If you had only 3/4ths of an acre, what would you do with it?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by jen74145, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. jen74145

    jen74145 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 30, 2006
    Northern California
    Alright, well? We moved in a couple months ago, and I've got a few laying hens and a few ducks (more coming in Spring) and am putting in a garden. The place has a few pecan trees, a peach, and a plum tree as well. There is also a concrete slab, which in lieu of removing, I'm thinking of raising catfish and crayfish in barrels on it.
    Kicking around the idea of some berry/grape vines, perhaps also a rabbitry....

    So, tell me your plan. Just need more ideas to consider...

    Silly me posted this in GC... oops
  2. COSunflower

    COSunflower Country Girl Supporter

    Dec 4, 2006
    I have only 3/4 acre and have chickens, berries, apple tree, raised gardening bed and containers, a small pond, flower beds etc. I did in the past have 3 goats, 2 potbelly pigs, and a flock of ducks along with my chickens. The goats and pigs have gone on to pet heaven due to old age. The ducks I finally gave away as it was too hard to keep them in water during the cold winters here. Oh, I had 3 turkeys too! I used to have a large regular garden but had to put in another drainfield 20 years ago - the first one was insufficient after 15 years - so now have two that I can alternate between during the year. Because of that, I had to go to raised bed gardening which is better for my arthritis anyway :) 3/4 of an just right for a single woman that works 40 hrs. a week. Keeps me plenty busy!!!

  3. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2003
    I would put in raised beds for veggies, a couple of cattle panels arched for vines to climb, chickens in a chicken tractor, rabbits in a rabbit tractor, and a 2 milk goats that go visit a buck to get bred. I would add more fruit trees (apple & cherry), some berry bushes and a small salad garden right outside the back door. I would build a small fish pond, and a separate duck pond if you have space (sometimes large fish will chew on ducks feet and even eat baby ducks swimming on the pond.) If you have space, I'd add a small greenhouse for starting seeds in the winter. If the concrete slab is in a good location, I'd build a bar-b-que pit at one end, add a picnic table, and use it for entertainment area. I'd draw it all out on paper and probably rearrange the setup a dozen times before I actually did anything.
  4. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    It's amazing what that much land can do. When I was on an acre I had:
    bee hives
    Orchard- 15+ fruit trees
    6-8 grape vines
    Large veggie garden
    *Check zoning- often lots that size don't allow certain activities (they have to be hidden will well placed hedging)
    *I know people do it with livestock but I found they take up too much space that could have been used WAY more productively. You end up bringing in 100% of their feed on that size lot.
    *Don't go crazy with too many free range poultry on the lot. You'll find their poops start piling up where you don't want them, they get into your veggies and gardens etcetc. Been there done that!
  5. GrannyCarol

    GrannyCarol Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 23, 2005
    Eastern WA
    We have 2/3-3/4 of an acre in a very small rural town. Right now we have three apple trees, a large raised veggie garden, 15 or so ducks (they have their own house and pen - it was a metal storage shed) and we don't begin to use our space, there is a lot of landscaping too! We are strongly considering getting a couple of Icelandic sheep to keep on our neighbor's land behind us - its agriculturally zoned and he has more space which he would like mowed. Icelandics for milk, meat and wool. Our neighbor has about an acre, which is in an arboretum mostly, but some of it is open too. We would have to put up temp fencing and shelter and feed hay though. Mostly they'd be pets, I'm afraid! :)

    Edit: I left out the large herb garden and our plans to get berries and bush fruits!
  6. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

    Dec 7, 2002
    Dysfunction Junction
    I am finding this thread very inspiring as I'm looking at going from 10 acres to a fraction of that ... I'm beginning to see that I haven't used my land very efficiently, and with proper planning, I may be able to do what I do here in a smaller space. Thanks! :)
  7. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 13, 2004
    You can grow lost of fruit on a small space, too, with a bit of planning and care. That would be an important part of what I would do in your situation.

