Water is absolutely essential

Water is life and whether you use city water, well water, rainwater or
another water source water is a must have.  In our Red Bay Farm
demonstration project we elected to drive a well point and use a hand pump
to lift the water for garden irrigation and aquaponics uses.

In May 2008 we installed our well.  The water comes from a shallow well
on 1 1/4 pipe with a 60" well point hand driven to about 12' below the
surface. We can fill a 5 gallon bucket in about 45 seconds...pumping
by hand. If you want to drive your own well point
take a look at this pamphlet for detailed information.

Driving a well is hard work and will cost just over $200 for pipe, drive cap, drive couplers, a driving well point (pointed steel sieve that attach's to the
pipe and of course a simple hand pump.  I helped my neighbor install a successful well and It took him several days working a couple of hours a day.  
Difficulty will depend on soil type.  We used a sledge hammer as the driver, you can also use a hand fence post driver or set up a more complex system
like shown in the pamphlet linked above.

If you don't want to or can't drive a well or drill a well then you can use municipal water (leave in an open container for 24 hours if the water will be used
for fish). You can also
Build rain barrels or a cistern or use a stream or pond as a water source.  But in all cases water is essential if you want to raise
food in your backyard. Get more water source information on my water page.
                                                                                      An Aquaponics System

What an intriguing idea.  Raising fish which in turn produce fertilizer for plants which in turn cleanse the water for the fish.  Actually this idea is very old and the Chinese were probably
using these techniques long long ago.  But this is an option that can produce results and has a relatively low entry cost.  For our system we purchased 4 food quality plastic barrels.  

    [When you purchase barrels you will usually find a label identifying the contents.  Make sure you don't purchase a barrel which contained toxic chemicals if you want to use the
    barrel for a rain barrel, food storage or aquaponics.]

My current syst
em was designed by Johnathan Woods. A drawing from his book is shown below. The system is simple to make with easy to find materials and can be run in a remote
location with solar panels. My system uses 90 watts of solar panels, three deep cycle batteriesand an inverter. The system runs 24 hours a day off grid and has been for months.
I caught about 25 blue gill fish from my neighbors pond and keep them in a 55 gallon drum. The whole system is housed in my greenhouse. Plants doing the best are tomatoes, green

beans and green peppers. I used the The Urban Aquaculture Manual as a guide to build my low cost and low energy requirment aquaponics system.

          Johnathan Woods designed aquaponics system from the Urban Aquaculture Manual

          • Other places to find design ideas for your own aquaculture system

          • Backyard Aquaponics - A superb website from down under.  Check out the forums to see a wide variety of aquaponic options

  • The airlift pump - a pump which works using air from an aquarium air pump to move significant amounts of water

Become an Urban Farmer!

    Every week the US loses an area of farmland roughly the size of Manhattan
    to development.  Your Suburban lot was likely either farmland or
    productive forest land.

    Mel Bartholomew, of Square Foot gardening fame, says that a family of 4
    only needs an area about 10 feet by 13 feet to grow vegetables for home

    So put some of that land back into agriculture for you and your family!  
    Become an Urban Farmer.  Start a vegetable garden this year!
Pitcher pump pumping water from our driven well
Backyard Food Production
~growing food year round in your backyard~
A collection of essentials and optional items
for growing food in your backyard
                                                                        Plant A Garden

Everyone should have a vegetable garden!  Whether you live in an apartment (
using containers), in a suburban home or in the country plant a garden.  
Gardening is a relatively inexpensive hobby or can even become a part time job which can provide wholesome food for a family and maybe a bit of income.  
We don't use tillers or tractors in our garden.  Only hand tools are required.  All that is needed to start is a shovel, bucket and a garden trowel.

Gardens can range from a simple container with a grow light in a basement to an extensive complex providing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  
Vegetable gardens can be integrated into the landscape or can stand alone.  There are so many ideas for gardening.  Just do some Internet research to find
the styles which fit into your life.
Read about garden styles from around the word. 

Above are some pictures from our garden.  We use raised bed techniques in our garden while using a mixture of styles that incorporate the raised beds.  We
don't use any synthetic fertilizer, insecticides or pesticides in our garden.  We recommend using organic techniques which as you can see below produce
good results. (here are some search word ideas: kitchen garden, raised bed garden, lasagna garden, no work garden...just to name a few.

Here are a couple of our favorite reference links which may be of interest and provide information on some simple and inexpensive gardening methods.

