Hobby Farms Editors
March 24, 2015

How to Make Living Easter Baskets - Photo by Suzie's Farm/Flickr (HobbyFarms.com) 

I’m not all that crafty, though it’s a talent I admire. My idea of a scrapbook is home-printed photos taped into a blank notebook with a caption that usually says something as meagerly informative as, “Baby girl, sometime before she turned 2.” Despite the fact that our crafts fall a bit short, our family loves to celebrate holidays by making decorations because we don’t have much to spend on non-essentials.

Come spring, the Easter decorations we’ve made over the years make an appearance. Salt-dough ornaments cut out with springtime cookie cutters and painted with care are a traditional favorite. We also hold back the white eggs from our hens, blow them out, decorate them, and hang them on a flowering branch brought in from the orchard. We took great pains last year to use only natural dyes for our Easter eggs and achieved some really lovely results.

One of our favorite Easter decorations is our sprouted, living Easter baskets. Easter is a sacred time for us, so we’re careful about how we celebrate. The Easter bunny visits our house, but he’s selective about what he leaves: small books, craft supplies and a bit of organic candy. (He’s hip like that.) We also leave something for him: a sprouted Easter basket he can rest in before he finishes his long journey, as well as little gifts and notes. A soft bed of sprouted wheatgrass is just the thing for a tired jackrabbit because it’s also edible. After he visits and goes on his way, we feed the rest of our living basket to the chickens and goats.

To make sprouted Easter baskets, plan to plant the wheat seed about two weeks before Easter. It will quickly produce a lovely, green crop. Here’s what you can do to make a living Easter basket of your own.

Step 1: Choose a Basket

You can make your own basket, of course, but any purchased basket or pretty container will do. For this project, I don’t worry about drainage holes in the bottom of the basket because the seed will only be in the container for a few weeks while it’s growing and on display as an Easter decoration.

Step 2: Add the Soil

Line the container with florist foil or a plastic bag, and fill it with light potting soil to 1 or 2 inches below the basket’s rim. Wet the soil so it’s damp but not sopping; it should resemble wet brownie mix. Pour on a bit of water, mix it with your hands, and then do the squeeze test: Take a fistful of damp soil and squeeze it hard. If it lumps nicely together when you open your hand, it’s ready. If water runs down your arm, it’s far too wet and you’ll need to mix in a bit more soil. Because your container might not have drainage holes, it’s important to not overwater.

Step 3: Plant Seeds

Sprinkle on some wheat or barley seed. Imagine that each seed will put up one blade of grass, so sprinkle on as many as you’d like without piling the seeds. Smooth about 1/4 inch of soil over the top of the seed to cover, and pat down lightly. Tell your kids they’re tucking their seeds into bed. If you’d like, you can sprinkle a light layer of cinnamon on top to prevent mold. Use a spray bottle to water so the soil is damp but not sopping wet.

Step 4: Cover and Wait

Cover your container with plastic wrap and place in a warm area. If you have a heated seed mat or a string of non-LED twinkle lights, put your basket on top to speed up seed germination. If you see any signs of mold or if you seedlings begin to wilt, uncover your baskets and let them air out.

Your seeds should start to germinate within a week. Once they start popping out, take them off the heat source, remove the plastic if you haven’t already, and provide direct light—a grow light over the seedlings will help them flesh out quickly. If you’ve ever started seeds indoors, you’re pretty familiar with this process. If you have yet to try starting your own seeds, consider this practice! Keep your soil evenly moist throughout the growing process. One year, our growing conditions were just perfect and our grass took off, so we had to give it a haircut before Easter.

Step 5: Decorate

As your seeds are growing, have the kids start making decorations for the basket. We place the finished decorations inside our baskets and display them around the house until we put them out for the Easter bunny. After the festivities, the grass goes to the livestock and the baskets get cleaned out and put away for next year.

Have fun with your living Easter baskets, and find joy in the cycles of renewal and rebirth that spring brings to you on the farm.

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