  8. WindowOrMirror

    WindowOrMirror ..where do YOU look? Supporter

    Jan 10, 2005
    Sell it and move farther out? ;)

    John Seymour's book could be quite useful to you as well as any of the square-foot gardening "type" books

  9. peacebaker

    peacebaker Well-Known Member

    Dec 30, 2005
    We're on a small space here too (either a big lot, or a small acreage, depending on your outlook, ha ha). Less than a half acre. We have a BIG garden, apples, pears, grapes, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, lots of flowers, and 4 chickens. And right now there's still a lot of open space left for the dog :)

    Raised beds and more "intensive" gardening helps a lot. You can stick edible plants all over the place and in with your ornamental plants. Fruit trees mostly are dwarf stock these days, and don't take up that much room--we also got our neighbors into it so now we have doubled up on fruit trees for better pollination.

    Of course we're by no means self-sufficient, though we have realized if times were hard we could easily triple our garden space and have less "yard". Until the chickens molted this winter we hadn't purchased eggs in 2+ years. I like the idea of more land, but I also like where we live, and that a smaller plot is SO manageable. I think I might be overwhelmed with more property, OR I might get way too many hobbies and run myself ragged! :)
  10. ginnie5

    ginnie5 wife,mom,taxi driver,cook Supporter

    Jul 15, 2003
    Near Charlotte NC
    We're on an acre and 1/4 and have a road running straight down thru it so don't get full use of it. We have a nice size garden every year.....are moving towrds raised beds though. I have chickens for eggs and meat. At some point I want fruit trees and it seems dwarfs might just be the way to go. Considering rabbits but dh is kinda resistant to that. I have quite abit of space that isn't used. We have 200yo oak trees in quite a few places and I'm unsure if I can do anything near them. We will not cut them either since we love the look and the shade they give.
  11. sgl42

    sgl42 Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    seems you're on the right track.

    one of my 'homesteading heros' is Robert Hart, who created a permaculture forest garden of 1/8 of an acre, in england. I supposed you could scale his idea up to 3/4 of an acre :p

    the idea of forest gardening, as described here is:
    "an existing small orchard of apples and pears into an edible landscape consisting of seven dimensions;
    A ‘canopy’ layer consisting of the original mature fruit trees.
    A ‘low-tree’ layer of smaller nut and fruit trees on dwarfing root stocks.
    A ‘shrub layer’ of fruit bushes such as currants and berries.
    A ‘herbaceous layer’ of perennial vegetables and herbs.
    A ‘ground cover’ layer of edible plants that spread horizontally.
    A ‘rhizosphere’ or ‘underground’ dimension of plants grown for their roots and tubers.
    A vertical ‘layer’ of vines and climbers."

    a description of his forest garden can be found here, including pictures, and a diagram.

    you might also research Masanobu Fukuoka, who also used multiple layers, with garden vegetables growing among his orchard trees, and vines growing up his trees.

    a couple links for him via mother earth news:

    a) Issue # 76 - July/August 1982, The Plowboy Interview , by Masanobu Fukuoka, 40 Years of Natural Farming

    b) Issue # 52-July/August 1978, THE AMAZING NATURAL FARM OF MASANOBU FUKUOKA, article here

    also, if you like the fukuoka interviews, then you can download copies of 2 of his books for free, or a small 10 euro donation (10 euro =~ $13) from the Soil & Health Library. scroll down and look for:

    Fukuoka, M. One Straw Revolution: The Natural Way of Farming. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodalel Press, 1978.
    Fukuoka describes an unusual approach to farming with a very Zen philosophy of living. Downloads as a PDF of 3.03 mb.

    Fukuoka, M. The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy. Tokyo and New York: Japan Publications, 1985.
    Highly unusual viewpoints with a cult following. Downloads as a PDF of 6.16 mb.

  12. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2006
    Find a copy of "THE HAVE MORE PLAN" by the Robinsons - they have some great lay outs and plans for small acreages. They even have pictures. It is an old book - but a goodie.

    I would have two chicken tractors - one for the layers, and one to raise some meat chickens/turkeys.

    I would have a couple of dairy goats for meat and milk. Or maybe a mini-milk cow - like a miniature jersey - but I am 'into' the dairy thing - so I'd want dairy animals no matter how small the acreage. Even buying all the feed - by learning how to make cheeses, etc the kind you actually use, you can probably break even by not buying any butter, milk, cream, cheese, ice-cream, etc. At least until the goats become a hobby also, and you end up with more, lol.

    Rabbits too - kept in a bunny commune.

    I'd consider pot belly pigs too.

    I'd garden intensively - making use of the layering ideas in the above post. Ornamental needs to be re-thought adding edible to the list of requirements.

