Earth Day is upon us on April 22, and if you’re looking for a way to take part in the celebration, look no further than your own backyard. The annual celebration of Earth Day began in 1970 as a way to bring attention to conservation efforts. A garden is a great way to take part in a worthy Earth Day cause.
Mid to late April is a great time to start annuals or vegetables. Place them in small pots or seed containers, and they’ll be ready to transfer to the ground six to ten weeks later. Growing beans is a great way to get started with vegetable gardening as they’re easy to maintain and germinate quickly. Growing vegetables in large pots or containers is a great option for patios or balconies. If you aren’t able to have a garden, support local farmers by buying their produce whenever you can. Your local farmers markets provide excellent opportunities to do this.
Coinciding with this holiday is the migration season of the monarch butterfly. Their numbers have been declining over the years due to climate change and the widespread use of herbicides. Adding milkweed to your garden will attract monarch butterflies to visit and lay their eggs, and you’ll discover gorgeous white, yellow, and black striped monarch caterpillars gratefully munching on the leaves of your milkweed plants. It’s wonderful to watch their metamorphosis and know you’ve done your part in conserving their numbers. To learn what species of milkweed are native to your area, check www.MonarchWatch.org.
Create a more water-wise garden by choosing plants that can tolerate dry conditions. You can do this by removing any invasive plants and replacing them with native ones. Opting to water them in the early morning or late at night is another great way to conserve water outdoors. Many cities have programs that offer homeowners rebates on rain barrels. These barrels are easy to install on your rain gutters and effortlessly collect runoff rainwater. One inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof produces about 600 gallons of water. Hello, lower water bill!
Acquire some new pets in the form of red wiggler earthworms and start your vermicomposting adventures. Vermicomposting is an easy way to divert food waste from landfills, and as a bonus, the worms turn your kitchen scraps into castings which are wonderful to add to your garden plants or houseplants. Worm bins can be purchased from most gardening centers or online, but making them can be as simple as converting an old plastic, wood, or metal container. It’s important to add drainage holes to the containers big enough for extra water to drain out, but not so large that the worms will make a break for it. When closed, a well-maintained worm bin is odorless. When opened, if any smell is present at all, it’s an earthy one. This makes vermicomposting an activity that even urban dwellers can partake in.
Visit www.earthday.org for more tips on conservation and celebrating our Earth.
Mallory Moser is a freelance writer