Spring is kicking in
Spring is officially starting to kick into its full swing, after a stormy start to the season with 3 storms the weather has started to warm up. Spring bulb flowers are pushing through and many have started to flower here in the UK.
Its this time of year that we start planting seeds for edible plants such as salads, herbs and other spring vegetables. So far at the backyard farm we have planted;
- Webbs lettuce
- Curly kale
- Lavender (for protection of plants)
- Italian lettuce
- Parsnip, carrot & radish (companion planted)
I have planted these into cardboard seed trays that can be planted directly into the raised beds once they’re strong enough, the cardboard will break down and allow the plant to grow. Doing this reduces stress to the plant.
Some of the seedlings have poked through already and are on their way to their first set of leaves. It’s going to be good to have some fresh salads and herbs grown without chemicals or pesticides! They will be low ‘Carbon’ salads!
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Building boxes for growing salads and other leaf vegetables
These boxes are going to be used to grow salad on my windowsills, the seeds will be staggered with about 1 or 2 weeks between planting the seeds in one half. This should allow for a good flow of fresh salad leaves throughout the growing season.
The boxes are made from reclaimed fence panels and recycled wood, they are filled with soil from around the compost heap. One is 3ft long and 5” wide and the other is just over 1ft, also 5” wide.
They are basic but will do the job, I’ll be resting them on a thick layer of newspaper to help deal with excess moisture to save any damage to the windowsills. The next ones will have some feet as this will help keep them raised, protecting the windowsill further.
Buying food from local independent businesses
One positive thing we can take from the lock down caused by the Coronavirus (COVD-19) is the re-emergence of a strong community spirit and use of local shops. The local green grocer and butchers have been in decline throughout Britain over recent years as supermarkets have taken hold.
The lock down of the UK in 2020 lead to the supermarket shelves being emptied and the realisation that the supply chains of food are not as robust as once thought. People started to use local shops like green grocers, butchers and pet shops that would usually not have received their custom.
Hopefully, with the relationships that have been built and the community spirit shown by our local suppliers will carry on after the COVD-19 pandemic is over. It would also be a positive thing to see people take control of their own food and start to convert their garden into an edible garden.
To learn more about edible gardening and ‘foodscaping’ check out some of our other articles on the Backyard Farmer. You can also follow the attempts to food scape a garden from scratch!
Building the chicken proof fence
What started as a chicken run has ended up as a fence around the growing beds! This came about due to some lessons that were learned. My original plan was to build a run to keep my chickens safe from harm when I was out and about.
After the chickens finally built up the courage to leave their coop (a converted shed) they were free to wonder around my garden as they pleased. Luckily the garden is surrounded by quite high fences, although the chickens could probably get over them, they appear to be happy milling about in the garden.
Because of this, I have decided to use my resources another way, as the chickens are happy free roaming and sleeping in the coop I will need to protect the crops. Chickens will not only tackle pests, they will also tackle and tasty leaves that they can, therefore they would likely eat your vegetables before you do.
To avoid this, I have decided to build a chicken proof fence around the raised beds. This was made using mostly re-claimed materials and bamboo that is grown in my garden.
Using reclaimed material & home grown bamboo
Using reclaimed materials is a great way to help reduce waste, apart from the chicken wire, nails and wire all other materials have been reclaimed. In this property there is a bamboo garden at the bottom, a perfect resource to use in so many things, especially gardening!
Along with bamboo, I have also made use of some wood from a fence panel and some logs scavenged from common ground (Estovers rights UK) that have been used to weight the fence down and stop the chickens getting under it!
Building bamboo supports for harvesting the brambles
One of the best things you can use bamboo for is for plant supports, climbing plants like peas and beans need something to cling to as they grow. Bamboo offers a great option to build support structures of many shapes and sizes.
The bamboo in the garden came in very handy this week, there is an abundance of brambles in the backyard. I left them to grow wild last year and managed to get a small harvest, brambles are not the most user friendly plant and can be a pain to pick the fruit.
To help solve this I made a trapeze from 7 bamboo poles as you can see below. Along with the wire the bamboo will support the brambles as they grow and are fed around the frame. I am hoping this will lead to some easier harvesting later in the year.
Do chickens like mirrors?
With fresh eggs being delivered on a daily basis by the chickens its only necessary they are rewarded for their hard work. Having done some reading on how to keep chickens entertained and finding out they are quite vain I decided to put a mirror in the garden. For their first reaction see the video below.
How entertaining! They have been checking themselves out and making it known vocally a few times a day since the mirror was added to their run.
Chickens are intelligent creatures that like to enjoy, indulge and pamper themselves, things like mirrors or chicken swings can be a great asset to keep your chickens happy!
Whats next in the backyard farm?
April is going to be a busy month at the backyard farm, as the foodscaping project develops through spring there will be lots of planting and nursing of seedlings. The majority of edible plants will be planted after the next couple of months are through and it will be a job of maintaining the edible garden from then on.
The current garden furniture is also going to be replaced with some pallet furniture that will be made from reclaimed pallets and painted. The cushions for the chairs will be recycled from old material from bed sheets and clothes, the cushions themselves from old duvets.
Did you know?
There are 25+ billion chickens on this planet – that’s more chickens than people, they are also the largest bird population!