You’ll hear them say “If only I had more money and a farm in the country, I would eat healthier and possibly save a few coins.
And maybe they are right.
But here’s the truth:
You don’t need to own a big piece of land or have a lot of money to grow your own food. Yes, it is possible to farm even on that small backyard plot. You only have to be a little bit systematic in your approach to it. And that’s what we will be learning today.
This post will teach you the kind of urban farming that guarantees success, even when all odds are stacked against you. Even when the plot is too tiny, live in an arid area, or don’t have a lot of money, there is still a lot you can do.
So let’s get started.
What is backyard farming?
Backyard farming is growing crops on a mini or micro plot, within your neighborhood or backyard for home consumption. Many backyard farmers are keen to farm organically and sustainably without the use of chemical-intensive farming practices.
What are the benefits of backyard farming?
1. Saving costs
Having a backyard farm will help you reduce your weekly food bill. With your own farm you can produce your own groceries at a fraction of the price they are sold in most stores.
2. Become more active
Before you even taste your first homegrown meal, you will benefit from increased physical activity and vitamin D. Tending your crops daily, even for a few minutes, will help you be less sedentary, burn calories and manage your weight in the long run.
3. And most importantly, eat healthily
Farming your own crops gives you a chance to control what you ingest, eliminating chemical intake from pesticides and preservatives used on produce. Picking fresh vegetables right from your backyard also gives you a chance of enjoying the delicious taste of freshly picked vegetables, not to mention the pride and satisfaction that comes from being self sufficient.
What can I farm on my tiny plot?
Honestly, just grow what you and your family love eating.
You don’t want to work so hard on your plot only to see your family forcing themselves at the dinner table to eat what they don’t like. So save yourself the agony and grow what your family loves to see on their plates.
Make a list of what they need in their meals and what is easy to grow in your area.
Here are some ideas to help you get started;
1. Vegetable farming
Vegetables are the most popular crops in most urban farms. And it’s for a reason. They are easy to grow and saves you the hassle of having to drive every few days to buy groceries at the stores.
Some of the vegetables you can farm in a tiny lot are beets, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, kale and spinach.
Tips for growing vegetables even on a tight space
a. Grow your plants on raised beds
A deep organic raised bed is an easy way for pumping up your vegetable yields.
Deep soils encourage growth of healthy roots, extensive enough to reach water and nutrients.
b. Vertical gardening
The current wave of urban farming is vertical gardening. Create your own vertical gardens using trellises, shelves or hanging baskets to utilize your small space. Vertical gardening helps you use your vertical space more efficiently and grow more plants in a tiny lot.
c. Container gardening
Container gardening is an excellent choice for a much smaller yard or a balcony space. You can save space and carry out indoor farming during winter months. It also removes the need for constant watering and weeding.
2. Fruits trees, berries, and nuts
You don’t have to put up an orchard to grow fruits at home. Fruits trees, berries and nuts can thrive in almost every backyard when well tendered.
Here are some of the fruits that are easy to grow in a small lot.
Everyone loves the sweet, juicy flavor of freshly picked strawberries. So versatile, they are able to thrive in containers, window boxes and even hanging baskets.
Raspberries do well in raised beds but you can still grow them in containers. They love good draining soil, plenty of sunshine and occasional pruning. They are also easier to maintain than most other fruit trees.
Grow these sun-loving trees for a taste of the sweet, chewy and delicious Mediterranean flavor. They do best when their roots are restricted- so well that they are perfect if grown in larger containers.
Overcoming challenges when farming veggies and fruits
1. Soil alkalinity
This is a common challenge faced by most backyard farmers in arid areas.
Low precipitation in arid areas contributes to the accumulation of cations in the soil since there is little water to leach the minerals away. This can lead to excessive soil alkalinity.
Alkalinity leads to nutrient deficiencies since some elements are less soluble at pH levels greater than 7.
If your soil is alkaline add you can add a natural fertilizer, organic mulches, aluminum sulfate acidifying nitrogen or any other acidic element.
2. Limited water supply
Vegetables and fruit trees need a lot of water. Lots of it. And most soils in arid areas are fertile and can be productive if well-watered. However, due to water scarcity, most plants are underwatered and thus end up producing low yields.
Here are a few strategies to help you solve your water scarcity problems and also irrigate more effectively:
– Drip irrigation
Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the plant’s roots. This reduces evaporation and helping you save more water than other forms of irrigation.
– Irrigation scheduling
A well-thought irrigation system for an arid area should not only be about how to deliver the water but also when, how much and how often. Therefore make sure you understand the water requirements often your crops in order to monitor the soil moisture for improved productivity. You can also make a constant inspection, physically or using tensiometers.
– Using Compost and mulch
Decaying organic matter has been known to improve the soil structure and also its water holding capacity. Mulch can also cover the topsoil of your farm thus preventing excessive evaporation.
3. Hot temperatures
Plants too suffer from heatstroke, especially during hot summer days. Most vegetables and fruit plants will often find it hard to grow and might wilt in the process even with enough water.
During hot months, make sure you grow your plants in a shade. You can erect a small plant shade using a net and poles or install a small greenhouse.
Imagine harvesting a basket full of tasty, nutritious vegetables from that tiny square plot. Such yields are easier to achieve than you think. You only need to start small, incorporate these concepts one at a time and watch that tiny lot flourish with beautiful, nutritious organic goodies.