I am getting into backyard farming this year, out of necessity because my pay is not keeping up with inflation and the health care premiums are going up, leaving us short in our household budget.
So I am hoping to make up for it somewhat by growing at least 2-3% of my food this year, and hopefully 3-5% next year, after I expand the vegetable garden, and get the raised bed chicken tractor built.
I am designing the raised beds around 4 foot long planks cut from 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, and 2×12 by 8 foot or 16 foot boards, and using 3.5 inch long deck screws to screw the beds into 4×4 foot squares.
I arrange the beds so there is just a little less than 2 feet of space between them for walkways, and I use 12 inch square pavers to line the walkways. This way the beds sit on top of the pavers for leveling and less contact with the soil. I treat the wood of the raised beds with linseed oil and let it absorb and dry completely, then line the raised bed with one or two layers of corrugated cardboard and fill them with compost/soil mixture.
When I build the wooden frames, I also attach a piece of 2×2 on the inside corners, but offset so they stick out the bottom about one inch. This way I can stack multiple beds for extra depth for veggies such as carrots, as well as stacking the chicken tractor on top of the beds as well.
As the chickens clean up the bed(s) they have access to, by churning the soil and eating every last seed, bug, and plant until there is nothing but soil, I move their tractor house to the next bed, and their run as well, and let them continue to clean the newly accessible bed(s).
The raised bed I move the tractor house from, now is well composted, has nitrogen and nutrient rich soil, that I will plant heavy feeders into the first season, and then alternate with low demand plants, followed by fallow or cover-crop, and then several other crops before I run the chicken tractor over it again.
I have part of this system in place, but I still need to built the 4×4 chicken tractor and 4×4 chicken run that will go on top of two beds, and a connector between the two so the chickens can get to the run.
I will also build a few beds that will be either 4×6 or 4×10 foot and pull the walkway pavers they would straddle, and have some bigger beds to work with for such plants as garlic and cabbages, etc, where I either need lots of plants or lots of room for a small number of large to huge plants that will require a lot of growing space.
I know, this sounds quite ambitious, but that is what I have been working towards for the last three years since I have moved into this house.
I will try to keep blogging about my garden endeavors as I find time to record my efforts. Hopefully I can get some pictures added as well to add tot he documentation of what I accomplish this year.
- Gardeners’ Dirt: Get more yield in less space (victoriaadvocate.com)
- Gardening with Laurie: Recreate nature’s soil (victoriaadvocate.com)
- Calvin Finch: Growing fruit (mysanantonio.com)
- Raised Garden Beds (modernhomesteaders.net)
- garden q&a: lush plant produces no tomatoes (triblive.com)
- How To Breathe Life This Spring Into Your Tired Garden Soil (frommichigantomontana.com)
- Fruit plants require TLC (mysanantonio.com)
- How do I use my compost? (ask.metafilter.com)