DH and I are trying to figure this good country life out. So far, we have a veggie garden, peach trees, blueberry bushes and chickens. Being raised as city kids, we think that we've come a long ways, but have so much more to learn.
Anyone else want to share their ways that contribute to a self-sufficient lifestyle and how it's working for you ? I'm always looking for more ways (affordable) to make the most of what we have available to us with the small patch of land we have. Thanks in advance for your ideas.
Peggie, I'm still trying to figure that out! I think if you look deep down into what you enjoy most - ---follow your passion whatever it is---perhaps the answers will become apparent.
Does your idea of homesteading mean just supplying provisions for you and your family - or do you need to find a little side business or produce goods that you can swap?? If it's the latter - perhaps there is something unique you can do, something almost no one else does.
It's kind of inspiring going to Plymouth Plantation and seeing the tiny little yards and houses the pilgrims had. Yet with herbs and a pig and chickens, community gardens, and cooperation - they made it. I wish that there was more swapping between neighbors again - helping each other survive.
Just a couple of ideas that have worked for other folks I have known:
If a little extra money would be helpful, consider growing extra vegetables for a farmer's market. There is likely to be one in your area on a seasonal basis. And for charity, local food banks are glad to receive fresh-grown food from farmers. A friend who has a small acreage at the edge of town starts extra seeds each spring and fall. A small nursery supplies her with plastic six packs and then sells the seedlings on consignment.
Many years ago on our family farm, a friend of my parents who lived in town asked them to maintain a beehive for him. His son had terrible allergies, and one doctor recommended giving him honey that had been produced locally. It worked! With nectar from all the wild plants whose pollen was causing the discomfort, the honey gave the youngster a way to resist the irritants. My parents became so interested in beekeeping they acquired a few more hives, and enjoyed the results very much. They also put it in pretty jars for gifts. I don't recall that they ever sold any, but they certainly could have.
Thanks Mayfl and Yuska for your ideas. We really want to be able to supply a good portion of our own needed items now. But later on, we would like to think of something that will provide a little extra income during our retirement years...we have maybe about 10 yrs. (Lord willing) until then.
It would be nice to be able to swap items from a garden and share each others' abundance of eggs, veggies etc. Our neighbor across the road has a huge garden that they harvest and take to the farmer's market. They told me they collected about $ 3,000. last summer from sales of their extra produce from it.
Beekeeping sounds like it could provide significant profit with the honey for allergies. I've heard of that being effective. Since I also have pitiful spring allergies, it sounds like something I might should look into.
I joined a bee club and bought a hive. I won another hive from the bee club. It was very interesting, but I ended up spending quite a bit on the first hive and had to add a lot to the second one. Right now, there a bees in only 1 hive (the other died out last winter, when winter just lasted too long). The bees have been cross-hybridizing with wild bees and I think it makes them more resistant to the diseases that can be very problematic. Unfortunately, I think the wild bee genes have also made them MEANER. They are always trying to sting me, although the original Italians I bought seemed pretty gentle. I would definitely suggest joining a local bee club and talking to a lot of bee keepers before you invest too much in it. There are some challenges. Didn't end up selling any honey yet, just use it myself and use it for gifts so far. Don't know if I'll continue this hobby.
Dave - do you sell the rabbits live? I could deal with that, but probably have trouble with the other alternative. :(
dave, I talked to two people in our area that used to raise the New Zealand Whites and sell them to pel-freez also. They don't have them anymore.
I guess they were more work than they wanted to handle.
Is it profitable enough to justify all the work? I've studied about rabbits lately, wondering about raising them for our own use. Hadn't really considered selling them though. Don't know if it's profitable enough for us, considering the distance we are from Rogers, Ark. It might be something that could help us be more self-sufficient in the future though, if it is.
mayflwr, beekeeping sounds like fun. I know nothing about it at all, so I would need to get in touch with a club or someone who does it locally so I can learn from them. I don't think I'm smart-nuff to figure it out on my own.
Bees are interesting and good for gardens...honey is yummy too :))
Sounds like a win win to me.
Peggie i have 140 does or there about we sell 160 to 200 fryers every two weeks I just closed another business and came home to the farm full time i hope to get our sales up to 200 plus every two weeks The big draw back for me is we have to meet the truck at 12:30 am and if you sell rabbits to pel-freez it will be a night delivery you just can't move rabbits in the day time because of the heat Rabbits sell for 1.00 a lb live weight
Sounds ok if it could be done on a large scale like you do it. I suppose the feed bill runs a few bucks $ $ $. How big do you let them get before selling ? What is the average weight at sale, per rabbit ?
Gotta be a lot of natural fertilizer too. Are you able to sell it ? I heard that someone was selling it by 20 lb. bags on ebay.
Many years ago on the old farm Mother and Grandmother sometimes canned chicken.The place had no electricity so freezing was not an option. They had to kill the chickens first, of course, and I watched with revulsion. I helped scald and pluck them and still remember the smell of pin feathers singeing over a candle. Talk about self sufficiency! Wonderful wintertime meals came out of those jars!
The folks who do the hard work in slaughterhouses and processing plants hold my strong admiration...unsung heroes, IMO. I'm sure they're not paid enough. I appreciate them anew every time I head to the supermarket or start to cook dinner. If I were absolutely starving, maybe I could kill an animal for food, but I hope I never have to make that decision. Yuska
The fryers are 4-3/4 to 5-3/4 pounds when solds10 to 12 weeks yes there is feed we use a ton a week I can sell fertilizer but use most of it ourselfs this old hillside place can use a lot of it 4 inches on this clay does wonders for growing gardens
No I go get feed once a week I just came back from town a few min ago with this weeks feed cost is less haluling ourselfs my old truck can handle two tons yet if we load it right but i only get a ton at a timethe only time it get more than that on it is a load of wood or gravel
Do you mind me asking how much it costs to buy a weeks feed for that many rabbits? I know it may vary in my area, but I have no idea how much a ton of feed costs. Also, I need to weigh the cost of such an idea before I decide to do it. It all figures in, and I'm serious about trying to find a way to generate income from my small bit of land, but want to be well informed and prepared, so as not to create myself a loss instead of a gain. (done enough of that already) lol.
Peggie feed is running 210 a ton at this time i use about ton a week if my barns are running right i will have a total 1000 to 1200 from new borns to 12 week old i try to have from 180 to 200 5 lb. fryers every two weeks you will need 50 does to start with to see if you would want to continue as grower Rabbits are hard work to keep every thing clean and running right
I can only imagine. It sounds like something you would have to be very determined to work at and be very dedicated to.
I have a grown daughter who is working on opening her own kennel. She raises and breeds the black German Shepherds. It's a lot of work keeping them clean and running right too. (big dog, big mess).
Anything pertaining to raising animals for profit is a lot of hard work. People don't really realize that, do they ? Not something you can leave and just take a weekend trip for fun on the spur of the moment either. I have great admiration for anyone who can do it. Hopefully some day I can. I just want to be sure I'm informed enough to do it right. There are too many people who start things like that, only to abandon the poor animals in the middle of it. Starting small with 50 does sounds like good advice. Maybe even 25 does. Thanks for all your advice and help.
education is the key. we've read our way into everything imaginable. the ground floor we wanted knowlege on was basic survival, Tom Browns books were great on that. along with many others. now we have the knowlege to walk off into the woods and survive if needed. Then we work on higher level things. food fuel and income from local sources. I've cut timber and run a sawmill for years, now I'm getting into veggies for sale, i grew 2 acres squash and bought a dozer with the $$ from it. now i can clear land and grow more stuff.
