The Definitive Agriculture/Permaculture Thread

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Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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what would you plant in your subsistence garden?

Great article at http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/03/what-would-you-plant-in-your-subsistence-garden/

From comments on this entry, which is where the action is:

Oh one more thing? For organic bug pickers? Try ducks. When we lived in Phoenix Arizona we had several Muscovy flightless and quackless ducks. (An Easter gift that gave back lol) Our yard and garden was the only one in our area to survive a severe hook worm invasion that swept the valley that year. And they didnt damage the plants at all. They just waddled between the rows and picked them off gentle as you please. Our artichokes were the size of softballs that year. Must have been the duck fertilizer hee hee. We were also the only yard around our area that was tick free. Our dogs were clean at every check. Just a thought. And you dont have a lot of eggs to get rid of. Hope your trees do better.

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tomatoes

My plan was to dig a nice big hole for each tomato plant in what previously was my yard.  To my dismay it turns out the that soil down six inches or so is solid clay.  When I first dug the holes it rained and they filled completely with water.  The water never soaked in.  The holes held water better than my Homer buckets.  I ended up digging down about 18 inches and filling each hole with a little over one wheel barrow full of good soil and the Complete Organic Fertilizer from the Growing When It Counts book.  I have a total of seven plants in so far.

Joe  my yard is all marine clay a few inches down.  last year I planted a bunch of extra tomato seedlings in a thick bed of rough compost I get for free from the Town, spread over the grass..  This avoids tilling and keeps the plants up above the restricted layer so they do not to get submerged.

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Black walnuts and tomatoes

It has been a month since I visited this thread. pinecarr, if you haven't dug up your black walnuts, think twice about digging all of them. You only need to have one of them. Decide which is best and remove the rest. They produce a long primary tap root that seems to penetrate solid rock. If you don't get an adequate root for transplanting, the tree will die. This isn't the best time of year to transplant.

Black walnuts are hard nuts (Safewrite was an optimist if she thinks an 18 wheeler can crack them. ), the trees are quite territorial, but the nuts are worth it. There is nothing like black walnut. The flavor is much more intense than an easy to crack English walnut. Black walnut ice cream or a simple green salad with a crushed black walnut and blue cheese crumbles ...

Tomatoes - I've got 8 plants growing in 17 gallon planters in my greenhouse. In late July, I water every 2 or 3 days. I'll look for slightly wilty leaves in the late afternoon and then thoroughly water the next morning. This seems to work well.

My soil mixture is local sandy soil, perlite, and half well-composted horse manure that is extremely high in calcium. I add a bit (quarter cup per 2 gallons) of epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to my water every other or third time. The magnesium makes them greener and the sulfate adds flavor to the fruit. If the plants exhibit end blossom rot (watery, scaly, or rotting area on the blossom end of the fruit,) they are showing a calcium deficiency. Then, I'd use gypsum (calcium sulfate) every third or fourth watering until well after the rot disappears.

A friend tried pruning his tomatoes as Safewrite suggested, but he got fewer fruits, and they didn't have the same fullness of taste (my subjective opinion.) The plants looked naked. The leaves are their factories.  Why would you want to remove them ... unless you had overwhelming disease pressure ???

Grover

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Woodman - clay

My plan was to dig a nice big hole for each tomato plant in what previously was my yard.  To my dismay it turns out the that soil down six inches or so is solid clay.  When I first dug the holes it rained and they filled completely with water.  The water never soaked in.  The holes held water better than my Homer buckets.  I ended up digging down about 18 inches and filling each hole with a little over one wheel barrow full of good soil and the Complete Organic Fertilizer from the Growing When It Counts book.  I have a total of seven plants in so far.

Joe  my yard is all marine clay a few inches down.  last year I planted a bunch of extra tomato seedlings in a thick bed of rough compost I get for free from the Town, spread over the grass..  This avoids tilling and keeps the plants up above the restricted layer so they do not to get submerged.

[/quote

What you say makes a lot of sense.  I think it will be raised beds (with our without sides) for me for the most part going forward.

I think what you describe is the "raised bed without the walls" that I have for the two 4x20 rows where my kale is currently growning.  I just dug down one layer with my tilling spade to loosen it up and then brought in may wheel barrow loads of half dirt half compost mixture.  Unfortunately I had to buy the mixture from the landscape company and have them truck it in 5 yards at a time ($33/yd including transport).

Last year I planted some tomato plants and mounded the soil up around the stem, but the mound eventually washed off as I watered it.  I think if the mound were actually a wide row I would not have that problem.

