We have come a long way from the days of fending for our own food. What used to require excellent aim with a spear and extensive knowledge in botany now takes a simple stroll down the frozen food aisle. The simplicity of it all is appreciated, but as easy as life has become there are quite a few reasons why one might want to go back to the old ways of living off the land. For starters, it’s:
- Sustainable – You’ll always have food, no matter how far you are from the store.
- Healthier – Think of all the pesticides you won’t be ingesting.
- Cheaper – After start-up cost, the overhead for backyard gardening is little to none.
- Fresh – Once you eat fresh food, you’ll never go back.
You’re sold right? Now, let’s talk about a few cool ideas for sustainable gardening.
Aquaponics – Aquaponics is the symbiotic environment between plants and fish. As each grows they supply each other with the nutrients needed to create a sustainable food production system. Systems range between extremely simple to full blown I-need-a-PhD-to-set-this-up, but once completed they practically run themselves. Most yards won’t have the room to build an aquaponics which supports a tank size big enough to have edible fish but you can grow twice as many plants in the area due to the roots floating in water and not in soil. Also, the system uses less water than a regular garden, which brings us to our next great idea.
Rainwater Collection – Instead of racking up a water bill, see if you can install rainwater collection systems, using the gutters on your house and garage. A simple do-it-yourself trick is to place a funnel with tubing going to a collection bucket. Try to direct the stream into places where plants or troughs could use refilling. Many people use PVC pipes with holes drilled in them create an easy way to disperse water evenly throughout a garden. Again, once set up, there is almost no upkeep.
Chickens – Have you bought eggs lately? Expensive is an understatement. Having 5 or 6 chickens can save you a lot of money and can be a great way to fertilize your garden and keep it bug free. The cost of chickens and a coop are relatively inexpensive and will pay for themselves quickly.
Fire Pit – A fire pit won’t necessarily help you “live” off your garden unless you plan on cooking your meat over it, but it will help you spend more time out there. Fire pits in the backyard not only provide a warm, social atmosphere that everyone can enjoy but they add an ambiance to your outdoor space. Building one is a breeze if you don’t mind a couple trips to Home Depot. Here is a fun DIY guide to making a backyard fire pit!
Composting – Finally, if you decide that aquaponics is not the right step for you and traditional gardening is more up your alley, your first step is to improve your soil. Composting (fertilizing your plants with organic, household waste) makes a huge difference in the quality of your garden. Most homes that compost have a bucket by the door which they dump in their garden occasionally. However, compost needs to decompose for awhile, and it’s important to mix your compost once every week or two. To make this task simple, try using a compost spinner. Rebekah at Potholes and Pantyhose has a great guide for a DIY spinning compost bucket.
Article by Michael Ellis.