That's great. I love to see it when people make their land work for them.
That first year with the squash probably wasn't as easy as it will be next time with the new dozer. I think it's really neat that you were able to make such a significant purchase with the proceeds from 2 acres of crop.
That's what I've got in mind. An income (even if small) from my land.
A person could make their land actually pay for itself, and that's smart.
Uh, ... bring that dozer over here for a minute... lol
I'm reading an interesting book called "Making Bentwood" by Jim Long. Using "trash" tree saplings and trimmings, a person can make trellises, gates and arbors with rustic charm. Baskets can be made from willow stems and other pliable materials. I'm planning to use the hackberry and chinaberry sprouts that constantly appear here to build wattle walls for raised beds, but a person could make craft items and offer them at the farmers' market along with the produce. From there a craftsperson could advance to rustic furniture for outdoor seating. The extra income achieved is not likely to increase one's tax bracket, but the items can be created during inclement weather and as "pick-up" work. Yuska
Yuska, there are some beautiful examples of that rustic furniture in the Adirondacks. We vacation near Lake Placid every year - check out the shops around there if you get a chance. Used for very decorative fencing and signs also. Some of it sells for big $ but then - it is already popular in the area. Don't know that it would sell as well in areas where people haven't learned to appreciate it yet. Definitely a great "trash to treasure" hobby that I hope we can attempt in small scale if we ever get to retire and have the time.
When I was going through high school, my friend and I where really looking into a sustainable agriculture system call Permaculture. It was founded by a man in Australia and is still being taught there. my friend went there and took a 2 week course. I am not suggesting you do that, but there is literiture out there that you can get your hands and minds into.
Sustainable agriculture theory and practice is that on a simple 1/2 acre One can provide for a fammily of 4 never needing to go to the grocery store except for cosmetic and hygiene reasons. And on a simple balcony of a apartment one can cut the grocery bill by 1/3. You can also get ideas for land layout and development, water filtration(naturally),rain collection, and livestock and meats, plants, ect. Everything you need to know about self sustaining
It is really easy to understand and very practical. I will be pursuing this ideoligy and passion when I can afford the land and after serving my FATHER above.
Hope you are keeping up with this post. and good luck!
thanks for the site suggestion. I found many new areas in US soil to check out and follow. I am and have dreamed of over these last 14 years of homesteading myseld and family and using much of the principles of permaculture. It is apparent that it will not happen while my kids are home, but one day after the kiddos leave the roost to make their own life, my wife and I will venture into sustainable living for ourselves.
Also, someone who is interested inhomesteading forselfsuffiency should really take a trip and tour of Amish communities. They are uasually very friendly and wiling to share tips and techniques.
Two of the kids have left the roost (although one is on the way back with her baby), and one teen left at home. Took us 18 years of planning and scheming, but we made it to a little plot of sand. A few fruit trees in the ground, some garlic planted, the bare beginning of a wind break growing. Keep the dreams alive, folks. We are FAR from self sufficient, but it feels sooo good to be moving in that direction. You can do it!
A small orchard or two or three apple trees can make wonderful pies for people - and yummy feedings for a feeder pig and some chickens. Ditto for peaches or pears. Put your fruit trees in as soon as your feet hit the dirt - for semi-dwarf trees, it'll be 3 to 5 years before you get a full crop. Put your nut trees in at the same time - it'll be 8 to 10 years before you start getting a crop from some, longer than that for others.
Read "Two Acre Eden" by Gene Logsdon... in fact, read everything by him. Some of his "facts and figures" are out of date, but a lot of his stuff is common sense stuff that one raised on the land might "just know" - but one from generations of city people might never think of. And he will make you laugh, too boot (and sometimes just shake your head knowingly).
We have 5 acres of garden, sell at a Farmers Market. Also a couple of greenhouses, but are discontinuing plants sales next year. It isn't cost effective.We were at the Farmers market 3 times a week for 6 months. Our high week was $3054.00. Guess what, all that income & we still have to run the cabinet shop during the winter to pay the bills.
I don't know how you could "live off the land" without being in poverty.
I raised lots of rabbits for a number of years. I also sold live fryers to a slaughter house. About 250 a month. Boy can those rabbits eat! I was at the feed store often. I had trouble getting them bred. I also butchered lots myself & had sausage made. I sold fryers, sausage & rabbit burger at the farmers market. I did fairly well, but I think it would be better now as more people are thinking eating natural & organic foods.
We can & freeze a lot of things from the garden. We have a beef guy & a pork person at the market, so we buy from them. Much cheaper than raising our own. Both are natural, no feed additives, etc. Ever eat pork lately that doesn't taste like the pig waste ? These pigs are pasture raised instead of cramed in the hog barns.
One way I make pretty decent money is my tomatoes grown inside of a greenhouse. They are planted in the ground, not hydroponic. I started picking June 15 & finished by picking all mature green ones Nov 4. I had a fresh sliced tomato last night for supper.
Picture was taken in July.
I sold these tomatoes for $3 per pound all summer
Bernie, that's awesome ! You had all those tomatoes, and are in zone 4 ! Wow. That's pretty impressive.
I agree, living off the land is almost impossible without being at poverty level. That's such a shame isn't it. We still have to work to make it. Don't know that we'll ever be able to be totally self sufficient. But we are working on getting as close as we can.
But then, there's other types of poverty. Like having to live in crowded city conditions right on top of your neighbor. Working long hours to be able to afford it, and having to eat all that nasty fast food because there's no time to cook or even think about eating healthy. It's just a big vicious circle. Work hard to afford extra clothes and eating out, Having to eat out and buy more clothes to be able to go to work. Been there, done that, it was such a rat race. I may have a little less money now, but I've found out there's a whole lot I was working so hard for... that I really didn't need.
We both still work, but the kids are all grown now and it's a little easier. Things are slowing down a little for us and we are so thankful to be able to live a little more relaxed.
To live off the land takes lots of careful planning and preparation. I am certainly no expert but I have given the subject much thought. I think one would have to first learn to live without so many bells and whistles but we also have to be realistic. There are ways to live off grid but they take a big initial investment. You have to have some kind of cash income as it takes cash to live in today's society even if it is on the fringe. You have to have a vehicle and you have to buy gas and maintain the vehicle not to mention insurance premiums. Driving a horse and wagon while peaceful is not practical. You have to be able to get your product to market and simply to get your groceries, ect. I think you would need several projects to make cash money that are not labor intensive. Like berry bushes that people can pick their own fruit from. You would make money but still be free for the most part to work at other money making projects. I will think more on the subject and get back with you.
For the most part "we are trained" media (advertising) has us brain-washed into thinking that we need many things that we do not really need. When you get down to the things you really need, food shelter etc. they are not that hard to come by ... yet why am I saddled with an eighty thousand (at this point) dollar mortgage? OK I'm an idiot. & let the wife talk me into it.
Yep, I know exactly what you're talking about. We had one too. We got the kids grown, sold the house and took the equity and built us a little tiny house that has no mortgage. It's tiny and modest, but brand new and very comfortable. We did most all of the construction ourselves. Best part is that it's paid for.
Then we got us some chickens, planted a garden, and relaxed a little. We spent a lot of hard years trying to keep up with getting our kids grown and thru college, and now it's our turn to take things a little slower. I didn't mind giving up a few things to be able to slow the pace a little.
Now if I can just figure out a way to keep a few dollars going by using the resources here on our land, that would be the icing on the cake. Otherwise, I'm going to have to keep working a while longer. CajuninKy said it, the cars, insurance, etc. still goes on.
