The Definitive Agriculture/Permaculture Thread

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Hardware Cloth

I actually use hardware cloth for the sides of some of my raised beds. It provides excellent aeration to the soil while still containing it. I thought it might rust out over time but so far it has held up well for 6 years.

I like to use my raised beds as compost bins when they are not growing anything, and the 2 foot high screen mesh sides allow me to dump a load of leaves, grass, etc. on the beds. Besides, hardware cloth is cheaper than any other non-toxic building material I could find for building my raised beds.

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hardware cloth

Thanks guys.  As earthwise anticipated, I immediately recognized what hardware cloth is when he described it.  I've used it myself, but just never knew what it is called.  I've always thought of it as screening or mesh.

JAG, good ideas on the raised beds.  I can eliminat one step in the progression from organic matter to compost added to the garden.

Doug

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seed catalogs are rolling in

The seed catalogs are rolling in and it is time to get things planned  for the new garden .  Since most  of the American population make less than 100K  and with all the reports of  food emergencies , this thread ought to be hopping .    It takes years to learn grow enough food to feed your family and neighbors .  Yes I guess there are loads of you tubes and info out there but  how many places to share the frustrations and what not to do ?  Success and failures ?   Basically we want to grow as much food as we can with as little investment as we can .   BUT  OMG  the time it takes to make all the mistakes yourself  and many may need to hire and mentor a younger person with a strong back .. sounds like there are plenty of those sitting on couches across the country . .

  Everyone needs to share .. what I am doing now  Example : It is time to put sweet potatoes in the jar to get the slips started . 

  OH and I saw a way to use old gutters to grow  spinach ,lettuce , radishes in a small amount of wall space  has anyone used this method?

  food , water ,and shelter are  first  priorities .

FM 

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sweet potatoes

You start the sweet potatoes already?  When do you put them out?

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Time to plan the garden

Yes, FM, this thread ought to be hopping.You need time - and land. We don't have as much land as you, but we do have one acre.

And here is what I did so far this year, other than weeding. (Yes, weeding in December is one of the pitfalls of gardening in the Deep South.  I still have cold-hardy peas and carrots under mulch producing on the south side of the house, on top of the winter favorite cabbages and turnips and califlower.) We have 18 Square Foot Garden raised beds of varying sizes and a space for things like potatoes in the actual yard. On a legal pad I made a sketch of the boxes positions, numbering each box and area as a key, and then sat down and decided what went where. This is based on whether there are diseases in a box (three boxes will be solarized at the height of the summer to kill nematodes and one had verticillium wilt), whether it was recently planted with a soil-enriching legume (like Lima beans) or a soil depleting crop (like tomatoes and peppers), and whether or not the light seemed right for this or that plant in the microclimates created by shade on the side of a shed or tree or house.

I had a list of what should go in each numbered box. Then I made an Ziploc bag of seeds for each numbered area in the key.

I am a seed saver, and I buy and save seeds in advance (2 year old seeds are usualy at least 80 percent viable) so I have a stockpile for me and neighbors. I have an alphabetical file for my seeds. It's a basket like the top one below, with letter-sized manilla folders cut in thirds A to Z.

The new seeds I ordered for this year were not added to the file until the old ones were put in the Ziploc bags for each numbered garden area. Then I put the new seeds in the numbered Ziploc bags, too. Those Ziploc bags are in a bowl, in number order.

I made a list of what's missing: garden nastriums for under the tomatoes was the only seed, but I need three bean and cuke teepees and more compost from the recycling center.

My next task will be to use my South Carolina Master Gardener Training Handbook to look up and jot down the planting dates on my calendar. A couple of things get planted in the middle of January, beleive it or not.

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water, food, and shelter

RDenner wrote:

New Member here. So glad someone bumped these two threads(the Firearms one as well).

Seeing as that this is a financial site, I would have never known that there was such a great deal of interest in permaculture and growing.