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US Drought Monitor

I realize this will only apply to people in the USA, but this is a good resource for American gardeners. Here is my state, but they have a drought map of the whole coutry, and regional maps. Note the history in the table. The maps are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

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cool

thanks Safewrite.

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Rain

It's raining!!  Hope we can raise our lake level and charge the aquifer a little.  We've had two very very dry years.

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not abandoning the forums

Here is what I also posted in the Gardening Group. Hot weather and how to protect your garden.

http://hibbshomes.com/itsthecustom/2011/06/caring-for-your-garden-in-extreme-heat/

Not on the gardening group post; things I noted in my research:

  • Tomatoes lose their flowers in 100+ degree F heat, cutting yields.
  • Things stop growing at night when it does not drop below 80 F
  • I am planning on watering 2x a day, AM and PM. It worked in the 100-degree-every-day July we had last year.
  • Mulch is very important to retain water. Be sure to use somthing already composted or compostable: no wood chips! I will use pine straw.
  • If you have a greenhouse, put a fan in it & keep the doors open or maybe temporarily move things outside of it into the shade during severe heat waves.

You can be sure we are already looking at installing drip irrigation and wicking beds, and this will accelerate our efforts in those areas.

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Tomatoes

Last summer my tomatoes started out well. The leaves started to curl and get spindly as the summer progressed. I still got tomatoes but the yield was lower than expected. I'm starting to see the same thing this year. Any suggestions as to what it might be are appreciated.

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I'll be your master gardener

I'll be your master gardener for the day...:)  Not really, but I do have a lot of experience with tomatoes and peppers.  This year our first red tomato came off the vine mid-April.

There's not enough info in your post to accurately diagnose your issue, so I'll give you a list of possibilities you can explore.  Pictures of plant problems are EXTREMELY helpful!

Curled leaves are typically signs of moisture stress.  This can be caused by a poor or diseased root system, too little water in the soil, too MUCH water in the soil, infrequent watering, and systemic disease.  Another cause you see listed on the websites is night time temps, but we get temp swings of 50 degrees, day to night, and I don't have curling leaves on my 30+ plants.

There are other possible causes too, but the above is where you should start.  I've found that a raised bed, or any bed with really well drained soil will need water twice a day when the conditions are hot AND dry.  Low humidity (below 50%) greatly increases moisture stress.  The challenge when watering this frequently is to not over-water, which deprives the root zone of O2, and causes rot root, which exacerbates the moisture stress.

One last thing to look for when you go out today to check your tomatoes- leaf discoloration, and aphid/whiteflies.  Leaf curl WITH discoloration generally points to disease, if your soil is otherwise fertile and healthy.  Aphids and whiteflies can really take off, especially in a greenhouse, but can be reasonably controlled with a cold water spray and/or organic pesticides.  I have my own recipe for spray that is pretty effective if you end up needing it.

Hope this helps!

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Anybody that wants help on

Anybody that wants help on dealing with high temps, I'll gladly let you learn from my mistakes!  Where I live, we've already seen temps above 106 F, with humidity at 12%.  Then at night, it drops into the 40's.

On your research-  there's some disagreement on N2 tie-up and wood chips.  Many people believe that tie-up only happens with relatively fresh chips, tilled into the soil.  Wood chips applied as mulch cannot extract N2 from the root zone 6 inches down.  I plan on testing this later this year.

Shade cloth is a great investment in hot, desert-like areas.  We plant everything under 30% black cloth, and it out-perfoms all our neighbor's gardens.  The only exception seems to be corn.  I throw 30% cloth over our greenhouses starting in mid-June (last week actually), and that keeps the temps down.  Our tomatoes under this fabric did NOT lose flowers during our mini heat wave.  Air temps are important, but actually LEAF temps are what matter to the plant.  Place a cheap digital thermometer about 3 inches down in the leaf canopy, use one that records maximum and minimum temps, and you'll get a really good idea what's going on.  August for us is the acid test, temps get over 110 usually for about a week or so, with humidity in the 10-15% range.

Open-ended hoop houses work really well here, too.  The length should be no more than 2x the width for maximum ventilation, and the ends have no walls.  In Spain, these are used frequently for berry production, as they filter and diffuse the sunlight, plus keep dust off the produce.  The Spanish models are really just long umbrellas, the sides do not touch the ground.

And oh yeah, drip is an absolute neccessity in this climate.  We plant in composted horse manure, watered 2x daily to keep the root zone damp, but with only just enough water, no runoff.  This has been our best year yet, our tomatoes are 6 feet tall right now, and we've already made about 2 gallons of salsa!

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The Virginia perspective...