If you have a nice sized town close to you it widens your options. I used to raise rabbits. I had regular customers I butchered for and we ate rabbits ourselves. But I paid the feed bill for the year at Easter. I bred my does so the babies would be big enough to wean at Easter. I set up on the roadside and sold bunnies. It was very successful without a lot of physical input.
Will fruit of any kind grow in your area? You could have a Upick operation or you could make preserves and sell. Do you have a farmers market in your area? You can grow a lot of herbs in a small green house.
Do you have trees or woods at your disposal? You could collect vines in the spring and make wreaths for holiday decorations. There are lots of easy crafts for using pine cones if you can get them.
Lots of ideas but who has the time, right? LOL
Here is a novel idea for a Christmas tree. I saw it at a western store. It is made from old barbed wire. I would love to make myself one. I think you could use an upturned tomato cage for the skeleton. It would have to be one of the heavier ones to hold the weight of the wire.
Hello,We are new to this forum. Our desire is to live off the land someday. PeggieK we only live a few miles northwest of you. We have one child left at home for about two more years and we hope to have quite a few things in place to be living off the land by the time she leaves home. We have 40 acres of river bottom ground with 3 ponds on it that are stocked with fish. We also have about 25 producing native pecan trees that we don't do anything with as of yet. If we were to sell the modern things that we can do without( Cars, Boat,Shop equipment, etc)we could pay off the mortage on the property and have no bills. Got a few years to go before we can get social security so we would have to do something for an income. We have horses (to work the land if need be) and sheep already but we would have to get some cattle,chickens, and pigs to raise for our own use. I want to work long enough to purchase solar and or wind power as well as a green house for our own use. My wife and I have been in sales and service all our working life and am just getting very tired of the fast pace of it all. We have been talking about doing this for a long time but now we can see that it is within reach. Any help that you all may give would be greatly appriciated. Thank You
Muskrat52...Howdy Neighbor ! Yes you are just a hop and a skip from us. And welcome to the forums. You'll find it to be a great wealth of information, as well as a whole bunch of nice people.
Looks like you have some nice advantages with the land you have. I have a friend that lives up by Winganon that has land with pecan trees also. She gathers them each fall and sells them there in Claremore and makes enough to fund her Christmas most years. I know that sounds like a small thing, but all the small things add up and save so much money in other areas. She dosen't work all that hard at it, but just wants enough to help stretch Christmas. If she really worked at it, it could be some sizeable money. By adding that to some chickens for eggs, a vegetable garden and some fish, homemade electricity and the other things mentioned, and it sounds like and excellent goal and plan.
After being on this property for 7 months now, I am beginning to get a feel for what's possible here. Soon I will start putting in semi-dwarf fruit trees and nut trees along with the beginnings of some berry patches, and my vegetable garden will grow larger than just the 6 tomato plants last summer... all with the paid help of a neighbor boy to do some clearing and planting.
I am still contemplating how best to harness the water from my spring to gravity-feed my garden. The spring is at the lowest point on this hillside so I'm thinking of a solar panel & pump to a reservoir up the hill as soon as I win the lottery. Actually I can do it for under $1,000 but I only have social security to live on, no savings, and can only put $75 a month into anything besides bills until my sister moves here to share expenses. Right now that $$ is going towards getting a veggie space ready to plant when it warms up.
I've added Gene Logsdon's books to my Amazon Wish List, thanks for the suggestion.
ooops sorry darius, thought the garden was down-hill from the house, my space between the front of the house and the garden patch is fairly level. So I was also trying to think this problem out. As of yet I don't have any gutters installed - they are on the list for when I hit the lottery.
In addition to the Journey to Forever site, you may also enjoy the DeVraes Path to Freedom site. They are homesteading in an urban environment.
Lots of useful and interesting information between the two sites.
Notice to those of you with postings who have mortgages on your residence or business - I represent a company that shows you how to pay off a mortgage in 1/2 to 1/3 the time and I will be pleased to give you my webpage if desired.
Notice: I posted a ntice a few minutes ago and then realized that all of the posts I read are very old and perhaps this site is not active. Because I don't come here often I may not be aware of someone answering my post. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've been gone for a while, but I'm still here... barely. hehe
Since my first posts... with all my high hopes and expectations, many things have become evident to me. And I'm still learning.
The first year, our garden did so-so, and I was so encouraged that we could actually realize enough to suppliment our grocery bill more than has actually been possible.
The second year, voles took over the garden, and ate more than we did.
The third year, it rained and flooded so much, it washed out our garden and stayed so wet until August, that everything either rotted as seed or it was so muddy all the time we couldn't even get into the garden to weed and care for it. And caring for the chickens was always a muddy, messy chore with not much reward. I just felt bad for them because it rained so much for so long. And winter has been just about as wet.
Even my peach trees drowned. I had 4 that were in their 2nd year and doing great. 2 of them died from so much wetness.
I'm wondering if my flower bulbs I set out have rotted too. Sigh.
Needless to say, this has certainly dimmed a little of my romance about the vegetable garden and it's possibilities, at least for the moment.
The weather forecast is for a dryer and warmer springtime this year.
It's still cold and gloomy now... but maybe spring fever will hit me all anew when it starts getting prettier out. I love the springtime !
But, all that said, I guess my point is... To be able to live off the land, you really have to be prepared for setbacks. I think I was not mentally prepared for as many as we had... all in a row. I may not be all as tough as I thought I was...eh ? Could be a couple years older and a little less energy this year too. Just getting over that nasty flu... ugh
I still love it here, and wouldn't want to be in town. But it's a good thing we still have working incomes... we would be awful skinny by now. hehe Maybe we'll have a fat year this year for a change. I think we're due.
Back being active on DG helps a lot. The more I read, the more excited I'm getting though. I have a feeling this year will be better.
Even if I just get a couple of tomatoe plants to make it... it's gotta be better than the $ 2.28/ lb. I've been spending lately for tomatoes !
Peggy, so glad you are back! You are one of the gals that I felt like I had a lot in common with, when I first joined Dave's. I find I get so much encouragement here and can keep better focused, which is a huge help in reaching my goals.
Sorry to hear about your not quite so impressive years with the garden. Our first year garden here was quite a disappointment, too. Tomatoes wouldn't even grow...come to think of it, nothing really grew! The land is mostly clay, so didn't drain well. We'd be ankle deep in muck just trying to walk. The next year we moved the garden to an area that was a little higher situated. We tilled and amended good, raked the soil into raised rows and mulched heavily. Our walkways are well packed and the rows are easily worked by hand now. My biggest problem is weeds, that if not kept up with will be waist high in no time even with a heavy mulch!
We don't have a problem with voles, but moles are another story. I'm growing castor bean plants this year, which are suppose to run both of those little critters off. We've tried the mole-repel stuff (and it has castor oil) but way to expensive for as much area as we need to cover. Don't know if this will work for voles, but I read somewhere to try pinwheels in the garden for moles. Appears to be working, as there are no tunnels in the garden.
Hope things are much better for you this year! Robin
Ahhh Peggy... what farmer or gardener hasn't experienced setbacks? I think if we persevere despite ratty-seeming odds, we DO get to learn and grow. Last year was a bust for me as I was dreadfully ill from May through the summer and fall. Like Robin, I've started some better ways of doing things to increase my garden this year and hopefully for the next few years.
DG is a great place to learn, and to find encouragement.
