Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dirt- Foam Part 5

Specifically, a rectangular patch of dirt

to plant flowers in.

and herald in the warm, happy, growing seasons
that are spring and summer.

These are the old unicorn food flowers

The fuzzy-looking purple flowers were from the 
dollar section of Michaels -
a very affordable way to fill a flower bed.

But dirt is also good for vegetables! These plastic carrots
were another dollar-store gem - 8 in a pack. They had
powdered candy in them, which I emptied out.

I first saw a similar dirt bed at our local children's
museum and it turned out to be Emily's favorite exhibit.
Each time we were there, we had to play hunt-
the-flowers because the other kids liked them too. It
made me wonder how many little kids would enjoy
planting and picking flowers and vegetables in
their very own dirt patch, so I thought I would do a
tutorial in case their parents wanted to indulge them.

Sadly, it had to be abandoned halfway for two reasons:

First, the photos all looked like this:

Bad. Very bad.
I mean, what is that, for goodness' sake?
Goaty-looking, is all.
Even in focus, they were absolutely unhelpful.

Second, assuming I could even explain how to sew
the brown flannel case, the foam was very
uncooperative to insert into it.

I couldn't possibly, with a clear conscience, subject you
poor folks out there to something like that, could I?

Therefore, here is a modified version of the dirt bed -
this needs a box to contain it so the ends do not have
to be sewn together. If you buy one of those rectangular
planters from a garden store, it might even look a bit
authentic! But any old cardboard box is great. The pattern
below is for a single-furrow dirt bed but you can modify
it for two furrows like the one I made.

Note: The box also provides a nice pressure on the
long sides of the foam to keep the furrows narrow.
But don't make the foam fit too snugly in the other
direction because the end-to-end pressure would
only make the furrows gape open instead.

Now this dirt is so versatile that I'm betting it can also be
made of cardboard! Anything can be made of cardboard,
really, but I'm not going to get started on that here.

Either way, the right fabric will make it work so much 
better - so stick to something that has a brushed 
surface - flannel, fleece, velvet, velour and the likes 
are all good. Avoid silk, satin, quilting cotton, 
chiffon - you get the idea.

Another alternative idea came to me as I was in 
my neighbor's garage* the other day. She had some 
of those foam pool noodles sticking out of a box, 
and I'm almost sure that if you cut two or three 
equal pieces out of one, wrapped each snugly in fabric, 
and stuffed them side by side into a tightly-fitting 
box, you'd get some decent dirt, too.

So, now that we've discussed some of the exciting 
ways to make dirt, I'll confess why this project took 
such a long time to get posted (apart from me
generally being slow, I mean). The dirt itself was 
finished in just a few days. But I wanted to go 
overboard as usual and make some plants

with pick-able strawberries

and pea pods-

you know, to sort of compensate for my
 very ungreen thumb with real plants.
Supposed to have been a winter project but look 
when it finally got done! Maybe the girls can practise 
for the late-summer harvest of the real stuff in our 
backyard garden (planted by husband, luckily, 
so likely to thrive).

The bendy stems of the plants are fabric-covered 
piping with a wire insert. The strawberries and pea 
pods have velcro stems that allow them to attach to 
little velcro squares on the stems. 

When the girls started playing with this
today, even little one-year-old Kate was able to
plant and pick flowers and harvest fruit and vegetables.
She also tried to plant whole strawberries in the dirt,
but at least she got the whole gardening thing right
anyway. More ideas to further complicate this came to
me as I lay in bed but I drew the line at making small
caterpillars to hide among the leaves for the kids to
find. I, who have serious caterpillarphobia!
Lunacy, that's what it was. So I didn't. Phew.

Go to the next posts for tutorials and patterns for

*No, I don't usually lurk in neighbor's garages looking for craft inspiration. 

Edited to add the flower patterns - forgot yesterday.


  1. L -- this is absolutely stunning. So so fantastic.

    We were at a children's museum last summer that had something similar and my girls loved it too!! Oh, I'm so tempted to use your fantastic instructions to make a set for us...

