Space is limited here at the Wild Garden Burbstead, so I need to make good use of every square inch of it. I can’t afford to waste any sun-drenched, crop-producing ground by placing a building in the wrong spot. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west and lowers toward the south in winter (generally) on my little corner of the globe. Because of the sun’s patterns of movement, buildings cast a mostly northern shadow here. If I build my greenhouse, chicken coop, barn or any other structure on the southern side of the property, much of the remaining ground will be shaded, reducing the amount of growing space I’ll have. So placement of a greenhouse, a chicken coop, or a barn is pretty much a no-brain-er. The biggest problem I had was deciding what to build, because I just don’t have room for all those buildings! I’ve drawn at least two dozen combination ideas for my back yard burbstead before coming up with this one.
The plan is to build it in 3 phases. The first section will be built on the farthest northeastern corner with the greenhouse portion facing south. As each section is added, the west-facing wall will be altered to encompass the new section with a minimal amount of effort. I’ve marked off the area for the completed 3-section green-barn so there will be enough walk space left between the farthest possible northwest corner and the existing shed. Starting small and leaving space for potential additions seemed like the best way to tackle this project. The first section will contain a passive solar greenhouse for starting seedlings and provide me the opportunity to learn how to grow tropical plants, if I can at all. It will also have a coop portion that will house the beginnings of my poultry flock, which will consist of a couple of miniature ducks and three or four hens. This small beginning will allow me to troubleshoot and experiment with my ideas before expanding.
In section two, the existing greenhouse will become an aquaponics setup with tilapia. And the new section will, hopefully, be my little tropical garden. The coop will be enlarged and become more barn-like. Vermiculture bins will most likely be added in there somewhere to feed fish and fowl. I’m still debating over whether or not to add rabbits. I love crocheting and weaving and have thought about Angora rabbits as a natural fiber source. But there is still more research to be done and I’m not yet in a financial position to reduce my hours at the hospital, so that phase will have to sit on the back burner with section three for a while. Section 3 is just more barn space if needed for more rabbits and/or miniature goats when I have enough time to properly care for them, and if we are able to acquire one or both of the lots adjacent to ours.
Combining the coop, barn and greenhouse will save on time, energy, money, and lumber as well as space. It’s designed to use easily accessible and less expensive 8′ lumber and roofing materials without wasted cuts. Meeting each animal, fish and plants’ diverse needs presents a bit of a challenge, but I have collected some ideas from other gardening experts and enthusiasts as well as coming up with a few ideas of my own. If you have any suggestions or questions about how the combo will work, please feel free to post a comment. Brainstorming is the best way to overcome obstacles and inspire new ideas… and I just love sharing!