Hi Robert,

No, whilst this site could be conjured to be a financial site, it is actually based on CM's THREE E's...  Economy, Energy, and Environment.  It's just that since its original inception, when I was there right from the start, it has been somewhat hijacked by people who "don't get it" and are desperately trying to keep their wealth at any cost when this will become impossible.

The best wealth there is is that which you own outright, and grows in your garden.  There are only three things essential to survival:  water, food, and shelter.  Everything else is a distraction.  So if you are lucky enough to have excess wealth, you should be investing it in these three essentals.  Those who don't will be part of the great dieoff.

Mike

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sweet potato slips

Yes I start them now  because we plant the first of May .    The store bought potatoes must have a sprout inhibitor on them .    I plant 48 plants  and I have many relatives and neighbors that need themas well  .  This is something you can sell at a farmers market too .   But  just this year did I learn that we need to cut back the vine to get more potato ....   I truely learn something new all the time . Now I need a notebook because I do not store things so well anymore .

Safewrite wonderful plan for seed saving .. mine are on paperplates all over the greenhouse .  And when the grandkids came over all the pepper seeds were mixed together by " NOT ME " .    This will be an intresting summer . BTW  could we plant peanuts in boxes ?   I really could not get so cranked about digging as our soil is still quite heavy .

OH yes ,the  Bicycle Wheel  Sock Dryer that my 12 yo made makes an excellent pepper dryer as well ! 

Truely ,truely , the sooner we learn and can pass these things down the better .. it is a whole different life than beans and bacon from the store .  In fact there are things we had to choose to say no to volunteering to because it is time consuming learning and doing .   You will not be able to up and take a vacation just anytime you want as you are committed or had better have a friend or neighbor that will cove for you .   5 days and the weeds could take over and you are harvesting something every week once you get your timing right . 

For now we get to try new ways to cook and eat our harvest and plan the layout and timing for next season .  I am finding that we are eating far less grains and way more meat , vegs , and fruit ....really feel much better .

FM

PS.  a good time to think about ordering chicks soon .   Everytime my Banties hatch a nest of  eggs or I put a batch in the incubator they are way heavy on the roosters and really feel like as long as I can order pulletsat a decent price I will be better off doing that .

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getting a soil test

I just dropped off my soil samples at the local US cooperative extension (for SC, that is associated with Clemson University; for other states see this site ) They ask you to bring in one sample per ten acres at $6 a pop. I brought in two samples: one from my raised beds and one from my yard where we are growing potaoes. Results were promised in 8 to 10 business days. I was told winter is a good time to do this, as they are not as busy. Here are links to state and territory offices.

Alabama Iowa New Jersey Vermont
Alaska Kansas New Mexico Virginia
Arizona Kentucky New York Washington
Arkansas Louisiana North Carolina West Virginia
California Maine North Dakota Wisconsin
Colorado Maryland Ohio Wyoming
Connecticut Massachusetts Oklahoma  
Delaware Michigan Oregon American Samoa
District of Columbia Minnesota Pennsylvania Guam
Florida Mississippi Rhode Island Micronesia-Kolonia
Georgia Missouri South Carolina Northern Marianas
Hawaii Montana South Dakota Puerto Rico
Idaho Nebraska Tennessee Virgin Islands
Illinois Nevada Texas  
Indiana New Hampshire Utah  

There are also international extension service offices.  Examples are APEN (Australia) and CAGA (india)

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Re: Soil Tests

safewrite, thank for this information!  Good to know.  Can you educate on what exactly the soil tests will tell you?  Are they able to give you practical recommendations on how to improve your soil quality?  Thanks.

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Teaming with Microbes

I just got this book which seems pretty good at describing the latest research regarding how the soil works.  I think it does not contradict the tried and true practices, except possibly in saying that you need to bubble compost teas to make sure that aerobic bacteria grows rather than anaerobic bacteria.

http://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325782083&sr=1-1

They cover various ways of testing your soil to determine the sand/silt/clay composition and also for looking for various living things in the soil.

