3 Eco-Friendly + Regenerative Backyard Projects

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written by:  Lauren Coching

editor's note:

I’m a college student in California and am greatly interested in how to live a more sustainable life! One place that I like to practice my sustainability is in my garden connecting with nature.

While we’re all faced with more time at home, it’s likely that your backyard has never seen as much action as in the past few months! Use your newfound garden time to start a few projects that are good for you and the planet at the same time.

1. Gardening From Seeds

When I think of gardening from seeds, I immediately think it’s impossible. But I have some tips and tricks to make it work. 

I have found the easiest way to start a seed garden is by simply using toilet paper rolls cut in half as a container. I then fill them with dirt and put them in a box (some sites recommend folding, but I find it to be better to leave them open and just set them in a box so they don’t spill out). 

This allows you to transport the plant from the roll when they’re ready without any root disturbance, and also allows the roots space to grow down if the roll doesn’t compost fast enough once it’s planted. It’s also taking an item that is no longer of use, a used up toilet paper roll, and using it for something new! Win-win!

Before you plant any seeds, make sure you research basic gardening background about them. For example,  what season they like to be planted in, what atmosphere they like, how and where they prefer to be planted, and so on. If you check off all the boxes for the plant to succeed and you’ve been saving up your toilet paper rolls, then you’re ready to start!

Fill each roll with soil (I used seed starter soil) and follow the instructions on the seed packet of how they prefer to be planted. Plant one seed per roll and make sure to label each one. This allows you to pay extra attention to them and make sure they’re getting the right amount of sun and water. 

Check on them daily to watch their growth– it’s so rewarding! Once the seed has sprouted and they’re ready to be planted, you can simply dig a hole where you wish to plant it, and put the roll in the dirt as it will compost and give the plant extra nutrients. 

It’s important you plant them soon after they sprout because if you leave them in the toilet paper roll for too long their roots won’t have enough room to grow.

My Beginner Seed Garden!: The bottom half is sunflower seeds and the top half is corn seeds.

2. Worm Composting Bin

Food scraps that get thrown into the trash end up in landfills and don’t get the oxygen needed to fully compost. An easy and beneficial way to stop food scraps from ending up in landfills is by creating a compost bin. My favorite type of compost bin is a worm bin. There’s so much more to it than what the average person might know. 

The worms in a compost bin aren’t earthworms– they’re red wiggles. You can purchase these from most local nurseries! The main difference is that red wiggles are surface feeders that will live in the scraps given to them instead of burying underground. The worms eat the scraps and turn them into worm castings (looks just like dirt). The most important part is the castings and the “liquid gold” (the liquid that comes out the bottom) because they make for amazing fertilizer.

To start you need a bin. Find any bin (could be an old fish tank, a storage bin, or even an old wood drawer lined in plastic). Just make sure that it is around 10 gallons.  Then rip some newspaper up, get it completely wet (but not dripping wet), and put it in the container. 

Next, add a few cups of moist soil on top. Now, it’s time for the main event. You can add your worms! 

You need about one pound of worms (about 1000) per square foot of space, or for every pound of food given to them. Once you have your starting worms, they’ll reproduce so you don’t have to really worry about getting more. 

One thing to note is you cannot just throw all food scraps from your kitchen in with the worms. They can’t have dairy, meat, bones, or oils, and you should limit the citrus and salt put into the bin. When adding to the bin, bury the scraps under the bedding as best as possible. Cover up with a lid that allows some air and place it somewhere out of too much direct sunlight. 

When feeding scraps just make sure it’s not too dry, and if it is sprinkle it with some water. Once it’s full of worm castings it’s time to scoop it out and use it in your garden! Keep the worms and start over again! 

3. Raising Chickens

Fresh eggs from the chicken coop makes for an amazing farm to table breakfast. The best part is you choose what to feed them, so you choose what is in the production of your egg. Not only do they produce eggs, but they make overall great pets with so many benefits!

Here’s a picture of my dog and chicken in our backyard, because each chicken has its own unique personality and really becomes part of the family. We got our chickens from our local pet feed store. 

Chickens are fairly easy to take care of! They need food, water, and a coop to nest in. There’s no need to go out and buy a coop because they can be made out of almost anything. We turned an old bunk bed into a two-story playhouse and then the bottom of the playhouse into a chicken coop. 

Chickens also like to roam around your yard and will do some cleaning up for you! They’ll eat weeds, bugs, and fallen fruit. All while creating a natural fertilizer: manure! 

Lastly, chickens love food scraps! Nuts, rice, fruits, and vegetables all do the trick. This is another way to use food scraps instead of throwing them away where they can’t fully compost.

written by:  Lauren Coching

editor's note:

I’m a college student in California and am greatly interested in how to live a more sustainable life! One place that I like to practice my sustainability is in my garden connecting with nature.

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