If growing your own Easter grass strikes you as a harebrained idea, well maybe it is. And maybe that's the point. 'Tis the season, after all. Before you dismiss this DIY as just another project for someone with too much time on their hands, reconsider it as an only-slightly-more-roundabout approach to making an omelet. And revel in the end result: a sweet spring-themed tabletop decoration that costs only pennies and demands only a modicum of patience.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: I started with standard brown eggs from the farmers' market. Any egg will do—but I would have loved to see these sprouts coming out of pastel-colored or spotted eggs from Araucana or Welsummer hens, had I found those eggs at the market.
When I began to research growing wheat grass, I couldn't find one definitive tutorial. Everyone seemed to have a different method: there were folks who soaked their grains just once before planting them and others with a more complicated triple-soak and rinse approach. I found one camp of wheat grass enthusiasts who covered the tops of their seeds with soil, and others who let them sprout with no blanket of soil to protect them. The predicted sprout times varied wildly too: some said they saw sprouts in just a few days, others claimed sprouts came only after a week of waiting.
As usual: I wanted to find the least labor-intensive way in. In the end, I made a dozen green-topped eggs. One set of six had drainage holes and seeds covered in soil, the other had no drainage and seeds left out to breathe. I didn't bother with any rinsing or soaking at all. All of my eggs sprouted cheery green tops. Turns out the instructions vary so drastically because just about any method will yield the desired results: green grass, fast.
Above: Emptied and washed eggshells, ready for filling.
Above: Eggshells filled with potting soil, awaiting hard red winter wheat seeds. N.B.: Eggshells make good seed starting pots for any kind of seeds. If you start seeds for plants that you'd like to transplant to the garden, make sure to crush the shell before planting in the ground to give roots the proper space to grow.
Above: A dense single layer of wheat seed (also called wheat berries). No need to head to the nursery for seed; I found mine in the grains section of my local organic market.
Above: Eggs awaiting their green tops on a sunny windowsill. Don't worry too much about the seeds getting adequate sunlight—my eggs sprouted within three days in a north-facing window.
Above: Look for bright green tops after just four days and paler shoots even sooner.
Above: I used a White Porcelain Egg Carton by Seletti to prop my eggs on the tabletop; $19.00 from Design Menagerie. If a porcelain egg carton isn't in your china cabinet, a paper egg carton with the top cut off looks just as sweet.
Above: Perfect on a tabletop, there's no reason why you can't repeat the same process in a lined Easter basket to create a bed of fresh grass for nesting chocolate eggs and jelly beans.
Above: Wheat grass eggs after six days.
Wheat Grass Easter Eggs
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups of potting soil
- 1 cup (or so) of hard winter wheat (a 2-pound bag of Organic Hard Red Winter Wheat is $4.31 from Grain Place Foods)
- dish soap
- hand drill or needle
1. Using the back of a knife, crack the very top of each egg being careful not to crack the egg in half. Once the egg is cracked, use your fingers to pick the cracked shell apart, widening the hole until it's big enough for the yolk and white to slip easily out. (Preserve the contents of your egg for use in an omelet later.)
2. Rinse out the inside of your empty eggshells with warm water and a small bit of dish soap.
3. Use a small hand drill or needle to poke a drainage hole in the bottom of your eggs. (I skipped this step in one of my two trials and didn't notice any difference. I also potted a glass jar of seeds just for fun and got a bushy crop of wheat grass in a vessel without any drainage to speak of.)
4. Mix 2 cups (or so) of potting soil with a small bit of water so that it's moist, but not soggy. Spoon the soil into each rinsed egg until full.
5. Cover the top of the soil with a single layer of hard winter wheat. For thick grass, the wheat should cover all of the visible soil, but it shouldn't be layered more than one seed thick. The eggs I topped off with a thin layer of soil seemed to yield tops that were slightly more lush than those I left bare, so feel free to add this step.
6. Water and place in a sunny window. Water daily. In both of my trials, I had green shoots within three days.