Having lived in British Suburbia for most of my life, like most people in my position, I have been thinking more and more about my Carbon Footprint & impact on the environment. Ways such as my travel choices, food consumption and energy use.
Over the past few years I have seen many ‘life hacks’ and ‘lifestyles’ over various Social Media channels that you could adopt to help reduce your negative impact on the world.. but, here in little Britain, where life revolves around a job, family and bills it can feel almost impossible to be able to adopt one of these lifestyles and maintain it.
This has made me curious, is there a way to balance a life in suburban Britain. We fed ourselves through the World Wars by growing off the land, maybe this attitude could be adopted again to reduce carbon emissions and waste?
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In countries like Sweden and Bulgaria, there is rarely a garden space that is not full of vegetables or in some state of food production. They have maintained a certain level of control over their food that we in Britain have lost since WW2.
Research shows that this is not only a positive for the local communities, but also a good way to reduce your carbon foot print. Food in supermarkets will usually have come into the country via a plane, boat or lorry, amounting to a large carbon footprint per item. This results in a large carbon footprint.
I believe that if people knew how to grow a substantial amount of food in their yard, garden or balcony, maybe we could reduce that collective carbon footprint. There are also massive nutritional benefits to food grown in well maintained soil. Supermarket vegetables and fruit are grown in overused plots meaning they are not as nutrient rich, and have less taste.
Being a 32 year old British man who likes the outdoors and has grown some tomatoes but the fact remains – I am no farmer! For work I write websites, fix computers, for fun I go for walks and game.
My decision for this project was not taken lightly, there are going to be many trials and tribulations along the way, successes and failures but, I think it will be worth it. The plan will be to use natural remedies and tactics to reduce pest numbers, my main enemy where I live being slugs!
To do this I will be utilizing wild flowers, crushed egg shells and 2 of natures finest chickens. These chickens are being rescued from a battery environment where they would otherwise be turned into Chicken soup or go to the cheap meat markets.
Needless to say they are going to be spoiled rotten and be happy egg producing crop protectors for the rest of their days. So, with very little garden experience but a whole heap of enthusiasm, i’m looking to perfect the Backyard farm here in the UK suburbs.
What will I be growing on my British Suburban Farm?
The vegetables I’ll be growing will be potatoes, tomatoes, onions, some salads and root vegetables. A herb garden with Thyme, Basil, Mint & Rosemary to start.
As you can see below there’s a fair amount of space to work with, the shed will become partly a roosting area for the chickens, followed by an outdoor pen for safe outings (They will be let out daily for pest control). I will have the wooden boxes filled with soil for root vegetables, vegetable patch in the back area and some tomatoes likely in grow bags.
As I want this to be a lifestyle change, there will be research into how best to rotate and maximize my yields. Once grown and picked, some will be preserved for the winter using techniques I’m yet to look into. I will cover my journey in hope it helps someone in the same situation make the most and make a change for the better.
My plan is to turn my backyard space into a food growing paradise with 0 pesticides! This Blog will follow my battle with nature to grow some awesome food, along with my pets, chickens and some help from some friends we will hopefully calve out a path for people in a similar situation take control of their food and gain some Zen from working with the earth. We are at an interesting time in human history and I believe with more efforts like this, we can all help make a positive, conscious change.
Converting the Garden into a vegetable patch
This is the space I’ll be working with to develop my backyard farm. As you can see there’s a fair area to work with. The shed will house the chickens, to do this I also need to replace the fencing and front gate.
There are quite a few foxes that would happily make a chicken, a meal! There will also be a chicken run coming off the shed/coop. I’ve not settled on a design as of yet but its likely to be made of several panels made of wood and chicken wire. The chickens are part of my pest control plan, so I need to research how best to do this.
The box’s will be used for vegetables, potatoes, carrots & onions. On the grassy area at the back I’ll make a vegetable patch for a few pumpkins or something of the like. Again, there are some other pest control methods I’ll have to employ here as the chickens will not be out 100% of the time. This is something else I need to research into. Luckily, I know a fair few people in my local area who are avid vegetable growers so I can get some hands on advice.
The shed will be converted into the nesting boxes for the chickens. I will again need to read up on how chickens like their nests, but at the moment I am thinking of having them on the second level up with some steps to help them up there.
I would like to make it so the nests are easily accessible so I can get to the eggs. I may need to fix up the shed to make sure it’s predator safe & warm for my chooks! I will be cutting a door into the coop so they can get in and out, their area will probably take up just under half of the space leaving room to store their food etc…
I’ve made a rough plan of what I want to do here. Thankfully there’s less work to do than I expected and my neighbor can help out with materials, saving massively financially. The biggest part will be making the run, then the converting the shed.
I’ll be drafting in some help for these bits, you can watch all the Youtube videos, you just cant beat hands on experience. Again im lucky enough to have some friends that are joiners & builders to help me design and build everything.
If feasible, I’ll put the grow-bags for my tomatoes into the coop itself giving them around the clock pest control and some entertainment for the chickens. Again, I have not researched this, they may cause to much damage to the plants!
Did you know?
Some red foods like tomatoes, red carrots, watermelons, grapefruits, and papayas are very high in the carotenoid Lycopene; eating foods with carotenoids can lower your risk of cancer.