The Definitive Agriculture/Permaculture Thread
Nice job Jeff…inspiring! Thanks for sharing.
That…looks…DEELISH!! Pass the bowl over here? And some blue-corn chips? Thanks man…
I am way late to this thread, but am trying to catch up.
Today I had my third meeting with someone who knows one hell of a lot more than I do about farming. One of the things he showed me is how to convert marginal land into productive land.
This person has a farm that produces enough food to feed 25 families, a hotel, and a restaurant. Much of the production comes from a hydroponics-based greenhouse I will post more on later. The rest, however, comes from traditional farming on a fairly small amount of land (maybe 1-2 acres).
The way he "preps" the land is by:
1) Excavating about 2-ft deep trenches the length of, in his case, about 60-100 ft (depends on the shape of your land).
2) He has 15 horses that produce one hell of a lot of manure. (I found an equestrian center near me that will give me all the manure I need – they have 24 horses)
3) He fills the trenches with manure, and covers them in black plastic. Then, he allows it to "cook" for about two months. The resulting soil is good for at least 1 year of growing just about anything you want. I have seen his farm and if I can manage to get anything close to the production he has, I will be very happy and well fed no matter what happens.
"Horse shit is a good thing." That may replace my "gold" sign off in the near future.
"Horse shit is a good thing."
That was the way my Grandfather always fertilized his farm. Its a rather simplistic approach, but seems to be very effective.
FIRST POST HERE! I’m a master gardener from NJ who is now in New Mexico where I had to relearn everything for planting in the high desert!~
One topic I want to bring up right away (before I have a chance to add photos of my raised beds etc. is the issue of STORING FOOD.
I canned a lot in NJ, but here my yields are lower. Freezing tomatoes and grapes is great….BUT….with the rising cost of energy, I will go back to canning. Coincidentally, after about 10 years of experimenting, I’ve cut my selection of veggies down a lot and now focus on only a few. (Sadly, I have great difficulty with things like zucchini because we lack pollinators during the part of the season when needed up here at 4600 feet and hand pollinating is not too successful…PLUS, water is a concern and this sort of plant takes so much water….)
Anyway, I’m focusing on a few crops that I can start canning again…tomatoes, for one.
To offset the hard summer conditions we do have mild enough winters that I can plant greens and harvest all winter!
So, what I’ve learned is assess your climate and seasons and focus on what grows with less water and things that can be saved using minimal electricity. That’s my strategy that’s evolving now…
[quote=NMNJGRL] I’m a master gardener from NJ who is now in New Mexico where I had to relearn everything for planting in the high desert!~what I’ve learned is assess your climate and seasons and focus on what grows with less water and things that can be saved using minimal electricity. That’s my strategy that’s evolving now…[/quote]
I don’t know if you’ve found this company yet, but I recommend http://www.nativeseed.org
They’re located in Tucson, and specialize in seeds for the desert. I’m having some success with growing seeds I’ve purchased through them.
okay jeff, you can not show a bowl of salsa that looks that great without sharing a recipe!
NMNJgirl, welcome and I can’t wait to hear more about what you’re growing. What did you end up narrowing your crop list down to? We’re growing at about 5,000 feet on the Front Range in Colo.
Food storage has been high on my list to learn more about of late. This summer I’m going to experiment with it in greater detail (after a successful first canning last fall of grape jam I made from a friend’s neglected grape vines). You’ve probably found her already, but if you haven’t, Sharon Astyk has an incredible blog on preparing for a changing world and she’s currently teaching an online food storage class. Though it’s not part of the class, as far as I know, her posts of late have been about food storage and you can search her posts by topic as well on a sidebar.
I keep taking pictures of my gardens, getting stymied on the uploading (can’t find a program on my computer that will let me reduce the size of the photos) and by the time I try again, the photos are out of date. I’ve just dug up a mess of perennial herbs and flowers from a friends garden and I’m building an herb spiral bed (outside the chicken coop, which may be a mistake, I can imagine the girls salivating over it as they wait to be released and heading straight for it. I may have to put some perimeter fencing up…)
I’m still frantically trying to dig beds and find places to tuck in the seedlings I’ve started. I’m laughing at my husband and I standing around in early spring, looking at the beds we dug and saying, "that’ll be plenty for us to grow in this year"!
I’ve got potatoes growing five different ways — a long trench in the ground, short trenches under our hooped bed (which is now open, unless a hailstorm threatens) and in 3 vertical bins — one my former vermiculture bin, a blue plastic storage bin with eight million holes drilled through it and tilted slightly towards the sun, a hoop of fencing with chickenwire on the inside to hold in the mulch substrate, and what was our compost pile, a square of 1×1 oak lengths a neighbor gave us, which my husband drilled holes in and then threaded alternately onto a length of round metal bar about 1/4 inch in diameter at each of the four corners. (I’ll try to figure out the photos thing soon, it’s easier than trying to describe it!)
Our greens beds are roaring, our tomatoes and peppers are mostly in the ground, the sugar snaps are happy, the corn is sprouting, the onions look great, the strawberries are producing and we’re in a pitched battle with the robins for them (the bed I covered with row plastic starting in feb is producing, our other bed is still just flowering and setting fruit). I think the raspberries are doing well, but I’m not sure if I should have pruned back each plant to just a handful of canes. Oh well, it’s all an experiment. I’ll let them bush out this year and if we don’t get a decent yield, I’ll try something different next year. My next project is to plant to cuke seedlings in an old, clear plastic storage bin or two with the bottoms cut out and train them up some cattle fencing we have. (I’m running out of wood for raised beds and am trying to get creative.)
Still want to put in more zukes, rocky ford melons, watermelons (an experiment for the kids, more than anything), more leeks, more greens, and get some cauliflowers started for summer planting out…
Speaking of turning marginal land into productive, have you guys seen this?
Food Forests, Fungi, Land, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Swales, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh
This is just one example of how permaculture can transform the environment, and, in so doing, dramatically change lives. By evidencing the dramatic transformation possible in the world’s worst agricultural scenarios, we hope to make people stand up and listen.
Below is a behind the scenes look at Greening the Desert.
What a great presentation, and how inspiring.
I can’t get enough of this stuff. Now I just need a piece of desert to try it out.