Tyler Bowen, aka the Food Dude, was at the Putnam County Library in Teays Valley to give a hands-on gardening demonstration on Saturday, April 23. Bowen, who is with the Marshall University Nutrition Education Program, discussed the importance of sustainability and helping the environment. The workshop lecture was called “Healthy Earth, Healthy You!” and was geared towards children and their parents.
Bowen showed how old food containers such as tin cans could be reused as seed planters, and how plastic containers with lids, such as those used for packaging strawberries and tomatoes, could be used as terrariums which would provide humidity to the seedlings. This would allow gardeners to save money on supplies, as well as give new purpose to ordinary household garbage.
Bowen also discussed how table scraps could be used as compost to help improve garden soil. He suggested saving eggshells and grinding them up to add calcium to the soil. Coffee grounds also add nitrogen to the ground, helping tomatoes, potatoes, onions and roses grow. He also suggested keeping fruit and vegetable scraps away from the garden so that rabbits would eat the scraps instead of the garden.
During the workshop, Bowen demonstrated the proper way of using pre-made seed starter mix: by adding water to the mix before planting seeds, as the dry nature of these types of potting soils actually repel water at first. Gardeners can purchase biodegradable planters, or make their own with cardboard egg containers or by drying wet newspapers in muffin tins to give them shape.
As part of the hands-on portion of the demonstration, Bowen led both children and parents in mixing up seed starter and planting parsley and cilantro seeds to take home. He also led his audience in making hummingbird and butterfly seed bombs which can be dropped on the ground and planted anywhere. These seed bombs are made by combining wet potting soil, air dried clay, and seed mixture, and then rolling the dough-like concoction into balls. The seeds begin to germinate within the balls and the rain will wash the soil away, leaving the seedlings behind.
Bowen is a nutrition educator and registered dietician who gives healthy living presentations in area schools through the K-2nd nutrition education grant through the USDA. “The Marshall University Nutrition Education Program encourages healthy lifestyle changes early in life,” he says. “We like to engage the entire county through community events, and appreciate the library for partnering with us to help make sustainable changes.”
The “Healthy Earth, Health You!” presentation was part of the Putnam County Library’s Earth Week celebration.