Sustainability is an ecologically-sound practice. It is better for the environment and bank accounts. Even small backyards can produce a large amount of food. By choosing crops carefully and maximizing your space, it is possible to grow year round.
1. Planning and Planting
Draw out a blueprint of your back yard. Decide where you want your garden plots, leaving room for a compost bin, rainwater barrels and chicken habitat. Separate plots by what will grow easily together.
Your blueprint tracks crop rotation to prevent stripping nutrients. Early plants can be started anywhere because sunlight is unnecessary until seedlings are through the soil. Plant seeds thickly until you see how your soil produces. Perfect your system by noting on your blueprint what grows best and where.
2. Winter Gardening
On the sunniest side of your house, build a raised bed from concrete blocks as an insulated barrier. The house will provide shelter and insulation to keep the soil from freezing. Enclose the area with double-paned glass or plastic panels. Plant hardy winter vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli.
3. Storing and Preserving
The best way to have homegrown produce all year is to avoid waste. Root vegetables can be stored for several months in cool, dry locations. Canning and freezing can keep excess produce fresh up to a year.
4. Benefits of Chickens
Chickens provide people with eggs, meat, natural insect control and fertilizer. Weeds from your garden and thinned crops can be used as occasional feed to save money. The more access chickens have to a yard, the more insects they will eat, reducing the amount of insecticide you will need.
5. Chicken Habitats
Construct your coop cheaply by utilizing scrap materials and inexpensive fencing. The space should be small enough to stay warm with minimal heating in winter and have air flow to prevent overheating through summer. If the coop is insulated, a single light bulb should be enough to warm the space.
If your egg incubator is kept in the coop, it may provide enough additional heat. As long as you monitor it closely to be certain the incubator is warm enough for hatching eggs, the coop will be comfortable for grown chickens as well.
You may feel you are spending more than saving the first couple of years. Once your routine is established, it will become much more efficient. Remember, this is about more than money, this is about getting back to basics, getting exercise and providing an organic food source.