Saturday, October 10, 2020

Plan Your Urban Farm / Garden

"Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating."
— Wendell Berry

Here we go people, it's time to get a rough plan together for your Urban Farm / Garden!

Before anything can be done (the garlic does need to be planted ASAP) you need to have a rough idea of where you are going to plant everything.  We just need this to be a very rough idea of where you want to plant / not plant and in which direction the rows are going to go, etc.  At this point you do not need to know exactly what you're going to plant, we can figure that out later.  Just knowing where everything is going to go is key at the moment.

The easiest way to do this is to draw your yard on a piece of paper and mark which areas you want to plant / not plant in, like this:

Rough Map
Map of where to grow food!

If you're crazy like me then you'll be using your entire yard, front and back.  However I'm told that is overkill for the vast majority of people.  I do suggest using as much space as you can spare so you can grow as much food as possible.  However, you just do you and don't let me tell you what to do with your property (but you should listen to me)!!!

You want to plant everything directly in the ground, screw building raised beds.  Just save your time and money and plant directly in the ground, it's easier anyways and your plants will be happier.  If you're really set on the aesthetics of a raised bed or if it's a house that you rent then I guess it's okay to do a raised bed, but when your plants are giving you trouble, I'm going to give you the ol' "I told you so" speech.  When you plant directly in the ground, if you over water the plants, the excess water goes into the surrounding soil.  If you underwater then the plants can pull water from the surrounding soil.  Think of the ground as a giant sponge that food grows out of.  Why build anything on top of that?  It's already all set for you!  Plus, just think about how plants grow in the wild, they grow STRAIGHT out of the ground.  I have yet to see a bear or deer that has successfully built a raised bed for their food.  Just mimic what nature does, plant everything directly into the ground (just don't hit any utility lines).

Next figure out which way the sun tracks across your yard, ideally you want your rows to run North / South so that everything should still get sunlight (the sun tracks East to West), even if you plant something really tall next to something short.  However if you can only run your rows North to South or somewhere in-between, just roll with it, that's the way the cookie crumbles and it'll work just fine!

Still a Rough Map
The sun tracks this way (East to West)!

To plant the seed of irrigation, mark on your crude drawing where your outside water spigot is and start thinking about where you'll want your irrigation lines to run.  We're going to cover this in much more depth later.  The important part for now is to plant the seed of it in your mind and start getting a very rough idea in your mind for where you want the water to travel, where the rows are going to be, etc.  Don't worry about how the water is going to get there (yet), irrigation is really easy to build and we'll cover that later.  If you're thinking of skipping irrigation, don't skip it, just do it if you can, you'll thank me in the middle of the summer.

Rough Map with Irrigation
That's where the irrigation lines are going to go!

Now that you have an extremely rough plan marked out, pick which area you want to plant garlic in for the first year, mark it on your map, and that is going to be where we are going to be planting garlic very very soon!  I would suggest not planting your garlic in the middle of your yard for your first year.  That's going to make building the irrigation system more challenging.  Putting the garlic in one of the corners close to the house is probably the best spot.  This is going to be my fifth year, which is why my garlic is going to be in such an odd spot!

Garlic Map
That's where all the garlic is going to go!

Believe it or not that's all we need for now and hopefully your drawing looks much better than mine!  Give yourself a pat on the back for taking this first step and hopefully you're starting to get a little bit excited for this as you see your very own urban farm starting to take shape on paper!

This next step is extremely important.  Get your utility lines marked in the yard before you do any digging, tilling, broadforking, disturbing the soil, etc.  You need to know where those are so you can stay away from them and you really don't want to cut a utility line.  Where I live some of the utility lines are only an inch or two beneath the surface (which is ridiculously stupid for them to be that shallow) but makes it even more important to get them marked.

Your extremely rough urban farm / garden plan is now made and you're well on your way to growing your own food!  Next we're going to be ordering and planting garlic (yes, before winter hits)!

For now it's time to bedazzle the crap out of your map (if you want to)!

Bedazzled Map
Bedazzled Map

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