Wouldn’t it be great if you had a backyard that actually produced for you and your family instead of costing you? If your backyard could provide more value to your family other than just being something nice to look at and maybe have a few backyard BBQs in? Well, this article will introduce to you the idea of the productive backyard; a backyard that can actually work to feed you and your family!
And how are we going to do this? Let us introduce you to what is known as the ‘urban farming’ movement, which is rapidly gaining popularity in America today, and don’t worry it has absolutely nothing to do with ‘doomsday prepping’. No, you can still be an urban farmer and maintain the respect of your neighbors. We promise they won’t think that you are crazy.
Let’s start with something simple: a herb and vegetable garden.
Starting your first herb and vegetable garden can be a milestone of sorts, and will pave the way for deeper investments into the urban farming trend. Here are some useful tips for your first vegetable garden.
- Start slow and small. Start out with a couple raised vegetable beds during the first season and take it from there.
- Use raised beds instead of row arrangements to maximize use of space. Raised beds will also increase yields, help prevent weeds, and allow you to feed and water your crop separate from your landscape.
- While your raised beds can be any length you wish, keep their width under 4 feet so you can reach the center of the bed without stepping in it.
- Mulch frequently and mulch often. Mulch can make the difference between a successful vegetable garden and a failed one. Not only does it improve soil quality, it also fights weeds. Lots of leaves lying around your backyard in the fall? Gather them up and shred all of them into mulch.
- And finally, have fun! If you’re not having fun watching and learning from your vegetable garden, we can guarantee that it won’t succeed.
If you’ve played around with vegetable gardens, maybe had a few very successful runs with great results, it may be time to upgrade your mini urban farm. If you’re no longer content for your backyard to just be providing you with fresh herbs and vegetables, then let’s tackle some meat and eggs as well. We’re talking about of course, backyard chickens! While most often used for eggs, they can be used for meat as well. Anecdotally, we’ve heard that chickens also actually make great pets.
Your chickens will need a chicken coop to live in of course. And while you can certainly purchase one online, if you have the skills, then building your own can be a very rewarding activity. If you’re thinking of building your very own coop, check out these chicken coop designs 2017 which are the latest coop plans receiving fantastic reviews! Regardless of whether you decide to build your own or buy one outright, it is important to make sure that your chicken coop satisfies the following requirements.
- It’s Big Enough – That’s what she said! Your chickens will, depending on breed size, need two to four square feet of indoor coop space for healthy living (remember, you’re not running a factory farm here!) plus and additional five to ten square feet of outdoor run or grazing space. Plan accordingly.
- It Protects Them From Being Eaten – Not from you of course, but from other animals such as dogs, foxes, weasels, and whatever your local predator is. We highly recommend hardware cloth as the primary means of protection as it stronger than chicken wire. Important: Bury the hardware cloth beneath the ground as well as some predators will dig underground to bypass the above ground defenses.
- It Allows Their Smell To Dissipate – We’re talking here about ventilation of course. Our recommendation? Minimum of one ventilation panel per side including the roof. If not, ammonia gas builds up (from you guessed where) and not only will it make maintaining the coop and extra laborious affair, but it is detrimental to the health of your flock as well. And don’t forget to cover the ventilation panels with hardware cloth.
- It Protects Them From The Cold – This is selective because the chickens already have natural protection against the cold, called feathers. You’d be surprised how much insulation their feathers can actually provide and how well they can withstand the cold. That said, some regions have temperatures so extreme that the cold can cause frostbite. Those regions are marked using US Hardiness Zones, in this case Zones 2 and below. If you live in those areas, then external heating and insulation is required.