It is so good to have you back! Sorry to hear your gardening has not gone well. Mine hasn't been great but it's my own fault. I put things off too much. My tomatoes would have done much better last year if I had actually gotten around to getting the supports put up. I am going to try and do better this year. I planted some of my seeds yesterday. I usually end up doing that too late, too but I am doing better. I planted 6 cups of broccoli, 3 cups of peppers, 3 cups of yellow straight neck squash, 3 cups of canteloupe and 3 cups of cucumbers. I also want to get some eggplants going and tomatoes. I have to get the seed and I have to find my yellow tomato seed I saved from last year. I was looking this morning but no luck yet. I also need to make some more paper cups from newspaper. I learned that from Dave. It's handy and very easy. I'll try to take a pic of my efforts. Maybe I will also keep up with the garden journal. A girl can dream. LOL
You are all so inspiring! We are still looking for our homestead acreage. In the meantime, we are doing what we can on our little lot in town. Last year our garden barely produced anything despite our best efforts. Our soil has a lot of clay in it and our garden spot has a lot of tree roots, so we are thinking about putting in raised beds. Plus, our research says that raised beds are much more prolific than row gardening. I like the idea of not straining my back so much while weeding and harvesting.
My question is what to use for the construction. I would love to find an inexpensive idea and better yet that maybe recycles something. Any ideas?
I have high rows in my garden, some as high as 12" with the row being 24" wide,s others only 12" wide and 10" high. We also did a couple of 3' x 4'mounds for carrots. We have a lot of clay, too. We just added lots of amendments when we first tilled it (haven't had to till since) and just raked it up to make the mounded rows. I use lots of grass clippings for mulch and don't have anything to actually hold the soil in place, and they hold up well. Everything seemed to produce well. It's really nice to be able to dig for potatoes with your hands. We have a wooded area on our property, and I had thought of using some of the downed tree trunks to "box" in my rows, but thought better of it, because of the potential for bugs.
When it was weeding time, I'd lay a small runner rug in the path and just crawl along it to pull weeds. Sure saved my back and knees of my jeans!
Quoting:We are seed cultures, agents of continuity and change, working now and in the future to thrive and proliferate as conditions allow, liberating ourselves and one another and all who will join us from the perils of dependence on dead, anonymous, industrialized, genetically engineered, and chemicalized corporate food.
I think the key is making it all work together. Instead of havine 20 different components with 20 different needs, make they work for each other as much as possible.
Have those chickens fertilize the blueberry beds, rake the leaves from the peach trees every fall under the blueberry bushes for mulch, let the chickens roost in the peach trees before fruit sets to eat potential pests. Give rotted or deformed peaches to chickens. Save the pits and sprout some little trees to sell. Sell chicks. Sell small blueberry plants or seeds. Sell compost made from chicken manure.
I think a lot of farming magazines and books would have us try every farming niche available, but I really think less is more. If everything is used efficiently, and seen at one big design working together, it doesn't get to hectic, and you can fit another component in; say bees, quite nicely, knowing what impact they will have on your little 'ecosysem'.
Row/mounds would be more simple msrobin. We did the row/mounds a few years ago when we lived on 5 acres. And used the grass clippings. It worked pretty well. I like simple. Good insight ThankGod4plants. It is about challenging our cultural mindset. Everything is promoted as disposable and there is a product for everything. You really have to shut off the cultural input and think for yourself about how you are using everything and how they could work together.
"You have to have a vehicle and you have to buy gas and maintain the vehicle not to mention insurance premiums."
This is one of the main reasons I moved from the country to the small city where I live now. I realized that I would never be really self-sufficient out there because of the necessity of a vehicle. After I moved into town, I got rid of my vehicle entirely. That has freed up a lot of money and has also made me much more efficient in terms of what I do buy. I rent a vehicle now when I need to, but otherwise I get a lot of stuff online that is cheaper and that is more of what I need and want instead of just settling for what's within driving distance. I have refigured how I think about growing as well. I had no necessity for livestock anyhow, being a vegetablarian, but with much less land to grow things on, I have become much more efficient. I am working on becoming self-sufficient in terms of growing food. I know I have a long way to go, but I feel that the small amount of land I am on forces me to be more focused about it, to make better, more productive choices.
One thing I would encourage people to consider is some kind of online business that involves selling something you yourself produce. The great benefit of such a business is that you can live anywhere, and it also is a way to engage in a deep niche where you have no competition. This is what I do. It is no cake walk, and you won't get rich--it took me three years just to become self-supporting with an online business--but you can create a business that your locality would never be able to support, one that suits you and your living situation, one where you have little competition. Just because it isn't what they did in the 19th century doesn't mean you shouldn't do it now. One book that inspired me is "Blue Ocean Strategy," which has nothing to do with homesteading and everything to do with carving out a niche in a business that frees you from competition. It really works online.
We are building a house on 45 acres
i have 9 acres that are a tillable land.
I plan on raising chickens ,rabbits, hogs, goats and sheep.
I also plan on doing market growing, egg sales, chicken meat sales along with baking sales.
and maybe someday my book will get published LOLOLOL :) ( wipes away tears while laughing ) anyways ...
I have been reading books and magazines and doing alot of research, also having DG to seek help on other matters and advice on gardening. :)
i m sorry your first yr was not a successful . Im going on my 3 rd season with a garden and my first two were well ... not very productive, so i hope this yr is ok.
Hobby Farm Home
Counrty woman and Backyard poultry and have a few books from Joel Salatin that i have learned alot from
my fav is Poultry Profits and Everything i want to do is Illegal
those really helped me out alot
also a good handy book is the medical book of veternarian care
oh i think Mother Earth news mag is a good source of info too
Peggy Keep in going with your quest , it may take another yr or two to really get the hang of it. Then somthing will happen again and you'll wonder "why am i doing this again ?" and then somthing will happen in a yr ot two and you'll say " oh yes thats why were doing this and i love it " its a roller coaster of a ride out here in the country . Im learning that too. Im a city girl and still think i m nuts !! so do all of my freinds. :)
but my mom just sent me a realtor page of a house on her street and how much it cost for a 1,640 sq ft house on a 6,000 sq ft lot in the city she lives in and i couldn't believe the figure over a million !!!!!!!!! Ha i got me 45 acres for under half that Ha i may not have a starbucks or a fancy mall but i can do with out that .
sorry i took to long a post :) i just ramble on at times
hope it helps
When I posted, I think it was an extra cloudy dreary day. So hard to see the veggie garden for the clouds sometimes. All of your posts cheer me up and give me hope that, yes this will be a better year ! Gotta be, right ?
Now that daylight savings time is here and we have more sun at the end of the day, it seems like we might just make it after all. I like the longer periods of light at the end of the day.
The ground is still really wet... clay soil drains so slow. But at least there are getting to be longer stretches between rains lately. Maybe DH will be able to till the garden before much longer.
Sue, I agree... I'd much rather be out here in the country on my modest little place than back in the city.
This spring will be the 4th garden effort here. I can think of several changes I can make that might help too. Now if I can just get the fire re-lit under DH... we can get it all done. All his blueberry bushes drowned too, so he's a little less eager to jump on the gardening bandwagon this year.
I love all the magazines you mentioned. They are so interesting and informative. The year before we moved out here, I read all of them I could get my hands on. I couldn't afford to subscribe to all of them, but they have most of the ones you mentioned at our library, along with lots of back isssues. I love em. Second and third year, same thing.
I really want to be more self sufficient, and I think we do pretty well per sey, but realistically, I think the piece of property we have is more challenging than I thought at first. But, like I said, I'm learning... that too.
I still love our little place and the life it offers us. I'm getting more and more excited to see springtime. If the garden won't work, I'm going to try some Earthboxes. Ordered 2 so far. Can't wait to try them out ! Yippee !
