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May 22, 2012

Green Thumbs: How to grow a video game themed garden this Spring

Grow a video game garden

We’ve had a fairly lackluster Winter this year, and Spring never really showed up until the last couple of weeks. With Memorial Day weekend popping up in a few days, you better believe that every Home Depot and Lowe’s will be packed with warriors planning, purchasing, and planting.

We’re helping you not only get the jump on them, but also put together an impressively themed garden-scape. Consider our tips and tricks below for growing some of the most famous video game plants we’ve come to love over the last few decades. And hey, it’s actually fairly easy once you get some elbow grease into it. A word to the wise, though: no matter what, these (and any) plants need regular care. And, while many of these are edible, eat them at your own risk (especially the mushrooms). We don’t want lawyers knocking on our doors… again.

1UP Mushrooms

Grow a real world 1UP mushroom

From Mario to marinara, the 1UP Mushroom is a classic

Game equivalent: Super Mario Bros. 1UP mushroom

Real world equivalent: White button mushroom

Sure, I know: it’s not a plant, it’s a fungus. But dammit, it’s too classic to be missed. It’s also incredibly easy to grow. Mario’s favorite meal grants him lives, while yours can make a great topping for pasta and pizza.

Technique:

It starts with getting the right spores (or spawns) for the white button shrooms. Grab a kit online at Gurney’s or a local organic garden. Grab a metal or plastic deep well pan and fill it with compost. Manure works great, but avoid the fresh kind. Not only does it smell, but it’s also too chemically potent for proper growing. Drop on the spores or sporelings (spawns) and store in a dark, damp place. Closets near bathrooms, or basements, work the best. Keep the temperature at around 70 degrees F. After a couple weeks, the lace-like spawn should have covered the surface and begun growing into the compost. Drop the temp to between 55F and 60F and add a 1″-2″ layer of compost on top. Cover it with an aerated or breathable lid, or a damp cloth from edge-to-edge will suffice if you don’t have one. Spray mist the soil (and cloth) to keep them moist. A couple more weeks will go by until the mushrooms mature and “pop” out of their stem. Just make sure that you harvest them before their cap starts to turn up, or else they’ll be over-ripe.

Steps via Mushroom Adventures.

Presentation:

You can actually paint the mushrooms to get them to resemble a proper 1UP shroom, but if you plan on eating them then you’ll have to do it quickly or the shrooms will ruin. Grab some green food coloring, add a few drops to a plate and a few drops of water, mix it together, and use a soft brush to paint it on. You can place individual mushrooms on paper or cardboard question blocks. We suggest making your own (via cubeecraft).

Piranha Plant

Grow your own Piranha Plant

It's the Venus fly trap, of course

Game equivalent: Super Mario Bros. Piranha Plant

Real world equivalent: Venus fly trap

This one is a no-brainer, looking almost exactly like the Piranha plant without much work from us. They feed themselves, are temperate (not tropical) and like sun, so indoors and outdoors are both fine.

Technique:

Venus fly traps can be bought online and in most gardening stores. Heck, your local grocer probably has them for sale in pots. Since the plants love sunlight, plan them outdoors or near windows. The more sun, the more red color they’ll show. Keep them away from windows on hot days, though, so as not to burn them. Water them regularly, but not with tap water; their roots are sensitive and require purified, distilled, or rain water. They pretty much feed themselves after that. They even “hibernate” in the Winter months, and grow back every Spring… if you take care of them through dormancy.

Presentation:

It’s obvious: get a cylindrical pot and paint it bright green.

Jungle Vines

Grow the vines from Donkey Kong

Grow the vines from Donkey Kong

Game equivalent: Donkey Kong. jungle vines

Real world equivalent: Climbing ivy

Ok, so maybe vines are sort of a mainstay in video games. Everyone climbs them, from Nathan Drake to Link, but it was the big ape Donkey Kong that pioneered the method of transportation in video games.

Technique:

You can buy ivy practically everywhere. It loves the sun, is easy to manage, and can get pretty thick. To prevent the growth from becoming too tangled, we suggest manually separating the vines as they scale up whatever surface you have them on. It may take a couple of years before your ivy growth gets large enough to look like anything, so plan for the long haul. Regardless, if you plant now then by late Summer you should have something.

