Some families dream about moving to the countryside but silently wonder whether their children will “miss out on experiences” if they move to a seemingly isolated area.
I was lucky to grow up in the countryside, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Growing up in the country was the best thing my parents could ever give to me as a child. I learnt about the natural cycles of life and had so much fun climbing trees, caring for my horse, duck and black chook.
I want to give my son a similar experience, but I live on an urban block. So I decided to bring country life into our backyard by creating a backyard farm.
A veggie patch was my first mission. I gathered a few friends and sourced as many recycled materials as I could find.
My first task was to observe the natural cycles in the proposed backyard farm.
- I watched the sun move across the garden space to understand the shadow effect. Most veggies and herbs need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun each day.
- I walked around and felt the microclimates.
Once we decided that the space we chose was appropriate, we cleared it out, measured it up, and made a design on cardboard.
For the frame, we chose recycled corrugated iron sheets that we sourced on a friends farm. We used untreated hardwood stakes to hold the structure in place, and for that special final touch on the edges, we used recycled decking timber. We decided to go with the shabby chic style.
One of our first challenges was cutting all the corrugated iron sheets. At first, we tried cutting the iron with metal snippers. Wow, very time consuming and hard on the hands, not to mention dangerous. So after researching, we finally found that using a hammer and screwdriver was the fastest and safest method (without a machine). It was a very effective technique. You position the screwdriver and then hammer the screwdriver’s tip, which then slices through the corrugated iron. This method kept my hands away from the sharp edges of the corrugated iron and cut the sheets reasonably quickly.
The most complicated challenge was the tree roots we came across as we dug the trench to fit in the side panels. The vast roots were from an old mango tree cut down many years ago by previous owners. Some of the roots we smashed out with an axe and then thrown into the base of the garden. In other areas of the garden, we cut the corrugated iron to fit around the root.
Once the frame was up, we collected twigs, soil, small rocks and partly filled the raised garden bed. As the garden beds were quite deep, we sourced local garden supplies and topped the beds up with good quality garden soil. The garden was planted, and now the rest is history.
Caution: corrugated iron is very sharp. Please use the appropriate tools and safety equipment.
Raised garden beds are great for your backyard farm, especially if you have children or pets. Page 86 of Planet Schooling – How to create a permaculture living laboratory in your backyard guides you to make the space perfect for homeschooling or afternoon learning activities. Purchase here.