Winter is rough out in the country isn't it :( i still don't do very well with it . LOL this yr is expecially hard with it being so cold in March.
But there is a light at the tunnel
Glad all of our posts are helping :)
sorry to hear of your blueberries flooded
what are you growing this yr ?
have you had any luck with your garden's
i have done them for 3 yrs and i still don't get much luck. Hahaha i am hoping lucky # 4 too
Eb are great i have heard
Awww..., I sure can empathize. My blueberry crops have dwindled, perhaps from catbirds moving in and eating everything, or maybe I should be pruning my huge wild blueberry trees...for the first time ever I had trouble with tomatoes - grew some cool heirlooms last summer but no disease resistance...coyotes got one of my hens (only 1 hen and 1 rooster now). The neighbor's kids stole 3 of the 4 peaches. The wild trees keep getting bigger and the roots grow up into the gardens and into the compost pile...the bees are hanging in there but I've become allergic so rarely dare go into the hive...the eggplants didn't do too great and everything else did worse... OK I'll stop whining now! It's still freezing here and we're getting over the flu. My daylily seedlings are growing well and HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL as they say. It's always a lot of fun to plan your garden. The truth of the matter is that I expect constant change in weather and farming results, gardening and life can be a crapshoot! I live for spring and have so many blooms and new leaves to look forward to. And my S.O. bought electric fencing to try to keep those pesky deer out. :)
I have had some wonderfully productive gardens in other locations (especially on land right over swamps!). I implore people thinking about homesteading to buy good land, not like my pine barrens on saltmarsh. I may eventually be able to cut trees down and build up the soil but it will be a constant battle. I should be rotating my gardening plot. Most of my problems are related to neglect; I concentrate on daylilies and they have made lots of nice seed for me.
Hang in there, all, we will all find our "niches" and what works for us, it will take some trial and error, that's all! Hope spring comes soon for all of us.
This is a very discouraging time of year as far as gardening goes...it's cold and wet and the days are still so short, trying to get over cabin fever and hoping spring fever comes soon. But we're getting closer day by day!
Peggy, the earth bags sound like they may be answer for you. I've heard good things about them. I've seen pictures lately of where people have just layed out bags of compost, cut a few holes in them and planted potaoe, flowers, etc. We tilled our garden the first year, added some bags of compost and then raked it up into mounded rows. I lay lots of grass clippings on the rows as mulch. We haven't had to till since and the soil is still good and loose. Rotaing your crops through the rows not only helps confuse the bugs, but takes less toll on the soil and things like peas and beans even help the soil. (I'd like to take credit for all that knowledge, but learned it all right here in the pages of DG! LOL!)
All of you might consider strawbale gardening, too. There's a forum here at DG that gives all the directions. It's pretty simple and the vegetables grow well. Much easier to harvest, too. The hardest thing about this technique is getting the strawbales home. I haven't tried it yet, but plan on setting up a few bales to try.
We bought some "windmill molechasers" from Harbor Freight. The list price was $9.99, but we bought 4 on sale for $5.99 each. They are also suppose to help deter deer, rabbits, etc. I wonder if they would work for coyotes, too. Something to consider...
Hang in there in and hopefully spring will come in soon, so we can get to gardening sooner.
I am a bale gardener. Learned it here from strawbaleman. He is a wonder. A friend told me last week about growing potatoes in a feed sack. He fills the sack with dirt, lays it on it's side, cuts a couple slits in the bag and plants the potatoes in the slits. He waters through the same slits. When it's time to harvest he just slits the bags open and sorts the potatoes. I have lots of plastic feed bags so I may try a few this spring.
Hi, Cajun, that was the point I was trying to make...there are some really simple ways to garden successfully, when you have poor soil. I think a lot of us gals would really appreciate the strawbale gardening, as it cuts way down on weeds and picking is so much easier with the plants up higher.
I tried the straw bale gardening method last year, with mixed results.
I, too, have poor soil, plus I am on a hill and until I can afford to have massive amounts of fill dirt/top soil brought in, I needed to come up with an alternative method.
So, I "googled" straw bale gardening last year and followed the directions I found there: treating the bales with ammonium nitrate, then fertilizer, etc.
Before placing the bales, I put down newspapers, empty feed bags, old carpeting, whatever I could come up with to discourage the growth of grass, etc. around the bales. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of that stuff and had to just place the a lot of the bales on top of the vegetation.
I also tried to utilize my space as efficiently as possible by placing the bales back-to-back, two deep, end to end, in each row. That was the wrong thing to do because that, plus the growth of vegetation up around the bales, created a haven for slugs.
I couldn't keep the slugs under control no matter how much I salted and how much beer I put out. I have ducks, but had to keep them out of the garden at that point because they would've eaten the tomatoes, etc.
Then I got hurt in the middle of July (on-the-job) and that really set me back physically and mentally.
So, will I do it again? Yup. That's my plan, but with some adjustments. For one thing, oat straw (which is what is available in this area) is up to $8.00 a bale. And last year, I had a heck of a time keeping the little oat sprouts pulled. So, this year I'm putting the word out (i.e., Freecycle) that I will pick up hay that's not suitable for animal consumption (I've had one response already) and try that. The reason I didn't do that last year and chose to buy straw was because I was concerned about weed seeds, but since I had the problem with oat seeds, anyway, I'm going to see what happens with the hay bales. Free is a much better price than $8.00, anyway!
Also, I am not going to try and pack the bales so close together. In fact, I'm going to have them spread out away from each other.
I have also let the ducks (and chickens) into the garden since last fall and I've noticed, in the last couple of weeks, they've been spending an awful lot of time in that area, hopefully finding baby slugs.
I've also been stockpiling every newspaper, feed bag and Diet Coke box I could get my hands on since last summer. These will be spread on the ground over the area the bales will be placed in. I also covered part of the garden in plastic and will lift that and place newspapers, etc. down where the plastic killed off the vegetation.
One thing I noticed (and it's a good thing) is the bales from last year have pretty much broken down. The chickens are spreading it around pretty well and I figure that will all end up someday as nice fill.
Strawbale gardening sounds interesting. I did see a forum on it, but never really thought it would be something I'd be interested in. However... upon learning what I have this past season, maybe I'm going to be lots more interested in it this year.
I guess one reason it didn't appeal to me is because of the experience I had with using straw for mulch in my garden 2 seasons ago. I got straw or maybe it was hay, that was FULL of seeds. What a mess I had ! Grew a great crop of whatever it was. But it was way worse for my garden than no mulch at all had been the year before.
I had 4' x 6' raised beds, and the sprouts even jumped into them and took over. My neighbor uses a spray to kill grass-type plants in his garden, but I wanted to be organic so I didn't. Even though I am against it, I may re-think that idea this year, much as I hate to.
I think I will try the raised beds again this year, along with the EB's.
I bet something will grow.
I can tell I'm about to give in and be hopeful again... I walked thru the garden area at Lowe's today and they had their broccoli, cabbage and lettuce plants in. It made me almost forget I was bummed about last year's garden. Notice I said "almost" ? hehe. Naw, I'm just kidding,... I'm now begging DH to till as soon as it's dry enough.
Am I a glutten for trouble, or what ?
My, what a difference a day makes. Especially one that is sunny and 80 degrees ! Today was gorgeous !
Today, I'm ready to put out a couple of broccoli plants. By next week I'll be thinking I'm ready to go bear hunting with a fly swatter.
