When I was a child, the markets sold cottage cheese in cartons decorated for Easter, and my family bought the cheese in these cartons. We eagerly consumed the cheese so we could use the cartons for little Easter Baskets to play with until the big day and the fancy baskets arrived Easter morning.
We would fill them with cotton and sprinkle bird seed on top and water them; soon we had our own little grass gardens in which the Easter Bunny left a brightly colored egg.
On a smaller scale, we would take an egg shell and press cotton balls into the largest half, again sprinkle either bird seed or grass seed in the cotton soil and water it. We would tend our egg gardens daily and report the progress of the seeds that would sprout. It was a fascinating lesson for us as small children to be able to watch germination on a daily basis.
There is still time to begin a small garden of grass before Easter, if you start right away. Naturally, you can use any small basket or vessel that is water tight, fill it with soil or cotton and sprinkle either grass seed or bird seed on top and water. There is no need to bury the seeds; they will sprout sitting on top of the cotton or soil. Place the egg or basket garden near a window and keep the soil moist; then watch the seeds grow before your eyes. Once you have a healthy egg or basket of greens, you can add them to your centerpiece along with some decorated eggs or candy eggs.
You also can place each half of an egg shell garden into an egg cup and place one at each setting on your holiday table as a party favor. Add a toothpick with a small card along with each guest’s name, and you will have a clever place card sitting in a field of greens. An entire centerpiece could be fashioned from eggs, grasses, baskets and your imagination. A few spring candles added to the mix will help illuminate your table.
What I love about this tradition is how simple it is and how it helps connect children to the growing process, albeit in its most simple form. It is also one of the least messy projects you can do with very young children. Who knows, it may inspire little gardeners; and you will benefit from their enthusiasm for years to come.