I bought 150 pounds of apples at the end of the season. Yes, I might be crazy. But, when you can get Honeycrisps for 50 cents a pound you stock up!! I asked the ladies from church if anyone had some mason jars they were willing to part with. One awesome woman said she was done with canning and gave me a TON of jars. I was able to can applesauce, apple butter, and cranberry apple butter (recipe coming soon!!).
With all these extra mason jars spilling all over my living room I started thinking, "Hmm, maybe I can use some of these for neighbor gifts." I know there are cookie mix and soup mix and pancake mix in a jar recipes, but it wasn't quite "it". What to do?
Then it hit me...PAPERWHITES! I started searching for information online like crazy. Turns out paperwhites are a traditional flower to give out at Christmas because they have beautiful, white blooms and they are easy to force indoors. (Force--make bulbs bloom when it's not Spring. You learn something new everyday!) And, mason jars are a great place to plant them!
We ordered our bulbs online from Dutch Mill Bulbs. They came pretty fast! Then, we followed this article at Southern Living to plant the bulbs. There's some good info here, too.
We filled the wide-mouth quart sized mason jars with about 2 1/2" of rocks. We used a mixture of river pebbles, pea gravel, and mini marble from the home improvement store. The kids liked layering the rocks in different ways.
Next, we nestled a bulb in the rocks, with the "point" sticking up. Then we put a few more rocks around the bulb, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed.
After that we added water up to the bottom of the bulb. Don't fill it up all the way or you'll drown your bulbs! These things are super lower maintenance. We planted them a week ago and most of them still don't need to be watered since the first watering.
It's cool to see how much they've grown just in one week! Looking at them makes me giddy. One of my harebrained ideas is working! Ha ha!
I can't wait to give these out to our friends! They will have a beautiful plant to put on display in their homes, not just another plate of cookies that will be gone in no time. They say paperwhites bloom about 4-6 weeks after planting, so hopefully the white, star-shaped flowers will appear in time for Christmas! If not, New Years is good, too.
Have you ever forced bulbs or planted paperwhites? What's your favorite "neighbor" gift to receive at Christmastime?