I love Earth Day. A secular holiday that doesn’t require gift-giving or a grand meal is alright in my book. I especially love the time of year it falls on—the air is warm, the sun is shining and everyone has an idea of flowers and beauty of the world in their heads.
This year, I decided that our Earth Day craft was going to be different. I always strive for reusing or re-purposing everyday items that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage in all my crafts; but for Earth Day, I felt it should be the primary objective. You may not have an abundance of eggs in your home, but, our family raises chickens. Our neighbors raise chickens. Our friends raise chickens. Apparently, it’s hip these days to raise your own food. That’s cool. I can dig it. We’ve jumped on the bandwagon. But, having so many eggs has brought us a strange problem: what to do with too many eggs? There’s challah bread, quiche, regular eggs for breakfast, homemade ice cream, meringues, deviled eggs, egg salad, and, of course, the dogs are allowed to feast on any of the broken or cracked eggs. So, I suppose it’s not really a problem, after all. I really wanted to use the eggs we had and do something different with them so I decided upon guerrilla gardening.
The concept is not unique or new, but it is really cool. Have you seen those pictures of moss graffiti or the trees growing in cracks on a sidewalk? Really, really cool. So we made seed “bombs.” Kind of like Johnny Appleseed.
1. Clean the eggs. I took a dozen eggs and emptied the shells very gently for the start of this craft (and saved the contents for breakfast-waste not, want not). This was probably the most difficult part of the whole project. I had to gently crack one side of the egg without getting any of the shell in the egg itself. I have no magic trick to make this part easier—my only suggestion is to take your time and be careful. I did learn, however, that if you do get any shells in the eggs that they will settle to the bottom of the bowl after a bit of time. So, if you transfer the eggs to another bowl or container later, the shells will not go with the eggs. I suppose that’s a magic trick itself. You’re welcome. After we emptied the shells, we rinsed them out. The egg won’t hurt anything, but it makes them difficult to handle and they could get stuck to the egg carton if there’s any left on the outside shell.
2. After the egg shells were cleaned, we filled them with potting soil, water and seeds.
I chose to wrap the whole egg, then, in papier mache so that the effect would be more complete and more fun for the kids. Once the papier mache dries, you may paint, decorate, graffiti or add more of a sculptured effect to the seed package. Also, the sealing effect will keep the moisture inside and help the seeds to germinate before being “planted.”
Papier mache may sound like a complicated process to some people, but, I assure you nothing could be further from the truth. Papier mache is really just a simple paste made from flour and water coated over small strips of paper. It is unbelievably easy to manage. And bonus, the kids love to get messy with it. My girls still have it in their hair! (Note: take it outside, or be ready to clean your floors quickly. Also, have the kids take their shirts off or wear something that can just be tossed straight into the wash or rinse it quickly. The paste is difficult to clean once dry.)
3. Mix some water into a cup or so of flour. Don’t worry so much about the exact measurement—it will work no matter what you do. I wanted my paste to be runnier than I would normally choose for another project because I wanted the seeds to be able to push through the egg shell easily. Tear strips of newspaper and dip them in the paste mixture, then wrap the paper around the egg. I started with the opening at the top so that when I turned the egg to continue wrapping, the soil and seeds wouldn’t spill out. As I wrapped the strips of paper around the egg, I gently pushed the paper down smoothing the sides to the egg. I thought, even though I didn’t follow through with it, that it would be really neat to sculpt a flower on top of the egg. That way, when I planted the seed “bomb,” there was a flower already sticking out of the ground. Guerrilla gardening is in part an art form. Be creative with this project-that’s part of what makes it fun!
4. When I finished wrapping all the eggs, I made sure to let them dry out of the egg carton so they wouldn’t be glued to it. Once they are completely dry I put them back, of course. Now, I could paint them, or do whatever I wanted. Some of these will become gifts for other people, some will go in my garden and some will be thrown like a grenade and let nature do its course.
I recommend that they be “planted” within a week or so of this project. Depending on the seeds you choose, germination will be happening within that time. If the seeds don’t have soil outside of the egg there won’t be much growing after that, then. The papier mache will break down in the soil and water after being planted, which should be enough to help the seeds break through.
Have fun, happy gardening and happy Earth Day!