How Much Food Can You Grow on 1/4 Acre?

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An Organic Mini-Farm on a Small Suburban Lot

How much food can you grow on a 1/4 acre lot? Not much, right… Maybe a small garden in the back yard… Think again!

A group of roommates in Austin decided to stretch their small suburban lot as far as they could. And you won’t believe how much food they’re producing…

In addition to replacing the lawn with garden beds, they worked in a couple of greenhouses with aquaponic systems, and a huge composting operation. They didn’t neglect the visual appeal of the yard, either. They worked in some evergreens and perennial landscaping to keep the yard looking nice for the neighbors. As you’ll see, they won their neighborhood association’s Yard of the Month award in 2014.

A Simple Solution for the Squash Vine Borer

My favorite part of the video is when Michael says, “Our way of dealing with the squash vine borer… is to just replant.” That’s awesome. We hear so much about this particular pest and various intricate attempts to control it. Some people insist on bringing in fresh soil. Others build physical barriers to keep the moths out. Still others inject Bt insecticide into their squash stems using hypodermic needles. Or, you could “just replant.” I love it when there’s a simple, natural solution for a tough problem like that.

There’s another good approach in this article: The Borer Wars – How to Outsmart the Squash Vine Borer.

Micro-Farming as a Side Income

It looks like these folks are eating very well, and they’re generating a surplus. They’re selling some of the produce they grow in a mini-CSA arrangement. And they sell their aquaponic herbs and greens directly to local restaurants.

This group had to be pretty resourceful to come up with the funds to bring this whole plan together. Between crowd-funding, grants, and partnerships with other local organizations, they were able to find all of the money they needed.

No doubt, some neighborhoods would not be as supportive as this one has been. In some places, you might attract some unwanted attention by building a farm in your front yard. But even if you have to keep your garden in the back yard, these guys might lend you a little inspiration about just how much food you can grow on a small plot of land.

You can learn more about Ten Acre Organics and co-founders Lloyd Minick and Michael Hanan here: Ten Acre Organics.

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Thanks to KLRU and Central Texas Gardener for the nice video.

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Michael Ford


Contributor

Michael has been the resident editor at The [Grow] Network since January 2015. Michael grew up in St. Louis, where he became a lover of nature - hiking and fishing his way through the Ozark hills in Missouri. He attended Baylor University in Waco, TX, and he currently lives in Austin. Michael has background experience in small-scale farming, commercial growing, vegetable gardening, landscaping, marketing, and software development. He received his Permaculture Design Certification from the Austin Permaculture Guild in 2013.


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5 Comments
  • Betty Montgomery

    I live just East of Dallas in Hunt county. PLEASE tell me how you got rid of the grass!! I can’t seem to keep it out of my gardens. Or rather where I’m trying to garden!

    • Bastian

      I found sheet mulching very interesting, after I’ve seen Paul who’s gardening ways were filmed to the “Back To Eden” Film.
      The Film can be bought or even watched for free on their website. In addition there is a bunch of Back To Eden clips on YT, which are great to watch after the film.

      Back to Eden is such a great approach to me, because it simplifies things, while it’s protecting the soil with a cover and therefor the soil life can flourish, which in return is important for healthy plants

  • I loved the line on squash vine borer. I interviewed a gentleman by the name of Michael Dahl of Dissident Potato and he plants enough so that at least some survive. Interesting take on it and he says it works for him.

  • Suzette Martin

    Reminds me of a question I had for an elderly neighbor who was an avid and seasoned gardener. I was frustrated with the nutsedge (we call it “nutgrass” down South) that covered the yard, sprang up in the garden, and heck, it even grows through above ground pool bottoms and asphalt!!!
    I asked him what was the best way to get rid of it. He replied simply, “The only thing I’ve found is to move somewhere else!”

  • arye

    As a 4 year, new baby gardener, I have some thoughts on weeds: Wet cardboard will keep weeds down for 1 season. Garden cloth from the local hardware store is not much better.

    But there is a cloth that landscapers use and it keeps weeds from growing-up from the ground, for about 3 to 4 years. Weeds will always show up in the garden because, birds drop seeds or the wind blows the neighbor’s weed seeds on top of your area of ground. However any weeds growing on the top of this cloth will have a shallow root, and are easy to pull up because the roots can not get down through this cloth and into the soil. I mulch my veggie garden beds with straw, my flower beds with cedar chips, which keeps moisture in and weeds down. In my garden walk-ways which are covered in rocks, near the house, I attack weeds with boiling water which causes the weeds to die at the root. In my rock gardens, I have used vinegar, epsom salt or salt and water with a teaspoon of soap to kill off weeds. That is an area that is not near any plants. Because I notice how the weeds die in a few hours I would not use this where I would want to plant anything. I suspect any beneficial worms or critters under ground probably die off too. Still searching for the perfect weed killer but these are things I have found that will or won’t work in attacking weeds.

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