Grass Heads: A plant growth experiment

Growing things is kind of my thing.  There’s a lot I love about summertime, but making beautiful things grow out of dirt definitely tops my list.  There’s just nothing quite like a lesson from the earth instead of just the books.  In my garden I grow all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and herbs every summer.  I do a lot of the gardening on my own, but I really love for my family to help me out in the garden too.  This year we all did the planting together, and the kids have been pitching in with a lot of the work.  Growing is lots of work, but it’s also oodles of fun!

Year after year the garden provides countless lessons in botany, food production, biology, weather, canning and preserving food, cooking, hard work, patience, and all sorts of other wonderful things.   To go along with our summer plant studies we also have a tradition of growing grass heads.  They may not be as useful as my vegetable garden, but they sure are cute, and really fun for the kids too.

Grass Heads

We start by pouring grass seed into the toes of knee-high nylon stockings, then pouring soil in on top of the seeds.  We tie a knot snugly at the bottom of the dirt in each stocking to create the head shape, with the rest of the nylon stocking hanging down.  We let them sit in a bowl of water overnight so they get good and soaked.  Finally, we fill the jars with water and dangle the stockings down right inside the jar, allowing the stocking balls to sit atop the jars.

 When we initially build them we soak them in the  water bowl, but from then on we let the water from the jar be the water source.  If the water in the jars gets low, we just gently lift the socks up for a moment and fill the jars again.  The nylon stocking will wick the water right up to provide for the growing plants.

Of course, once they are growing a bit of hair we like to add faces to our grass heads.  My daughter usually throws on a pair of earrings to dress up her grassy girl.  Her hair is still a little sparse in the picture.  It looks like she might need a little Women’s Rogaine, or perhaps we were just a bit light-handed with the grass seed.

We like to keep them outside on our porch where they get plenty of sunlight.  You can cut their hair as often as you want.  They’ll grow all summer long if you keep them watered, and even longer if you bring them inside once it’s cold.

Additional Layers

  • Give your grass head a name.  Write a story about him or her as though it were a person.  This is called personification (assigning human traits and descriptions to non-human things).
  • Discuss what things are necessary for plants to grow.  Do you think your grass head could go on growing forever as long as it had water?  What else might it need?
  • Record some measurements and try to figure out the average rate of growth of the grass head’s “hair.”
  • Figure out how many days it takes for the grass to go to seed.  Does it take the same amount of time for your lawn to begin to go to seed?
  • Research xeriscaping.  What are the benefits and drawbacks of this water wise landscaping?  Would you have a xeriscaped lawn?  Why or why not?
  • Learn about the water cycle.  Also look at irrigation techniques.  How do plants of the world get water?  Will we ever run out?

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