But isn't that how all of us ...that choose this country life and homesteading idea are ? I guess that's what keeps up trying. Either that...or short memories. :-)
I better call it a night. Supposed to be sunny and warm again tomorrow. I'd better get lots of rest... the bears are gathering and I have to re-locate my fly swatter. :-)
Nite Nite to all... PeggieK
LOL Lurker here and I do believe I can relate to all that has been said. There IS hope in numbers after all. I am a gluttin for punishment and plant my veggies every year. Some years are better than others. Dang good thing I don't farm for a living! I admire those Farmers. They Rock!
The thing I like most about DG is the encouragement and inspiration from other members! It's all a learning process and we country-living folks just keep on learning! We'll probably never be able to make a living either, but it's kinda nice dreaming we can.
Yep, it's hard to not get excited and want to try it all over again when we see springtime. I noticed daffodyls starting to bloom yesterday. That always gets me.
Something keeps drawing me back to the plant section at Lowe's...could it be those broccoli and lettuce plants ? I go in there for construction supplies... and there's this magnetic force that causes me to drift over to the garden area... Hmmmmm. (scratching head)
And I've noticed, the brighter the sunshine and warmer the temperature, the stronger the magnetic pull. Very interesting. hehe
It's almost time for me to leave for work. Gotta go by Lowe's this morning to pick up plants...uh, I mean construction supplies... to take to the guys out on the job. Later. Have a great day, all! PeggieK
lol on the plants and construction supplys
We here have our priorities yah now lololol :)
yes it is a driving force that drives us to those areas at lowes :) im guilty of it too
daffodyls are my fav
what type of construction are you doing ? is it you job or some home repair you doing. i hope i didn't miss it in an earlier thread if you mentioned it .:) prior.
I am a concrete contractor. I do all the estimating, sales, bookwork, etc. Get all supplies ordered and to the jobs when needed, tote gallons of Gatorade.
The finishing crews do all the bobcat work, set forms and use their strength and skill to make it look good.
We specialize in removal and replacement of residential driveways.
It's peculiar to see a concrete company owner and operated by a woman, but there is a small niche for me.
There are areas of land just outside the Tulsa area that have long been useless because of the steep and jagged hills and valleys. Too steep and rocky for cattle or farming, too uneven to build anything on.
Developers usually buy those areas for next to nothing, allow everyone in the construction trades to dispose of any concrete, rock or dirt, until it is full enough to cover with topsoil, (Usually for years) ...and then develop it whenever the engineers deem it satisfactory enough. Of course, making a nice profit eventually.
We've got one of those "construction debris only" landfills about 15 miles up the road from us. I wondered why it was it there. I'd sure love to have a truckload of a torn out driveway or sidewalk dumped off at our place.
Some counties here are requiring recycling of concrete. They are grinding it up & adding it to asphalt for roads.
We are going to tear up the old floor & foundation of our barn & also a silo this spring. I am going to have it hauled to a recycle place.
Bernie i never knew one could do that sort of thing . :)
who'd of thought :)
glad to know all of this stuff.
glad to see communtiys getting recycling more accessible .
we are far from it here ,but its catching on.
We don't have any such program here but there are surely lots of places that need filling in. Flat land is very hard to come by.
Speaking of recycling. Do any of you have a neat idea or two for repurposing tin cans. My DH is on a diet and is eating mostly tuna and canned veggies. He empties about 4 tuna cans a day and twice that many veggie cans. I hate to just throw them away. Surely there is something that can be done with the cans.
Wash them out & remove labels. Smash them flat & then take them to a scrap yard & get paid for them.
Here they are recycled. All things, plastic jugs, papers. bottles, cans are recycled.
Pop cans are taken to the scrap guys for $.
Even old tires & appliances are recycled here now.
Tell them representatives of yours to get with the program!
Careful on the tuna . Not to get off subject. but is he eating the kind in water or oil ? To much tuna is not a good thing
if he is looking for omega 3 you can do CLA capsules ( compound linolic acid ) just thought :)
ok back to subject sorry lol
The one thing i do miss in CA is the recycling programs . They were great. They gave you three bins one for glass, cans and paper. Just put it out with your day of collection . I loved it .
wow you can get paid for them cans ? !
We had neighbors that drank beer like a ton a week. I could have made out good LOL :)
He is eating tuna is spring water. He has lost 24lbs in 4 weeks. He did this same diet many years ago and lost 70lbs in 3 months. He eats eggs at breakfast and he eats chicken but the bulk of what he eats is tuna with either green beans or tomatoes. He likes those flavored tomatoes. He also eats a bit of regular mayo once in a while with his tuna. He also enjoys a salad with grilled chicken once or twice a week. He is a diabetic so he doesn't eat sugar. I am cooking a pork roast in the crock pot right now and I am cooking it outside so DH won't have to smell it. But Knock and I have to eat. My DD is also on a diet. They are a team in the Biggest Loser contest being done in our county. They have lost 33lbs together. I think they are in 2nd place. The winning team splits $500.
Hey that sounds great Cajun
I know one of our DGers did that in in her state of LA . Minishnuz. she did great !!!
wow that is alot of weight to loose . I love tuna with tomatos .
that pork sounds good too
I guess i was just thinking of mercury but that is a "who know s " you can read one survey or study and then another that says differnet.
You'll have to keep us up on his progress
Those surveys are like political polls. They can be made to say whatever is wanted said by the pollsters/surveyors. LOL
DH is up to 27 1/2 lbs now but he has hit a snag. He overdid the treadmill and stationary bike and stressed his foot and leg. Now he has an infection in it and is on antibiotics and bed rest. He has to weigh in this evening so we will see how it has affected his diet. Please keep him in your prayers. He had 6 surgeries on his left foot in 1 year that included 2 toes and part of his foot being amputated so his lymph system is less than optimal in that foot. It causes problems from time to time and he has to be careful with it.
My seeds have not done so well. The broccoli is still leggy even though I put the tray out in the old van window every nice day. I don't think the soil I used is right for seedlings. What do you guys use?
I have 2 cucumbers and 1 canteloupe doing okay. I have 1 squash up but it doesn't look too healthy. I am going to plant some more in the cups that didn't come up. Don't know if they'll do any better but not trying won't get me any plants either. LOL
This yr i used Jiffy seems ok so far so good. Its the only one i could find. Many recommend it here on DG.
are you using a light set up or a sunny window
You mentioned an old van window ? you may want to go get some cheap shop flourescent lights and fixtures. Just to let you know melons don't transplant very well, and neither do cucs
what are you using for your soil mix ? is it potting or seed starter mix. if it is potting then yes that is not what you need.
sorry to hear of your DH infection ouch.
sounds like he is doing really well . Yeah. for him . Your always in our prayers . :)
Excuse the diversion from the subject of the thread but I just wanted to say that frozen veggies or fresh better than the cans --and no unfavorable impact on the diet. Cans are sprayed on the inside with plastics and more and more info coming out about the problem with exposures to the substances from breakdown of plastics. All kinds of plastic out there. Look for the "triangular" recycling symbol on plastics if there is a number 7 in the center it is the worst. "1" is the best (but not better than none). Since your hubby has health problems already - thought you might want to know this. One of the dieticians at the hospital brought in the info today from one of their professional alerts - but I don't have it here at home.
You know, I don't know. I think it is likely is that most/all cans are treated with the epoxy resins to prevent the rust.
But, what bothered me is how much I use and don't even think about it. Zip loc bags, saran wrap, tupperware, water bottles, (sippy cups for kids!) all can have polycarbonate (a number 7) it is a hard plastic (compact discs, eyeglass lenses, etc) Trouble is when in contact with food or water..the PBA leaches out.