  2. And once again, I'm gobsmacked (that is the latest 'it' word, btw) by your imagination and engineering capabilities with craft supplies.

    I bow.

  3. You are INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!

    I'm totally in awe!

    Lucy x

  4. Seriously, you are amazing!! This is so clever and gorgeous.

  5. Fantastic! I've loved all of your foam projects - thanks for posting!

  6. holy cow, this is AWESOME. i let rachel at "one pretty thing" know she needs to come over and see this. you are a talented crafter and i appreciate you sharing your projects with the world so we can all benefit.

  7. This is great! I immediately had to start making this. I went ahead and used your idea of using a pool noodle and a rectangle flower box. I cut 1 piece to fit in the bottom of the box and then the remaining piece cut into 2 fit perfectly side by side in the box. Wrapped these and scotch taped the felt on.
    I can't wait to make the strawberries and pea plants. That will have to wait until tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

  8. WOOHOO! go look at "one pretty thing" you are the first project on tonight's daily DIY! congratulations, i have a feeling lots more of your projects will get featured in the future.

  9. WooHoo!!! That's so fantastic! Congratulations and I'm SO PROUD of you!

  10. These are fantastic! Too big a project for me to attempt I think but I have an idea to try. If it works I'll link to you :)

  11. I arrived at your blog via "one pretty thing" and this project is just the greatest! I'm sure reading the rest of your (now bookmarked!) blog will yield other treasures, too.

  12. This is way cool! And I'm not an ambitious as you, but I think the pool-noodle-in-box thing would be really easy to do! What a great idea! Then I can just use those flowers from the dollar tree and plastic fruit, right? Thanks for the idea!

  13. I love this project! Especially that the peas and strawberries are pickable. That is exactly something I would want a toy garden to do!

  14. THis is so cute! I have made some felt fruit and I look forward to making this and some flowers and veggies for my little one to play with!


  15. WOW!!! THis is the COOLEST thing ever...not I'm trying to figure out how to make one for my own girls.

  16. You should consider selling these on ETSY. Too darn cute!

  17. Love this! I will have to make one for my 2 year old. She'd just love it! Thanks for sharing!

  18. So so cool! Thank you! I know exactly where at the Children's Museum you saw this. I know because as Eleanor sat there playing with it I sat back and wondered how I could make one for home. I like the idea of sticking it in a planter. Now I just need to find the time.

  19. I just finished up on a "box of dirt" for my own daughter. I used your pool noodle suggestion and it worked great! I stacked two together to get the height. I'm so impressed with how it came out. Thanks so much for the awesome tutorial. Now to get to work on the "plants"...

  20. Hey! My play garden is finished and it came out so great! Thank you so much for this fantastic project. I think my daughter will love it.

  21. Chris, I posted about your box of dirt last night! Argh! I should have waited just a few more hours so you could finish it! I updated that post, so now everyone can see your gorgeous flowers instead of just cutlery! Thank you for coming to tell me!

  22. Super, super cute. I cannot believe that those peas and strawberries are PICKABLE!! Amazing work.

  23. Saw this as a link on Nettacow - Thanks for the tutorial! I'd been wanting to make a little dirt window box w/flowers & veggies, but wasn't sure how to frame it. And how cute are those peas & berries!? Now I'm ready to give it a go!

  24. Lovely!

    I'm Laura from Italy...I will make a similar one :D

    bye bye, Laura

  25. How cute is this! A great way to get the little ones familiarized with gardening and growing food. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Just made this with glue, tape and a pool noodle! The girls love it, and it only took about 30 minutes to wrap and secure in brown fleece! Thanks for the brilliance!

  27. Я потрясена!!! Никогда прежде не видела ничего подобного! Спасибо вам за ваши замечательные уроки!

  28. I agree with the response that you should sell these on Etsy (for those of us who are less talented). I was just there searching but did not come up with anything, so I will attempt to make it. Thank you for sharing!

  29. So clever and cute. I would have loved this as a kid!


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