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Author Topic: Microfarming  (Read 3816 times)

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #45 on: September 04, 2019, 12:00:49 PM »
Jim had posted a note today in his Daily Headlines edition about the newly created Growing Degree Days calculator on the Ice Age Farmer website, and the tool produces some truly sobering results by simply typing in your zip code:

http://iceagefarmer.com/gdd/

Quote
There are over 5,000 zip codes that could no longer grow corn this year.

We have lost nearly 6 GDD's here since last year...


Image from Nature magazine

Here is Wikipedia's chart (please scroll down to "Plant Development" section) of how many GDD's each crop requires:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growing_degree-day
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 12:29:31 PM by R.R. Book »

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming with contingencies
« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2019, 09:47:22 AM »
Here are strategies that I'm gradually discerning as well as learning from others for addressing environmental instability:

*Unless a crop is native to a wetland or being attempted in an arid region, we can ignore old-fashioned advice to plant in trenches, and use raised beds or mounds instead.


*If the land has its own robust independent water supply or supplies, we might go ahead and irrigate in a prolonged drought, ignoring increasingly unreliable weather forecasts calling for rain, unless in a flooded region or all the evidence for rain is in place such as clouds and falling barometric pressure.  Trusting shaky rain predictions, only to be disappointed multiple days in a row in an intractable dry spell can lead to lack of irrigation when it's needed the most.  We can also plant a mixture of drought-tolerant and moisture-tolerant crops for times when we no longer know what to expect. 

*Keep the soil covered with something, whether living or inorganic, at all times, unless it's part of a designated utility location, such as a path.

*Everyone can experiment with growing at least one crop indoors now, even if only starting seedlings to be transplanted outdoors when weather is appropriate.


*We need to be keeping good long-term records of weather for our own micro-location, while at the same time remaining skeptical of any trends that may appear to be forming.


*We also can be keeping good records of how crops and animals are responding to our environmental variables. Have a journal for each aspect of the homestead: apiary, permaculture crops, seed crops, poultry, etc.

These make useful, inexpensive gifts

*We can be aware of whether and when 5G will be turned on in our specific location, and then carefully observe the response of our own biome to it.  A separate Town Hall thread to document effects upon crops, livestock and wildlife might be helpful, as well as providing space to share research on mitigation strategies.

*We can react decisively when it becomes evident that a crop which grew well in our location in the past is experiencing a trending decline in viability and output.

*We can discern what crops consistently grow the best in our area, regardless of which environmental variables are in play at a given moment.  Crops that are difficult to kill might ought to be repeated in multiple guilds, beds or fields on our property.  A surplus in any given item that's over-planted can always be traded or sold for something that we can't grow, or fed to livestock, or even composted and worked back into the land.

*We can erect and enforce boundaries around areas of key production: fences, gates, locks, netting, and buffer zones, while maximizing freedom of movement for both humans and domestic animals within those barriers

*We can experiment with ignoring old-fashioned siting recommendations for traditionally sun-loving crops, and see how planting in diffuse shade works in today's new growing conditions (declining magnetosphere, UV C, protracted drought at certain times)

*When situated in the North or at relatively high elevation, we can select later blooming crop cultivars which miss being hit by unusually late spring frosts

*Also those in the North can choose cultivars which grow diminutive produce that will be ready to harvest in a short period of time.

*We can harvest some crops early and allow them to finish ripening indoors (we could begin a list of these), in order to work around pest pressure and a shortened growing season.

*We should give back something to the soil at least every year, whether it's lying fallow or in use.


*We can be prepared with a back-up plan for how we'd like to re-use any location that experiences early failure.  Example: I don't consider the new Glendale gooseberry to be among my favorite choices, but it's the only one bred to be resistant to total UV types, so I plan to have some potted ones on hand to replace more delicate faves, should any of them demonstrate that they will drop their leaves early in the season.

Other ideas?
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 10:49:14 AM by R.R. Book »

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #47 on: September 24, 2019, 05:21:54 PM »
Excellent ideas, especially the one about planting in raised beds unless a water-loving crop, or in a droughty or arid region.  With raised beds, we have been able to escape what some of our friends suffered during super-heavy rains or flooding.

This has actually happened where someone planted their tomatoes, peppers, etc., and along came an early summer rain that was long and hard, and it actually washed the plants out so far that they were not even found!  It is because of the increasing and unpredictable rains and flooding that we have gradually added raised beds.

