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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
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.
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?
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
Sorry if I missed it when I skimmed through, but what equipment do you have to work the garden with?
As of today, not much. Here's a list of "outdoor" tools that I have:
  • shovel
  • leaf rake (plastic)
  • landscape rake (aluminum)
  • hoe
  • lopper
  • pruner
  • ryobi electric weedeater
  • ryobi electric edger
  • ryobi electric mower (self-propelled)
I also have a bunch of other hand tools for building out fencing, beds, etc. I don't yet have much garden-specific equipment, but I will be purchasing whatever I need as I need it. I was planning on buying a Kubota tractor within the next month or so, but with some of the feedback here I may hold off on that and go with the cheaper, more manual, route. Not sure yet on that one.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
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.
First off, thank you for the very detailed post. That had to have taken some time to write up.

Secondly, about the budget. I am a software engineer, making six figures. We are definitely not rich by any means, but we are pretty comfortable with being able to support the homestead however we need.

Thirdly, about the pond. Agreed. The pond is something I definitely want, but it is not a priority right now. I might work on that year two or three.

Fourthly, about the garden. I was actually out in the garden area this morning with the wife clearing out larger brush. What is the best way to cut the area enough to put down the tarps? Should I just mow over it? Also, I have been researching what to plant and how for the last 3-4 months while the property search and mortgage process was pending. I have spreadsheets and tons of bookmarked videos already and continue to find more info every day.

Fifthly, about the composting. We do plan to do our own composting, but, still trying to figure out where to keep it on the property and what type of bins to use. Recommendations for that would be great.

Sixthly, about the fencing. The garden area has an existing fence that is like 95% up and working. But, that fencing is not going to keep out small animals at all, and it needs reinforcement. I definitely like the idea of electric fencing, and that will be the finishing touch after I make it more rodent proof. I have watched so many videos about this in the past week. It seems like no matter what you do, if a small animal wants in they find a way lol...

Seventhly, about the canning/preserving. We do plan to do both, but have no prior experience with it. So, it will be a learning experience for sure. I am most excited about preserves, and on that topic, we have a large fig tree that bares way more fig than we could process (according to the previous owner).

Eighthly, about the fruit trees. We have some existing apple, peach, and kiwi trees (all of which apparently didn't do well last season). We also have raspberries, blackberries, and muscadines. I am a big fan of fruit and in particular peaches, strawberries, and bananas. I get peach trees are a pain to care for, but strawberries seem to be much easier to manage. I know nothing about banana trees, but would love to have those as well.

Ninthly, about the chickens. Behind the garden, chickens are next in line on the priority list. Just not sure what breed to go with. I have a two year old boy that will inevitably find his way into the coop many times, so I need to go with a more docile breed. I was looking at Astralorps, but open to suggestions.
 

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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.

 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
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.

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?
 

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The very first thing I would do with a piece of property is fence it. What kind of fence depends on what you want to keep out, or keep in. I keep my garden close to the house, and have a guard dog so deer and elk might pass through but they don't hang around.

Call your county extension agent. They can tell you what will and will not grow well in your area. And sometimes can get you soil tests at little or no cost.

Remember, when living on a Homestead, everything takes longer and cost more than you expected.
 

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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?
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.

Composting helps you turn vegetable, lawn and garden waste into a crumbly material that is full of nutrients that help feed your garden. Compost is recycled and reused organic material.

If your current fence is in good shape and the posts are sturdy it would be better to keep what you have. I think I would reinforce it with 3 feet tall chicken wire with the bottom 12 or so inches laid flat on the ground instead of being buried. With the wire laid out flat it does a better job of keeping diggers out. Grass will grow through it and you can mow over the flat part. Plus it's a lot less work. I used chain link because it was free.

Barbed wire is a pain to work with and really does a poor job of discouraging garden raiders. It keeps cattle contained but does not keep deer or coyotes out. It has no use in keeping smaller fence climbers out of a garden. I have read that electric fence combined with a regular fence keeps deer out but I haven't tested that. Supposedly putting an electric fence a couple feet away from the regular fence prevents deer from jumping over. My grandpa kept raccoons out of his sweet corn patch with 2 strands of electric fence. One strand was about 8 inches off the ground, the other was maybe 18 inches off the ground. He just stepped over it when he wanted to pick the corn.

