Planet X Town Hall

Socrates & R.R. Book - PERMACULTURE, and methods for gathering food and water => Food for Survival => Topic started by: R.R. Book on January 14, 2019, 06:30:17 PM

Title: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on January 14, 2019, 06:30:17 PM
This topic is about small-scale farming, for those who have a little more land than an urban lot, but not a full size farm.

Will begin the topic with a worthwhile book for winter reading: Compact Farms: 15 Proven Plans for Market Farms on 5 Acres or Less by Josh Volk.

While it is more difficult to grow grains or raise a herd of large livestock on a farmette of this size, there's a huge amount of food that can be grown; enough in fact to have surplus cash crops. 

The book includes detailed crop planting schematics for each farm, as well as information on how to prep the harvest of each crop for market.  There are sections on tools, outbuildings, animals, soil preparation, and winter care where applicable.

(https://target.scene7.com/is/image/Target/GUEST_5b8923c0-e158-45ed-b9d4-49c615a14d65?wid=488&hei=488&fmt=pjpeg)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on February 15, 2019, 04:58:35 PM
The pastor of a church in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood one day realized that his congregation members were suffering from numerous degenerative illnesses caused by poor nutrition.  They were lacking in access to fresh foods.

So he started a garden on 1,500 square feet, producing over half a ton of fresh vegetables a year.  And then his congregants became interested in microfarming as well, causing the community to morph into a vibrant farm-to-table network in which the price was right for everyone involved...

That 1,500 square foot garden, by the way, amounts to .03 acre!

(https://wtop.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/20180618_102603_preview-780x520.jpg)

(https://nebula.wsimg.com/7c986104a6462325d42de8596654c987?AccessKeyId=29E37D6FA145E8F6A4BD&disposition=0&alloworigin=1)

(https://nebula.wsimg.com/760c2618d8358443079c1f8c18aaea45?AccessKeyId=29E37D6FA145E8F6A4BD&disposition=0&alloworigin=1)

http://www.blackchurchfoodsecurity.net/locations.html

https://wtop.com/living/2019/02/i-wanted-to-do-more-for-people-than-just-pray-pastor-blends-faith-farms-to-end-food-insecurity-in-black-churches/

Referred by:
Ice Age Farmer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1P9peSvVLjM
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on February 16, 2019, 12:59:51 PM
Isn't that a totally mouth-watering array of greens in that first pic?  And good on that pastor for starting it all.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on February 16, 2019, 01:18:53 PM
Totally agreed.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on March 25, 2019, 04:00:20 PM
(https://besurvival.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/infographic_backyard_farm.jpg)

https://besurvival.com/homesteading/infographic-how-much-land-do-you-need-to-live-off-the-grid
Title: Microfarming: Does smaller equate with more resilient?
Post by: R.R. Book on May 07, 2019, 01:21:45 PM
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-01/boon-times-auction-houses-american-farmers-go-bankrupt

ZeroHedge posted this article with insights into why farmers are giving up, besides the weather, which seems to suggest within it the seeds for preventing or overcoming family farm obsolescence:

Quote
Mid-sized farmers, those with annual sales under $5 million, are increasingly failing as the trade war sends the global economy into a synchronized slowdown.

This suggests three broad categories of farms, including two other farming classes: Big Agra with sales over $5 million annually, and small farms which net a significantly smaller, but potentially more than adequate income.

Ten thoughts of my own on how small farms may succeed where larger family-owned farms fail:

1. Keeping the land in the family.  If the farm is passed down to the next generation, then the initial purchase of the farm will only impact the first generation.  Subsequent generations can focus upon improving and expanding the farm if they chose.

2. Keeping the land in the community.  If there is no one left in a particular bloodline to pass a farm on to, then successful farm families in the area can follow the lead of the Amish and attend land auctions in entire trading blocs or church districts, arranging the necessary finances amongst themselves in order to ensure that one or more of them holds onto the land.

3. Placing the land in a land trust, thereby lowering property taxes and preventing zoning alterations which would permit developers and speculators to carve it up.

4. Keeping the farm small enough that it can be managed all or partially by hand or equine-labor, avoiding one of the biggest downfalls of modern farming: indebtedness in order to purchase large machinery.