We've tried them surrounded by concrete blocks or just huge boulders, but there is always a downside.  For example if you are digging garlic out of a raised bed surrounded by concrete blocks, and you stumble just a little, you can easily fall, and in the process come crashing down on the blocks, plus fall outside the bed because the blocks are so incredibly easy to trip on.  Overall, we feel the raised beds are an insurance policy, not foolproof, but policy against flooding, which seems to be the new normal.

Your mention of recordkeeping and covering the soil are really important also.  We need to keep experimenting, and then be sure to document the results of your experiments in those garden log books.

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #48 on: October 27, 2019, 08:15:34 AM »
Here's a handy on-line tool for calculating the amount of garden space needed per person per vegetable crop (fruit and animal products are a little more difficult to calculate, but I've attempted it in the next post):


If total self-sufficiency is the goal, then this site recommends 200 square feet of each separate crop per family member, which includes both fresh eating in-season and preserving for winter.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2019, 10:31:32 AM by R.R. Book »

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #49 on: October 27, 2019, 10:02:53 AM »
Since our little garden plots are scattered all around the place, am going to attempt to tally the square footage of dedicated ground-space (excluding 3-dimensional vertical growing space), to gauge how close we come to meeting self-sufficiency needs:

Blackberry plot:
7' x 15'=105'2

Sea Kale, non-bolting French Sorrel and Winterberries:
3' x 15'=45'2

Purple Peruvian Potatoes:
6' x 12'=72'2

Sunchokes:
3' x 12'=36'2
6' x 12'=72'2
3' x 8'=24'2

Asparagus:
2' x 10'=20'2
2' x 10'=20'2

Alliums:
2' x 12'=24'2
1' x 6'=6'2

Honey (total production area not counting forage):
32'2

Eggs (total production area not counting forage):
4' x 5'=20'2 (duck egg production)
5' x 6'=30'2 (hen egg production)

Red and Black Raspberries:
6' x 25'=150'2

Muscadine Grapes:
2' x 25'=50'2

Other Grapes, various sizes and ages:
2' x 32'=64'2

Gooseberries (new):
3' x 18'=54'2

Currants (some old, some new):
3' x 6'=18'2
3' x 9'=27'2

Blueberries (some old, some new):
6' x 14'=84'2
3' x 25'=75'2

Wineberries (not counting thickets of wild ones in the brush):
3' x 25'=75'2

Strawberries, both June and Everbearing:
4' x 8'=32'2
4' x 8'=32'2
2' x 4'=8'2

Mixed lettuces:
2' x 4'=8'2

Skirret:
2' x 4'=8'2

Lovage:
2' x 4'=8'2

Cherries (sweet and tart), root-space=branch spread, dwarf and full-sized, pruned:
8' x 8'=64'2
8' x 8'=64'2
6' x 6'=36'2
6' x 6'=36'2
6' x 6'=36'2

Pears:
8' x 8'=64'2
8' x 8'=64'2

Apples (Dwarf and full-size rootstock, pruned):
8' x 8'=64'2
6' x 6'=36'2
6' x 6'=36'2
6' x 6'=36'2

Persimmons, pruned:
8' x 8'=64'2
8' x 8'=64'2
8' x 8'=64'2

Plums:
8' x 8'=64'2

Perennial Quinoa (New bed):
2' x 25'=50'2

Arctic Kiwi:
2' x 8'=16'2
2' x 10'=20'2

Miscellaneous Annual Vegetables (New bed and old containers):
4' x 30'=120'2
2' x 12'=24'2

Mountain Cranberries (recently condensed):
2' x 10'=20'2

Total '2 dedicated garden space:
2,205 or about 550'2 per member of the family.  One estimate that I read recently for minimal dedicated crop space per family member is 500'2, so the potential exists for at least modest self-sufficiency.  In such a situation, when gardening space is somewhat limited, storage food becomes perhaps equally important.

Not all of this is in reliable production at any given time, depending upon weather conditions, maturity of orchard trees, pests (Hi squirrels  :) ) etc.

This does not include square footage of beds devoted to animal feed, or forage crops for humans and animals, or edible flowers, or square footage planned for next year if ground is not already broken and improved this year.

A more reliable method of calculating home-raised family diet would be to weigh actual produce harvested, but here we're just estimating dedicated space.