Bananas, if the ground doesn't freeze your plants should survive. But the top part has to grow for several years before it can produce fruit. Freezing temperatures will kill the top but not the root. Bananas are really a perennial that grows from a rhizome, much like Bearded iris. I'm not real sure how much cold a Cavendish can take. I don't know anyone who has grown one here and tested it's cold tolerance.
 

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Your pics of the garden soil look pretty good to me, and from your first pics, the Georgia Tifton soil is very good, indeed. ga-state-soil-booklet.pdf (soils4teachers.org)

It looks like there is a goodly amount of humus (biomass, organic materials) for the present, but cropping it intensly the hot sun will soon deplete it if it isn't replaced each year. That's where composting and mulching, and also cover cropping with legumes comes in. I have a similar soil type here in SW MI which, if you don't keep replacing the biomass (or grow it in situ) it will soon return to glacial sand (here we call it blow sand, you may call it sugar sand) that won't hold moisture and won't grow much but (Christmas trees here) pine trees.

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. If you are really patient, you can also wrap a tree trunk (while it is skin and not bark) with bare copper electric wire, about three wraps, and twist the ends together tightly. A tourniquet like that will let the tree trunk grow into it and the bare copper will kill it, roots and all.

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)

geo
 

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I'm in Upson county, so probably have the same variety of small critters to worry about as you. I only put the three strands of wire to detour deer. *****, squirrels etc. will find a way around anything you put up. I keep enough cover crop going to not lose enough vegetables to them to notice, with the exception of some corn the ***** like and rats or something else that cause me to have to dig sweet potatoes early before they get too much damage. There are enough fox, coyotes, hawks, owls and big timber rattlers and rat snakes around that help keep the population down. Besides, I'm two lazy to want to use a weedeater around an acre of welded wire. I made that mistake once in life. My bottom strand is knee high maintenance under it is pretty quick and easy.

Take advantage of all you can on the internet, but in the end keep it simple. It will nickel and dime you to death if you do what everyone claims is best practice and you will later discovery that was just one way of doing it and not really necessary. Grow lights and shelving and equipment to start seeds are one example. The cheapest walmart shop lights worked fine for us and we put the trays on a spare table and used bricks to adjust the height. The average person (my wife) would not want a room in their house full of plant trays, but I grew several hundred and by the time it was over she was enjoying seeing how much they grow every day and helped her to finally realize you do not "need" a greenhouse in GA. After 6-8 weeks we moved them to a utility trailer and wheeled them under a pole barn on cold nights. We left some others in screened porch.

Chickens are another thing that all the "chicken ladies" my wife knows said you have to do this or that. I told her it wasn't that complicated the last time I had chickens and she has figured that out now. I had Rhode Island Reds many years ago and stuck with what I knew along with some Barred Rock. I did not want a rooster right now. We have grand kids in the run regularly with no issues. I have neighbors down the road that keep taking new ones in and offer roosters all the time, so I know where to get one if I need it in a hurry.

I cleared an area and found some old stacks of blocks and bricks. I didn't like where the blocks were, so they became my compost bins once I moved and restacked. She uses them when cleaning out the chicken coop and we also add the kitchen waste. Limbs and other debris go on top of my 12' high pile of wood chips. I get up leaves and pine straw before a rain and have a few piles that haven't blown away yet. Once wet this time of the year it doesn't take them long to start to break down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
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)

geo
Looking online, it seems to be the average last frost for my location is around mid March.

As for the brush, my wife and I have spent some time in there pulling up brush, roots and all, as much as we can. Obviously, we won't get it all, but it seems like the soil isn't very compacted, making it fairly easy to get much of the roots as well. That is something I am not used to. Where we used to live, the soil was super compacted and hard to dig because it was primarily clay. It's a nice change for sure. If I mow over the area (after removing as much brush as we can), I would assume we don't bag the clippings and leave them on the top when we put the tarps over it?

The well idea is a nice suggestion, and I will look into that. I was actually planning on setting up a rainwater catching system to use for irrigation, but it may not be enough.
 