5. Where machinery is needed, keeping it simple, so that it can be repaired right on the farm by those using it, rather than by an external mechanic using parts likely made overseas.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailyencouragement.net%2Fimages%2Famish%2Famish_corn_harvest6.jpg&f=1)
This simple corn-harvester is as complicated as it gets in the Amish community.  Its design is so basic that the farmer is able to repair it himself, perhaps with a little help from the blacksmith in his own congregation, who is likely a relative and neighbor as well.

6. Making the primary purpose of living on the land self-sufficiency, rather than heavily depending upon competition with agri-business beyond participation in the local co-op. 

7. Not considering it a poor compromise to have a part-time job doing something else.  Diversification of skills is healthy, but the farm is always at the center of the heart. 

8. Saving at least a tenth of earnings into an emergency account throughout one's entire life, and teaching children to do so from a very young age with separate jars for spending, saving, and sharing.  Emergencies can be extrapolated to include securing and preserving local farm land which ends up at auction (see #2).

9. If a large machine would be very useful, collaborating with other farmers to purchase it as a group, but only if it can be locally repaired.

10.  Keeping the size to scale: Under 100 acres where some mechanization will be used, including equine-drawn machinery.  Under 10 acres for hand labor.  One rarely sees an Amish farm over 100 acres in Pennsylvania, and one never hears of an Amishman going bankrupt.

Other thoughts?
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on June 07, 2019, 01:48:06 PM
Here's an aerial view of Charles Dowding's stunning microfarm on a 3/4 acre plot, of which only a quarter acre of it is planted, mostly with seeded succession-planting crops.  This is not only his home, but his livelihood as a market gardener:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDjgJ6NroVE

(https://media.giphy.com/media/jOQ0TEtHYk9QmpK8Xh/giphy.gif)
(https://media.giphy.com/media/JT7CcaU00g0FSxraH2/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on June 08, 2019, 08:27:27 PM
Isn't it beautiful?  Seeing the pic makes one want to jump on in and start walking around.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on June 09, 2019, 03:57:54 AM
I always envy such perfect garden rows.  Gardening in the woods here, I have to just grab every little patch of sunlight that I can find, so the gardens end up being little blobs here and there!

Part of my problem is woodlot management...I just don't like to cut down trees  ::)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: Socrates on June 11, 2019, 07:59:06 AM
I went to this thread thinking it must be about people growing sprouts in their kitchen or living room... That's what i'd call micro farming.
We have culturally divorced ourselves from sustainable farming practices and now commonly call agrobusiness operations "farming"; this is devolution. The above examples are actually examples of successful "farming", i.e. nothing 'micro' about them, except from a 'modern' viewpoint.

Romans and other ancient cultures [which i refuse to call "civlizations" since there was little 'civilized' about them] destroyed their habitats and saw themselves forced to become belligerent/expansive/imperialistic in order to sustain their self-destructive ways. Our own modern cultures are a continuation of this trend.
We disservice ourselves by acting and talking as if this is not so. Though popular culture and politics talk and act as if "agriculture" is about mining soils for all they're worth and then discarding them [hence 30% of agricultural lands being desertified, i.e. rendered useless], this is actually insane and not something sane people should refer to as "farming".

---

90% of folks used to farm in one way or another. In the USA today this number is 2 or 3%. That's crazy.
Stats like illustrated above help make clear just how crazy this is since everyone can and should be 'farming'.
We should stop talking reactively, i.e. in reaction to insane practices as if something insane might ever become sane.
Today we know much better than our ancestors but also much better than conventional professionals what works and is sustainable. It should now be clear that none of this is about idealism or something; people need to get farming, period. Individually and culturally, we have no choice. To not do so is outright insane. Only insane cultural biases against farming suggest otherwise.

If you've no land, practice guerilla farming. And if you've no energy or health to go out and plant plants and trees for good quality food, that just means you need such produce to begin with.
There are no viable excuses for supermarket shopping. Complacency will cost you dearly in the end, especially if TSHTF and you are physically and psychologically weak, have no good food stores [i.e. talking quality food] and no seeds or knowledge of how to start from scratch.


