this idea. I will try to get this going before Easter. What a fun idea. And squirt bottles ALWAYS add to the fun for kids!!!

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Oh that is awesome! I'm totally going to dig out my wheat grass seeds and give this a shot. I'll be linking as well. Thanks for the awesome idea and have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

twinklescrapbooks said...

Super cute idea!!! :)

Wendy said...

Nicely done. I love those planters.

I've done this every year for some time now. It's also fun to add a vase in the middle and force some branches to create an Easter tree.

Heather said...

We did this on Sunday. I just posted and linked to you. What a fabulous idea! The kids loved it! We put bulbs in some of ours to add a little pizazz!

Happy Easter!