‘In times like these, where you can not fully trust what you buy at the grocery store, one solution could be to produce enough food in your own backyard to look after yourself. I try to live a sustainable and a more conscious way of life, because I want to make my own contribution to a better future for my kids. We all have to make a small contribution; you can do that too, no matter where you live – in a city, in a suburbia or in the countryside.’ (René)
All projects are done with the help of my own hands and made out of the experience I gained. As I am not perfect, also the projects might not be perfect, but it gives you a first impression of how to do it. When you start your own project please be reminded that you’ll do it at your own risk. Better do it together with an experienced builder.
1) Finding the right spot
The right spot for a raised bed should be in level, on solid ground and on a sunshiny space.
2) Measure the right size and dig out the foundation
The ground you are digging out you can use as a filling material later.
3) Start setting up the concrete walls
For the walls for a raised bed you can use different kind of materials such as wood. In our case we used concrete.
4) Securing the walls from inside and outside while setting up
As the concrete walls are heavy and long you should do this together with another person.
5) Filling with compostable biomass
You can fill your raised bed with a mix of organic compostable biomass. This could be shredded leaves or grass clippings for instance. In-between you can put a layer of sticks so that the air can circulate better. On top you should put a good soil mixture.
Sometimes it is necessary to put up a fence around the garden.
Either you don’t want animals to get out
or you don’t want predators to get inside.
In our case we bought the parts from the junkyard for small money.
If you don’t have the time and the money to hire big machinery,
an easy solution is to put up the fence with quick set concrete.
I would recommend to do this job with another colleague.
One is holding the parts while the other one is digging and filling.
Half way through you can swop the jobs.
First you have to measure quite detailed with a measure tape and a level where to put the parts.
Then you just have to dig some holes and put the poles inside. If the parts are in level, you can fill the holes with concrete, add some water and stir both until it is quite harden. At that point you can still adjust if you need to. After a few hours, it is not possible any more.
One of the best natural material you can think of is bamboo.
If you have some space left in your garden, bamboo can be renewable natural ressource.
Just be aware of the fact, that bamboo can spread widely and grow very fast.
Taking out the roots might require some stronger tools as the roots are very strong.
As it is very flexible and very strong at the same time, you can use it for different applications.
1) As garden sticks
2) As mulch
3) Or to produce beautiful and useful things
This curtain hanger in a sleep-out for instance I created after finding the perfect size of bamboo.
Wouldn’t it be perfect, if we can harvest fruits and veggies in our own garden the whole year through? Well, in some countries this is possible; but not in every country. In general I would say, you have warm summers and colder winters, which makes it more difficult to grow plants during winter times.
Today I want to show you, what you can do to still have the benefits of your own fruits and veggies the whole year through. It is not a new method. It was already used in ancient times. Today we are building our own solar dryer or solar dehydrator. And the good thing is, instead of using hours of expensive electricity with an electronic version, we get our power source for free: the sun.
The method is quite simple. Cool air enters a solar collector where it is heated as it passes along a hot black metal. It then rises into the dryer where your fruits and veggies are placed on shelves. Also the building is not that difficult, if you have the right tools at hand. It is the planning that takes a lot of afford, if you want to avoid buying all the needed materials for lots of money in a hardware store. Besides the hinges for the door and the paint, I used the materials that can be found or grow already in our garden like the bamboo for the shelves; the rest I bought for little money on a junkyard.
Every garden needs a little bit of organisation. Before planing your own veggie garden, you need to be aware that there are basically two types of crops: the ones which are taking nutrition out of the soil, and the ones which are putting nutrition into the soil. So when you divide your veggie garden into several garden beds, you can rotate the plants across the beds over the years.
The two most important benefits for a crop rotation are: on the one hand it stops the soil from getting depleted and on the other hand it avoids the building up of pests as some plants are prone to diseases.
The groups that are taking more nutrition out of the soil are the following:
– Alliums (like Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Shallots) and Umbellifers (like Beetroot, Carrots, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnip). They both can share a bed.
– Brassicas (like Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish)
The groups that are putting more nutrition into the soil and that you can harvest are the following:
– Legumes (like Broad Beans, French Beans, Peas, Runner Beans)
– Miscellaneous (like Cucumbers, Peppers, Pumpkins, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Zucchini)
There is actually another third group. The plants that are also putting more nutrition into the soil but that you can not harvest. They protect the soil from erosion and keep the beds free from weeds as well. After you have planted them, let them grow for a short time and then dig them back into the soil. Wait a month before you start planting your crops. They are called Green Manures:
– Legumes (like Alfalfa, Clover, Fenugreek, Lupins)
– Miscellaneous (like Buckwheat, Grazing Rye)
Besides the green manures you can of course put some mulch onto the soil to prevent the weeds from coming back and to prevent the soil from drying out.
Salads (like Chicory or Lettuce) you can plant everywhere where space is available.
Potatoes I would plant in a separate bed as they can be prone to blight.
And don’t forget to label what you have planted.