An Experiment: Chia Pet, The Sequel

I’m sure that all three of my faithful readers will be familiar with the exp-hair-iment I conducted two years ago with my Bob Ross Chia Pet. I’m also quite certain that all three (okay, maybe four) of my faithful readers will be familiar with my inability to sustain plant life for extended periods of time. People have different talents, and most domestic skills are not among mine. (Somehow, I learned how to knit, so if you need an emergency blanket or scarf, it’s my singular domestic super power.)

This month, I decided it was time to give the Richard Simmons Chia Pet a try. Like Bob Ross, he was a Christmas gift, and with all the winter weather, I thought I would like to see a little greenery around the house.

If you’ve never tried to grow a Chia Pet, I’ll sum it up in a couple of bullet points:

  • Getting the consistency of the seeds just right in the beginning is tricky. The correct seed-to-water ratio is something I still haven’t mastered, and a lot of the seeds slid down the poor guy’s neck before they had a chance to sprout.
  • Keeping the planter watered is another issue. The drip tray can and will overflow, and sometimes you just can’t do enough to keep the top sufficiently hydrated, resulting in typical male-pattern baldness.
  • They’re higher maintenance than one would think.
Sproutin’ to the oldies. Regrettably, this was the last day for his chest sprouts. They came off in the sink.

I feel like I invested a lot of time and energy into this little project only to have several of the seeds remain dormant. One of the tips says you can put a plastic bag over the planter to keep the humidity level high, but I kept knocking seeds off the top of his head while I tried to adjust the plastic bag. Besides, I need to keep as many of those plastic bags inside other plastic bags in my kitchen as I can, because I’m older now and that’s what you’re supposed to do with extra plastic bags.

Sure, it’s a novelty item, but I’d really like to be able to make it look close to the picture on the box someday. Sadly, I think that’s a lofty goal, but it would be fabulous if I could.

I’ll be rinsing this one off and trying again soon. Maybe I’ll even put Bob and Richard side by side next time just to compare their progress…or lack thereof. Wouldn’t that be fun? Who would like to see that?

An Experiment: The De-Evolution of Bob Ross

The title reads like an Oscar-nominated documentary, right? It’s not, but I can assure you that it’s a quite accurate description of the forthcoming tale. Two things you should keep in mind as you read:

  1. This isn’t about the real Bob Ross, and…
  2. Even a Chia Pet can get a little out of control.

Yes, the fine people of the Chia Pet dynasty have marketed a Bob Ross Chia Head in their line of products. It was a no-brainer on their part, really. Aside from his artwork and his happy little soothing approach to life, his most distinguishing feature was his hair. As the story goes, he created the trademark look after he realized he wanted to save money on haircuts. Therefore, he had it permed to reduce the necessity for trips to the barber shop. And—as the story also goes—he wasn’t crazy about the style, but once it was intertwined with his personal brand, he had to keep doing it.

Lucky for all of us. Otherwise, his Chia Head wouldn’t exist.

I received one as a gag gift. Since my ability to keep plant life alive is marginal—and that’s really stretching it—I decided to give it a try while keeping my expectations low for a full ‘fro harvest.

If you’ve never planted a Chia Pet before, here are a few of the (paraphrased) steps:

  1. Soak the planter, preferably for an hour.
  2. Mix the seeds in 1/4 cup of water. The consistency is the tricky part; they have to be slimy enough for moisture to facilitate growth, but dry enough not to slide off Bob’s contoured skull.
  3. Take a spoon, knife, fingers, or other object and spread the seeds evenly over the planter.
  4. Don’t water the planter for two days. The seeds have to dry and stick.
  5. Wait.

The “spread seeds evenly” part is just as tricky as creating the right seed-to-water ratio. The first attempt I made, most of the seeds slid off of his head in a gooey, clumpy mess. The second, more successful time, I used less water, so I had fewer gooey, clumpy messes; still, they happened. I doubt that “even distribution” is completely possible on a grooved surface like ol’ Bob’s noggin.

I watched Bob carefully after I applied the coating, using a plastic knife to spread renegade seeds back on to his head if they began to melt away. I was redistributing seeds almost every thirty minutes that first day. I wasn’t about to sacrifice sleep over a Chia Head, so I went to sleep that night and hoped I wouldn’t wake up to find a pile of hair plugs in Bob’s drip tray.

When I woke up the next morning, most of the seeds that decided to slither went down the nape of his neck, meaning that I was in danger of raising a Chia Michael Bolton if I didn’t fix the situation. They were still somewhat spreadable, so I redistributed more to the top, and, for the most part, they stayed.

Think of it like frosting a really lumpy cake made of brick.

As everything dried over the next 24 hours, I thought I had a fighting chance of my Bob Ross looking like the picture of Bob Ross on the box.

The following day, the seeds had sufficiently dried, so I watered the planter as directed.

Now, to wait.

Slowly, but surely, Bob started to sprout. Sure, he had a few bald spots, but he was already looking better than my first attempt…in which I had accidentally turned the faucet on his head and created a reverse mohawk. He also had a renegade sprout growing near his eye, but it gave him character.

Happy little sprouts.

What they don’t tell you is that, like any other hairstyle, you only have a window of about 24 hours that it’s exactly the correct length for your taste. One day past that window, Bob was looking somewhat disheveled.

Two days later, he looked like years of paint fumes were really doing a number on his state of being.

Looks like he picked the wrong week to quit…oh, never mind.

Finally, when he started to resemble Einstein’s crazy nephew that no one in the family talks to anymore, I declared an end to the experiment, putting Bob in the sink for a shave.

Medusa’s inspiration.

I’m sure I’ll buy more seeds for future adventures with the happy little guy, but for now, I’m taking a break from gardening after proving that I can keep plant life alive—and some.