Space savers : growing lettuce in hanging baskets.

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Here at Franger Farm, we are lucky to have a very large suburban block of an acre in size. A large amount of it, however, can’t be easily cultivated because it’s steeply sloping or covered in bush, we are also very enthusiastic veg growers and still find ourselves running out of space. Many of you will have much less space than us, but you can make use of the space under your eaves by planting hanging baskets with lettuce.

Water storage crystals will stop your basket drying out.

Water storage crystals will stop your basket drying out.

First, select a large hanging basket with a liner, the larger the basket, the better, as it won’t dry out as quickly, always a potential problem for pots and baskets. To help your basket retain water even more efficiently, you can add some water storage crystals. These swell up with water when they are wet and then release it into soil if it starts to dry out.

Plant with a mixture  of seedlings and seeds.

Plant with a mixture of seedlings and seeds.

Your baskets will be more productive if you add a pelletized manure to the potting mix, along with the crystals, when you plant them up. To give your baskets a really long productive time, you can plant them with a mixture of seedlings and seeds. As your seedlings are nearly used up, your grown from seed lettuce should be ready to harvest.

Hang close to the kitchen.

Hang close to the kitchen.

Once your basket is planted, water in well and then hang on a sturdy hook. You could make life really easy for yourself and hang the basket right outside your kitchen so that you can grab lettuce quickly, whenever you need it.

Fresh lettuce.

Fresh lettuce.

Give this simple idea a go, you’ll love having fresh lettuce right outside your door without having to find any extra space for it.

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Take a photo tour of Franger Farm : how we’re homesteading on our suburban acre.

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For the last five years, we’ve been slowly turning our suburban backyard into a miniature farm on a journey towards a more self sufficient life. here’s a quick photo tour to show you exactly what can be done in suburbia if you’re striving for a sustainable lifestyle.

Seasonal vegetables

Seasonal vegetables

Growing fruit and veg.

Spring harvest

Spring harvest

We grow most of the vegetables we eat and quite a bit of fruit, especially in the summer months. We have numerous veggie beds around the backyard, one is completely given over to the production of potatoes, the others rotate with seasonal veg.

One of the large backyard veggie beds.

One of the large backyard veggie beds.

 

Some of the first fruit trees we planted are now giving us nice crops of fruit, we’ve added more trees most years, some of these have yet to start bearing fruit, trees are a long term project.

 

We grow some soft fruits, we have a thriving strawberry patch, which we have finally found a way of keeping the weeds and the birds out, we also grow blueberries and raspberries.

Blueberries.

Blueberries.

The strawberry patch.

The strawberry patch.

We plant some purchased seedlings, but most of the veg we grow is started from seed in our greenhouse.

The greenhouse.

The greenhouse.

Keeping chickens.

Franger Farm chooks.

Franger Farm chooks.

The chickens are essential to our backyard farming project. As well as giving us a supply of fresh eggs, they eat our kitchen scraps, weeds and give us chook manure which we use to fertilize our veggie beds and fruit trees. The straw bedding from the chicken coops also goes back on the garden bed as mulch. our chooks produce enough eggs for us to sell extras to our friends, which covers the cost of their feed.

Reggie the rooster.

Reggie the rooster.

we have a rooster ‘Reggie’, so our eggs are fertile, and we’ve begun raising our own chicks. We also have a broody hen sitting on some eggs at the moment, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that she manages to hatch something soon.

Our latest batch of 'chooklets'

Our latest batch of ‘chooklets’

 

Rabbits.

 

Although our rabbits ‘Mushroom and Garlic’ are pets, they work hard for us. They are devourers of vegetable scraps and producers of much poo, which can be added to our growing beds without needing to be composted or aged in any way.

Mushroom and Garlic.

Mushroom and Garlic.

Worms.
We have two worm farms that we use to process our kitchen scraps. In return, they give us worm castings and worm wee, both of which can be used as fertilizer on our vegetables.

 

Our worm farms

Our worm farms

Pest control.

 

Snickers, farm cat.

Snickers, farm cat.

Let’s not forget another hardworking member of our team ‘Snickers’ the cat. He found a home with us after the family that owned him felt unable to cope with his hunting habit. Let’s just say that he a perfect fit for us and will kill any pesky critter that has the nerve to venture near our veg or our chook runs!

 

The  Micro Farmer.
The Micro Farmer gets involved in all the chores on Franger Farm, from collecting eggs and feeding chickens, looking after the chicks and rabbits to planting in the greenhouse and weeding the veggie beds. He loves to be outside, which is were he spends most of his time when he’s not at school.

The micro farmer, hard at work.

The micro farmer, hard at work.

Anyone can have a micro farm in their backyard, it’s just a matter of scaling it to fit. You can make use of the paved areas around your house by adding raised beds. Try hanging baskets filled with lettuce or tomatoes under the eaves, grow a passion fruit or grape vine on the pergola. The possibilities are endless, your imagination is the only limit!

Herb beds at the back of the house.

Herb beds at the back of the house.

Become a worm farmer!

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A worm farm is an easy way to process your kitchen scraps and to reduce the amount you’re throwing into your rubbish bin every day. You’ll also benefit from the great fertilizer the worms produce for you as a little bonus gift.

Our worm farms

Our worm farms

becoming a worm farmer couldn’t be simpler, especially if you choose to buy a ready made farm as we have. There are also plenty of plans to build you own out there on line, if you fancy giving it a go.

The worm farm should be placed somewhere out of direct sunlight and rain, as worms can be killed by high temperatures and you don’t want to get too much water into the farm.

Once you’ve installed your worms in your farm, you should begin by feeing them a small amount every few days. Don’t be tempted to feed them too much too soon or the food scraps will sit for too long in the worm farm and begin to smell and attract flies. once the worms start to breed and increase in numbers, you can increase the amount you’re feeding them.

Today's delicious offerings, spinach and lettuce.

Today’s delicious offerings, spinach and lettuce.

There are a few rules about what you can feed your worms. It’s ok to feed them scraps of fruit and veg, newspaper and cardboard, crushed eggshells and teabags and coffee grounds. worms don’t like to eat citrus or onions, chilli or garlic. you should never put meat or bones into your worm farm. It helps the worms digest the food more quickly if you cut it up first.

The micro farmer feeds the worms,

The micro farmer feeds the worms,

You’ll get two types of fertilizer from your worm farm, the first is the liquid, or worm wee that collects in the bottom level of the farm, it can be drained out via the tap and should be diluted until it’s the colour of tea before being used on your plants, it’s great for leafy greens.

Worm wee!

Worm wee!


The second fertilizer is the worm poo, or castings, this is solid and can be taken from the farm every few months. The castings can be added direct to the soil or to pots or can be added to water to make a liquid fertilizer.
Yes, it's the poo!

Yes, it’s the poo!

This is such a great way to reduce your household waste and produce fertilizer for you garden, everyone should give it a go.