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edmolina

Eddie's Urban Micro Farm

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Hello all,

I wanted to share more of my overall efforts and solicit some feedback on my plans. The attached drawing includes two side by side comparison of plans that I am considering. Everything in black is existing, blue would be built in 2013, red in 2014 and green in 2015. Here are some notes on the two site plans:

Plan A:

Fewer modifications, thus less work and lower costs to setup

Dedicated chicken paddocks that I alternate annually, growing crops/grazing

Allows me to continue seeing my chickens from my kitchen/deck, which is nice and relaxing

Plan B:

Includes two fruit trees in a permaculture setup

Chickens would have a run under the elevated wicking beds that would allow them access to the area under the deck

(they like to hang out there when I let them out, and it would make use of otherwise wasted space)

Chickens would be in a tractor over one of the raised beds and would become part of the rotation

Includes open-loop trout AP system

post-8141-13795791433979_thumb.jpg

Edited by edmolina (see edit history)

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Hi ED

I like plan best (the fruit threes) but they should maybe swap place with the bluberry bushes ?

Bluberrys like the sun, and the aple/peach might make to much shadow.

cheers

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Gary, did you try the second image? The first opens up tiny and I tried to delete it, but the second one opens fine on my end.

Ande, I chose the blueberry location because that is under the branches of a large pine and the ground there should be nice and acidic. I like plan B myself, but am a bit concerned with how long, costly and laborious that option would be. Plus, I wouldn't see my chickens from the back of the house. Another difference is that the Mrs is now particular to plan A (showed her since my last post). I guess another advantage of plan A is that I can keep the blueberries where they are and they'll still get plenty of sun.

Nonetheless, I have been tweaking this layout for a few years and there's still time to ponder and debate before I do anything that I'll have to potentially later undo.

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Hi Eddie,

I printed out your garden plan and took it with me while I was on the tractor this morning. It has been driving me nuts:confused: thinking about it.

I am not sure that the chicken paddocks will stand up to the intense grazing and manuring. Perhaps a much smaller outdoor area for them with hay ,straw, pea stubble or something similar on the ground that can be raked up and composted. If you can can grow something that they like in a spare corner of a garden bed and give them a handful or two first thing in the morning, it helps with the boredom on the days they can't be let out to fossick around. Having the coop well away from the house is a good idea.

If there is enough room in and around the raised beds, I would be looking a running a four wire trellis along your northern fence and planting some fruit trees there.

Should be able to get some good varieties of apples that are grafted on a dwarf rootstock that can be espaliered along the fence, the bed only needs to be a foot wide. Tying the branches down plus the reflected heat from a fence will give you a lot of fruit. Here we grow three varieties in a row that will flower together and cross pollinate each other, some people put three trees in the one hole or graft three varieties to the one stump, but that takes lots of skill and management. A peach will be a lot harder, no point growing a variety you don't like to eat, just because it is cold tolerant. Need some good local advice on that one. Pears??? grapes??? they will grow well on a trellis. It saves a lot of space.

thumb's up for plan A for me (with some tweaks)cheers Yahoo

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Thanks for all the thought and feedback Yahoo, and thanks for the encouraging words Sam.

I had thought about espaliered trees a while ago and had forgotten about it; thanks for the reminder, that may be the perfect solution. I have no experience with fruit trees so that will be an interesting experiment. You say only one foot, but is there any issue with the roots competing with the annuals in the raised beds? There is about a distance of 20" between the beds and the fence, so seems like plenty of space based on what you are saying. I had also looked at a grafted tree from Organic Valley (they have 3 and 4 variety trees), but if I can plant along the fence line, then I have plenty of space for a few trees. I had considered also adding some Kiwi, but have never tried the cold tolerant type, and I want to make sure that we'll like it first.

As far as the chickens go, they are already in that area, and I compost in there, building up the soil very nicely between their constant scratching, droppings and uneaten scraps. I drop all grass clippings in there as well and I am able to pull some nice amendments for my beds periodically. The idea with the paddocks would be to grow a cover crop on one side over the fall/winter, then switch them over to it come spring. At that point I would loosen the soil and build mounds to plant some annual crops. Cover crop would be mixed in and this would go until the next spring, when the chickens would be flipped back. I have found that actively composting in their run keeps the ground from being compacted. My expectation is not that the chickens would have enough greens to sustain them, but that they would clear the area well in advance of my planting. Additionally, I have considered putting in a few grazing boxes with mesh covering the greens to allow the chickens to graze w/o tearing up the roots.

