Building Projects for Backyard Farmers and Home Gardeners: A Guide to 21 Handmade Structures for Homegrown Harvestsby Chris Gleason
Step-by-step instructions are provided for 21 projects including green houses, beehives, rabbit hutches, raised beds, potting sheds, trellises, fences, and more.
There are easy to follow construction plans with step-by-step instructions for 21 projects including a green house, beehive (I want one!), rabbit hutch (very cool! and I didn't know how much they helped your garden!), raised beds, squash ramp (had never heard of such a thing!), bean leaner (another cool idea), trellises, and more. I love that his projects don't call for hard to find-expensive supplies, and are simple enough my 14 year old son and I can build together.
There is lots of great information for anyone! He includes several profiles of farmers also with their hints, tips and advice; a vegetable plant per person chart; some square foot gardening tips and much more. This one should be on everyone's bookshelf, order yours today!
Chris Gleason's latest book is a treasure trove of inspiration and advice for any backyard gardener, but what makes it especially cool is that it's rooted right here in our community. Interspersed among the more than 20 projects are profiles of local characters-from Salt Lake City Councilman, Kyle LaMalfa to urban homesteaders,
Kevin & Celia Bell-each demonstrating how their gardens grow.
Detailed building plans for making your little plot of land more prolific and self-sufficient range from rainwater collection and irrigation systems to DIY beehives and cold frames. Each project is illustrated with step by step photographs, calculation tables, materials lists and helpful tips to guide you to success. And best of all many use easy to find reclaimed materials making them easy on the environment and your pocketbook. It's is a great resource just in time for the summer season.
For those who think their backyard is just too small for a vegetable garden, Salt Lake City author Chris Gleason has two words: Grow up.
Vertical gardening, as the name implies, uses trellises, racks, ladders and other small structures so plants grow up, rather than out, which consumes valuable space.
Chris Gleason of Salt Lake City explains how to build seven vertical gardening projects in his new DIY book, Building Projects for Backyard Farmers and Home Gardeners ($19.95, Fox Chapel Publishing)
Bean leaner Lean a trellis against a wall or fence. Plant beans at its base. The beans will climb the trellis as they grow.
Grapevine ladder Use a ladder to encourage upward growth of grapevines. Make sure the ladder is sturdy as grapevines can become quite heavy.
Pea trellis Create an upright trellis with chicken wire, mesh, lattice or twine for pea plants to climb.
Potato planter Build a wooden box around a cluster of potato plants. As they grow, cover the plants with mulch and straw. Potatoes will continue to set below the exposed foliage.
Squash ramp Similar to the bean leaner. Create a ramp using vertical posts and sturdy mesh. As the squash plants grow, the vines will climb the ramp and keep vegetables off the ground.
Tiered lettuce rack Create a rack with tiered shelves, (top racks are set back, bottom shelves set forward.) Fill several shallow plastic containers (from the dollar store) with soil and sow lettuce seeds. Place the containers on the tiered shelves, which will allow for even sun exposure.
Tomato wall Create a trellis by setting two vertical posts securely at either end of a row of tomato plants. Stretch chicken wire, concrete mesh, lattice or twine between the two posts. Be sure to select "indeterminate" tomato varieties such as Better Boys, Big Beef or Early Girls. Determinate tomatoes don't climb.
Plants that can be grown vertically:
*Large fruit will need extra support
Plants with vines, such as peas, beans and grapes, are obvious choices for vertical gardening, said Gleason, in his new DIY book: Building Projects of Backyard Farmers and Home Gardeners ($19.95, Fox Chapel Publishing). But unexpected plants, such as squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes, can be trained to grow vertically, creating unique landscape features in the process.
"Last year, we grew tomatoes up to seven feet high," Gleason said during a recent interview. "This year I want to go higher and do a sort of tunnel that my daughter can walk through."
Gleason, his wife - a biology professor at Weber Sate University - and his 4-year-old daughter live in an average-size home, on a relatively small lot, close to downtown Salt Lake City. By using vertical gardening techniques, they were able to grow more than a dozen different vegetables last summer, including plants, like pumpkins and potatoes, that typically take a lot of space.