I am pretty much a newbie on this but I found it facinating. 

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what the tests cover

If I recall correctly, the test are for pH and various trace minierals, as well as moisture retention and percent of organics. Other tests, like for salts, were available. They were careful to ask exactly what I was growing since pH irequirements are different for different things.

A funny story about the one sample that I labeled lawn & Irish and sweet potatoes."What kind of lawn?" they asked. I had to pick the kind of grass from photos. I was informed, "That's not a lawn - that's weeds."

Hey - it's green and it's grass and we mow it, so you could have fooled me! But they very carefully crossed ou the word "lawn"...

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Thanks Safewrite!

Yet another fine contribution that shows how fine this community is!

Viva -- Sager 

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after I had mine tested

After I had my soil tested I was able to figure out my PH is to high for Blueberries and had to add the acid( pine needles ) to it . Finally the bushes are surviving .

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nuts to you

I am already raising ground nuts (peanuts) but thought tree nuts might be a good addition to our yard. There is an area on the side of the house where we needed a screening hedge . I just purchased four hazelnut bush saplings - also known as filberts. They come in tree size, but who has room for that?

What I like about the filbert/hazelnut bushes is that they (1) will only grow 10-ft high, (2) are relatively easy to shell,  (3) only require being 4-ft apart (minimum),  and (4) are picked off the ground because they fall when they get ripe. I feel they are a perfect choice for limited space.

Growing hazelnuts is an opportunity grow and harvest nuts at home without having to plant trees that will grow huge, and take years before they produce. Hazelnuts or American filberts are native to the American Midwest, and grow in fertile, well drained soil. They also make an attractive hedgerow or individual planting that grows about 10 feet tall and wide. Once established, they can produce heavily and consistently. (source) - Growing Hazelnuts for Self-sufficiency

Here is a photo of a hazelnut hedge. Ours will be screening our woodpile and eventual chicken run area.

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OH NUTS !

These are lovely Safewrite !    I am going to look into them and plant a plenty  to share with the squirrels  and get the gumbo pot ready . Maybe these do not take as long as some of the other nut trees I have planted ?    But for sure who could not think nut trees are a must ... some of our trees( walnut , and pecan ) are over a hundred years old and still produce . Then will be excellent fire wood. 

I would love it if you would post more hints on the peanuts as well . Like how you prepare and store them after harvest . Did you say that you thought we could grow them in pots or boxes if this would make them easier to harvest ?

FM 

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climate zones

I'm very interested in planting some hazelnuts, but don't know if our growing zone is warm enough.  I've seen one source that said zone 5 is the limit.  I live in a borderline 5 and am willing to try some.  Another source said zone 6 is as cold as they tolerate.  Do any of you have some expertise in colder zones?  Butternuts do well here as do black walnuts and hickories.  We planted some English walnuts this year, so we'll see what happens with that.

Doug

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all about filberts

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazelnut

American Hazelnut, Corylus americana, grows as a strong multi-stemmed shrub with desirable, edible nuts maturing in September to October. The American Hazelnut is also planted by wildlife enthusiasts to attract turkey and keep them and other wildlife in an area. Plant in full sun for best growth and development, though it can grow in partial shade, the plant's density and fruit production are generally reduced.

A native plant variety, Hazelnuts are medium to fast growers that sucker moderately, eventually producing a multi-stemmed, clump appearance growing to a height of 8 to 12 feet and with a crown spread of 10 to 15 feet.

The nuts produced by American Hazelnut are a preferred by squirrels, deer, turkey, woodpeckers, pheasants and other animals. The male catkins are a food staple of ruffed grouse throughout the winter. They are also grown for use in cakes, cookies, and candies.The grow in zones 4 through 9.  I bought mine at Wilson Orchards, the same place I got my mulberry.

