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As much food in a tiny (city/suburb) space…

 
pollinator
Posts: 315
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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If you live in a city or the suburbs and you don’t have much space (or maybe not at all)…

How, how much, and what food can you still grow?


I’m thinking a tiny backyard, a balcony, allotment, any other ideas?


If you have experience growing food (plant-based as well as eggs/meat) while living in a city/suburbs - I’d love to hear your experiences of where you grew, what you grew, how much, and any tips and warnings

 
gardener
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Location: South of Capricorn
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My entire lot, including my house and parking for 2 cars, is 7 meters by 24.
The garden is about half of this area. I harvest pretty significant quantities of fruit (particularly passionfruits and mulberries) and veg (everything: right now zucchini, tomatoes, collards) and raise rabbits (they are my fertilizers, but I could scale up to meat if I wanted to).

My soil is heavy clay divided into terraced beds, on a pretty serious slope, and we have high walls that affect sun access (because we are urban). Because of these issues, and my inability to commit to planting some of my fruit trees in the ground, about half of my heavy production is in containers (20L+ buckets). I also have space for rainwater storage, as we have been rationing for over a year and a half now.

I think most of my urban farm problems are the same as anywhere else: my main challenges are rats, feral cats, and pesticide drift from my poopy neighbors.
One issue that took me a few years to figure out was composting: I couldn't waste space on piles, and they never got big enough to get really hot. I find bokashi in buckets (primary fermentation, and then secondary in another bucket with dirt to make nice compost) to be a much better solution in a yard where every meter counts.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
Posts: 315
Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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Tereza Okava wrote:My entire lot, including my house and parking for 2 cars, is 7 meters by 24..



Wow, Tereza… this is amazing. And very inspiring.
Would you have any photos of your garden to share with us?
That would be awesome.

Thank you for sharing.
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
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Location: South of Capricorn
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Hey, it is spring down here and things are a bit wild, so I can only throw you a few old photos, just of the backyard- since then we've added two bananas and a few papayas. The front right now has tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, two Surinam cherries, a sweet passionfruit vine that is COVERED in blossoms, a few ornamentals, and a fig, kumquat, and rose in large pots, no pics right now.


You should also check out this thread for some great smaller gardens. https://permies.com/t/80/136988/Victory-Gardens-grow
2019-looking-down.jpg
backyard 2019
backyard 2019
20151213_092416.jpg
tall sunflower
tall sunflower
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Tereza Okava wrote:Hey, it is spring down here and things are a bit wild, so I can only throw you a few old photos, just of the backyard…


That’s gorgeous, Tereza…
Thank you for sharing.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Anyone else is growing a “food forest” in a tiny space?
Backyard, balcony, allotment, school garden, guerrilla garden, part of a neighbor’s garden…?
I would appreciate any experience…
🙏🙏🙏
 
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We moved into our new house here last fall and I started my garden this spring. We have a couple raised garden beds and a bunch of inground plants. Fruit trees have been ordered and will be planted this fall. Slowly all our pathways are being dug 4 ft down and leveled on the bottom then filled with wood chips to try to retain rain water. The areas we did this in didn't need watering this hot summer. Im not sure if they would count as underground swales or not. We have a conventional compost area that our thankfully awesome neighbors use as well. Regrettably we will be having to move the garden to the other side of the yard. A tip Iv always ignored is double check were your utility lines are! We placed our fire pit and future pond site directly over the gas line! But thankfully we caught it before it caused any real chaos. The power lines above our property means we will need to be careful about our trees as they grow. We disguised our bee hives so no hoodlums might be tempted to mess with them. Wev only mowed the grass here once as we have meat rabbits in a pen we move across the yard daily. Thou I did just last week make a permanent pen with underground burrows to conserve space for in the winter along side the side of the house that gets no sun. We are hoping to install the pond next year and possibly get chickens on our own property. A friend of ours wants us to raise chickens at there house half a block down in return for eggs as they need them. We get any extras and they pay for feed. It sounds like a solid deal with friends my hubby has has since childhood. They only use maybe a dozen eggs a week and there lot is twice as big as ours.
The house we had before this had a small 12*24 foot yard I quickly rid of grass for our raised garden beds and used the garage for the rabbits. I highly suggest rabbits as a nice urban source of meat, fertilizer and pelts. Plus we sell quite a few at 40-50$ as pets or future breeders for others as we have some Nice breeds that are rarer for our area .
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Sam Potter wrote:I highly suggest rabbits as a nice urban source of meat, fertilizer and pelts. Plus we sell quite a few at 40-50$ as pets or future breeders for others as we have some Nice breeds that are rarer for our area .


