Monday, April 30, 2012

Measured Plan

The measurements are in.  My backyard is approximately 39’x27’, with two additional little nooks, not accounted for in the measurements.  Needless to say, I probably cannot fit everything that I originally planned into my backyard, so I must prioritize.  One of the keys to planning a garden is to think about what it is you want from your garden.  For our family, the answer is food, play, beauty, and retreat.

I guess the greenhouse will have to go.  I can continue to start all my seeds inside my house as I’ve done in the past…or maybe I can build a combo greenhouse/shed in one of the unaccounted for nook.  We’ll put that in the nook as a potential option.  Plus, then I can place a couple additional rain barrels on the roof.  I guess the sandbox must stay since it is already there, and my two young boys may protest its removal.  So, here is my new plan (as much to scale as a dreamer like me can manage), and it includes a small fish pond/water garden, a small shed/greenhouse combo, a doghouse, a sandbox, compost bins, a fire pit, space for a table and benches, 7 small garden beds, a fruit tree, and several paths for getting about.  Ambitious?  Maybe, but that’s my plan.  We’ll see if it all fits when I am on the ground creating.  Next step:  Planning what to plant.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Initial Backyard Plan

The Initial Design Sketch
Okay, I have made my plan for my backyard edible oasis as my first step toward transitioning to living locally and organically.  The layout was inspired by some lovely pictures in The Edible Garden, a fabulous British magazine full of pictures of gardens in the United Kingdom, many of which are located in very small spaces and include plants that prefer cooler, cloudy climates.  (I have often been gravely disappointed to find out a said “urban homestead” is, in reality, a suburban homestead, and the owners have a much larger plot to work with than I.  I say this knowing full well that my urban plot is much larger than many urban dwellers, for which I am utterly thankful.)   

My first draft drawings include a small greenhouse, a small fish pond/water garden, a small shed, a doghouse, a sandbox, compost bins, a fire pit, space for a table and benches, 15 small garden beds, a fruit tree, and several paths for getting about.  My family and friends again say, ”This is rather ambitious.”  “Ambitious?”  say I, “It is only the backyard!”  Next step: measurements of the backyard to see if the plan I have dreamed up will fit.   I’ve had to enlist some help on the measurements because I am currently away in Scotland until the end of May, which has been and continues to be a wonderful time to slow down and actually plan a bit for this journey into living local on less.  My parents have agreed to measure my yard for me.  Aren’t they wonderful?  I'll let you know early next week if my sketch will actually fit into the space once the measurements are brought into consideration...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ready, Set...

Many people share ideals of only consuming food that is natural and organic…grown or raised locally.  They’d like to eat as much as possible off of their own little plot of land, and when they need to eat from the labor of others, know that those others are being treated well and in turn treating their food well.  These same idealists tend to want to eliminate their homes of chemicals as much as possible and reduce the size of their carbon footprint in general.  I am one of these people.  I read the books, magazines, and blogs about urban homesteading and self-sufficient living in the city.  I plant a small garden and a few fruit bearing plants, and I compost (well, I throw all my compostable materials in a big pile and hope that they will someday turn into golden earth on their own as the naturalists promise will happen).  I’ve even gone a bit further and installed rain barrels, which gains me great favor among the local crowd of idealists.

But I’m ready to take the plunge.  I’m going to do all in my power to transition my family to an organic, sustainable lifestyle on my little corner lot in a small mid-American city, and I invite you to follow my journey.  I have found myself too many times gloating over beautiful edible landscaping only to find out that, once again, the people live in Southern California and have spent oodles of money on the endeavor.  I hope to show that this is possible in a less ideal climate for year-round growing and gardening and that it is possible on a very low budget. 

I am a dreamer with lots of great ideas.  The problem with me is that, unlike many dreamers, I tend to try really hard to make all my conflicting dreams become a reality…all at once.  So, in the interest of not doing everything I dream of all at once (from the cycle-powered washer, to the goats and chickens that can’t possibly fit in the backyard with my gardens), I am simply going to transform my entire lot into edible landscaping.  Better yet, in the interest of being completely reasonable, I will begin with transforming only my back lot into an edible oasis and transform the front after the back has been transformed.  Ready, Set…