Saturday, August 17 2013 12:29

Gardening with Kids: Mountain Dew Sunflowers...

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We do a lot of fun little projects here at Rock Father HQ, and most of you know that if it involves gardening, it's usually one of my favorites. This year, I decided to do something we've never attempted before... growing "baby" sunflowers in classic, glass pop bottles. Now, I could've easily called this project "Soda Pop Sunflowers" or "Pop Bottle Sunflowers," but I'm giving it a brand-name: "Mountain Dew Sunflowers." No, this post is not sponsored or endorsed by PepsiCo (the makers of Mountain Dew), but I'm a Dew loyalist - specifically that tasty Diet Mountain Dew that I drink a lot of. But it was regular Mountain Dew that I found in glass 4-packs, and those became our planters. Here's the story of our two-month journey...

Mountain Dew SunflowersFor this project you will need:

  • Glass Soda Pop Bottles
  • Sunflower Seeds - Dwarf Variety
  • Moisture Control Potting Mix
  • Two-liter Pop Bottle (optional, for use as funnel)

On June 3, we began our project with five, empty glass Mountain Dew bottles, a bag of Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix, and a package of Elf (GIRASOL Elf) Sunflower Seeds from Burpee. I opted for the moisture control mix as we would not be drilling holes in the glass for drainage. Being light and fluffy, getting it into the bottles was a challenge, but we created a quick assist by fashioning a funnel from an empty 2-liter bottle - cut off at the top. A small stick helped to process...


Seeds planted (3 per bottle) with a little more dirt on top, we were good to go. It took a good amount of water applied gently - too quick would make the potting mix eject from the bottle - to properly soak the seeds. Monitoring the water daily, we soon had sprouts, and by June 28th they were inching through the bottle neck (note: the small pots are Marigolds that we started from seed)...


By July 16, a solid root-structure was present, a fun little bit of visible science for Addie to enjoy. Out of the five bottles planted, 3 took. WATER IS KEY with these. We really had to watch these, checking them daily to make sure the roots were moist...


And on July 31, the plants were growing nicely...


Finally, On August 16, 2013, the first flowers bloomed...


So now I'm thinking... what else could we try in glass bottles? What might have a quick enough turnaround that we could have something else cool for Halloween? Stay tuned...

Lomogram 2013-08-17 12-39-28-PM

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James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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