Lnorris wrote:
Last summer my tomatoes started out well. The leaves started to curl and get spindly as the summer progressed. I still got tomatoes but the yield was lower than expected. I'm starting to see the same thing this year. Any suggestions as to what it might be are appreciated.

Lnorris -

tictac pointed out moisture stress that may be a cause to look into,  I have experienced another that gave me fits.  I had leaf curl issues on tomatoes and peppers because of a calcium AND magnesium deficiency.  I solved both issues by tossing a few handfuls of epsom salts and gypsum into the beds and watering it into the soil.  We haven't had really hot weather here in SE Virginia until this week so I haven't seen much evidence of moisture stress - we get the drive by thunderstorms that usually take care of watering needs and if we go more than a couple of days without a sprinkle we water.  So far the tomatoes look great - no splitting and just a touch of early blight/septoria on one of the cherry varieties.  All of the peppers are pushing out blooms, and I already have fruit on the white habanero, Chinese aji, black pearl, blue fusilia and Mini Bay leaf peppers.  Anxiously awaiting the transition from bloom to fruit on the ghost peppers and Trinidads.....

Consider sprinkling some gypsum and epsom salts into your beds and see what happens - the worst thing that could happen is nothing.  If your calcium/magnesium levels are good and the problem is moisture stress as tictac pointed out, then your plants simply won't uptake and your problem should be solved with even watering.

Good luck, let us know how things turn out. 

I am getting completely schooled by my lemon cukes this year and have no idea what is going on.  The English cukes are forearm length and tasty - the cuke plantings are in adjacent beds so I'm not sure if I should just mail it in with the lemon cukes or not. 

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My small start at gardening.

I am getting a lot of new apples on two Fuji apple trees that I planted last year. I know it probably won't mean too much to the master gardeners here but for me it is a big deal. I thought sure that they would die.

I have managed to plant and grow apples, oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries and some herbs in my small backyard. All of the trees are still pretty young but they are producing so I expect to  have even better crops next year. It is a start.

Ken

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Hey KenC, that's awesome.

Our apple trees are only 2 years old and no fruit yet; the strawberries are less than a year old and working on their root systems. No strawberries yet, either. Same with the new raspberries. We did get a couple cups each of mulberries and blueberries this year, but both the mulberry salpling and the blueberry bushes are still young so next year's yeild should be better.

So much of gardening is long-term, especially the tress and bushes.

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Hey Grover-   Sorry for not

Hey Grover-

  Sorry for not getting back to you sooner about the black walnut trees; this is the first time I've checked this thread in a while.

  No, I haven't pulled up the young black walnut trees yet.  I'm still torn; they struggled so the 1st year or so, and are now doing so well, it makes it hard for me to think of undoing both their work and my own to get them this far.  Their main "threat" will be if I decide I want to plant 6 more hazelberts this fall before winter; then I may need to take at least one of the black walnuts out to make room for them along the boundary of the lawn.  I've packed so many fruit trees and bushes and vines in my little yard that I literally can't find any more good planting spots, without giving up on something else I wanted space for.  So I may do that; take out 1 of the 3 small black walnuts I have to make room for more hazelberts, and leave the other 2 there.  The hazelberts are supposed to not grow as tall -supposedly more hedgelike- and produce sooner.  They are also supposed to be quite colorful in the fall, so I'm looking forward to them as a decorative hedge as well. The 6 I started this spring seem to be doing well.

  I'll keep you posted on the black walnut saga if there are any new developments...

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Thanks Safewrite.

I just wish that I had a little more room. My yard is is pretty small so I don't think that I will have room for much more. I would love to move out of this area but alas it is  not in the cards for me. So I guess I need to optimize what I have here.

My small strawberrie plants don't provide a lot of fruit but I can usually get enough to add to a bowl of cereal every couple of days. Because I am in Southern Cal. I get some strawberries almost all year. Most occur in May-June time frame though.

I am looking forward to trying those fuji apples in a couple of months.

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experiement: shade cloth

Last weekend we visited one of the largest orchid grower's establishments in the world, and I had the privilege of getting a personal tour by one of the growers. It was a real treat to discuss compost, watering schedules, and various growing strategies with a pro. One thing I learned is that orchids need shade to survive, and what products can provide that shade. We have areas in my kitchen garden that are burning out from the heat: I was already considering shade cloth, and this convinced me.

So I just ordered some of the shade cloth they recommended. I will let you know about the quality of the product, and if it ameliorates a problem I have on the south side of my house, where the sun is the fiercest and the light-colored siding reflects even more sun. 

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Extreme Weather Gardening

Here is a National Geographic article about extreme weather. Let's talk about it and how it affects your food security.

