I live in a suburban neighborhood that doesn’t allow chickens or rabbits, but I decided that I wanted a homestead survival garden at least to grow some of my own food. I don’t plan on becoming a total vegetarian, but want to provide some plant protein and vitamins for my family during a grid-down situation.
I read all the books on small gardens and asked my local feed stores for help in getting my “Victory Garden” started. I plan to use all raised garden beds so as not to tear up my lawn too much and save some wear and tear on my aging baby-boomer back.
I bought a couple of 4 x 4 raised garden kits and one plastic raised gardening system that was also self-watering; however, it soon became obvious that this was going to exceed my budget very quickly, before I even bought seeds or seedlings and all the bags of compost, manure and mulch I was going to need. I did get some free wood chips and mulch when the city was doing some tree trimming and I got some free manure from the local stables, but had to let it “age” a little before I used it in the beds.
So I went to the Internet to do some more research on my project. I found out I could use free wooden pallets for vertical gardens and makeshift compost bins, two-liter soda bottles with the tops cut off and plastic shoe boxes with holes in the lids could hold several seedling starters and could be found at my local thrift stores along with plastic storage tubs for more raised beds or to hold extra garden soil. I stapled landscape fabric to the back and bottom of one of the pallets and planted it with spinach, lettuce, cabbage and broccoli set up vertically on the side of our house which gets filtered shade.
My best find was a pile of black plastic crates with holes on the sides and solid bottoms for $1 a piece. I bought 16 of them, lined the sides with landscape fabric to filter out water but keep the soil inside and lined them up in four rows of four crates each. That allowed me to reach all the crates from either side without having to stretch too much or bend over too far. They are deep enough to plant root veggies and perfect for square foot gardening.
Along one side of our brick house I stacked some hollow concrete building blocks approximately one foot high, by 4 foot deep, by 8 foot long, filled it with garden soil, added two wooden trellises bought at a garage sale against the brick wall and planted my tomato plants there. They are sheltered from the wind and get the reflected heat from the brick wall. In front of them I planted a companion planting of basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
We have a pergola over our wooden deck that gets the most sun during the day and I used it as a trellis for growing grapes. I planted four different grape varieties in large planters at the bottom of the 6 x 6 posts supporting the pergola. On the deck railings I planted strawberry plants in rectangular plastic pots and let them trail over the railings. Hanging off the deck railings are metal pot hangers which hold several pots of herbs.
Our backyard fence is black aluminum and I planted blueberries, raspberries and blackberries along the fence, spaced out with the branches tied to grow along the top of the four foot high fence. The berry thorns also act as a natural perimeter defense.
In my entryway garden among my flowers is my medicinal garden of Plantain, Calendula, Echinacea, Feverfew, St. John’s Wort, lavender, and Lemon Balm. I plan to add more medicinal plants to use in homemade tinctures, teas, salves and oils. Along the driveway are a couple of apple and peach trees.
I live near several Farmers Markets and plan to supplement what I can’t grow with inexpensive bulk purchases of locally grown produce which I will can along with the bounty of my own garden. I already have canners, canning supplies, foodsavers and dehydrators, all purchased at thrift stores, flea markets and at garage sales. I have doubles of everything because remember one is none and two is one, etc.
I feel very good knowing that we are eating healthy, mostly organic food and that we have enough put away to survive for quite awhile. I still will have to buy eggs and chicken, but I found a farmer who raises rabbits for meat and I plan to can some real soon.