Nearly every person has these plastics in bloodstream. Low levels are in house dust, air, water They (the scientists) say that BPA also mimics estrogen - it activates the same receptors in the body as estrogen.
yes I have it. It is a special feature NUTRITION ACTION HEALTH LETTER APRIL 2008 --Hard questions about a hard plastic by David schardt
THE ABCs OF BPA
To clarify the above post (I got called away and didn't finish ) not all the plastics I used as example have the same risk etc. look at the numbers. Some (the 7's for sure) the recyclers don't even take I don't think.
anyway, google the nutrition action health letter. I think they don't put it on line until after the month it is published.
Anyway;, again, not the purpose of this thread. I apologize. I just wanted to talk about the can aspect since I knew Cajun's hubby was eating more from them than he normally would.
I for one am certainly glad you chose to share this information!!! I'll look for that newsletter. Thanks again for sharing. I swear anymore, first its the drugs in the water, contaminated beef and chicken, spinach and now a problem with canned goods? sheesh
Can you provide a site, I can get into BNET, but cannot find the article. Thanks
I use our mason canning jars for almost everything i store. We also use them for drinking ! it sure is fun for the kids. They don't break as easy as one might think. When dropped on a rug, wood flooring or laminent flooring.
Just be careful of your teeth sometimes LOL
But yes i too still use good ol fashion tupperware with alot of things
also using my frozen foods i still use plastic containers and vac and seal things that i freeze.
I hope my vac and seal
i just went and looked at my plastics
New Rubbermaid with the black lids are a 7 !
the blue rubbermaid is a 2
old old old old tupperware from 12 -15 yrs ago LoL no number .
plastic grocery bags are a 2
tupperware sippy cups a 4
and some new tupperware bowls for kids are a 3
well not to bad i guess. We don't use them all that much
but i was told about our bottled drinking water its from a municipal source ! uhg. I can't win. yikes
glad you posted that letter, great tips.
at least we can recycle the grocery bags
THey hate me at the grocery. I ask for paper and i bring my own cloth bags if i m not getting alot of stufff, LOL
Yes, it is so confusing. But remember the 1-7 is for recyclers (businesses) and so in general NOT for looking at the bisphenol A (BPA) but as a rule of thumb ...it is what I look at 100% correct or not.
Some studies also say no harm...others say yes...blah blah.. but some feel that the second studies disputing the first were special interest. This spring the NIEHS and EPA should come out with something and the FDA is looking. The 'kiddie' aspect tho is one that even the most cynical post warnings. As I understand it, the standards for BPA were set maybe 30 years ago (safety levels) by the FDA...so.. But it is in the bloodstream of nearly every person in the USA.
Kudos on the use of the mason jars! SMART GAL! / GUY?? (SMILE)
I've been reading all of your ideas and they all sound great. I have only a small garden but I've always wanted to homestead and have checked out as much as I could but I need a lot of learning and information as to how to get started and the best place to start. My perfict way of life would be to live off the land, not to far from a town, I can very easly live without electric items, and raise live stock. I love to work so a hard days work isn't a problem. I have very little money, only $.1000.00 per month, but with the right set up, that's plenty. I would be willing to share with someone. I need ideas, and help. I'm very open to anyone that can help me.
Hi All; Update to counteract my previous whining: Blueberry bushes are loaded, I should get some this year if I can outwit the catbirds and the neighbors, no pollination problem here between the bumblebees and my beehive which is healthy. A predator (big owl maybe) got the two remaining chickens. I am very sad and feel guilty. I knew the pen should have a roof and should have been insistent about it. Picking snap peas and a few strawberries. My SO has been busy chopping and splitting wood. Next winter will be tough here in the northeast. The squash and other curcubits actually look fine for a change and we should have plenty of tomatoes and a few eggplants and beans (everything started from seed here). My sister brought bunny pills hooray!!! Deer have been chomping off daylily buds :( luckily the most valuable plants are mostly fenced in and am anxiously awaiting some seedlings first bloom. So the homesteading thing is working a little bit - not enough to counteract my employer closing, but enough to make me feel a tiny bit more self-sufficient. I would love to figure out how to make it work even more so I am glad you all are keeping this thread going!
Julia in coastal Mass.
Julia, it all takes time and we learn as we go as to what works to protect what we have accomplished so far. Sounds like your garden is doing well!
Have you checked out the Sustainable Alternatives forum? Lots of ideas to make life easier and better. Scroll through the threads of last summer and fall, lots of info on simple things like rain barrels, low cost solar ideas for extra heat, etc.
I just recently read (MEN perhaps?) that if you use horse manure around and in your beds, the deer won't touch them, as they don't eat where horses poop! Since that is one thing that we have here on the farm, and I know that the previous caretakers utilized that in their amendments, that may be why we have seen no evidence of deer (or anything else) in the garden so far. So I guess I'll be going through the trails with the wheelbarrow and picking up the free fertilizer on a regular basis :)
Grass seed might be a problem though from horse by products, as I see a lot of grass in the weeds in the garden area (all of which I still cannot get to due to too many too tall weeds...LOL!)
The only thing I have a problem with in the garden right now are the puppies. They love to sit down on my purple ruffles basil that I've been trying to nurture along!
Read early post that talked about Four Season Harvest, a book I just purchased. I am searching for ways to produce all my families food with the exception of grains, pork and occasional beef. I am still relearning basic summer gardening, but my ambition is to raise summer crops for all season food with canning, freezing and dehydrating; raise other limited crops to have freshly picked food in all seasons in the manner of the Four Season Harvest book, raise limited summer vegetables hydroponically - indoors in the winter, and to raise my own chicken and fish (the primary proteins for our home).
This is ambitious, I know. And it seems that I am on information overload and having trouble knowing what to do first. The protein will be the last think I do - it will require more development and cash than the veggies.
Has anyone actually raised or harvested winter veggies? (outside or indoor) Where do you start? How much for 3 adults? I could keep going?
The winter vegetables I grow for my root cellar storage are usually winter squash (butternut, hubbard, etc.), potatoes (sweet and white), garlic, leeks (although I will leave most of the leeks in the ground this winter as a trial) and cabbage. Since there is just me (sister won't eat many veggies) I cannot tell you how much. Last year I stored 450 pounds of winter squash. Few were eaten but that's primarily because they were 15-18 pound squash. The year before, I grew butternuts and ate most of them over the winter.
I have 2 Rodale books, Stocking Up and Root Cellaring that are very helpful in knowing WHAT to grow to store, and storage conditions for various veggies. (Some need dry, some need humidity.) You might find a used copy on Half.com or Amazon.
Also... I either can or dehydrate much of my summer harvest. I seldom freeze much... too afraid of extended power outages and losing the food. I even can meat and fish, and LOTS of soups.
darius, 450 lbs of squash. How many plants? And how do you prepare that much squash to keep it interesting? Also, I am from Virginia originally. (Lebanon) I lived in Wytheville for about ten years before moving to WV.
Hard to say how many plants... they were in straw bales and grew and grew... seeds someone gave me. I'd guess I had 6-8 plants, mostly Japanese winter squash (like a green-colored pumpkin) and tromboncino. I made "pumpkin" pies, breads, etc. plus many a meal with just baked squash with butter as the carb. I suppose I (we, for the desserts) ate maybe 75 pounds. A few spoiled my late March and I gave away the rest.
I like SW Virginia okay, have been here 2 years. I like the NC mountains much better but the cost of living is higher there... primarily housing costs.
sgriffith: You might find this helpful; I am using it and sent it to my friend Robin in KY as we're in the same zone. It includes a planting per person guide (seems quite ambitious - way more food than we could ever can or eat!), a calendar for planting times based on last frost/first frost dates (nothing about winter gardening tho). I am using this in conjunction with Coleman's Four Season Harvest book to actually (gulp!) plan our fall & winter garden.