And it’s not just heavy rains that are making headlines. During the past decade we’ve also seen severe droughts in places like Texas, Australia, and Russia, as well as in East Africa, where tens of thousands have taken refuge in camps. Deadly heat waves have hit Europe, and record numbers of tornadoes have ripped across the United States.

The article lays out, briefly, why this is so.

Global climate change. More heat means more moisture in the air, and that moisture comes down in storms. More heat means El Nino and La Nina, wind patterns ebbing and flowing across the Pacific, will move the jet stream around: causing too much rain in one place and drought in another - then reverssing which part of the world gets what bad weather news.

As the warm pool shifts back and forth along the Equator, the wavy paths of the jet streams shift north and south—which changes the tracks that storms follow across the continents. An El Niño tends to push drenching storms over the southern U.S. and Peru while visiting drought and fire on Australia. In a La Niña the rains flood Australia and fail in the American Southwest and Texas—and in even more distant places like East Africa.

This summer in the Carolina Midlands, we had 10 days of over 110 F heat in July. Our 2011-2012 winter was very mild, to the point where it affected certain crops like peaches: they need more cold in the winter to fruit ptoperly. Things like figs, however, loved the heat this year.

Yet in the winter of 2010-2011 we had incredible amounts of snow and cold for this area. The weather bounced between extremes. Welcome to the new normal, climate-style. So what should you, as a gardener, do? Yes, of course stock up on seeds, but also - diversify.

There is a reason I as an American Southerner, am planting drought-resistant crops, and certain things that are right on the edges of my USDA "planting zones."  I have an olive tree and a cold-hardy orange tree. I also have crops and trees that can survive a severe winter (examples, apples and parsnips).  I have duplicates of perennials in case of hail damage, planted in different spots with differtn "cover" (examples , grapes and blueberries). And I have seeds immediately to plant if everything gets flooded or ripped out of the ground by high winds or hail.

I have gardener friends in Australia that are responding to excess mud by planting lemongrass. Gardeners in Texas are adding drip irrigation and wicking plant beds.

Think of how your garden might fare with too much rain, too little rain, severe winds, or hail. Diversification of crop type and crop location can help you feel more food-secure, especially when the cost of store-bought fruits and vegetbles soars due to droughts and floods.

Please share strategies for dealing with this in your climate, wherever you are.

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our favorite time

of year started. Lambing season began with twins of each gender.

Can I post pictures?  Robie

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Fascinating approach to pest control

Notes from my local wine merchant regarding his visit to a biodynamic vineyard - see the end;

"Domaine Duseigneur is a terrific biodynamic producer in the Southern Rhone AC of Lirac that I had the pleasure of visiting in April of 2008. Their wines have been hitting new heights in recent vintages and Duseigneur is certain an emerging star in the southern Rhone.

 

From their biodynamic and/or organic vineyards, they produce three separate cuvees of Lirac. Well-known oenologist Philippe Cambie is the consultant at Domaine Duseigneur.

 

Here's what I wrote previously not long after my visit." - George Feaver - Suburban Wines

 

Domaine Duseigneur is located on the West bank of the Rhône Valley, near the picturesque village of Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres, and in view of the slopes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 70-acre Estate straddles appelations of Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Laudun and Lirac.

The Estate was founded in 1967 by Jean Duseigneur, continuing a family tradition spanning four generations.    

At that time there was nothing to see except wilderness colonized by green oaks, but Jean Duseigneur immediately recognized the potential of the hilly terrain with its red clay soil to give rise to an exceptional terroir. He started developing his vineyard the way he had been taught by his ancestors, based on the knowledge that it would be the soil which would secure the long-term future of the vineyard and unique qualities of the grapes grown on that land. The fine balance of the soils unique structure and ecology, which had evolved over time, was to be maintained by only natural means. So to achieve this, Jean Duseigneur made a conscientious decision to use only the best nature had to offer, and to grow his grapes without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. This visionary philosophy, which was contrary to trends at the time, was already close to the modern biodynamic farming concept.

The unique legacy put in place by Jean 40 years ago, was handed to the care of his two sons, Bernard and Frederic in 1992. They share the same passion for the soil as their father and have continued the heritage of high quality wine making using the traditional methods developed by the family over five generations.

Since 1997 the Duseigneur Estate has been meeting the requirements of organic farming. However, wanting to take this concept even further the Duseigneur brothers fully embraced biodynamic farming in 2004.

