Case Study 1: My Garden
This page contains:
1. Design Overview
2. Design Map
3. Principles Map
3. Design Elements
4. Discarded Designs
Design Overview: My Garden
The principle function of the garden will be an area to provide high value food that needs daily attention, and can all be considered as zone 1 in terms of permaculture zoning. The other main uses are leisure via a space to relax in nature, and access to clients of the Yourspace business located on the site. The introduction of chickens and a greenhouse have had a major influence on the design and have lead to the biggest changes to the existing garden. These elements both demand daily attention and have been carefully placed to be close to the house, generate multiple yields and establish beneficial relationships between them. Existing elements have been modified to make best advantage of micro-climates, such as the relocation of the shed and composters to free up ideal growing sites.
Design Elements: My Garden
The greenhouse has been placed on the south facing wall to the main house, and in doing so:
1. Creates a seed raising space that can be accessed without leaving the house.
2. Creates the potential for the house to benefit from passive solar gain. The adjoining room gets very cold in winter and is difficult to heat. The greenhouse will at the very least create a thermal barrier to the outside cold. Additionally warm air heated inside the greenhouse can be ducted into the house via an open window or doorway.
3. Presents an opportunity to extend the growing season and produce more food.
4. Creates a space in which Bob can continue to garden whilst Sarah is teaching in Yourspace. In the existing design this would not have been possible at all and has been a barrier successful food production.
The chicken house has been placed in a shaded part of the garden behind the greenhouse. This creates a beneficial relationship as the daily trips to tend to the chickens also pass through the greenhouse, increasing the 'gardeners shadow' effect of care for vegetables.
The chicken site is also appropriate for the Balfour method. Surrounding the coup will be a scratching area which will be filled with organic matter and then turned into compost. The existing grass will be divided into two strips with access controlled to each strip so that the chickens can feed on one section of grass while the other is recovering.
The raised bed adjoining the chicken area will be a chicken forage area to provide a portion of the chickens food needs. Experimental cultivation will take place, starting with Siberian Pea Shrub and sunflowers, although there is a concern that this bed is underneath a north facing wall and whether a these plants will get enough sun.
The chickens will have occasional access to the rest of the garden at appropriate times of year to act as a chicken tractor.
A mixture of zone 1 fruit and veg will be grown focussing on high value crops that need to be picked daily in season. Leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, herbs, courgettes, spring onions, peas, french beans, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and grapes will feature in the first year. The apple trees will be trialled in the south-east part of the garden but are in pots and can be moved around if this site proves unsuccessful. A full planting schedule has been designed to try to minimise over production and ensure seasonal succession so that the best use of limited space is made.
A potato stack in tyres will be grown to experience and demonstrate the principle of vertical stacking. Ianto Evans work on polycultures, adjusted for a UK climate by Patrick Whitefield will be employed to create a '9 plant polycuture, growing 9 different vegetables in one space over a season. Surplus produce will be given to friends and family, an appropriate exchange for occasional chicken tending and watering whilst away.
The lack of soil will be overcome by employing large containers to grow food. A 1.2 by 1.2 meter pallet crate was acquired last year from a skip and proved to be an ideal container, so more will be acquired. Smaller containers will be employed in the meantime but will be successively replaced. Three bathtubs will be used to grow raspberries. A collection of ceramic sinks will be trialled to grow annual herbs. Top soil will be sourced via friend and community networks, and improved by horse manure (local, free source secured). It may be necessary to buy some soil from a local garden centre, who will also supply the seeds and soft fruit.
The composting operation will be moved to the front of the house, underneath a north facing wall utilising a space not suited to growing, and located closer to the kitchen to encourage more frequent trips to the composter. Trips from vegetable growing areas will be increased, but less frequent. The overriding principle here is making use of sector factors - the north facing wall.
The number of compost bins will be increased to three so that two year compost can be made in two of the bins. After two years, the heavily composted material at the bottom will be fine enough to make seed compost, the next layer potting mix, and the top layer general purpose. The third composter will be used each year as a general soil improver.
The water butts will be reorganised so that the larger butts are closer to the main vegetable growing areas. There is already a large butt outside the door of the greenhouse site that was previously under utilised and will now be perfectly located. In the first year the current capacity will be observed, and added to the following year if necessary. In the meantime there is backup via an outside mains tap.
The area around the entrance to Yourspace will be an open space to allow clients to gather before and after visits. Flowers will be grown for the purpose of aesthetics but also to encourage beneficial wildlife, e.g. nasturtians, marigold, geraniums.
The shed is being relocated to the North-east corner which is an unfavourable microclimate due to wind being funnelled from 2 directions. It has been enlarged to provided space for food storage.
There was a design idea that sited a free-standing greenhouse in the South-East corner of the garden. Viable due to this being the most suitable location for a free-standing greenhouse which would have been potentially sourcable via free cycle. This was discarded in favour of the current design since:
1. Elements are less efficiently linked. The greenhouse would be detached from the house making a daily visit to tend seedlings less likely. The path to the chickens would not involve passing through the greenhouse. There is no water butt near the greenhouse.
2. Losing potential for passive solar gain. A freestanding build is a wasted opportunity to utilise a greenhouse to help heat a house that is difficult to heat.
3. Funds became available to purchase a new lean-to of the correct size to attach to the house.