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Ok, so here's a modified plan, including espaliered trees, and moving some things around. Kind of a combination of the two plans, taking some of the great ideas that you have given me. I renamed the chicken areas to runs, since this more accurately describes the setup. Let me know what you think, and if you have any other great ideas that I can incorporate. The new setup allowed me to condense the schedule and I should be able to make all planned modifications between this year and next (new is in green). Also, I would love to see some more details on how to setup the espalier or links if you have them (I'll do some research in the meanwhile). I only want to grow organically, which is why I would like to setup a permaculture guild - just have to figure out how to fit this in with the espalier setup since it is much more condensed.

Regards,

Eddie

post-8141-13795791435386_thumb.jpg

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Oh, forgot to mention one of the biggest benefits of the new plan: it keeps all the lawn area intact for the kids to play, which will make my wife very happy.

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Hi Eddie,

finding a really good local supplier will help you a lot with growing fruit, almost all the mistakes are at the start with fruit trees and it usually sets the tree back forever. If your big chain stores are anything like here, the stuff they get in will be the cheapest, nastiest, scrawniest, most unsuitable trees they can find. Most of the good stuff gets snapped up by the commercial growers and the specialty stores that know their products.

You may be able to order apple trees now for the planting at the start of spring but anything in the shops at the moment will most likely be on a M27 rootstock, really only suitable for planting in pots. A good shop will know if your area is bad for things like fireblight,wooly aphid or any crown rot diseases and will get in varieties that are resistant to these things.They may be able to suggest options for soils that are very sandy, heavy clay, that water-log or stay overly dry. They will be able to tell you what varieties overlap flowering and pollinate each other. You may also need some permaculture advice, some root-stocks don't cope with any competition around their roots.

I would not bother to grow a variety that I can buy cheap at the shops in season or that is commonly held in cold storage, you need something that has a bit of WOW factor to it, to make the pruning and training worthwhile. The beauty with espalier apples is, if you find a apple that you really like in the future, you can do a grafting course or get an arborist to replace a branch or two with the new variety.

If you decide to have a go at it next year, it would be an idea to start getting the soil in the long skinny bed along the fence in good condition this season, with compost, manure and mulch.

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Thanks for all the words of wisdom. I am considering ordering from stark bros, but will take a ride to the local nurseries first. The permaculture idea is to build a guild around the apple trees that support the apple (weed suppressors, nitrogen and bio accumulators, mulching plants, Etc). Had not considered that this could potentially be detrimental.

The grafting idea opens up a whole new world and options for the future. Awesome.

I've done a fair amount of reading on espalier since my first post and now think that I can begin the process this year. I plan to put in three trees and give it a go. Thanks again for all the great advice.

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sunny position along a fence is premium real estate in a small garden, you may find something else to plant there. what about one apple in the ground at the end of winter and see how things go. Could you get a second apple to grow in a pot?? It hard for me to imagine what its like there. I have to deal with heat and toxic alkaline soil.... and the walking upside down thing, not easy I tell ya.

advice on growing apple trees there is some good basic info here that will get you started.

Conditions for growing fruit are really tough here, I think I killed about ten fruit trees before I found rootstock that will cope with my soil and sorted my watering problems out.

ATM I have six trees in pots waiting to go into the ground (a couple have been in the pots for 3 years now) a rare fig, white mulberry, pomegranate, blood orange, ruby grapefruit and cumquat no 7 is a bit of a mystery, it's supposed to be a persimmon but it looks kinda strange. Oh and some rhubarb but I cant keep the kangaroos away from it, they sneak in when I'm not home and mow it flat.

I have things like limes, mandarins, peacharines and quandongs doing pretty well.

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This is prime apple growing country, so I expect that as long as I pick the most suited cultivars to my chill days, it should be a fruitful:D venture. I have space for six trees along the fence that faces SE, but I also have a fair amount of space along the opposing fence, which is a 4' chainlink setup that does not block light, and along the front of the chicken area, where I can add an espalier fence to beautify the area and make it more productive, and then again more space between the hoop house and the deck (which could add some nice privacy), and again on the other side of the deck, which would block the hot afternoon sun and provide some privacy. Most of my yard gets plenty of light, and with the exception of the odd corner, I can probably grow just about anywhere in the back. My front yard is less sunny, and only gets the morning sun.