It also has low water requirements and shows a high tolerance to salt and alkali soils. This species adapts well to a range of soil pH and types, but performs best in well drained loamy soil.

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DuChilly hazelnuts

Doug wrote:

I'm very interested in planting some hazelnuts, but don't know if our growing zone is warm enough.  I've seen one source that said zone 5 is the limit.  I live in a borderline 5 and am willing to try some.  Another source said zone 6 is as cold as they tolerate.  Do any of you have some expertise in colder zones?  Butternuts do well here as do black walnuts and hickories.  We planted some English walnuts this year, so we'll see what happens with that.

Doug

I have no idea if they'd be suitable for your climate but if so, go for DuChilly hazelnuts.  They are the very best tasting.

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Safewrite

What we have here is a definitional problem.  Your map above defines my locale as borderline 5/6 in agreement with some of our seed catalogues, but others define my area as zone 4/5.  I've run into this problem before.  There is a lack of consistency.  I think my best bet is to consult my favorite local nursery to find out what grows around here.

ao, thanks for the tip.

Thanks.

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New USDA zones

That's due to climate change, Doug.  There are new, updated USDA zones. Many of the seed manufacturers have not updated their old info. Watrch the brief annimation at this link to see the new zones and the extent of the shift:

http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm

This has been going on for a few years. I lived in a Zone 4/5 that is now a solid Zone 5, to an area that used ot be a solid 8 and is now a Zone 8/9.

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Zoned out

Thanks Safewrite, I hadn't reallized the USDA had rejiggered the zones.  That tends to conform with my own observations that a number of plants that should have been iffy with the old zones seem to do just fine when I plant them.  I wonder about sweet potatoes.......

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more nutty things

A few posts back Full Moon asked me about peanuts. She wondered if I had them in raised beds to make harvesting easier. Not exactly.

We live in a geoligical area of the Carolinas called The Sandhills. This area was an ancient ocean bed, and it's all sand - with a nice rock-hard layer of clay.  Our back yard was made of this and is also a mess of tree roots, and full of moles. So I used raised beds (with mole-repelling wire mesh on the bottoms) on TOP of this soil rather than chop up tree roots and then try to make it all nice garden-friendly soil.

There are some parts of it my yard are decent, though sandy - that is where the sweet potatoes and potatoes and next years crop of peanuts are going. I can grow things in sandy soil. I gardened on the South Shore of Long Island, NY and is just one huge sandbar.  But the roots, and the moles that like to live among them, were the deciding factor for me using raised beds.

So, here is what I know about growing peanuts. First of all, becuase I live in the South, the first time I planted them I just bought green peanuts in the supermarket for seed. They were $1.59 a pound. In other parts of the country I suppose you'd have to get them through seed catalogs or raw peanuts at a health food store. The second year I just used my saved peanuts from last year as seed: stick them in a basket and forget them until planting time next year! (If you age gonna shell and roast them wait three days for them to cure.) 

They seem to like full sun and loamy, well-drained but well-watered soil so far, since that is what I have in the raised beds (the source below says they need a half inch of rain a week.) You should plant them stupidly close together - like an inch or two apart  and two inches down. I don't do row farming, I plant raised beds, but in these they form a very dense mat. No weeds! This year I plan on planting them along the front fence in some of the decent non-tree-root soil as if they were pachysandra or some other ground cover. The white peanut flowers are very pretty in the Spring.

The plants take about 120 days to mature.Under the leaves, the peanut shells start out as white bumps on the runners, and grow until they are the traditional peanut shell shape, but white. When they are ripe, the nuts start to turn brown. The nuts don't seem to like to go that deep - mine were found on the surface to right under the surface, at no more than one-to-three inches down. I got about 20 mature nuts per square foot, so I hope to get a much larger harvest by using them as a large-area landscaping item in the front yard.