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Been there and done that. Make a list and prioritize it. Look at it realistically with an eye to the number of waking hours each week. Plunge in head first if you like, but there are lots of people who have failed doing that. It's shocking to suddenly realize that there's a looming threat. That's when it's most necessary to remain calm and focused on first things first. Secure your housing, water, security, and some storage. Think about an expansion project or two each season. If you try to do everything at once you likely won't do any of them well. . . . some other observations: 1. Electric doesn't work to keep deer out for long. Lightweight woven wire 2 tall to make a total of about 8' is much better. It can be hung on wood posts you can install yourself. 2. Small critters have to be kept out with traps and lead. 3. Think about major investments in equipment when you actually know what you can use. Find someone to tear up the first part of your garden, then try to keep ahead of the weeds with hand tools like a wheeled push cultivator and long-handled garden weeding tools. Keeping up with the weeds properly will be one of the most challenging things to manage.
4. What kind of support do you have for all of this? You doing everything by yourself while the rest of the group finds entertainment elsewhere is a formula for failure sooner or later. 5. Pick two crops you like to eat frequently and can actually grow there and see if you can grow and preserve something useful. How will you preserve them? Where will the containers be kept? Do others in your group like to eat lots of these, too? If you're successful with these (and that doesn't mean you managed to put 20 bags in the freezer, if you have one) consider a couple more. Until you can do a very few things well, it isn't time to start another dozen things.
Very few people are completely prepared for a scenario where the SHTF next Monday. PRIORITIZE! Do the biggest things first and figure out how to do them well. The more progress you make with basics, the better prepared you'll be when it's needed. Start to network. To do this properly, you need to have something to offer others. What would that be today? There are lots of things to think about and plan. Unless you have unlimited funds, you must think about what's important. Let us know which steps you will take first. Good luck.
 

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Another question for you. The soil on your hand looks much more like sand than it does clay, to me. Are you in a creek bottom? Clay would smear and give color to your hand. On your fingertips I see what I think looks like grains of sand. You can have different soils in places where you would not expect them. County extension offices are hit and miss. Some are good, some are useless. But any extension office, with enough persistence, should be able to locate a soil survey map for your specific piece of land. Then you look at the map yourself and look at the soil and decide what kind you have. If there are sandy places, that's good and bad. But I'd much prefer to garden in sand or sandy loam than I would in clay, any day. What ever kind of soil you have, it's good to increase the organic matter levels. That's done quickly with manure, and less quickly with other things like yard waste, leaves, cover crops, etc. You can begin adding to the organic matter levels right away. Good luck on this.
 

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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?
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!
 

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Good advice about using traps and lead against some critters, provided that you are allowed to shoot on your property. Whatever you do, if you decide to start trapping nuisance critters, do NOT transport and release them elsewhere! Please don't make them someone else's problem. Do what is necessary to eliminate your problem small critters. Some critters can be "harvested" only during hunting season. Check your local nuisance wildlife and hunting laws to see what they allow. Some people call it cruel but often a tub or 55 gallon drum of water can be your best quiet solution.

@B. White, the censoring software won't allow the use of the word "c00n". You have to use zeros or put "ra" in front of it. Crazy but that's the program.
 

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I have, yes. I haven't actually tested the soil as of yet. Here are a few photos I just took.
View attachment 116365
Thank you for the pictures.
Looks like sand to me also.
And... after I had soil sampled once... I wouldn't bother again.
They provided information on chemical fertilizers... as I garden organically... that information was useless.

Unfortunately, sand is very difficult to garden.

Rain and nutrients just go straight through it.

If you can find some red clay on the place... I'd probably garden there...



I like to grow food in the winter...
stuff like rutabaga, turnip, carrot, kale,snow peas and fava beans.

While the peas and beans don't set pods during the frosty weather... they usually get large enough to produce a decent harvest in the spring.

Personally, rather than worrying about mowing and tarping... I would try to locate a source of horse poop... and a source of free woodchips.
Most stables will allow us to back our pickup truck to the horse poop pile and load it... if we ask nice.
Most tree surgeons have a chipper, and will deliver to us if they are working nearby.
When I was first out here in the sand... I brought out pickup loads of manure right into the future garden and emptied the truck.

 
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