Now that I am considering espalier and trellis fruit planting, there is a ton of space that would work, and I just need to figure out types of espalier, how nuts to get with this, and how many different types of fruit to go with (peaches, pear, cherry, kiwi, fig, grape, paw paw, etc. - although not sure if you can espalier paw paw). I think that a good idea would be to start with three apple trees in a horizontal espalier along the fence line behind the raised beds. If it goes well, by this time next year, the Mrs. will be enthralled by the beauty and potential of producing all the fruit we need. Then I could launch wholesale, unfettered by a potentially resistive spouse, into my edible garden transformation.

I'm in a much cooler zone than you, b/c I can't grow any citrus outdoors here, but there's plenty of chill days for a variety of apples.

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Kangaroos - too funny, guess that's our version of deer. Since my yard is completely fenced in, and in a very urban setting, I don't get deer, but have to deal with the occasional groundhog that seem to love broccoli. We haven't had any in a few years since my neighbor (who had lost his entire crop to the groundhogs) took his 0.22 and thinned the population. ;)

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Hey Eddie, I am watching a TV show ATM called gardening Australia they are interviewing a bloke who grows fruit trees in his tiny suburban back yard and in the yards of 2 of his neighbours. More than 300 varieties WOW I just about fainted when he said he had only got interested in it 3-4 years ago. That's what I call a green thumb. If your place ends up like that, the kids will need machete's to get to the chook-house.

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They are vectors for Lyme disease and tend to eat just about anything in your yard from what I have heard. I've never had an issue with them, and will likely try hunting sometime in the future, but for folks who don't hunt and have their yards raided, then they can be troublesome.

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Hi,

I can never see how animals like deer can be regarded as a nuisance.....particularly when they have a surname like Venison.

Gary

we have more deer in ohio now, than there were when the only people that inhabited the area were native americans.. no natural predators to speak of..they cause lots of car accidents, and when the males go into rut, they've been known to attack their reflection in store windows etc...

it's common to see multiple dead dear on the highway when i drive in to work.. it's only a 30 mile drive

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Hi

One of the main reasons I'm planting walnut trees, is the fact that all the fruit (apple/pear) trees are destroyed by deer or moose.

I have the old tall fruit trees my grandfather planted, but new trees (young) have no chanse even with 2 meter high fences.

the car/train hits also a big problem around here.

cheers

Edited by ande (see edit history)

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I forgot to mention the whole road kill/accident and vehicle damage end of it.

On the micro farm front, picked up some duck weed today and checked out some apple trees at a few nurseries. There were plenty, but nothing as small as I want them. There was one already in a horizontal espalier with 100+ small apples on it and gala to boot (family favorite) but the $200 price tag was a bit steep. It wasn't trained in the exact shape that I wanted it, otherwise I may have been tempted with the promise of home grown apples this year.

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Just ordered three blueberry bushes and four apple trees to espalier along my fence behind the raised beds. Fruit orchard is on its way! Also, my wife loves the idea of espaliered trees and wants me to add some between the hoop house and deck for privacy. Another win since instead of expending energy/time to convince her, I have an ally in the venture.

Next year I'll add pear, peach, cherry, grape, fig and some cane fruit. Combine this with indoor strawberries, vegetables inside and out, storing broccoli, sweet potato, winter squash, garlic and herbs, eggs from the chickens, tilapia production and then some quail for meat and eggs and we are well on our way to greater food self sufficiency.

Edited by edmolina (see edit history)

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Hello all,

Just wanted to share some pics of the raised beds along the fence line. Both pics are of the same area but from different ends. The four beds are setup as follows:

Bed 1 - brassicas and alliums with some nasturtium and white clover green manure

Bed 2 - cucurbit, legumes, goosefoot with some calendula, Marigold and borage

Bed 3 - sweet potatoes

Bed 4 - nightshade, herbs, calendula, Marigold, borage, with some hairy vetch green manure

I have been tweaking my SFG layout, companion planting and rotation cycle for some years and am pretty close to a final setup. The espaliered trees are going against the fence between each bed.

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