Last week, while I was in the community garden ripping grass from the raised bed, I enjoyed a moment of being present. A moment where I felt the grime on my neck, the sweat trickling down my back; a moment of pure bliss. At that moment I thought if I could lead workshops, or teach people how to grow their own food that would be perfect.
I’m not big on perfection; but teaching others how to grow their food would be lovely. I would like to teach those intimidated by gardening that they can grow their own food. This was my focus as I tossed roots onto the compost pile, cursing Johnson grass.
Enter, Miss Liz, Go-Green Day chair at Crabapple Middle School. Someone suggested she contact me.
Would I speak to middle schoolers on Earth Day? she asked.
Would I ? Sign me up !
Deciding what to speak about was a challenge. At first I wanted to show them how to recycle newspapers in the garden. Then I determined that most of the students probably didn’t have access to a garden. (Being that they were trapped in the confines of a subdivision with a rigid Homeowners Association). That’s when the idea to demonstrate how to make a newspaper seed-starter emerged.
Once I shared my idea with Liz, she suggested I have each student who visits my booth make their own seed starter. After the seeds sprout the students will plant them in their community garden. Imagine the Plant A Row for the Hungry concept. That’s what they’re doing.
Now we’re growing, and feeding the hungry nutritious vegetables!
For those interested in making these; or students who want to show their parents how to create a newspaper seed-starter, here are the instructions:
Potting Soil (Note: try to feel the quality of the soil. If you feel small sticks and pebbles, most-likely you are purchasing woodchips, not potting soil).
Glass container cylindrical in shape. (Note: glass works best because it is sturdy and newspaper).
Fold one sheet of newspaper lengthwise.
Place glass on newspaper. Allow one inch of paper to hang over the bottom end of the glass. You will fold this later and form the bottom of planter.
Wrap the glass with newspaper. When you reach the end, fold edges inward to form the bottom of the planter.
Stand glass up and press down firmly to secure the bottom.
If desired, staple top of planter to keep pages intact.
Fill planter with dirt. Each planter will use approximately half a cup of dirt.
Following the instructions on back of seed packet, press seed into soil. Water lightly. Don’t worry if water leaks through planter. Once seedling starts growing it is ready to plant in the garden. Dig a hole in the garden, place planter in the earth and fill with dirt. Water well. The newspaper will deteriorate and allow the roots to grow deep in the soil.
This is an inexpensive way to start seeds, and recycle. I want to thank Miss Liz for allowing me the opportunity to fulfill a dream. If your school or church has a community garden and you’d like me to teach the fledgling gardeners in your area, please contact me through my website.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com
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