    Vines can be grown on perimeter fencing - think berries and grapes + privacy! You can have a 'mini' orchard with dwarf varieties. Pay attention to micro climates. Don't forget to use a fruit tree as 'ornamental' in a landscape too. I think peach trees and apricot trees are beautiful. Some fruit trees ( I think) are poisenous to goats though, and I'm not sure which ones. Just be careful and research.

    I live on 1.89 acres in the metro-valley area of Phoenix, AZ. I have very sandy soil which is harder to garden than the former alfalfa field clay that I had before. I've lost a lot of trees and plants on this acreage. I keep trying - and discovering what works. Even with buying feed - I have found that the animal projects have the biggest pay off in terms of providing my family with food of significantly higher quality than we could ever afford to buy.

  13. jen74145

    jen74145 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Oct 30, 2006
    Northern California
    Thanks all!
    I have definitely found myself drawn to the intensive fruit idea... just have to figure out how best to stash it all. Hubby wants blueberries and blackberries, I want grapes and a handful of dwarf apple trees... and maybe a dwarf citrus if I can find a variety that'll work here.
    The only thing I can't do here is pigs. Stupid zoning, blech. There was a lady GIVING away a pair awhile back, I couldn't stand it.

    I am also looking at square foot gardening... and trellises. Lots and lots of trellises. I would like to grow most, if not all, my own feed for the critters... thinking I'll start by trying to feed rabbits and quail, then tackle the chickens and ducks...

    I am chomping at the bit to toss some veggies out front... I can see that as a great rambling vine location for stuff I don't want to trellis... extra winter squash, melons and the like. But I worry about lead, as we are really close to a small town highway. Not horrendously busy, but still. Also thought of planting a few apple trees out there, would that be a problem?
  14. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    We lived in town and had a yearning to keep a big garden and some poultry, so we bought a one acre parcel of clear land. If you exluded the small house on it and the outbuildings, that left just less than 3/4 of an acre for a huge productive garden.
    On the small garage, the first thing I did was build a lean to greenhouse, with a small heater to take in the started plants that we seeded indoors at the house. We had so many started plants that we sold some at the farmer's market, and had all the plants for the large garden. It produced about a ton of tomatoes, many many squashes, cukes, melons, and the best sweet corn ever grown. From that garden was a bounty of material to process and store such as chilli sauce, salsa, pickled root crops (carrots) and pickles, jams (melons and other fruits mixed), etc.
    Behind the other shed was attached a small pen to keep about a dozen ducks (khaki, rouen, and muskovy) and about the same number of mixed heavy breed chickens for brown eggs.
    At the side of the garden I started 2 bee hives and got about 100 lb. of honey that first season, PLUS the bounty of the bees pollinating the garden (especially the squash and pumpkins).

    The sidenote here is the garden was started by solarizing the area since it was lawn. That heat killed everything under the clear plastic the fall before the next season it was tilled and planted in buckwheat for green manure. That was tilled and replanted again to grow about a foot to till in again. With all that green manure, the soil was quite fertile obviously since the garden bounty for that plot was quite remarkable for zone 3.
    I remember butchering about a couple dozen chickens in the fall from chicks that hatched also. These were barred rocks mostly.
    You can grow quite an intesively productive garden bounty on 3/4 acres, and a couple of beehives for a good deal of honey. At least I know to have proven that.
  15. Junkmanme

    Junkmanme Well-Known Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    One thing I would consider (if I were you)..is using that concrete slab to it's best advantage. For me that would be a floor for an outbuilding. Perhaps a tool-shed, a greenhouse, a rabbitry, or ? I suppose the use would depend largely upon the location of the concrete slab upon your 3/4 acre.
    I have 1/2 acre total, upon which is a 950 s.f. house, 3 small outbuildings, room to build a large garage/shop (this coming Summer), and 2 gardens (veggies) each approx. 50 ft. square. I'm seriously considering raising a few chickens, ducks, and rabbits beginning this Spring. Also have a nice front lawn of perennial rye-grass where my boxer-dog "Daniel Boone" (called Booner) loves to play soccer!
    A 1/2 acre is plenty to take care of......but of course, if I had about 5 acres, I could grow a lot of corn (takes room) and some other crops that I don't feel that I have room for now.
    Still, 1/2 acre is plenty...especially when weeding!

    just my 2 pesos worth,
    Bruce (outside of town in New Mexico)