"We have a little place and the lot is not very big, but it's surprising what you can do in small spaces," Gleason said.
For the past 15 years, Gleason has been a full-time woodworker, building projects and cabinets through his business, Gleason Woodworking.
Several years ago, he began sharing his skills in how-to books, detailing how to build furniture from wood pallets and how-to make-over your kitchen. Last year, he released The Art of the Chicken Coop, which tapped into the interest in backyard chickens. Library Journal named it a 2011 "Best Book" in the DIY category.
Gleason decided to write Building Projects because of the rediscovered appeal of gardening, which has become one of the country's fastest-growing hobbies, and he wanted people to be inspired to try different projects.
He devoted a whole chapter of the 159-page book to vertical gardening, because it's an easy way for gardeners to see success. Plants can be placed closer together, which maximizes yield. The method helps eliminate unwanted bugs and pest because there are fewer cool, dark places for them to hide. Gleason said many gardeners also find it easier to harvest their crops with less waste because vegetables aren't hidden from view and accidentally left on the ground to rot.
Besides the seven vertical gardening projects (see accompanying list), Gleason's book gives step-by-step instructions for 14 other projects, such as how to build a rainwater harvesting system, raised beds, compost boxes, vermiculture (worm) bins and cold frames to extend the growing season.
In the book, Gleason also profiles four of his Utah gardening heroes, including the nonprofit Wasatch Community Gardens and Kyle LaMalfa, an avid gardener who helped launch the Sunday People's Market, and in January began serving as a Salt Lake City councilman.
All the projects in Gleason's book can be built with scrap wood or with materials that can easily be purchased at lumber or home improvement stores. He promotes easy and practical projects that will look good in urban yards.
"I make stuff that doesn't cost a lot of money," Gleason said.
So many great projects
I've gardened for a number of years now and have had chickens for three years as well. We are always looking for projects to make things nicer on our little suburban homestead.
Mr. Gleason's book is a wealth of great ideas and has twenty-one different building projects that you can make to use around your yard and garden.
I thought the variety of projects was wonderful, everything from a simple raised bed, to a green house using recycled windows. You can also make a worm bin, a potato planter, and there are a number of different types of trellises for peas, squash, grapes and a really cool tiered lettuce rack, that will be my first project! There are also instructions for building a green house, top bar beehive and a rabbit hutch.
The instructions are step-by-step, including photographs and material lists. The author also includes some profiles of his local backyard gardeners and farmers, telling about what they are doing, which was really interesting.
I do not have much building experience but I would feel comfortable trying many of these project - and plan to do just that over the next few years.
A great book if you're looking to make some handmade additions for your backyard homestead. Highly recommended!
Gleason (Art of the Chicken Coop: A Fun and Essential Guide to Housing Your Peeps) calls on his own days as a farm kid in upstate New York and his urban gardening experience to guide the novice as well as the experienced gardener looking for new horticultural methods (rainwater system, above-ground potato planters, bean "leaners," greenhouses, compost boxes, and raised beds). Working with vermiculture bins, the wormy, but-oh-so-useful process of creating rich soil, is even de-grossed in the name of a producing a great wall of tomatoes. All projects for the ultimate urban garden in any climate are DIY, with clear instructions and photos. Potential prices on projects requiring more wood or PVC pipe would have been appreciated, though the charts and calculations on water consumption per household and anticipated veggie needs per family prove invaluable. Instructions on creating dwellings for other backyard pals requiring hives and hutches are a bonus.
- Fox Chapel Publishing Company, Incorporated
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Meet the Author
Chris Gleason is the author of several books for the DIY market including Built-In Furniture for the Home, The Complete Kitchen Makeover, Complete Custom Closet, Old-School Workshop Accessories and Building Real Furniture for Everyday Life. He was raised on a farm in upstate New York. He has been raising chickens in his Salt Lake City backyard for over six years. He currently builds and sells chicken coops. He has owned Gleason Woodworking Studios for over 13 years.
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