Here is more information: http://www.nationalpeanutboard.org/classroom-farmingtoday.php

Peanuts are grown commercially in 15 states: Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, California, and Tennessee. USA peanuts are planted after the last frost in April through May, when soil temperatures reach 65°—70°F.

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Draft horses...the forgotten alternative energy

I have a neighbor who uses draft horse to the max. Mainly he does horse logging (cedar river horse logging and you can find him on Facebook -Tim Carroll, with the picture of horses).

He brought the horse over last summer  to cut the hay and I was wow'ed as they hardly worked up a sweat. You can see them and how he trains they on rural heritage.com take out the spaces as the iPad auto corrects everything. 

Not only do the horses do field work and drag logs out of the woods with little disruption to the veggitation like vehicles would, they are also ridden when needed and a beautiful animal to watch.

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horses

A friend used a work horse in his fields until it spooked one day and dragged him across a field, breaking his arm.  The unpredictability of particularly large powerful animals is something to consider.

For those who have used horses, what are your thoughts about smaller horses like Welsh Cobbs or Norwegian Fjords?  I understand that you actually get more bang for the buck using the small breeds.  They consume less food per output and are hardier in cold weather climes.

Doug

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accidents happen

many tractor/combine accidents happen daily as well as 4 wheelers.     Work your animals . Enjoy your animals .  Yes they can be spooked but the more they trust you and are used the safer they will be .   You can teach them to ground tie and they will not go anywhere until given the comand or signal .

I like the smaller breeds for somethings because they are much easier for gals to harness up .   But my grandfather always loved the belgians . because he did bigger fields and pulled heavier loads . I do not work that hard ..  just make more trips.

FM

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Morgans

The smaller ponies do need more hoof care .    Look for Strong, healthy , dark( if possible ) hoofs when you go shopping . Do not not buy anything lame or that paddles out or with mouth problems like over bite or parrot mouth .     I really really like the old fashion Morgan working  horse for an all around choice .( NOT the new taller  Saddlebred breed of Morgans .) Their Hoofs are solid they are compact , easy to train and have a smooth gate for riding as well .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_horse

Yup study before you go shopping or take someone with you .

FM 

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Excellent discussion of hugelkultur

Here and discussion.

Hugelkultur, in short, is a raised bed with wood in it. The wood absorbs excess water and releases it slowly to plants growing in the bed.

From Paul Wheaton's Missoula blog: 

Paul Wheaton is is the tyrannical ruler of two on-line communities. One is about permaculture and one is about software engineering... Paul has written several permacutlure articles starting with one on lawn care that he presented at the MUD Project 17 years ago, including articles on raising chickens, cast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul also regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts. In his spare time, Paul has plans for world domination and is currently shopping for a hollowed out volcano in the Missoula area, with good submarine access.

Paul is also seeking help getting this concept "into the brains of 50 million people". Assistance welcomed.

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processing chickens

Following up on Sager's post on processing chickens awhile ago I added my own experience here:

www.PeakProsperity.com/blog/raising-your-own-chickens/49527

Another part of the cycle in the backyard garden.

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Hugelkulture

This link on Hugelkultur was in today's Daily Digest on Hugelkultur, or buildong raised beds filled with rotten wood.  

Raised Garden Beds: Hugelkultur Instead Of Irrigation

I heard about this before on programs like the Survial Podcast, and now I know how to spell it.  Anyone have any experience?  Building a garden that needs minimal work to water would be great!

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Hugelkultur: raised garden beds with wood inside

Woodman wrote:

This link on Hugelkultur was in today's Daily Digest on Hugelkultur, or buildong raised beds filled with rotten wood.  

Raised Garden Beds: Hugelkultur Instead Of Irrigation

I heard about this before on programs like the Survial Podcast, and now I know how to spell it.  Anyone have any experience?  Building a garden that needs minimal work to water would be great!

There's a quite extensive discussion of Hugelkultur going on here.

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