by Kevin Perron
When my brother, me and friends rented our first house, we were so happy to finally have some land to start applying all the crazy yet promising ideas permaculture had put in our minds. From books, videos, workshops and seeing other people projets really grew excitation on the subject within us. In moving from the city to suburbs, we realized the interesting differences between the two. The suburbs replaced concrete with lawn, and I mean literally, grass covers everything that is not already paved or housed. Yet, we can’t eat grass and it costs money to maintain and water rather than generate anything for us to benefit from. So when we moved in, we simply asked the landlord if we could have a few chickens and make some kind of a garden. He carelessly said yes. Let me tell you, he was quite surprised when he saw what we meant by that.
In the beginning there was lawn!
The image above is a simple analysis of the property. In red is the property boundary and in purple is the balcony. The blue circles are where the gutters direct water from the rooftop to the ground. The blue arrows indicate the slopes general direction (yes, we measured it with a homemade water level <-- click here to learn how to make one too) which tells us which way the water flows from the gutter away and off the property. And last but not least, south is down and as you can see with the green circles we have massive trees on both sides that cast a lot of shade on the property. As the growing season vanishes the house next to us also cast shade in our backyard.
The first thing we did was build the foundation for a world of abundance. Here is your list of materials: recycled pallet wood (taken appart with this neat little tool called a pallet paw), dark rich compost, recycled cardboard boxes, chickens with attitude, and most importantly, our generous and wonderful friends and family. (By the way everything except the compost and the chickens was absolutely free!)
Step 1: Build the beds. Start by measuring and marking with stakes in the ground where every thing will go and remember you need space to walk through your new garden beds. We made most of them 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and left pathways of 2 feet wide between all of them. We also made sure to make the main paths larger (3 feet wide) like the path that goes down the balcony stairs all the way to the fence, and the main path that crosses the entire backyard. Important to say that when you recycle wood, you have to remove those old rusty nails in them and make sure the nails don't fall in the grass. This garden must be bare foot safe. Align everything to the inches and you have some good old fashion feng chuiness automatically.