An hour south of Augusta, in Burke County.Maybe I missed it.. What part of Georgia are you in? I'm also in Georgia, North Georgia not far from Hart County.
Congrats on the property and good luck! I'm new to this as well and also in IT. I've not moved onto my property yet.
As of today, not much. Here's a list of "outdoor" tools that I have:Sorry if I missed it when I skimmed through, but what equipment do you have to work the garden with?
First off, thank you for the very detailed post. That had to have taken some time to write up.Everyone's opinion will be different, but here is mine, without knowing your budget. I do agree with others to grow into it over time. What I am going to list is my priorities and budget, so it may not apply if you are a doctor or a lawyer. Going to be a long post.
I would put the pond on the backburner. Built one with my father in Georgia as a teen. We did a lot of the work ourselves and rebuilt one he had in the 30's, but it was a still a lot of work and extra upkeep. Definitely worth doing, but not my main priority.
Garden: If nothing else for now, cut it and use tarp or plastic to keep weeds down between now and spring. Don't rush into a tractor. You have some time and should be able to find somebody to plow it for you in the spring in your area, if you haven't found a good deal on one by then. Spend the next month researching growing your own plants from seed and get ready for that (by February) and knowing what you will direct seed. Initially, go with the basics that will produce easily and well. Purple hull peas, okra, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers/maters, etc. Plant Trucker's Favorite corn if you have room. If you pay somebody to initially plow, or do it yourself, get a wheel hoe for cultivation. Hoss Tools sells them in Georgia. The double wheel hoe with the sweeps attachment is all I use for my garden now. I have a tiller sitting in the barn I should sell, and a cultivator for the tractor that I haven't used recently. I can make a pass about once a week with the wheel hoe as fast as I can walk and it keeps the middles in good shape.
If you don't get a tractor, have someone clear some area to get you at least an acre to work with. Plant crimson clover in the winter for what area you are not growing food on. Plant iron and clay peas, buckwheat and sun hemp on bare spots during the summer. Will help keep weeds down, prevent erosion and improve soil, if plowed in at the right time. Find a tree service in the area to drop off wood chips. It will take some time to rot, but start soon to have it to add to your soil in a couple of years. Part of my garden now was a pile of rotting limbs, fence posts, etc. It is amazing how much better it does than dirt on either side. Start compost bins to add your kitchen scraps, leaves, and chicken manure along with any shavings you clean out of your chicken house.
Figure out how to keep something growing all the time you can eat. It is not hard in GA.
Put an electric fence around your garden spot. The interwebs have too much info on what you need to do this. It ain't hard. I have three strands that work fine and have to tighten or repair a section every couple of months. Probably when a critter passes through that hasn't tried it yet. The repair is about 5 mins and no extra cost yet, since I just fix whatever is stretched (aluminum wire) or rarely have to reattach something broken.
Canning/preserving: You or/and your wife learn how to can. Purple hull peas are a staple at our house. I pick them and she shells and cans them. I have a Camp Chef propane stove that she uses with a Presto pressure cooker/canner. She cans some pears and other stuff, but peas and blue lake beans are the bulk of the canning. We have small chest freezer and picked up a stand-up freezer at an estate sale. I also have a backup fridge/freezer in a barn that I think was $100.00 used and we use it to store what is picked until we have time to process it. She handles the canning and I freeze squash, okra and corn. We are beginners at fermenting and have done pickles and sauerkraut with good results. I also have a dehydrator and we have used it for cayenne peppers and other stuff. Also made some onion powder.
Fruit trees: They are nice to have, but unless you are selling/trading them or have a fruit fetish they are way, way down the list from my garden. Add a few at a time to right-size your needs. We inherited three large pears from the previous owner and could supply half the county. I have some young apple and blueberry. To my surprise, deer are leaving the blueberries alone, but I had to put some rusty 2X4 fence (also inherited from previous owners) around the apples to keep bucks from rubbing them. Fig trees would be good for preserves. l'm still working to get some established, since it was very dry here the past two summers. I took some cuttings from an old plum in the summer and will plant them in the spring. We have four pecan trees around the house. This year they produced more than my wife has been able to keep shelled. We did not plant any peach trees. IMO they take a lot of maintenance and spraying.