That’s very interesting Sam - to learn about your rabbits.
How big is the area dedicated to the rabbits and what are the main requirements to be able to duplicate your “rabbit operation”?
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Anyone else is willing to inspire us with your small/tiny garden success?
 
pollinator
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I don’t have a food forest but plenty of experience with small places. I also rent, so don’t want to invest in anything I can’t take with me.

I’m currently in New Jersey which has six months of hot weather and five months of cold with about two weeks at either end.

I grow small bush tomatoes in hanging baskets, Mexican cucumber up the back door stairs and lots of chilli plants. I grow ginger in big pots on the driveway. I grew other veg in pots on the drive but it wasn’t a great success. I think it was just too hot.

I have two small raised beds 1.2 x 1.2 m and grow kale - I planted two years ago and it’s still there. I just pick the bottom leaves and it grows more at the top. I also grow radishes, New Zealand Spinach, rocket, a couple of autumn squash which grew across the lawn.

Then there’s lots of herbs, in the raised beds, pots, planters and one bit of lawn by the back door that I felt was worth the investment in time. I have fennel, dill, nasturtium, chives, four kinds of mint, five kinds of thyme, rosemary, oregano, two kinds of sage, tulsi, bay, parsley, five kinds of basil and lemon balm.

I put up wall pockets and grow alpine strawberries which fruited from June and we’re still harvesting.

I didn’t really plan, it just came together mostly during the first couple of months of lockdown and before I discovered permaculture.
 
N. Neta
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Edward Norton wrote:I don’t have a food forest but plenty of experience with small places.


Brilliant, Edward…
Very inspiring.
Photos of your small garden will be much appreciated…
 
pollinator
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My ground-floor apartment has a front yard and a back yard, each of them about 8x8 meters. In 2015 I started planting herbs and fruit shrubs in my front yard. I tried growing vegetables in the back yard too, but that was difficult because it is very shaded and has a poor soil. My front yard is now step-by-step becoming a miniature food forest. The back yard is also getting better every year. I add a lot of organic matter. For growing vegetables I now rent an allotment garden (a few minutes riding my bicycle). And there are fruit trees and shrubs too, planted by the former renters!


front yard in May 2021


part of front yard in August 2021


back yard in May 2020


back yard in July 2020


allotment in August 2021

 
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Balcony gardening in Germany. Found these on youtube.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxU9gtORwWU

 
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I am very invested in building an urban food forest here in Israel, where we have the Mediterranean climate to the max - 7 months of scorching sun with no rain every summer!
We live in an apartment with a garden of about 25m by 6m - quite a decent size for an apartment in the city, except that most of it is paved over with concrete!
We have very little soil but I am doing my best to maximize it.
Two years in, we have 13 fruit trees planted, including 3 in pots. Last year I grew vegies in the soil but now I realize that vegies can grow in raised bed over  the concrete - every inch of available soil should be used for trees!
We also have a chicken coop and run, with 7 hens. They are my delight! They lay very well. It's almost Passover now, a 7-day festival where many eggs are consumed, and for the first time we have enough eggs from our own flock. That makes me proud!
We also have a bee hive here which is wonderful, and many kinds of perennials and medicinal plants - plus wild overgrown areas. In addition there are 2 enormous cypress trees planted by the previous owners which I used to hate, because they take up so much space and cast a lot of shade. But lately I have come to appreciate them, as they give us privacy (which is at a premium in the city) and also serve as a maternity ward for a decent variety of native birds (right now it's full of nests!).  
I have to say that even with the confines of space, shade and concrete slabs, I do find tremendous scope for permie adventures in my backyard. I have so many plans!
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