Recently, I was passing by the Kindergarten garden at my kids’ elementary school when I saw my friend out front planting something and asked what she was up to. “Planting a jelly bean tree,” she replied. Having heard of Isabelle’s, who has been a guest several times on Martha Stewart, infamous plant, I just had to have her tell For Kids Entertainment readers how to grow their own in time for Easter!
STEP ONE: The story
First, I tell [the kids] I have a friend that lives on a remote island, AKA “paradise seed island,” who is an avid gardener. Explaining he has really special seeds that you can’t find anywhere, he sends me seeds sometimes by request since I’m passionate about gardening.
I ask the kids if they had a special garden that they could grown ANYTHING, what would it be??? I make them vote on a candy they would like to grow if they could….Guiding them toward something I can actually sew since I’ve learned my lesson with the Jelly Beans [more on that below]!
STEP TWO: The Seeds
Once they vote, I go home and make and envelope with the actual candy in it, AKA the seeds, seal it shut, put a stamp on it and do some ink stamp and all the things the post office stamps on a mailed envelope (because the kids are so smart and really look at everything).
I write a note that says something like “Plant the seeds all together, believe …really believe together and in a couple of weeks you will get a surprise. After you enjoy the crop, the tree will die down but has created great memories for all of you little ones!”
Following up, I tell them it can only be planted as a group, no one can plant this kind of seed at home and it’s all about believing together… Because they’ll hide and put the seed in their pockets and try them at home .
STEP THREE: Creating the Plant
After they plant the candy, AKA, the “seeds,” I buy a bush….a real bush 2 to 4 ‘ tall. Spending two nights prior to the reveal, I hand sew one by one the Jelly Beans.
Jelly Beans were hard and can hurt while trying to sew, so if you can steer them in the direction of a squishier candy, like a gummy bear, even better.
Then the day of, I cover the plant with a blanket and I’m very careful to go to school and dig a hole and literally planting the bush where the kiddos had planted the seeds!
But really the best part is these 2-3 weeks of building up the story. I’ve always been pretty good at making my kids believe…..I was a nanny for 8 years .
My dad is like that, too. Keeping a straight face is the key because kids are so smart. If it involves candy and that they need to believe as a whole, anyone who doesn’t believe will get the stink eye from the kids that DO believe the story (since that means no one will get candy!).
When we gather around and see the tree it is very special. Don’t forget to take a video of it for the parent that can’t attend the reveal! Each child is allowed a certain amount of candy and then it’s time to say goodbye to the tree.
STEP FIVE: Good-bye to the Tree
If you don’t want to have to forever explain why the plant no longer produces jelly beans (or candy of choice), the best thing to do is to pour vinegar when the kids are not around …the tree will die down naturally.
If you plan to grow your own tree in time for Easter, it’s a very special thing to do with the kids and to see what magic can do! Have fun!
Isabelle Ortley is a mother of three boys living in Encinitas. As founder of the food swap in her local beach town, Isabelle regularly shares her knowledge and creativity with friends and family. Originally from Quebec, Canada, French Canadian is her first language and she loves to share her tips for fun projects and cooking ideas inspired by her own childhood. Known for her creative kid’s Halloween costumes as well, Isabelle has been featured on the Martha’s Stewart show several times.