It's not "microfarming", it's "farming"; and what popular culture considers "farming" is an abomination that should be allowed to die and wither away as the terrible millennia-old failed experiment it is, always was and was always going to be.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on June 11, 2019, 08:29:54 AM
Absolutely agreed Soc, and it seems to me that the word "microfarming" only came into existence recently.  It almost seems like a belittling word, as compared up against big agribusiness.

A better term might be "Homesteading," which you've correctly suggested at one time involved just about everyone, even in what once passed for "cities."  I love looking at early illustrations of Philadelphia, which once had a law that no building could be taller than 4 stories high.  Every "city" lot had a big kitchen garden, and farmers pulled carts up and down the unpaved streets selling their produce, grown very nearby.

"Guerilla Gardening" would make a neat topic for the boards, BTW  :)
Title: Re: local farming
Post by: Socrates on June 11, 2019, 11:57:01 AM
farmers pulled carts up and down the unpaved streets selling their produce, grown very nearby.
This is something one experiences to this day, even in cities, in Morocco. And similar to 'ancient Philadelphia', the produce is of wonderful quality because the soils it's grown in still have life to them.
It's crazy; you either go out to larger streets full of people selling produce out of vehicles or they actually come through just about all streets and you just have to wait until you hear them hollering, hawking their wares, then go outside to buy fresh produce. I find it much more civilized than supermarkets...
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on June 11, 2019, 12:05:58 PM
The only thing comparable in present time is the popsicle truck - children still wait at the curb for it to come around, though not quite this far out in the sticks  ;)

Morocco sounds like an exciting place!
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on June 12, 2019, 08:30:13 PM
Absolutely agreed Soc, and it seems to me that the word "microfarming" only came into existence recently.  It almost seems like a belittling word, as compared up against big agribusiness.
Agree.  Don't think I ever heard of microfarming until a few years ago.  And, yes, it seems to be a put-down.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on June 17, 2019, 04:44:22 AM
Oppenheimer Ranch Project featured a discussion with permaculturist Matt Powers on Rudolph Steiner's biodynamic agriculture methods in a recent video, including a retrospective of changes in agricultural practice:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk1RhMTC9Tw

Steiner had presented a series of lectures that were then documented and bound into a book (by one of his students?) called Agriculture or The Agriculture Course.  I found a free .pdf of the book here:

http://www.growingempowered.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Rudolph-Steiner-Agriculture-Course.pdf

(https://prodimage.images-bn.com/pimages/9781855841130_p0_v1_s550x406.jpg)

Title: Re: Matt Powers
Post by: Socrates on June 26, 2019, 06:52:54 AM
Love his work, subscribed and enjoying his energy. Not only that, got me a copy of Steiner's √°griculture book' because he finally explained to me how imporant it is/was.
Title: Re: Matt Powers
Post by: Yowbarb on June 26, 2019, 01:59:59 PM
Love his work, subscribed and enjoying his energy. Not only that, got me a copy of Steiner's √°griculture book' because he finally explained to me how imporant it is/was.

Socrates, great stuff,
keep sharing your knowledge here. :)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on July 14, 2019, 04:36:41 PM
The Provident Prepper, and husband and wife prepping team, share this three-part video series on how to begin a survival garden:

Survival Garden Design Basics for Preppers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOqw17C4_xw

Best Crops to Grow in a Survival Garden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VnmQuVnalQ

How to Create a Survival Food Forest in Your Own Backyard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzECT4rWS6c

Quote
Failure is not an option when your ability to feed your family depends on you.

Website:
https://theprovidentprepper.org/

Book:
(https://theprovidentprepper.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/the_provident_prepper_book.jpg)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on July 30, 2019, 05:06:20 PM
Here's a good book recommended by the Deep South Homestead Youtube channel:

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner: What to Do & When to Do It in the Garden, Orchard, Barn, Pasture & Equipment Shed

(https://pictures.abebooks.com/isbn/9781612126975-us.jpg)

The book is available in either a spiral-bound edition or .pdf on Amazon.

I have the first book in the series: The Backyard Homestead, but wouldn't it be nice, especially for newcomers to homesteading, to have a schedule all mapped out?