I have a small greenhouse (4 shelves, about 5 foot tall), and we have the supplies for a larger in-field greenhouse; I just don't know if we'll get it together before it's needed this year. I eat lots of veggies, my DH, not so much. I can eat the same things over and over with no problem, him, not so much. LOL! If pizza and chili and burritos grew on plants, he'd be happy :)
We are trying to do the same thing that ya'll are; adding (hopefully) chickens in the fall for eggs and meat, then eventually goats and a cow/calf pair for meat, milk and cheese.
There is a river across the street, but I'm not sure how the fishing is, haven't had time to explore that yet. How do you plan to raise fish?
I suffer from your dilemma - lots of information, lots of work, very little time after the J-O-B thing is done each day. Hard to know where to start! Best wishes and let us know how it goes :)
The instructions are pretty easy for this thing; I copied it and pasted it into Excel and then did my dates back and forward from the 00 column with our first frost date in there. It just doesn't cover four seasons like we want to do.
Robin, there's been a long thread this year on growing potatoes in a garbage can. I have some fingerlings growing in stacked tires. If you had stacked tires inside the south-facing glass of a greenhouse, the solar gain and thermal mass should keep them from freezing?
Hineni - I'd be interested in the informaiton you were sending you friend. As for raising fish, I have a moderate creek that runs behind my house. I plan to see if the DNR or who ever, regulates hatcheries, will allow me to bring water to concrete "ponds" that I will make. And, then allow me to let the run-off water to re-enter the stream. If I stick with species that are already in the stream, I don't see why they would object.
I'd think in WV, that brown trout would be good in a stream-fed pond. In Boone (NC) my folks raised rainbows in their creek-fed pond because they were easy to get at the state hatchery.
Jas, some folks raise talapia in ponds. I don't like talapia, mainly because they were first brought in to clean the bottoms of ponds where catfish are raised. Yuck.
Also, I have read somewhere (?) that all pelleted fish food is made by only 3 companies and it is all tainted with mercury BEFORE it even hits the ponds... I don't know how true that is, but I have arrived at the point where I question all commercially-grown foods... that includes grains.
Thanks Darius, I'll check out the thread, but I think the rubber tires would offer quite a bit of cold protection. What do you think of starting a thread about 4 season harvesting? I'm not sure which forum to even put it in, if we did.
Okay, tell me where to start a thread and I'll start it with the ideas I have for my greenhouse and we'll see if anyone is doing it now and start kicking around some ideas and thoughts. I was thinking that the sustainable alternatives would be a better choice than the winter sowing, because they really aren't the same, are they?
darius, I see no reason you couldn't grow your taters by using that method in a greenhouse. We can "fudge" a bit here because it doesn't get as cold, and heavily mulching the potatoes. I have some on order. I want to give it a try here. I didn't order many, as the others are coming on strong even though we got them in late.
I'm also going put in fall winter crops using broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage. Also some root veggies with carrots, turnips and parsnips. DS1 has promised to make me a couple of cold frames so I'm going to also give some lettuces and chard a shot. I have few trees and the area I want to put the frames faces true south, so should be interesting to see what happens. It's been a long time since I tried this type of intensive gardening, but it is doable here. I have had to go back and dig out some of my books on 4 season gardening and some of the other intensive methods to see what will work here. Very interesting. A greenhouse is still on my wish list, but will have to wait for now. sigh
Robin... I'm not sure what forum, either. Not in winter sowing. Probably like you suggested... sustainability. Or beginner vegetables?
Doccat5... I sometimes wish we were a bit warmer in winter, but at least it's not Wisconsin!
I started (and didn't finish!) a small cold frame early this year, for seedlings. It measures about 2' x 4'... to fit a window I already have. I just need one more board, and to hinge the window. I'm thinking I can grow mesclun and chard, like you, if I put straw bales around the exterior. There is only me who eats greens here so the size may be adequate.
The first week of August is the best moon sign to sow winter crops (unless I wait another month which is too late) so I need to check and see what heirloom or OP seeds I have. The Brussels sprouts I planted this spring are just now getting a few large enough to pick from the bottom of the stalk, and the Savoy cabbage is finally getting a decent head. First time for growing either and I thought they'd be long finished like the broccoli and kohlrabi. Fall planting will coincide with my tomatoes being ready... I'll be a busy woman!
Man, what a learning curve I'm in!
BTW, I saw an interesting snack in the Excalibur flyer that just came. Kale "chips". Soak kale in salted water, de-vein, dry, and toss with olive oil, honey and any herb blend (they suggest Mexican) and dehydrate until crispy.
Robin - I think Sustainability forum, as it's along the lines of that: eliminating the need for store bought veggies by growing our own.
Doccat - I just planted out more stuff last night - last of summer and also first run for fall veggies. Since I'm new to the area, I may get too cool too fast, but we'll see. I'm actually keeping a record this year so I'll have rule of thumb for next year to go by.
We plan on using two portable greenhouses (and maybe the full size if we get it done in time), facing direct south, backed by a barn wall. I'm hoping for a couple of straw bale cold frames using windows I already have, near the kitchen door for salad greens. Not sure who, other than me, will be eating all of this, but if I have extra I know I can send it over to Darius ;) I'm just peeved because I didn't order leeks this year :( Can I plant that seed now for harvest next year, or do I need to wait until Spring to plant it? So much to learn, so little time!
Hi, what about cut flower gardens, and herbs? if you can find a market for fresh herbs. I know a few years back that when the cukes where done i ended up driving 30 miles away to get fresh dill( because my dill was done way before my pickles where.), or herbal craft, I am looking at building an outdoor oven. I read that it was more economical to use one, especially if you built a masonry heater inside. but i will make one outside first to dabble and learn, but i'd like to build one big enough to do ten loaves at a time, then i can spend the rest of the day making other things that can be eaten through the week. but you could sell bread and cakes, muffins and cinnamin rolls. That is what i'd like to do. I know the amish around here sell all kinds of stuff like that along side the roads.
There is fly tying, my 15 yr old son tans hides and is learning how to make things with them. ther is always wood crafts, i'd like to learn how to make baskets. And if your really wanting to be creative, you could get into dyes, and wall covers, amish rugs( loom) sell good here, and they are lovely. I have been dabbling with crochet, not my cup of tea by far, but i was tickled with making rugs with them, and they can be nice too. I know a guy who recently came up with the idea of using 55 gallon plastic barrels and he made rain barrels and compost barrels, with a 10 G profit last year from them.
Uhh i am in nyc and i hate it i wish i had a place i could go to and just live off the land pitch a tent and grow my own garden,,, any takers lol,, I was just going to give you guys a lil secret that i learned from my cousin in western ky, he has a very grassy field in the back of his house, he took an old carpet from his house and threw it out in the field cut a circle in it about 6 inches and dug up the grass in the small whole and placed a small tamato plant there,, and omg that single tamato plant got so huge he didnt use anything to brace the plant up he let it just grow normally, i have never in my life seen a plant get so big or produce so many tamatoes, it just spread out over the carpet and grew like no other, i know at one point the plant was over 6 ft in diametor and was able to count over 100 tamatoes on it,, what made it grow like that i have no idea but the carpet from his house had alot to do with it,,it was able to keep all the weeds away he didnt even weed around the small openning where the plant was at, the carpet kept the ground moist at all times it amazed me