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Do you have a small suburban place?  RSS feed

 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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My suburban property is about 380 m  (about 1250 feet). Really too small for in-ground trees.  My vege garden takes up pretty much all of the sunny areas
I'm interested to hear from people that are doing their thing on not much land in town. While I'd love a larger, more rural place, it aint gonna happen and I need to work with what I've got.
Does anyone have an arrangement where they grow or maintain productive trees on other people's (or community) land?  The paradigm of 'it's mine and I own it' might have to change if I want chooks, bees, apple trees...but it also looks more than a little complicated and potentially fraught!

 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Have you considered Espalier trees? Not to take you of topic, but even a small lot can produce trees, and the roots on trees like dwarfed grafted apples aren't as destructive as the roots on something like a spruce or pine tree as far as a driveway is concerned.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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i don't, but I might make a few suggestions. I agree with the espeliars, but also put layering to good use, and put up trellises or arbors to grow vertically

If you haven't read Gaia's garden, he has a LOT of great advice in one of the final chapters on tiny urban lots.
 
Robert Ray
gardener
Posts: 1351
Location: Cascades of Oregon
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1250 sq ft!    I'd go claustrophobic.
There are a couple of good threads going about "Land Sharing" in farm income and intentional communities. 
Clever ideas on such a small lot would be a challenge. A friend in the valley has an apiary on top of a workshed.
Vertical gardening on any fence or wall would be an option ie: Emmersons espalliered trees. Living productive fences/hedge. Since on such a small lot trees that are not espalliered would have to be replaced with bushes just due to scale.
  Another friend who has room has co-op chickens he contacted a few people who wanted fresh eggs they supply a portion of food costs, they receive eggs from his maintaining the flock and his cost is minimized but he utilizes chicken poop.
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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I live 'in town' on about 1/3 of an acre, however much of my lot is steep hill transition between myself and the adjacent lots.

I raise chickens, ducks, rabbits and we have cats and a dog.
I have a small garden, but we do a lot of U-pick and gleaning from other people's fruit which they no longer want to mess with.

You can utilize every inch of a property no matter the size - have you seen the Path To Freedom website?
 
                                
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I only have a city lot, I guess it's about 1/8 of an acre.  I have elderberry, serviceberry,nanking cherry, asparagus, rhubarb, raspberry, blackberry, hazelnuts, gooseberry, black currant, strawberries, blueberries, pear, apple, concord grape, and a  few raised beds for a vegetable garden.  I also have a small pond that I used to raise bluegill in until 6 feet of snow buried it.  I also used to have about 30 coturnix quail.

As long as you plan accordingly and efficiently you can do a lot with a small lot.  Lee Reich has a few  really good books about uncommon, low maintenance fruits that are good for a small lot especially if your under a HOA scrutiny.   
 
Lisa Paulson
Posts: 258
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I have seen a lot of very inspiring videos on You Tube and such and yes, Path to Freedom website  http://urbanhomestead.org/ ; you really should take some time and look all around their website as it is truly amazing, not only the fact they derive much from their urban lot gardening, they also create their own solar power, conserve water, make biodeisel onsite, have small livestock.

Google biointensive  , espliered fruit , there is a wealth of information and examples on the internet to inspire and astound you how truly bountiful you can make a small intensive area if you are willing to really be thoughtful and work at it.

 
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Thanks for your responses
I grew up on 500 acres and some of me still thinks in terms of large spaces!
I haven't read Gaias Garden, will get it out from the library today.
Espalier would be great; I love pruning, but I'll have to be more imaginative about finding the required combination of sun/space, even for relatively two-dimensional trees.
And maybe be more realistic; stick to my berries and cultivate more friends with fruit trees...
 
                          
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I've done mostly raised beds in my suburban lot but to really make the most out of a limited space, I think containers are where it's at.  Containers can be squeezed into places that would otherwise be considered unusable for plants.  You can even squeeze dwarf fruit trees into pots.

The big limiting factor in the burbs is sunlight.  Houses and trees cast too much shade.  In my part of the country (New England) there is a lot of tall treecover and most houses are poorly aligned as far as the sun goes.  If you don't get enough hours of sunlight, you're pretty much out of luck.

 
                          
Posts: 40
Location: Portland Oregon
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You dont say what part of the world you are living in, which might help us free advice givers give free advice.
If you look around you might find there are community gardens near where  you live, I know you cant do a complete permaculture thing at a community garden, but you do what you can with what you have.  And who knows your permy ideas may rub off and start a revolution at the community garden!
Hank
 
                              
Posts: 11
Location: Denmark
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I have about 350 m2 (about 3700 square feet says google), and find that there is enough place for small trees. Because forest garden thinking make it possible to use the "vertical" space as well, a few trees/big bushes (elder and hazel in my garden) can be fitted in between the vegetables.
Pergolas and other "dead" structures can also give you height, shade, visual interest a.s.o. that you would get from trees.

I don't really have a desire for many and big trees, and when I want walnuts or the like, I find them in nature. So I can't be very helpful on that.
I have however, maintained (and grown some of my own stuff in the back of) a garden for an old lady when I didn't have a garden of my own, and I think it worked well. I would say that it is important for you and the owner of the land to talk about (and maybe write a contract of sorts) exactly what you expect of each other.
If you rent a piece of land, then also figure out if you are on the same page concerning gardening (so they don't e.g. mistakingly think you let it run wild, because you have groundcovering plants).
 
Tim Eastham
Posts: 52
Location: USDA Climate Zone 9, Central Florida
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Is there a site out there with lots of examples of plans for small lots? I have found a few with google images but I was wondering if there might be a really good site where people post the plans and then a pic of the implementation. The few plans I have found online have been extremely enlightening.
 