It seems that microfarming / homesteading firmly anchors us to the natural rhythms of the earth, so that it's difficult to think according to a man-made timetable.  Those rhythms become internalized to the extent that our waking, sleeping, working, playing, planning, budgeting, and social life revolve around them.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on July 31, 2019, 02:17:39 PM
Maybe that seasonal planner would truly help newbies especially, as they really have no clue about when to plant, or often even how.  In fact, whenever I chat with my farmer friend, Shirley, and the subject of gardening by the moon comes up, she will often say that, "next Thursday..."  or perhaps "...beginning Sunday night for three days, you can dig garlic...".

I have asked her how she knows this stuff in her head, and she said she would teach me, but we're both busy and it will probably happen, but in the meantime, I'm sort of clueless, unless I consult my Maria Thun Biodynamic Almanac,  plus old notes I've saved from past moon-planting almanancs.  According to my info., tomorrow is the first of three consecutive days that are good for digging root crops. 

According to one almanac it's best to harvest root crops during "barren" signs, which are aquarius, leo, and virgo.  It's always confusing because according to the 2019 Maria Thun calendar, August 1 is good for planting leafy crops, and the 3rd, good for planting fruits.  Still after all this, I don't see how a person can calculate forward abot planting dates, because sometimes the "sign" lasts for two calendar days, and others, for three.  Do many people automatically know this stuff?
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 01, 2019, 05:47:31 PM
Ilinda, maybe you'd consider devoting a whole thread to gardening by the moon, with periodic updates?  If not, please keep posting that info here - It reminds me of Foxfire Book 4!  :)

(https://pictures.abebooks.com/BESTBATES/md/md22887763627.jpg)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 01, 2019, 07:38:35 PM
That might be possible, after I get the baby guineas grown a bit.  They are not what I expected, which was something similar to chickens.  They are birds, yes, but these guys are as close to wild as it gets.  Maybe because they've never had a guinea mom to guide them around.

In the morning after I let them out, they eat their crumbles for a while, then they basically go "hide" in the tall weeds--weeds I purposely left so they wouldn't be easy prey for hawks, etc.  Maybe it will take longer for them to come around to allowing me to be their friend.  I love them and want to hug them, but OMG, they would run/fly away if I even try to touch them (which has happened already).

So, long story short, after guineas are more predictable, I may start a topic on growing by the moon, or maybe post it here under microfarming.  Still learning....
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 02, 2019, 05:15:50 AM
Looking forward to all of the above, Ilinda!
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 09, 2019, 04:55:44 AM
Microfarms that are more oriented to plant-and-replant culture, rather than stationary perma-crops, will likely be working on a rotation system so as not to end up concentrating soil pathogens in any one location.  This is true of most seed-sown crops.  At the other end of the spectrum is a self-directed forest-farm system, in which plants are encouraged to seed themselves wherever they will thrive.

Danny from Deep South Homestead, who cultivates rotated beds, has the soil of his two main plots of ground professionally analyzed, and is completely surprised by the results, which prove instructive to him as to which amendments to work into his gardens over the autumn, in order to be ready for next spring:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERpOZiaVJGI

This is an example of a soil analysis report from another farm:
 
(http://www.totalgs.com.au/Graphics/soil-test-report.jpg)
A sample soil analysis report from another farm
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 09, 2019, 11:57:36 AM
The idea of soil analysis is very appealing but years ago when we had one done, they told us you could get your sample, move a few feet, and get another sample, only to get two very different readings.

What are others' thoughts?
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 09, 2019, 12:23:08 PM
Ilinda, I wonder if that wide variety of readings comes with more uncropped or multi-cropped land than with ground that had grown monoculture?  My impression is that this particular grower is aiming for monoculture (or a whole lot of each particular main crop), which he might rotate from year to year.  Once he begins addressing the key deficiencies of his test results and amending soil, am guessing his soil composition might even out for those mono-cropped beds and become fairly uniform? 
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: Jimfarmer on August 09, 2019, 02:24:38 PM
The idea of soil analysis is very appealing but years ago when we had one done, they told us you could get your sample, move a few feet, and get another sample, only to get two very different readings.

What are others' thoughts?

