This year was different. After we had joked about it earlier in the season, in the context of "Who the hell buys those things?" my husband felt that it was his duty to buy me a Chia Pet® for Christmas.
So of course, I'm going to share my experiences in growing the thing. I'm glad Bob bought me a Chia kitten. I think it is the cutest of the animals available, and in my opinion, the Chia heads, which now include George Washington, as well as two different versions of President Obama, just take tacky to a whole 'nother level.
Getting down to business, the first thing I wanted to know was: "What are 'chia' seeds, anyway?" Apparently they are the seeds of the Salvia hispanica plant, an herb native to Mexico and Guatemala. According to Wikipedia and other sources on the web, the seeds are edible and quite nutritious, a source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, among other nutrients.
That mystery solved, I was ready to start growing:
First step: Soaking the pottery. There is a discrepancy between the instruction booklet and the box. The box says to soak the pottery overnight before planting, while the instructions say 1 hour. I decided to go with the box, and soaked Chia Kitty overnight. When dealing with terra cotta pots for my regular plants, I have found a longer soak beneficial.
Chia Kitty immersed in a bowl of water. Even though the box says that Chia Pets® "are handmade by artisans using tecniques passed down from the Indians of ancient Mexico," these artisans are apparently located in China, where the stamp on Kitty's belly says she was made.
Second step: Let seeds soak in water for an hour. The seed/water solution is supposed to attain a gel-like consistency.
Salvia hispanica seeds in water. They do indeed form something of a gel, though this is not particularly apparent in the picture.
Third step: Apply soaked seeds to the Kitty. This was a little messy, but easy enough to to do. The grooves in the pottery help give the seeds something to cling to.
Chia Kitty with Seeds applied. This step was completed on 12/31/2009. Why yes, I did have an exciting New Year's Eve--thanks for asking.
The instructions are to keep Kitty filled with water through the handy hole on her back. Misting to keep the seeds moist is also recommended.
The kit includes enough seeds to use on your pottery three times. It also suggests that the pottery can be used to grow other herbs, "such as basil, alfafa, marjoram or thyme." I can't see something large and upright like basil doing well, but I like the idea of growing a crop or two of creeping thyme, just for the fragrance.
Kitty on 1/5/2010, just beginning to sprout. Bob says that it looks like she is wearing a raveling sweater.
I will post progress reports over the next week or two.