Chickens: For eggs, we have six RI red and barred rock that were a year old in Oct. I sectioned off a part of an old barn and added roosts and nest boxes. It has a doorway that leads to about a 12X18' area I closed in with 2X4 wire (already had it) and covered with chicken wire and a tin roof on top. We took down an old hogwire fence and used sections to attach to the bottom of the fence to prevent critters from digging. We get six eggs a day most of the year and probably four a day right now with the shorter days. I have not grown any just for meat recently, but have years ago. I figure I have plenty of room in the same enclosure to add some, if needed.
Rabbits: I added a few just for meat security and also to convert some garden matter into fertilizer. My wife was not big on the idea, but runs to go see them every day when she gets home and chastises me if she doesn't think I'm paying them enough attention.
This is about where we are now. We keep enough growing to eat so as to not get into the preserved stuff too much and it is a challenge to find out how to use it all. Supplementing chicken and rabbit feed with scraps and any extra green stuff has saved us a lot. We are older and kids are grown. We may add cattle, but I'm still weighing the ROI for the fence. We border a state highway, so the odds something could get out and on a rod bothers me, plus time goes by quick and we all get old and feeble at some point.
Thank you for the feedback. Glad to hear mowing after brush removal is good enough. I'm guessing the thicker the tarps the better?The brush in the garden needs to be removed before you put a tarp over the soil. When your growing season starts the brush will push through a tightly laid tarp and will displace a loose one. After removing the brush, mowing the area before laying down tarps is sufficient.
Your best place to site a compost pile is right in the garden. I suggest you get a book titled Compost This Book. It covers all kinds of compost piles, methods and containment for compost piles. You can get as fancy as a bin or as laid back as just a pile. Some people dig compost pits and move to another spot when one gets filled.
You should get the sturdiest fencing you can find. Chicken wire, rabbit fence, welded wire and similar cheap materials don't last long. I was given a few rolls of chain link fence and have that around my gardens. I didn't get it stretched tight enough so it sags in places and one garden needs to be completely refenced, but it works pretty well to define the garden area. Critters will find a way in regardless of what you use. Raccoons, squirrel and possums climb. Groundhogs, armadillos and skunk will dig under. Chipmunks and baby rabbits just slip through. About the only thing the fence keeps out is grown rabbits and deer. It keeps deer out of only the small gardens.
If your temperature drops below freezing you will not be able to grow Cavendish bananas.
Yes, the thicker the tarp the better it would be at blocking light and lasting more than a couple months. The blue tarps fall apart within a year leaving you with blue strands of plastic that are impossible to clean up completely.Thank you for the feedback. Glad to hear mowing after brush removal is good enough. I'm guessing the thicker the tarps the better?
I will look into that book. Composting is something I haven't really looked into much as of yet.
I was planning to reinforce the existing fencing with chicken wire along the bottom 18 inches or so (with like 6 inches buried to help with the diggers), and additional lines of barbed wire above the existing; along with strands of electric. Do you think that would be sufficient enough for now? Or should I go through the pain of replacing it all with chain link?
That's unfortunate about the bananas. I know the temperatures in my area are pretty mild in the winter, but from looking at the history it does drop below freezing at times. January is on average the coldest month with an average low of 35F. So it's not like it is below freezing a majority of the time, but how often would the freezing temps need to happen to kill the trees?
Looking online, it seems to be the average last frost for my location is around mid March.You can look into fava beans, Crimson clover, and whatever legumes are good for southern areas to develop a rotational system, since you have plenty of room for reserve, or active fallowing plots to do this. I think you could also grow Irish potatoes if you start early enough. When is your last expected frost date?
As for the brush, cutting, Roundupping it, etc, might get rid of the top growth, but underground, expect to find a network of interlaced roots to contend with, unless you use a root rake to scrape them out. Yes, they will rot, but it takes time, and you will hang up a tiller or plow quite often. Sometimes, a flail mower can quickly dispense with the top growth, though.
From the Soil Survey description of your soil profile, you might be able to drive a sand point well to hit ground (surface) water within a depth shallow enough that will allow you to draw water for irrigation if you have droughty times during the summer. Driven Sand Point Well Advantages and Disadvantages (offgridnerd.com)
Yep, recently acquired it but I know the property because it was in the family before. I have a lot of trash to clean up and clearing because the property was ignored for several years. For me it will be a long time before we move onto the property I think. My property is also about an hour away from my primary residence which means keeping up with two properties at the same time! Yay! Still I feel blessed!An hour south of Augusta, in Burke County.
Did you just recently acquire the property, or are you developing it a bit before you move onto it?
Thank you for the pictures.