Plants and trees make up much of our yard. We have about 1/4 acre to plant on and that space has been broken into 3 areas. We have two main gardens plus a Forest Garden of companion plants that work together.
The forest garden is built around several fruit trees with a full size white mulberry as the centerpiece and dwarf trees in a half circle around it… Apple, peach, pear, plum, and one called a fruit cocktail tree that grows several fruits from grafted branches.
At the base of each tree, we grow garlic which helps to ward off bugs that like to eat our fruit tree leaves. Between each tree, we grow strawberries which helps to cover the ground, keeping it moist and preventing weeds from coming up.
So, with a 30′ mulberry as the centerpiece, surrounded by 10′ dwarf trees, there is an outer ring of 12 blueberry bushes that grow to 3-6′. Plus the strawberry ground cover, plus garlic in the root zone…. The forest garden is packed with goodies in a space about 20′ by 30′.
Along the side of this forest garden, we have a border garden containing a cherry tree, a cherry bush, 2 rhubarb plants, and 3 comfrey (medicinal variety).
The other two gardens we have are for crop rotation and I really should have a third for proper rotation. One garden is 16 by 16 and the other is 25 by 20. Typically, one garden has tomatoes, peppers, and herbs while the other handles corn, beans, and squash. Other foods are grown, but those are our staples and storables.
The chickens and rabbits dominate most of the rest of the yard that is not used for firewood storage. We do have a high efficiency furnace that was installed in 2008, but we choose to heat with wood. It is far cheaper than gas and our high efficiency fireplace insert does an amazing job heating the house with a little over 6-8 cord per winter. At full price delivered, this is roughly $1200 for a full 6 month heating season. If I run my own saws, it cost under $100 for the same amount of wood. I usually come in somewhere between the two and pull large precut pieces of wood from a friend with tons of sick oak trees that die off. We still provide some processing of the wood and transfer it all ourselves, but it is a huge timesaver.
We also have several aquaponic systems running that range in size from a 20 gallon fish tank and a storage tote to a 275 gallon liquid storage container as a fish tank. This year we have plans to build a year round system indoors and under lights.
Aquaponics is a recirculating system where fish waste is converted into plant food and plants provide cleaner water to the fish.
In addition to grow space, we save our seeds, germinate from seed, and sprout seeds for our critters (and egg foo yung).