Urban Micro-Farm: Preparatory Work

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Today I began the preparatory work for my back yard micro-farm. This includes relandscaping the back yard in order to provide for five sections: The enclosed patio that is currently only roofed, the new patio, a section of lawn for a swing set, the outside garden, and the attached greenhouse.

The Enclosed Patio
The patio is 20' by 16' that attaches the house to the garage. This has been a goal of mine since my wife and I moved into the house. It's wonderfully open, and well roofed. This just screams, "Become a new room!" The patio currently has become a storage area, but will eventually become a new family room and TV room. It will have three doors: One on the east that will open to the driveway, one to the South that will open to the new patio in the back yard, and one to the West that will open into the attached greenhouse.

The New Patio
The new patio will cover another 20' by 16' of the back yard, and will border the covered patio on the North, the Garage on the East, and the brick privacy wall on the South. This will be made of cinder patio bricks of White and Red. This means, of course, that we will be laying a giant chess board down in the middle of it. We will also set some corner whiskey barrels on the edges to grow herbs.

The New Lawn
In order to provide a relatively safe place for my son to play, I have planned to use a portion of the back yard as a plain lawn. This will be about 20' by 36', giving plenty of space for a small swing set for my son. And, as he grows up, he can use the space between two rose bushes as a goal for soccer. The lawn will be seeded this fall, so that it will take root in the spring and provide a lot of protection to the seeds from the birds.

The Outside Garden
The whole point of a farm is to have a garden. The garden will comprise a 16' by 30' section that is bordered by the house on the North, the attached greenhouse on the East, the lawn on the South, and the privacy wall on the West. Already planted are two grape vines placed on the North side, to block southern sunlight from the house and therefore decreasing the heat from the house. With the fall of our shade tree in the back after a storm, we have noticed the heat increase in the southern rooms. The grapes will make great juice and jelly, while providing much needed shade. Also included will be several raised gardens as the soil quality in the back yard is very poor.

The Attached Greenhouse
This is actually the largest project, and will probably take the longest to complete. Interestingly enough, it's the smallest section as well. It's 6' by 13', and will be set on a foundation with a joyced floor, with a corner having a cement slab. This is because a lot of my experimental projects will be completed in this space which will be heavy, and the cement slab is for a wood fireplace. This section will need to be heated well, because it will house at least two citrus trees, a pineapple plant, and an aquaculture and hydroponics (also referred to as aquaponics) system. This will grow salad greens, some herbs, water cress, and ultimately livestock.

The Preparation Completed
currently I have tilled under the wild garden area for the patio and the lawn area. The garden area will be all raised, so tilling is not required. Next weekend I will level the ground (after the rain has done a lot of the work), and then will lay down some stones. This will set the gound even more by next Spring, when the sand will go down to level the patio and set the runoff grade.

Also completed is the layout for the greenhouse, with a portion of the foundation dug out. The foundation will be poured within the next couple of weeks, but the actual construction will not begin until next Spring. The exciting part is that the plan is set, and the preparations have been begun.

All in all, it's been a great start! Most of the work will be completed in the early Spring for the garden, and by Summer the patios and greenhouse will be completed. Check back for more updates!