This holiday season taking time to do different activities that will interest children of all ages is important. Making Happy Harries or Henriettas, making sock heads with plants as hair, fits into that category.
The first thing that is needed is an old sock. It can be worn thin but it can’t have holes as it must be able to hold soil. As the leg of the sock will be used as a wick it must be long enough to reach water.
A face can be made on the sock in various ways, choose one or more that suits the abilities of the creators, or give them choices. The simplest way to make a face on the sock is to draw it with permanent felt pens. Acrylic paint is also easy to do but it takes time to dry and can be very messy. For those that are looking for a bit of a challenge, the face can be made by sewing on buttons, beads or embroidering with wool or embroidery thread. The imagination and supplies on hand are the limit.
Grass or chia seeds are needed to form the hair. Once the face is complete, roll down the sock and place a tablespoon of grass seed in the toe. Chia seeds have a harder time growing through the socks but they grow well if soaked in water and smeared on the outside of a sock that is filled with growing medium.
Any type of soil, bagged or from the garden will work as a growing medium. Fill the sock from toe to heel with damp soil. Dry soil will work but it tends to be light and fluffy and harder to place in the sock. When filled, either tie a knot in the sock after the heel, or tie a string tightly around the sock under the heel to keep the soil in place.
Find a glass or jar that is narrow enough at the top to support the head and tall enough to hold water. The toe should be pointing upwards while the leg of the sock is placed inside the container in contact with the water. The end of the sock that is in water works as a wick ensuring the soil and sock are moist providing a moisture for the seeds to germinate
For those that are using chia seeds, soak the seeds in water for a few minutes until they start to cling together. Using a spoon or fingers, smear the seeds on the head where hair is desired.
If the soil is always moist the seeds should germinate within a week. The grass seeds will push through the sock forming hair. Most will be on the top of the head but expect some to have stuck on the insides of the sock and poke through as facial hair. Allow the hair to grow or cut it as desired.
When the chia seeds germinate they will produce a couple of leaves. At this point, they can be eaten as greens in salads and sandwiches or left in place. Their roots will go through the socks into the soil producing larger plants.
This is one of the simple inside activities that can keep people occupied while teaching them about plants.
Linda Tomlinson has gardened in central Alberta for over 30 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.