It should also be noted that in utilizing the cleared, unwooded portion of our less-than-2-acres this way, we've sacrificed open space that might have been dedicated to more lawn, but everyone in the family is happy with the way it is.  Mowing at this point is down to a string-trimmer and grazing poultry. :)
« Last Edit: October 27, 2019, 10:41:01 AM by R.R. Book »

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #50 on: October 27, 2019, 01:58:08 PM »
Have been intensely enjoying Youtube channel A Beautiful Nest, the visual diary of a Zone 8A gardener / homesteader.  Delightful photography and music, reminiscent of following Beatrix Potter around the garden in the old BBC series, make this channel a sumptuous feast for the senses:




ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #51 on: October 27, 2019, 07:14:10 PM »
Those growing-space projection numbers in post #49 are an amazing guide to someone who knows nothing about gardening spece requirements, to someone who is very experienced.  Excellent and thanks for posting.

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #52 on: November 02, 2019, 04:52:22 AM »
We finally left the warmer half of autumn behind here, with temps just starting to drop down to freezing or slightly below.  I decided to bring the lettuces in last night.  It would be nice to have a heated greenhouse, but we can't afford it right now.  We've discussed doing it as an add-on to the house, which is already heated off-grid so we wouldn't need to worry about a way to heat it.

But for now, we're just cramming plants into pots (greens) and zip-lock bags (perennial peppers) to see whether they'll overwinter for us.  Had harvested heavily from these for dinner, so now they fit into small pots.  Long window-box liner trays might also work...

What are others bringing indoors to grow from the garden?


R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #53 on: November 02, 2019, 02:30:36 PM »
Homesteading chores for autumn (some may be further along with this list, depending upon latitude):

*Raking leaves

*Top-dressing gardens with either whole raked leaves (breaks down slowly over months), or chopped leaf mulch (instant fluffy soil amendment that mixes well with other layers)

*Culling and composting frost-killed annuals

*Winterizing livestock buildings

*Covering any ponds or skimming leaves out

*Closing the bottom door on hives

*Shimming up the inside cover of vertical hives for air circulation

*Offering last bottles or inverted buckets (in the North) of liquid feed to bees, medicated with thyme oil, etc.

*Laying naturally medicated feed patties over the bee brood nest for when bees can break cluster

*Possibly adding an absorbent and warm flannel blanket or burlap bag of straw etc. above the inner cover of each hive if far North.  Some remove inner cover and use a screen tray of cedar chips instead.

*Inserting the mouse guard across hive entrances, with one hole open for cleansing flights (when nature calls)

*Provide a brick or rock to hold flat outer cover on hives (except for hives with peaked roof)

*Providing a wind break for hives

*Some in the North wrap their hives, but the roof should not be wrapped

*Deepening bedding such as hay for other livestock

*Laying in enough bales of hay, etc. to last til spring

*Harvesting sunchokes after a few frosts, either on a per-meal basis or to root cellar in sand/soil

*Root cellaring potatoes, onions, cabbage, winter squash, tart or firm apples, carrots in sand, etc.

*Maintaining unfrozen water for livestock in the North

*Collecting, drying and storing seeds of annuals

*Bringing unripened produce indoors to finish ripening

*Cutting and stacking firewood

*Gathering kindling

*Disconnecting irrigation lines from faucets

Other ideas?

« Last Edit: November 03, 2019, 03:55:01 AM by R.R. Book »

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #54 on: November 02, 2019, 05:30:46 PM »
What are others bringing indoors to grow from the garden?

Brought in four surviving rosemary plants and they are beautiful.  They never grew lush because I stuck them in partial shade in a heavily sawdusted blueberry bed, but just wanted to keep them alive for the summer and it worked. 

Also brought in two distinct varieties of Gotu Kola.  This herb needs constant water and now I realize why I stopped growing it decades ago, but this year I stuck them in the spring branch where they basically sat in water all summer.  So will just water all winter and do the same next summer.  Discovered they thrive in our climate, sitting with their feet wet all the time and they sprawled quite a distance from the pots.  This herb is noted for its anti-dementia properties, so it's worth growing.


R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #55 on: November 02, 2019, 05:33:42 PM »
I had no idea that Gotu Kola liked its feet wet Ilinda.

Would love to see a photo of both it and the rosemary! 

 

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