From Balcony to Farm

by Jenny Peterson on September 20, 2011

in Urban Farming

Good morning, faithful JPGD readers! Today I would like to share some exciting info. Many of you know that I’ve been an apartment dweller for over three years now, and my garden has been a 150 square-foot balcony. But sometime next spring, I’m planning to move down to The Hunky Foreman’s house in south Austin. What makes this newsworthy here? I’ll be trading in a balcony for an acre!

I’m so excited because our plans for Urban Farm Domination are starting this fall with building a chicken coop. The coop is at the top of this list of improvements/projects we want to do:

Chickens–The plan is for a mobile chicken coop, and we’ll start with about 6 chicks this fall. We’re thinking Rhode Island Reds and Americaunas for sure. Any other chicken breed suggestions?
Cob oven–I have been so excited about building a cob over for bread and pizza ever since I caught this article on StumbleUpon! I’ve convinced The Hunky Foreman after painting a picture of all of our friends and family coming over for pizza parties. That and the fact that it’s supposed to be cheap to build.
Raised beds–He’s got two raised beds now, but they will be going by the wayside pretty soon. They are old, starting to fall apart, were weirdly built and they don’t match! I have an idea to build a grid of 4′ x 8′ beds for veggies, herbs and possibly some fruit. I initially wanted a fountain in the middle of the grid, but the Foreman’s eyes started glazing over so I thought I should probably quit while I’m ahead. For now.
New deck–Hey, with all this pizza making and vegetable cooking, we’ll need more entertaining and gathering space. Nuff said.
Bat houses–Austin is home to a gazillion or two bats. We’d like some in the Back 40. Mosquitos, consider this a throw-down.
Purple martin house–We already have one; it’s just not put up yet.
Bird houses–We have so many birds already on this property; we should just make it more hospitable for them.
Airstream & firepit–Not as weird as it sounds! We initially planned for an Airstream for my two boys when they’re home from college–put it in the back of the property with a firepit. Far enough away for them to feel like Men, but close enough for Mama to keep her eye out. Win-win.

So, if anyone has any other suggestions on how I can further overwhelm the Foreman, please add them to the comments! I’m developing a new category of “Urban Farming” to chronicle our/my journey from the Balcony to the Farm–and I promise to report on the pitfalls as well as the high-fives. Trust me, we’re newbs at this urban homesteading thing–we’re not hippies, just have a lot of space and want to use it well, and we’re learning as we go!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Desert Dweller / David C. September 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Airstream / fire pit – VERY cool, including for the young men (except the mom nearby part, but as my Sicilian mom said, “I’m STILL your mother, Mr. David…”). Great idea, perhaps with some cool tall grass massing between main rear and them, to give them the *illusion* they are out chilling in Marfa where it is freer than Austin! But just an illusion…

Overwhelm HF – add a gas line to the fire pit, makes it easier to start at impromtu gatherings. Plant Common Thyme…better on pizza than even oregano. Reused concrete for pavers beyond patio…and an outdoor fireplace for MM / HF only.

Keep us informed, J.

Ann Wyse September 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Sounds great! Looking forward to reading more as it all unfolds!

Jenny Peterson September 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Thanks, Ann! I’m excited about it. David, those are awesome ideas–we’re breaking up some old concrete walkways that we can use for the patio. Pics to follow!

rebecca sweet September 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Woo Hoo, Jenny! I’m very excited for you both and proud you’re making the move! (phew – good thing we snagged your cool balcony photos when we did, right?) To completely overwhelm The Hunk, maybe have him build a hydroponic living wall to cover one side of the house ala: Patrick Blanc? It’d probably push him right over the edge…

Jenny Peterson September 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Good one, Rebecca! I’ll put that on the list. He won’t know what hit him.

Terri September 22, 2011 at 11:37 am

Just let me know how I can help! So excited to have you finally living in South Austin! Don’t forget about a dog and some goats! The Hunky Foreman needs overwhelming from time to time!

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