Scaling to suit your size
Column 7 of the Homegrown series
Unfortunately the Weekend Magazine is no longer published due to closure of the printed Sunshine Coast Daily. Zaia will finish the series here online.
We can play with a fair amount of space here on the farm. We were lucky to secure an acreage property to be custodians of. But we are aware there are more people in the world living in limited spaces, like units, apartments, rooms, vans and other small spaces. But please do not let space limit your ability and capacity to grow!
Find yourself a sunny spot inside or outside, think windowsills, balcony, courtyard… or just inside in front of a window! In a way growing indoors may even be easier as you can control the “weather” a lot better. As long as you have natural light, you will just need to add water, soil and seeds or seedlings. You can also do bench top gardening, and grow sprouts, wheat grass and even lettuces on your kitchen bench, as long as there is light.
Also look at growing up. Vertical gardening is great for smaller spaces. You can build vertical containers, be creative with recycling materials. Old guttering for example can be re-used as vertical container gardening. Stack your containers, use wire or metal to grow climbers like legumes. Allow water to run through all the stacked containers to water the one below it, with water finally being caught in a tray on the floor. Then you can re-use the water again when watering next. If you are concerned about maintenance and watering, you can make wicking beds in tubs. Look up wicking beds on Google, it will show a lot of information. Wicking beds do not need to be watered as often.
You can have small animal systems in your space. A student of Tom’s has chooks on her apartment balcony in a large city! If you have a bathtub, look at converting it to an aquaponics system. This will give you fish for protein and vegetables as well, and can be grown indoors under artificial light. It will need a pump to circulate water, so you will need to have access to reliable electricity.
If you are really keen (and somewhat handy) you can make clear tubing run through your space with fish in water inside the tubing, and plants coming out from the tubing in certain areas. You could also repurpose an aquarium, still having fish in the aquarium but adding vegetables on top (you will need to ensure the aquarium is solid enough to take the extra weight on top). Have a look on Youtube and Pinterest, there are some amazing ideas for small space gardening and small animal systems (including aquaponics) there.
It is all about being empowered to look after your own food needs. Anything is possible, with initiative, good ideas, good planning and follow through. You do not need a lot of space to grow your own food. Think about vertical gardening, about pots with mini fruit trees, tubs with greens, herbs and sprouts on the kitchen bench. Think small animal systems like fish, guinea pigs and even pigeons if you have some outdoor space you can use. Think about stacking by growing up. There is no excuse not to grow your own. And in todays uncertainty, it offers so much resilience…
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Permaculture Design Certificate by donation, pay what you can afford, online or residential, or for more free permaculture information go to www.permeco.org