Not surprising.  Nature is seldom uniform or smooth over large regions.  So, I am thinking that good soil management requires a knowledge of the variation in soil properties in a given plot or field.   Same applies to weather over time.  Interesting; I might select that profession in my next incarnation on Earth.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 09, 2019, 05:10:59 PM
  ;)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 09, 2019, 05:17:05 PM
Youtube channel Sow the Land follows the work and play of a small family microfarming on 1.5 acre, living in a 1000 square foot tiny home.

I was really impressed with this tutorial for making chocolate pudding from their homegrown sweet potatoes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1deVjFdlZ0

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/x1deVjFdlZ0/hqdefault.jpg)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 10, 2019, 02:14:19 PM
Old-fashioned homesteading chores by the calendar:

(https://www.historyonthenet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/farmin1.gif)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 11, 2019, 10:42:54 AM
Youtube channel Sow the Land follows the work and play of a small family microfarming on 1.5 acre, living in a 1000 square foot tiny home.

I was really impressed with this tutorial for making chocolate pudding from their homegrown sweet potatoes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1deVjFdlZ0

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/x1deVjFdlZ0/hqdefault.jpg)
Yes, very interested in trying this, as this is the first year in over a decade the sweet potatoes are going  crazy and there should be a good harvest with plenty extra for desserts.

The only thing I'd change is the baking temperature.  I bake sweet potatoes and winter squash in a very slow oven, usually 250 deg. F for 2-3 hours.  It seems the longer and slower they bake the more they want to caramelize.  But most people are in a hurry, so the recipe as is will work fine for them.

Need to look for raw cacao, as that does sound much healthier than the processed-to-death other forms of chocolate.  Thanks for posting.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 11, 2019, 03:43:10 PM
If you find it, could you please post info back here Ilinda?
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 12, 2019, 05:26:31 PM
Lots from which to choose:

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&channel=tus&q=raw+cacao+powder
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 12, 2019, 06:08:39 PM
Thanks Ilinda - my husband was wondering where to get it  :)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 13, 2019, 03:23:51 PM
Until seeing that video on making sweet potato-chocolate pudding, the raw vs. processed cacao wasn't even on my radar, but now it certainly is.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 13, 2019, 05:49:18 PM
A good homesteading or microfarming skill to have is building your own fences

While makeshift fencing, such as bundled picketing, netting, or hammered posts and mesh can serve a lot of purposes in a pinch, there may come times when it may be better to install a fence with greater height, strength or durability.

If not working under the stressful conditions of peak summer heat or winter freeze, post-setting is much easier than it may sound, especially if working with a partner. 

Begin with a vehicle good for hauling things, such as a truck or SUV, or be prepared to pay for delivery, which can be steep.  Delivery may be the better option if the weight of your materials exceeds the carrying capacity of your vehicle - you don't want to damage the transmission and flatten the tires, or risk having a loose item do harm to someone in the event of a road mishap.  It's a good idea to keep rope or bungees in the back in order to tie lighter loads down.

Since arsenic is no longer used for treating lumber, copper pressure treatment may be the best of several options for fence posts, especially in damp climates.  Opt for yellow pine timber rather than white pine, as yellow pine is around triple the density of white for the same price.   You can tell the difference visually by the solid wavy grain in yellow pine, as opposed to the thinner lines in the grain of white pine.  Posts that are rated "ground contact" and have been doubly treated with micronized copper cost very little extra.
(https://images.homedepot-static.com/productImages/1ba2667d-0dc4-4b85-b047-7a4660cfe8a7/svn/pressure-treated-194354-64_400_compressed.jpg)(https://images.homedepot-static.com/productImages/4b448901-081e-49af-97ef-0b20538268e2/svn/pressure-treated-288741-64_400_compressed.jpg)
Note the heavier wavy grain of the yellow pine on the left, as opposed to the white pine on the right.