Janina Goerrissen
Posts: 6
Location: Germany, hardiness zone 7a
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I must say I find it amazing what you guys call a "small place". Our garden is little over 100 m2 (~1076 sf), and I find it to have an absolutely wonderful size. Much easier to keep track of (well, all you have is a zone 1, I guess XD ). Sure, you can't have really big trees, but there are so many small trees available that it's not that much of a problem. I'll be getting some dwarf trees (and a Paw Paw, which apparently grows slowly so I should be able to keep it rather small with pruning) and maybe espalier-train some of them.

So anyway - our garden is still in the planning and my ideas might still change, but in case it's useful for somebody, here's my plan as it is now. I still have to fill in many details about herb and ground layer - well, some I do know already, but they just won't fit in the plan.
I must say working on that plan has been so much fun because of the challenges provided. But of course we'll see if and how it works out. ^^
Plan-english.jpg
[Thumbnail for Plan-english.jpg]
small garden plan 100 m2
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thank you for sharing your plan, I love to see other people's designs. I actually think small spaces may be better than larger ones, it is so easy to get all spread out and disorganized in a large space, whereas a small space requires discipline and careful design. I keep trying to "pull my tendril in" and get smaller, even though I have 20 acres to work with, I find it overwhelming.
 
Petra Smirnoff
Posts: 5
Location: Adelaide, Australia - red clay, arid, warm temperate
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I have about 60 square metres in the front yard and 120 square metres in the back yard, but much of the back is in shade. My plan is to increase the growing space by having undulating land. I want to create piles of mulch and soil and then plant into those, increasing the surface area of my plot by 20-30%. I also plan to grow a large variety of small trees and to just keep them well pruned so that light can get through to other plants. My parents have an apple, lemon, grapefruit growing in a tight space between the house and the fence in a very small plot, and they are growing wonderfully.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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It's good to see this thread again, especially when I compare my attitude then to now.
I think that old chestnut 'size doesn't matter, it's what you do with it that counts' is cheesy, but true
Some things are just too big to fit, like, well, chestnuts, walnuts, avocadoes...

I think I originally posted after hanging out on a large permaculture place-
everything seemed to be about big, rural properties and I was basically jealous!
I'm now more comfortable with using space efficiently,
and as others mention, a smaller space takes away some potential design paralysis.

I find examples of urban/suburban permaculture are much more visible now,
and I give toby hemenway lots of credit for that
My biggest challenge has always been that I want lots of fruit trees.
I've squeezed in espaliered and multi-grafted plums, apples, grapes, pears berries and citrus out the back
and there's feijoa, fig and olives out the front.

I'm going to try a modified nectarine and peach Belgian fence.
It's going to need some fancy pruning to be productive though!
No nuts, maybe I can pleach a couple of hazels into my Belgian fence...

These photos are varying degrees of old, of course I can't find the ones when all the back ws just really bad 'lawn'
vaguely 'civilised' at the front...


anarchy out the back!

 
Petra Smirnoff
Posts: 5
Location: Adelaide, Australia - red clay, arid, warm temperate
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Oh lovely! I do love Wellington, but I'm used to Australian weather now and don't know if I could ever go back there. But your garden looks lush and green!!
 
Cory Allan
Posts: 61
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Thank you for sharing your plan, I love to see other people's designs. I actually think small spaces may be better than larger ones, it is so easy to get all spread out and disorganized in a large space, whereas a small space requires discipline and careful design. I keep trying to "pull my tendril in" and get smaller, even though I have 20 acres to work with, I find it overwhelming.


Just make your Zone 5 bigger and work in from there
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Cory S wrote:
Tyler Ludens wrote:Thank you for sharing your plan, I love to see other people's designs. I actually think small spaces may be better than larger ones, it is so easy to get all spread out and disorganized in a large space, whereas a small space requires discipline and careful design. I keep trying to "pull my tendril in" and get smaller, even though I have 20 acres to work with, I find it overwhelming.


Just make your Zone 5 bigger and work in from there


Yeah.....

We went from 7000 sq feet total (total house+front yard+backyard) in the suburbs to living in a 7200 sf barn (just the barn) on 80 acres. There is such a thing as biting off more than you can chew....

You can do AMAZING things in small spaces if you conserve water and go vertical.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Cory S wrote:
Just make your Zone 5 bigger and work in from there


It's not that easy if the land is damaged, as ours is. But discussing this more here would be very off-topic!

 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2091
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bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
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I realize that this is an old thread, Leila, but here's what I would do.

We have an organization in Portland called Portland Fruit Tree Project. Most of the people in the suburbs bought houses that already have fruit trees in them. Fruit trees take years to mature and produce a lot. Most of the people don't know how to take care of their fruit trees. In this group, people ask to take care of their fruit trees. The land owner gets some amount of their fruit- 1/4? The rest is divided between the person who does the work and poor people. You do the pruning, grafting, mulching etc. and harvest the fruit.

It's a really great idea. I don't do it because I have a large suburban yard and grow my own fruit trees. You could start your own version of it.
John S
PDX OR
 
Daphne Singingtree
Posts: 42
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I have about 1/8 of an acre, perhaps a tiny bit more. Sunny space is a premium. I have put a lot of my place into herbs, can grow a lot in a smaller space. Put a grape arbor over the chicken run, also lots of stuff on trellis. And grafted trees, just about to put one in that is plum, peach and nectarine in one tree. You can do a lot in a small space, and don't forget about indoors for herbs and microgreens.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6680
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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If I were developing a small property from scratch, I would plan on using roof space. This is sometimes the only area not shaded by the house.

My woodshed is going to be covered in grapes. I like things that are rooted in the soil.  Only the vines go to the roof.

Kiwi,  would be a really good rooftop plant for Kiwis.
 
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