Presentation:

You could make things fairly manageable by placing a small fence where you want the ivy to climb, so that it has something to scale up. Alternatively, you could use a barrel as the “wall”, for more of the classic DK effect. Then add in toy Donkey and Diddy Kongs, plastic bananas, and the occasional Mario, and you have a nice scene that continues to grow.

Peashooters, Cacti, and Sunflowers

Grow real Plants vs Zombies

Plants, minus zombies

Game equivalent: Plants vs Zombies plants

Real world equivalent: Snapdragons, cacti, miniature sunflowers, impatiens

This is a fun one, especially if you’re willing to put a little elbow grease into the completed presentation. It’s one of the newer games in our list, but with one that’s based on plants we felt that it totally should be on there.

Technique:

This is more of an arrangement rather than anything with real work, but there is one caveat. We also highly suggest placing these in a long rectangular patio planter. Since there’s no real world plant that actually shoots peas, we opted to double-up two to make the connection. Snapdragons have an odd resemblance to the Peashooter, what with a sort of mouth that opens and closes. Plant a couple rows of those, along with either peas of impatiens. The peas will hang there when ripened, but the impatiens will develop a seed packet that pops when squeezed. Behind the mix plant a couple of miniature cacti, followed by sunflowers. Sunflowers only grow to the size of the container they are in, so they won’t get huge. They’re all easy to maintain and like the sun, too.

Voila!

Presentation:

Buy some zombies and plop them in the planter for the ultimate effect.

Deku Nuts and Tree

Deku Nut and Tree

Grow your own healthy Deku Nuts

Game equivalent: Legend of Zelda series (since Ocarina of Time) Deku Nuts and Great Deku Tree

Real world equivalent: Walnut tree

Walnuts are a hearty treat, and can be used everywhere in cooking. Grind them up into a powder and place on a cake. Or, sling them at intruders.

Technique:

Plant a walnut tree in your back yard. That’s basically it, since they’re great back yard trees.

Presentation:

While you wait for the tree to mature, we suggest picking up a face to add to it. Jam a sword into the ground nearby, or hang a cardboard Triforce from its branches, and you’re already ahead in case a meteor comes to smash the Earth.

Bomb Flowers

Grow Bomb Flowers

Throwing them at walls will probably open up holes, but no treasure.

Game equivalent: Legend of Zelda series bomb flowers

Real world equivalent: Black bellota squash (or eggplant)

Another Zelda plant! The series must have been organically-based. While these don’t blow up, they can be still be pretty explosive if you throw them.

Technique:

Bellota is a Winter squash. It grows pretty big (2-3lbs) and has a nice, juicy meat inside. Throw a 2-3 inch layer of compost (we love using manure) and plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and 1 foot apart. They take up a lot of space when matured. They also like a decent amount of moisture, too, so water them 3-4 times per week.

Notes: Garden.org

Presentation:

They look like bomb flowers all on their own. Perhaps the only suggestion would be to add some silver ribbon around them for the shimmery, “about-to-explode” look.

Herbs

Resident Evil Green and Yellow Herbs

Resident Evil's Green and Yellow Herbs

Game equivalent: Resident Evil series herbs

Real world equivalent: Basil and yellow sweet clover

A highly requested one, the herb is found in nearly every RPG. We decided to chose another version that zombies hate, this time from the Resident Evil series. In the games, Green and Yellow Herbs provide different levels of health restoration. The same can actually be said in real life, since herbs are used for healing all of the time.

Technique:

Herbs are easy to plant and take care of, and can multiply like crazy if you’re not careful. Since the game always portrays them in pots, you should do the same. Plants your herbs now and by late-Summer they’ll be pretty tall. Basil is a nice, leafy green herb. Prune it once every couple of weeks to keep it looking like the game’s stalks. Yellow sweet clover naturally grows tall and stalk-like, and the flowers are also a yellow tint. Both are great for cooking, too. Plant in direct sunlight, and keep the soil moist, but drained.

Tips via: Growing Basil

Presentation:

Paint your pots silver, and grow grow grow.

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Our list will surely keep growing. Do you have plants that you think we should add to our list? Drop us a note in the comments and we’ll add them in!



About the Author

Dalibor Dimovski
Dali is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of SideQuesting, as well as the co-Founder of CarDesignFetish and the founder of MakLink. Dali is also a car designer, deejay, and introductory beer-brewer.