Except for gate posts, spacing can range from 8' to even longer extensions, depending upon what will be between the posts.   Wire alone as a fencing material attached to the posts for grape or bramble cordons or large animals may require a tightening tool for heavier gauge wire:
(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.shopify.com%2Fs%2Ffiles%2F1%2F0259%2F5739%2Fproducts%2FG64304-PermanentWireTightener_compact.png%3Fv%3D1547154803&f=1)(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fencetop.com%2Ffence-images%2Finline-strainer-in-use.jpg&f=1)

For smaller livestock, a finer grid fencing will be necessary, such as chickenwire or 1" x 4" grid, the latter of which is inadequate for chicks. The minimum height for poultry would be 4' if wings are clipped, but higher offers better protection for them.  Light-weight fencing can be attached to the posts with larger galvanized staple gun staples (an important tool to have on any microfarm), or better yet with heavier U-nails and a hammer or mallet.  Top rails or diagonals are only necessary for strengthening corners where the fence line takes a turn, though aesthetically appealing.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse2.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.suZOzJGVl9-cPevFMjPKFQHaFu%26pid%3DApi&f=1)

An even finer galvanized hardware cloth, which can be costlier, is needed in order to make a fence snake-proof where venomous snakes are in the area.  A minimum of 1/4" grid, 23 gauge galvanized is required, but 1/8" 27 gauge is even better.  Higher gauge means thinner material, but it's the grid size that matters.  These will also help keep rodents away.  The bottom 6" of the hardware cloth needs to be buried beneath ground level for this application, and height should be a minimum of 3'.  Snakes can climb vertically, so I suggest adding an inexpensive and fairly invisible veil of open-weave bird netting to the exterior - we did this to help keep poultry in a shorter fence at one time, and discovered that a snake had died becoming caught in the mesh while trying to scale the fence.  He had managed to get 3 or 4 feet up some chickenwire fencing before getting stuck in the mesh overlay.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fimages-na.ssl-images-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F61hR-wboirL._AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_.jpg&f=1)
Galvanized hardware cloth fencing
Post-setting requires about 2 bags of quick-setting cement per post, a post hole digger, a post-digging spade, a wheel barrow, a hoe, a flat-tipped shovel and an empty plastic gallon or half-gallon jug.  If not comfortable eyeballing a straight line for the posts, either a chalk-line or string can be used.  About a 3" diameter stick also comes in handy for tamping down shovels full of wet cement to remove air pockets.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ebayimg.com%2Fimages%2Fg%2FyqoAAOSw3mpXI1ul%2Fs-l300.jpg&f=1)
Manual post-hole diggers generally come with either wooden or fiberglass handles.  Look for one which has jaws that bite completely together, so as not to lose some of the dirt back inside of the hole.

The post holes should be 1/3 the height and about a foot wider than the posts.  Soil can be loosened up with the spade, followed by use of the manual post-hole digger in order to remove deeper soil.  If you hit a rock that is too big to remove or break up, simply move the location for the hole. 

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ebayimg.com%2Fimages%2Fg%2FyloAAOSwyMNZec81%2Fs-l300.jpg&f=1)
Another name for a post-hole spade is a drainage spade.

Once a post hole is dug, or several, it's time to mix the cement.  The quick-setting kind works best for fence posts, but you have to move fast.  Dump a bag of cement into the wheel barrow, add half a gallon of water, and mix with the hoe.  If necessary you can spritz a little additional water on it to keep it pliable, but the less water, the more strength.  It will be ready to use within about a minute of mixing.  Add the first shovel-full to the bottom of the hole, and set the post in the middle of it.  The post can be braced with a board, but with quick-setting cement, this will only be necessary while you're filling in the remainder of the hole, as it literally dries that quickly.  Tamp with the 3" diameter stick or tamper bar as soon as each shovel-full is dumped into the hole, before it sets.  Ignore some advice to dump the dry mix into the hole and then dump water on top - I'm told that that technique lacks the same strength of pre-mixing it in the wheel barrow. 

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.madebymarzipan.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F06%2Fconcrete.png&f=1)

Each post hole will need about 2 bags of cement, so if doing a number of posts, this is where paid delivery comes in handy.  I've found that for a woman setting posts in the heat of summer, about 6 per day is the most that can be done alone, and maybe twice that number with help.  Your mileage may vary  :)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 14, 2019, 03:29:08 PM
Lots of good fence information there, so thanks.  As a woman setting posts in the heat of summer, I'd probably conk out after 1 per day!  LOL
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 15, 2019, 06:00:50 AM
 ;)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 18, 2019, 05:35:47 PM
This tour of Sunshine Farm blew me away, because it's a first-year no-till garden in upstate New York near the Canadian border.

 The young farmer has used the Back to Eden technique of spreading shredded wood mulch the previous autumn and allowing it to degrade slowly into rich soil. 