 

"I actually visited this beautiful place in April of 2008 and saw Bernard practice a fascinating approach to pest control. He would take all of the briars and nettles and plants that no bugs or animals would eat and boil them in a big cauldron. Bernard would then fill up his backpack pump sprayer with the resulting "tea" and spray his vines down. He has had great success doing this and his wines are all the better for it."

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Great need

for the long emergency(i've got everything else covered, yeah right) is a dehuller small enough for a local farmer or coop of small farmers to build/purchase for the dehulling of oats,barley,spelt,rye etc. even rice if so inclined.

Any ideas? my searchs are fruitless.  Robie too busy farming to really learn the "E" world

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dehuller

Is that not what a grist mill is for? After you winnow grain? My friend Steve Gantt at Gantt's Stone Mill made his own machines; very similar to this place with lots of photos.

I am totally ignorant about his subject but was able to find this small dehuller online: http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/649543920/Small_corn_milling_machine_Small_dehuller.html

Now where are the pictures of the lambs?

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Dehulling

is a different process from milling. These folks are sampling some unprocessed grains for me http://www.meadowsmills.com/.to see if a tradional grist mill has a sufficient adj. range to "de"-hull small grains for human consumption. gotta get daughter to post lamb,calf,kid,piglet pics. I gotta christmas present for myself (a cultivating tractor)

robie

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grain elevator

Robie , would your local coop grain elevator clean your grain ?   We can buy twice cleaned here  so it is ready to come home and send through the grinder .

FM

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That is an easy

undertaking if the technology were sufficiently small. The dryers and dehullers and cleaners are HUGE and outa the local reach. now storage of ungraded but low moisture grain i already have, and the combine. I need a dehuller for oats and barley to get them to human consumption.

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neighbors

Well I think the trick will be to get neighbors to work together and share the equipment like in the early years . I intend to put up more sorghum this year but Haying 80 acres by horse would be a nightmare to me .

Spring is almost here . Sweet potato slips are going strong and I need to get garden seeds started and fruit trees checked . My bees look Like they over wintered well. Getting a couple dozen eggs a day .

I figure if things get real bad people will give us the equipment out of the museum to try to get people fed .

In town we have a company called Landoll Corp. It makes all kinds of fancy equipment but none will be useable with out gas .

I hope you have a good calving/kidding season .

TTYL
FM

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head starts

FM, getting your grain twice-cleaned by the elevator sounds too good to be true. We have to wash our own White Whole Wheat, which is a winter crop here. Damn, that's a lot of work washing that grain.

I was starting from bare sand-and-hard-packed clay 3.5 years ago. In a new climate. While I learned to grow things in zone 8, and I am thrilled at all the long-term things like fruit and nut trees we planted in this climate (olives! figs! mandrin oranges!), I envy you the head start. I suppose I it was necessary to plant the long-lead time items first.

At least we are finally getting our chickens this year. And our next big purchase will be a sunflower oil press (well, parts for one anyway - we will make our own.)

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India's Rice Revolution: One Farmer More Than Tripled His Yield

Note that the unit measure here used is the tonne, or metric ton: worth 1,000 kg or 2,205 lb. And a hectare is 2.47105 acres. The method here is called SRI or System of Root Intensification. It is apparently more labor intensive but requires less water and fertilizer. Can be adapted to other crops, like potatoes.

India's Rice Revolution (February 16, 2013)
"Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.

"This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India's poorest state Bihar, had - using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides - grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world's population of seven billion, big news.

"It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the 'father of rice', the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/feb/16/india-rice-farmers-revolution

Poet

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ao
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build a $300 underground greenhouse

Useful article on the benefits of a walipini.

http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/build-underground-greenhous...

This will likely be our next project.  The temperature was down to 13 deg. Fahrenheit today with 2-3 inches of snow and we just harvested the last of our carrots, kale, collards, and chard from under plastic.  Whether due to global warming or plastic and other protective measures, this is the latest in the season we have ever harvested anything.

My better half did a lot of canning this fall (red salsa, green salsa, tomatos, green beans, tomato soup, apple sauce, apple slices, etc.) and dehydrating (many varieties of fruits and vegetables) we've been trading some of that for venison and other food stuffs including everything over the years from bear and goose meat to brook trout to mushrooms to maple syrup.  Food barter is the way to go.  Deer harvests seem to be significantly down in the area for a number of reasons, including the growing coyote, wolf, and mountain lion population.  A limited wolf hunt has been allowed this year which I have mixed feelings about.

I wish I could discuss some of the other steps we're taking and obvious trends I see but both for censorship reasons (here) and growing privacy concerns (which are the more important of the two), I'm talking less and less about things that are becoming progressively more important.  We talk locally instead through a growing network where there's no electronic record.

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