Mini Farm | Backyard Farming in Your Own Backyard!
Mini Farm -Backyard Farming
Do you yearn for a few acres and a self sufficient lifestyle? Well, while you are waiting it out in suburbia, you can still create a productive mini farm in your own backyard, just by utilizing the space to its best advantage.
Mini Farm – Planning
First draw up a scale plan of your backyard. Note which areas receive full sun, which partial shade, and which full shade. You may have to change a few things to get the best use from the space. For example, if there is a shed in an area that would be ideal for an orchard, move the shed to an area less inviting to plants.
Study your plan carefully and look for the best sites for the various elements of your mini farm. You don’t have to have everything, but with careful planning, you can have an orchard, a thriving vegetable garden, an herb patch, a beehive, a chicken coop and a goat for milk. You will have to check local government regulations and the tolerance of your neighbors on the last two.
Mini Farm – Marking the Area
Mark out the main areas with spray paint, and attend to any tidying up that needs to be done – removing old plants and weeds, digging over the soil and adding soil improvers where necessary.
Mini Farm – Location
Locate your orchard in a sunny part of the garden. Fruit trees love the sun and produce their sweetest fruit under its warmth. You orchard won’t have to take up a lot of room if you use the new dwarf trees that are available. Some fruit trees require two trees for germination. Discuss this with your nurseryman, and choose trees best suited to your own area.
To make room for extra trees, you can espalier them against a wall or fence. This simply means planting the tree close to the fence and spreading the growing branches by fastening them against it. Espalier is an old technique that still works very well where backyard space is at a premium.
Mini Farm – Viny Plants
Fences, trellis and other supports can also be called into good use. If you have the climate for it, plant grape vines in these areas. If it’s too cool, or you don’t want grape vines, plant other productive vines such as runner beans, peas and tiny tomatoes.
Where you want hedging, use bushy lavender and rosemary. You will have a fragrant garden feature and a regular supply for kitchen and home of these very useful herbs.
Mini Farm – Herbs
More herbs can be grown in the spokes of an old wagon wheel filled with soil, or in any small patch that receives at least partial sun. If there is simply no space to spare, grow your herbs in pots on a sunny window sill or lined up at the back of the house.
You need at least two separate vegetable plots, so you can rotate them. Plant leaf vegetables in one plot and root vegetables in the other and change them over after harvest. Putting your vegetable plots in raised beds will make planting and harvesting a lot easier, and improve drainage in heavy soil areas.
Mini Farm – Beehives
A beehive will be productive addition to your garden, especially if you need bees to cross pollinate your fruit trees. A simple backyard beehive is simple to install and doesn’t take up much space. You can order one over the Internet. The Top Bar Hive is designed to keep your bees happy and stress free without a lot of labor and no chemicals. You can purchase a swarm from a bee supply company, and you’re in business.
Mini Farm – Chickens
Keeping chickens may seem daunting, but when you are harvesting your own fresh eggs you will never regret it. Plan your backyard hen coop for an area sheltered from wind and sun, and make sure the coop adequately protects your birds from cold and rain. Your coop needs dry nesting boxes and an impervious floor – meaning that it won’t soak up moisture, so concrete is better than timber or earth. These coops will have netted “scratch” areas so your chickens can enjoy an earth floor as well.
You can buy ready made hen coops online, in a variety of designs suited to your needs. A movable hen coop on wheels might work better for your backyard, especially if you would like to let your chickens out to scratch around the backyard.
You can also find chicken coop plans online to help you build your own customized hen coop. Once you have the hens’ home in place, buy first year pullets so you can start harvesting eggs as soon as they have settled in. If you want chicks, you will have to check with your local authority about keeping a rooster. Many councils and neighbors don’t mind chickens, but they draw the line at being woken up at dawn by a rooster!
The best breeds for backyard egg production are Dorking, Buckeye, Orpington, Barnevelder, Plymouth Rock and Sussex. These breeds are quiet and docile and make good pets where there are children to consider. Don’t choose a bird that is known to be aggressive or noisy.
Backyard Farming – Dairy
Your mini farm can also produce milk, cream, cheese and yogurt, as long as local regulations allow. A small goat like the Australian Miniature Goat and other dwarf breeds will not take up much room and will prove an excellent pet although they do not produce as much milk as larger breeds. Of the larger goats, the Saanen and Nubian are pleasant to have around. Goats are generally placid, and easy to look after, as long as they are sensitively handled as kids. Make sure you know the temperament of your goat and never tether it near the washing line! (Yes, they do eat everything).
Operating a mini farm in your backyard can be an adventure for all the family, and won’t outrage your neighbors if you keep the nuisance factor to a minimum, and share some of your bounty. While you won’t have the bountiful harvests of your dream small holding, you will often have so much produce that you won’t know what else to do with it!