Constructing a Circular Vegetable Garden
Square Foot Gardening Forum at the Garden Web

  A Greenhouse

A greenhouse or unheated cold frame provides the ability to extend the gardening
season by about 60 days per year.  If heated...the greenhouse can provide food all
year round.  Even though we have had ice inside the cover of our greenhouse.  
By placing our tropical plants (taro and avocado) next to our water tanks and
covering the plants with plastic sheeting we have successfully prevented frost
damage down to a temperature of 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

For our demonstration project we have elected to construct what many might call
a cold frame.  
We used these plans as a guide for building our greenhouse:
A Small Greenhouse for the Home Gardener

So why build a greenhouse instead of buying a kit?  Well we built this one for a
fraction of the cost of a prefabricated model of the same size.  Our cost was less
than $350.  You can purchase a greenhouse of about this size (12' X 16') but it will
cost considerably more.   Even a hoop kit for a greenhouse this size will cost
more.  We would love to have some of the greenhouses advertised on this page
but our budget is very modest.

Here are some additional links which provide DIY greenhouse plans and ideas.

The greenhouse
       Other Addtions for Backyard Food Production

I have a worm bin which produces worms which provide some of the food I feed my blue gills and I use solar power to run my growing "Backyard Food Production Complex (BFPC)

A Worm Bin

  • Utilizing worms household kitchen scraps can be converted into fertilizer in the form of worm castings. The worms
 also provide an added benefit of providing a source of food for the fish.  

  • A worm bin theoretically nearly closes the loop on the Backyard Food Production Complex.   The worms eat vegetable waste.  The fish eat the worms.  The plants utilize the
    nutrients provided by the fish.  And the worms eat the vegetable waste.

  • So, building a worm bin is an essential part of our BFPC demonstration.  Here are some references we will use for the construction of this part of our project.

Solar Power
  • As we develop our food production complex we are trying to keep energy consumption to a minimum.  We intend to install solar power at some point to power our airlift pumps.

Thanks for visiting Red Bay Farm.  We hope you have found this page both useful and enjoyable. If you have any ideas you want to share send an email to jim@redbayfarm.com

Creative Commons License
Red Bay Farm by J. Hamrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.redbayfarm.com/sharing.html

An avocado and taro plant
Left to Right: Mesclun, India Mustard, Taro and
Avocado and the greenhouse (Winter 2008)
Left to Right: Square
foot gardens,
Eggplant/okra, various
produce (Summer 2008)
Need to start some seeds?
Check out this
Almanac article with the
tips necessary to get your
seedlings off to a great start!

    Some Easy To Grow Vegetables for your first Garden

    Just as soon as you can work the soil.

    Peas: A tasty springtime vegetable.  

    Onion and Garlic sets (bulbs): Here in NC they are very easy to grow from sets.  If you prefer
    to use onion seed give a little protection under plastic sheeting or cheese cloth.

    Give these vegetables some early spring protection with some cheese cloth or plastic sheeting.  
    Sow the seed in the ground.

    Lettuce: Purple varieties are interesting.  Try a mesclun mix for a variety of baby lettuce.  
    Plant a little and plant often for a continuous supply of tender lettuce.

    Radish: Plant a few and plant often for a continual supply of these tasty salad vegetables.

    Swiss chard: A great addition to a spring or fall garden.  Tastes better, to me anyway, after a

    Beets: A fantastic vegetable that brings a vibrant color and healthy addition to the dinner

    Carrot: The seed takes a while to germinate.  You'll need soil that is not compacted so that
    the roots can grow deeply.

    After all danger of frost has passed plant these vegetables.  Save some money by starting your
    plants indoors in a sunny spot from seed.

    Green Beans: Try some Italian purple bush beans...purple when you pick them and green
    when they are cooked.

    Okra: An old Southern favorite which puts the gumbo (African for okra) in that famous
    Southern stew.

    Yellow Squash: For some reason nearly everyone craves yellow squash in the early
    summer.  Superb sauteed with a bit of bacon and some green onions.  

    Zuchinni Squash:  Really prolific.  Don't plant to much or your neighbors will be running away
    when they see you coming with more squash to give away!

    Sweet Pepper: Bell peppers...usually prolific, can be frozen.  Stuffed peppers or for salad.  
    You just can't miss.

    Cherry Tomatoes: These little tomatoes are very disease resistant and are productive.  
    There are numerous types.  
Locations of visitors to this page
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Tomato Varieties and their
Disease Resistance
...Check out
this chart from Cornell University.
    $2.50 for 15 packs of
    seed.  10 from
    Wintersown and 5 from
    the dollar store.
Our well prior to the installation of our solar pump
Our new doghouse chicken tractor