For a location that far north, with its short growing season, the abundance and variety produced were simply astounding:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFimh6WVaXQ

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/IFimh6WVaXQ/hqdefault.jpg)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 18, 2019, 05:41:28 PM
Just as a post-script, a different young farmer, linked below, has complained recently of the above-mentioned Back to Eden wood chip method attracting termites to wooden structures, so shredded wood needs to be used in judicious locations:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VFHXFDUVMY
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: Jimfarmer on August 18, 2019, 10:45:18 PM
Just as a post-script, a different young farmer, linked below, has complained recently of the above-mentioned Back to Eden wood chip method attracting termites to wooden structures, so shredded wood needs to be used in judicious locations:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VFHXFDUVMY

Also, cockroaches love wood chips.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 19, 2019, 10:11:46 AM
Very true here!
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda on August 19, 2019, 01:36:19 PM
Those wood-chip paths and the mulch looks beautiful in the garden, as it did when my mother kept spreading it all over the garden.  She wanted it and wanted to do the work of spreading it, so it was great for a while.  She used cypress bark mulch.

But in not too long a time, weeds began to germinate and poke through, and believe me weeding in those wood chips is 1000X more difficult than weeding in soil.  And if a person wants to avoid most of the weeds, they can lay down plastic first, then spread the wood chips on top, but then there's that pesky issue that plastic breaks down, and often into thousands and thousands of tiny pieces.

I'm back to liking old hay for mulch (directly on the ground), as seeds are no longer viable, and even old hay, if thick enough, will repress weed growth for quite some time.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on August 19, 2019, 02:36:14 PM
That sounds like an improvement Ilinda.  Am now dividing everything that I see and use outdoors into two categories: "Snaky" and "Non-snaky," depending upon whether it provides surreptitious habitat...

Not sure if hay is snake habitat?

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FJ-DjgRIWBUo%2Fhqdefault.jpg&f=1)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book on September 02, 2019, 06:47:30 AM
Just a quick follow-up about setting fence posts:

Am continuing today to set posts (have had three big projects requiring them here), and have learned how to do it in inclement weather from a professional: 

You can "dodge" around the weather and set posts by placing plastic sheeting over freshly laid concrete that is not dry yet, and the heat from the plastic will not only protect your mixture from becoming dilute, but will also provide heat and hasten drying. 

Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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...

(https://media.springernature.com/full/springer-static/image/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41598-018-25212-2/MediaObjects/41598_2018_25212_Fig1_HTML.jpg)
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
Title: Re: Microfarming with contingencies
Post by: R.R. Book 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.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fsnappdragons.files.wordpress.com%2F2012%2F09%2Fhugelkultur.png%3Fw%3D300%26h%3D164&f=1&nofb=1)

*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.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.pinimg.com%2Foriginals%2F8f%2Ff4%2Ffd%2F8ff4fdb3e5cece3973f97f622bc2d3ef.jpg&f=1&nofb=1)

*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.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.ZQlvVN2rBfySLptmKNaILwAAAA%26pid%3DApi&f=1)

*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.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fecx.images-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F61iZwQR3j7L._SL300_.jpg&f=1&nofb=1)
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.

(https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fstudy.com%2Fcimages%2Fmultimages%2F16%2Fthree-field-crop-rotation.jpg&f=1&nofb=1)
*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?
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda 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.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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):

https://morningchores.com/vegetable-garden-size/

(https://cdn.morningchores.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Vegetable-Garden-Size-Calculator-How-Much-to-Plant-for-Your-Family-PIN-470x800.jpg)
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.

Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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. :)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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:


(https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi1.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FQyb6WG5dwOQ%2Fmqdefault.jpg&f=1)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPGLuok0QZd5FX0xISdDxbQ

Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda 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.
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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?

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49000428031_b449316607.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2hE1174) (https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49000633107_bfd453d4ba.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2hE244R)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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?

(https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fimage.blingee.com%2Fimages18%2Fcontent%2Foutput%2F000%2F000%2F000%2F6f7%2F676409222_1607388.gif&f=1&nofb=1)
Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: ilinda 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.

Title: Re: Microfarming
Post by: R.R. Book 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!