Plan Your Backyard Farm
We start off by meeting with you to determine your needs, interests and desires for your farm. The most important questions are…
How big should your farm be?
This will be based on the number of members in your family, whether you want to grow enough vegetables just to eat fresh or to preserve to eat after your garden is finished for the year, and a number of other factors.
What vegetables do you and your family enjoy?
We have a large, standard selection of vegetables you can choose from for your farm. If there’s something you want that’s not on the list we can look into whether it is available and sensible to grow in your yard. We can also install herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme and many others. Some of the herbs are perennials meaning they’ll come back year after year. Small fruit-bearing plants such as blueberries and raspberries can also be included.
What’s the best spot in your yard for the farm?
This will largely be determined by where there is enough sun in your yard – vegetables need at least 6 hours of sun per day. If you have a very sunny yard then other considerations like proximity to your kitchen can be included in the decision.
Once all of these questions, and others, are answered we can…
Build Your Backyard Farm
According to your plan we will…
Prepare the soil for your farm or install raised beds.
If you have an already established garden, we will bring in good compost and dig it in, adding important nutrients and loosening up the soil. We can also take samples and get it tested to see if it needs particular nutrients.
If we are establishing a new garden then we will install your backyard farm by a method called lasagna gardening or sheet mulching. Lasagna gardening is a permaculture garden bed technique that involves layering different organic materials on top of each other, which over time become compost. This is done on top of the existing soil without disturbing or digging into the soil at all. Ideally, a sheet mulched bed would be installed in the autumn preceding growing any vegetables in it to allow the composting process to get going, but a sheet mulched bed can be planted in immediately.
In some rare, special instances such as urban areas with contaminated soil we will install traditional raised beds filled with finished compost.
Some vegetables will perform better if started as seeds (lettuce, cucumbers, beans) while others (tomatoes, peppers) need to be installed as seedlings, and some can be installed either way. Also, different vegetables need to be planted at different times of the year. Radish and lettuce seeds put in your garden in April will do just fine but a tomato installed at the same will die when the first frost occurs. Other veggies can be planted multiple times during the year including beans, lettuce and carrots.
As a result we will be installing plants in your backyard farm as transplants or seeds from April – August. This process of planting throughout the year is known as succession planting and will give you a harvest from late May through early November, depending on the particular vegetables you choose and the weather.
We will also install some plants that you won’t harvest but will either help your vegetables grow better and or help keep away bugs that could hurt your vegetables. This process is called companion planting.
Install a watering system for the farm.
This is optional but highly recommended. We will install soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system depending on your needs and budget. Both of these methods use much less water than traditional overhead watering and can help minimize certain diseases that overhead watering encourages.
Install mulch, plant stakes, fencing and other garden materials as needed.
Mulching your garden will help smother weeds and reduce how often you’ll need to water your farm.
Many plants grow best vertically giving a larger harvest. Various kinds of supports can be used, most commonly stakes and trellises.
Fences are often needed in our area to prevent deer, groundhogs, and other animals from eating your veggies.
Once your garden is installed we will…
Maintain Your Backyard Farm
We will visit your farm weekly to mulch, weed, handle pest issues, and harvest, as needed. Maintenance is $35/hour. Most gardens will need 1 hour of maintenance per week with larger gardens needing more.
If you are interested in learning about organic farming and why we do what we do, we can include you in the maintenance of your farm.
If you are interested in maintaining the farm yourself, we can set up a maintenance plan for you. In this instance we will come by once per month for a couple of hours. We charge $50 per hour for this service.
If you’ve decided to produce a larger harvest than you eat all at once then we can teach you to…
Preserve Your Harvest
Preservation methods include drying, freezing and canning (yes, what your Grandmother did).
We have developed a number of recipes that we can provide to you such as barbeque sauce, spaghetti sauce, and pesto. Many of these products can be stored frozen. If you don’t have a large freezer many of these can be canned (see below).
Other products can simply be dried, stored at room temperature such as herbs and hot peppers while still others can be stored just as they’re harvested including winter squashes (ie. butternut) and onions.
Some recipes need to be canned because freezing will ruin their texture and they can’t be dried feasibly. These products include pickles, salsa, and pickled beets.
We can teach you all of these techniques so you can preserve you harvest yourself. Or if you are not inclined to do the preservation yourself, we can make the recipes and do the preparation for freezing and drying for you as an added service. Unfortunately, do to New York’s food safety laws we cannot at this time do the canning for you.