Here’s some brilliant design ideas that popped into my Twitter feed this week. They will help you grow more food with less space and make more use of the natural resources you have available.
What can I say, I love brilliant design.
When faced with the challenge of growing more of your own food in a small space, you need to be creative with your ideas. Usually, I try to find my greatest inspiration from the natural world around me, but every so often, some really brilliant ideas pop into my twitter feed that are just too good to ignore.
Up and Over Bean Poles – “Munty Frames”
When @wildindesign posted this structure earlier in the week, I was instantly attracted to the multi-faceted use of space the design created.
Beans run up the poles and over a ground-covering crop below. The angle of the design allows light to penetrate down to the ground-covering crop whilst still allowing the beans across the top to photosynthesise.
I believe it could also work very well in a smaller urban setting, making the most out of the available daylight.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried this.
Update: Since my original post, I’ve now found out this design is known as a “Munty Frame” and goes back at least 10 years. Low-tech is still the best!
Up-Cycled Pallet Fruit Cage Keyhole Design
Another great design I was attracted to this week was this “fruit cage” by @Grow Lotty Grow.
Firstly, it’s using the very popular and space-maximising keyhole design. With this design, you can tend three sides of your growing area from one strip of access. Compared to a traditional row structure, you get more growing space for your money, with the addition of the ‘bridge’ at the top, connecting the two rows.
Secondly, it was constructed mostly from old pallets. Which is cool. The bed is raised to just under waist height, which makes tending and harvesting the crop less labour intensive.
The Fruit Cage in the photo is a particularly large example, but it will scale down to suit a smaller environment too.
Inputs to the system are initially high (bringing in compost/growing media to the required depth), but over time, the rewards will no doubt put back more than they take. I’m sure this will be a very productive fruit cage for years to come!
And let’s face it, it just looks awesome 🙂
This beanpole lean-to design is particularly inspiring because it is actually situated in a genuinely shaded area. Before the construction of this lean-to, it was a damp and unwelcoming area of a garden behind a shed.
Designed by Judy over at Dig My Veg, this is brilliant because it transforms an unwelcoming part of the garden into a productive, inviting area that you will enjoy visiting.
The idea is to ‘lean’ an up and over bean pole to the shed, encouraging the beans (or other climbers) up and over the top and onto the shed roof. Of course, this turns an unproductive area into a productive one that will constantly be bathed in sun. At the same time, it makes productive use of vertical space that would otherwise go unused.
if I built it so that I could walk through underneath it would make dangling delectables easier to pick and make a fun route to the back of the shed – yes, who wouldn’t want that?
I love it.
Up-and-Over Hoop House Polytunnel
I know the plastic pipes don’t look as nice as the wooden structures above, but this is a great way to push your climate zone and extend your season.
It’s positioned against a south facing wall to try and capture as much heat as possible. The idea is to raise the relative temperature in this particular part of the garden to encourage the growth of more exotic fruit and veg. Fruit and veg that would never be found up here in the North East of England.
The idea of a hoop house is not original in itself, but what I love about this design is that it has an up and over canopy which can be lifted on really hot days. When lifted, plants are washed in fresh air and bright sun. Opening up also acts as an invitation to all the beneficial insects that you’d want to encourage onto your plants like pollinators and ‘good’ predators.
You can learn how to create your own up and over raised bed hoop house polytunnel on this page, which includes a video.
I know this isn’t another particularly original idea; or atleast, not a new original idea but I still love it.
I came across a couple of posts this week as I was researching what I could do with my own west facing fence and kept coming back to the gutter garden.
In her original post, written in 2011, Candra talks about how to create a gutter garden for your own backyard.
It’s such a practical use of space that looks pretty good with a bit of design flare. I don’t pretend to have much of that but maybe my wife can help me out?
The idea is simple. Fix gutters to your wall or fence and plant hanging plants (like strawberries) in the gutters and pick as needed. Gutters generally don’t cost much to buy and are easy to fix, making this the perfect DIY project for spatially-challenged urban growers.
I love the idea so much that I’m going to create my own strawberry gutter garden soon. I have about 20 metres of west-facing fence that gets partial sun. It’s such a large surface area it’s a shame not to have anything growing there.
Maybe they’d also play a part in keeping slugs and mice away with them being raised so high off the ground?
I do fear they may require too much water too keep moist though…
Either way, save this page to your favourites and come back in a couple of weeks to see how I made my own gutter garden.
Remember, this is just a tiny snapshot of the small-space solutions and resilient ideas I’m testing out. If you sign up to my email list, I’ll send you everything I have in one handy, accessible completely free Urban Grower’s Handbook (pdf format).
It’s my goal to keep the Urban Grower’s Handbook updated with all the latest solutions that will make your life as an Urban Grower more efficient, cost-effective and productive.