The Amish Cook from Oasis Newsfeatures

Depression Garden?

I was sifting through some old, old Amish Cook columns today and stumbled upon one written by Lovina's mother back in November of 1996.  At the time we had a lot of reader reaction/reminiscing about this.  I had never heard of a "Depression Garden", but it seemed that many of our readers had.  Well, it's been 12 years since that column ran so I thought I would share this with a new crop of Amish Cook readers.  And with the economy in the tank, the timing of this seems appropriate. Although we are not in a Depression, we are in a severe "recession now", so maybe we should change the name to "Recession Garden."   So has anyone tried these or heard of these?  My reaction, even now, after typing it in is "what the heck is this??"

DEPRESSION GARDEN

six small stones or lumps of coal (no larger than an egg)

Place stones in the bottom of a shallow glass bowl and mix together in the following in a separate bowl:

6 liquid tablespoons of liquid bluing (not powder)

6 tablespoons of salt

1 tablespoon of household ammonia

Pour ammonia mixture over stones.  Do not cover.  Keep solution at same level by "feeding" it with equal parts water and ammonia.  Pour down the sides of the bowl, not over the stones when adding.  A drop of food coloring on each stone will add color.  The flowers will grow out of the bowl.  This solution will damage furniture, so watch closely.

Re: Depression Garden?

It may have been named that because it was something cheap to do to entertain and engage the kids, usually during the winter when they were indoors more of the time. 

Here's a search of pictures on Google:

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Growing+a+Crystal+Garden&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2&aq=f&oq=

Re: Depression Garden?

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift... that's why they call it the present."

I vaguely remember doing something like this as a little kid...I am sure it came in a kit.  I THINK that the crystals were multi-colored, though.

eggcetra_farms's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

I had to order the bluing.  I'll do this once it comes in and get back to you on it.

dcharrison's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

We did this when my kids were small.  They loved it!  I don't even remember now how it was that I did it with them, but I remember the ammonia & the bluing (in the laundry aisle, in case anyone was wondering).  And I want to say some food coloring, but could bewrong on that, but I kind of remember having pink, blue & white colors in it.  I don't think we did any rocks in ours, just a dish & let the crystals grow.  Might have to do one with the grandkids now that you reminded me of it.

BTW - we are cold here in KS!  Was 2 degrees when I woke up this morning & we are now at our high of the day - 12 degrees.  My female dog went out onto the steps this morning & wouldn't even potty!  Boy was she ready to go by the time I got home & let her out of the crate!  My youngest said it was 0 when she woke up (in Kirksville MO) and was only up to 2 by the time I talked with her.  Said 1 of their beagles looked like he just knew they had to be kidding about him going out into it when they were letting the 2 beagles out this morning.  Of course, he had a seizure last night, so might still not have been feeling 100%.

Cindy/KS

eggcetra_farms's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

Hey Kevin.  I was trying to find out how many ounces are in Mrs. Stewart's laundry bluing and found out they had a site. Guess what?  They sell a "Magic Salt Crystal Garden."  http://www.mrsstewart.com/pages/scginstructions.htm

Re: Depression Garden?

Oh my gosh, I hadn't heard about anyone doing that in ages. I think I remember one of my brothers making one back in the 60s, probably. It was really neat! It's hard to explain to someone, but yes, they do grow a crystal type stuff on them. It's really cool to see! A fun project for the kids. Maybe KJunebug can have her children do it as part of their science for school. ~Diann

Re: Depression Garden?

I just might do that!!! I actually bought the blueing quite a while back to do this little project and just never got around to it.  You are very right, my children would/will absolutely love it!

When we get around to it and there is some growth I can take some pictures, email them to Kevin and he can post them.

Thanks for the reminder to do this fun little project with my children!  Today we did the Santa photo thing, and some shopping for Dad/Hubby. Then our little one had a little thing for her dance class, so it was pretty busy, we are all done with the shopping, now we will have time for some little home made projects.  We will finish up with school on Thursday for 2008!  They (me too, I have to admit) always look forward to vacations!!    

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:5

eggcetra_farms's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

I was thinking of doing it for a project for my kids as they are homeschooled.  They're 4 and 5 and I think it would be interesting.

Also, when I Googled "depression garden" all I got was info on Victory Gardens. 

Re: Depression Garden?

Hi Eggcetra

This is another receipe I found on education.com. It was under the 1st grade science section. I think they refer to it now as "Growing Crystals" or "Growing Crystal Gardens" as opposed to depression gardens.

http://www.education.com/activity/article/grow_crystals_first/

 

Of course you will have to help them. I saw ammonia was in this the above receipe so outside would probably be best.

I think your kids will have a lot of fun "growing" their own crystals.

eggcetra_farms's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

Thank you!  I had not thought to look at the crystals with a magnifying glass so I'll have to do that once we get some bluing.  I did not find it at the store earlier, but I know where to find it online.

Re: Depression Garden?

There's also a commercial product available in various types of retail stores.   The basic ingredients were available in most households in the days when laundry [bluing]was done differently.  Laughing~CS~

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we cannot see."                                                              ~J. W. Whitehead~

                                                              

eggcetra_farms's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

BTW, if I can get some bluing I'll give this a go.  How interesting!

eggcetra_farms's picture

Re: Depression Garden?

Wow..........I have no idea what the heck that is.  I've heard of a Victory Garden that was kept during WWII.    Does this create some sort of crystals or something?  It would seem to me that that's what it would do with those ingredients.  I would imagine that with the bluing they would grow bluish and that would maybe be why it's a "depression" garden?  How curious.........

Re: Depression Garden?

It's a baffling concoction, that is for sure...and Elizabeth is no longer around, so I cannot ask her anything...I wish I would have thought to quiz her more about it:(   Yes, if you try it, Jessica, let us know what you end up with!