001: From Sand to Sustainability

A Brief History

It’s been two years since I began work on the backyard, and it’s been a chaotic process of trial and error and learning. My aim has always been to grow lots of food, but the ideas and ideology driving me have evolved at the same rate as the backyard.

The backyard when we first moved in

Shaun's Backyard - March 2010, when we first moved in. My understanding of plants and soil was as blank as the yard, but I had an idea to try growing some vegetables.

When we first moved in, there were at least three different types of grass trying to survive. I looked at sub-surface greywater irrigation (don’t bother!), and would you believe I was actually considering artificial turf? What was I thinking!?

Shaun's Backyard - April 2012

Shaun's Backyard - April 2012. From left to right: Bana Grass, Worm Trough, Chicken Coop, Paved Path, Rebar Fence Trellis (with climbing beans), Potato Tower 01, Sheet Mulch, Concrete Fire Ring, Operation Seed-Save Prototype 01, Hardiplank Shed, Wicking Herb Box, Herb Wagon, Leucaena, Open Wicking Bed, Limestone Retaining Wall, Diverted Downpipe.

Then I found out about permaculture, and everything changed. I did a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) course which taught me how to design my backyard (and any other area of land) to eventually grow into a sustainable food forest. And the best part was that I could generate fertility right there in the backyard, without having to import soils from elsewhere.

Though it may look like a lot of effort has gone in over these two short years, looking back I am appalled at how lazy I was – I could’ve had a canopy by now!

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