Long distance farming

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by CountyAgent, May 1, 2005.

  1. CountyAgent

    CountyAgent Member

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    I just discovered this excellent forum yesterday.

    I wanted to post a permaculture question/challenge that I've been thinking about lately, as I think I can probably get some good ideas here. And I'm hoping it will make for an enjoyable discussion, too.

    My family and I own a 3-acre mini-farm about 4 hours from where we reside. I've been thinking of low-maintenance food crops I can put there, given that I'll only spend 3-4 days there per year maintaining it.

    Currently, it has one apple tree, several bearing mulberries (white and red) and a cherry that has one foot in the grave. Much of the 3 acres is covered with orchardgrass/clover. I planted a couple of raspberries there this spring, and I have a couple dozen grafted apples that I'll plant there in the fall.

    Here are some other crop ideas I have: fruits: pears, plums, new cherry trees, a couple varieties of blueberries, more raspberries, blackberries, elderberries for jelly, pawpaws; nuts: black walnuts, butternuts, pecans; vegetables: asparagus, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichoke.

    When my feral beehive is ready for a split, I also thought about setting a hive on the farm. I figure, since I didn't have to pay for them anyway, if they survive without close management, great, but if they don't, no big loss.

    Does anybody have any other ideas? I'm especially interested in additional vegetable crops that would be pretty low-maintenance. And I've seen some amaranth in catalogs, but I don't know if it would grow as a perennial or not.

    I don't know if I'm interested in anything overly exotic or expensive or difficult to propagate. (How hard would hazelnut be to get established from native stock, I wonder?)

    Also, is there any type of fowl that would be likely to stick around if I build them a place to roost?

    Thanks.
     
  2. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

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    Just be careful with those nut trees their roots will kill anything that grows within their drip line. They put out a toxin.

    I think you are right on track for getting alot out of the land. How about planting some field cover crops to improve the soil like field peas or you could plant one acre of hybred poplar for a longer term cash crop. With this stuff you maybe able to get some tax abatement. Which is always good.
     

  3. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    If you are only going to be there 3-4 days per year how do you hope to accomplish anything? Did you mean per month?

    Our experience has been that blueberries are the easiest to maintain and produce for over a month. Just make sure the soil is slightly acidic.
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Christmas trees? Though the trimming is a LOT of work, and you will need a wet year to give them a chance to live.

    Are you planning on living there later? Asparagus would be a great start, then. Mind: most of the catalogues will sell you tiny roots that will mostly not survive. But, the Morgon County catalogue has asparagus roots that run 3 to the pound and the ones I put in last month are doing well.

    Remember to treat the hive for varroa mites. The strips go in in the fall and OUT in the fall! That's 2 days.
     
  5. Conni

    Conni Well-Known Member

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    I had thought about doing something similar. Dh and I were thinking of palanting Blueberries and Apple tree's on a corner of our land. Not to sell tho-- just for us and other family members to have access too. My concern is critters eating it all up?? How will you keep yours protected if you plant fruits or veggies?
     
  6. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    (I'll only spend 3-4 days there per year maintaining it)


    You could put a cemetery there and some chickens that could roost on the headstones.
     
  7. CountyAgent

    CountyAgent Member

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    Okay, it looks like I'm going to have to clarify...

    stanb999, Terri, EasyDay and Conni, thank you for your input. Christmas trees and cover crops are definitely things I'll give more thought to.

    Yes, unfortunately, I'm going to be there only 3-4 days each YEAR. I wish it was a lot more, but gas prices being what they are...

    And I hope to live there eventually, but that will likely be at least 10 years.

    The purpose of my question is -- given that I'll be there only a short number of days -- how can I make the most of this property? Letting it grow up in blackberries and sumacs is one option, but I'd like to explore fruit crops and perennials as much as possible.

    Another thing: I have a bit of freedom in which days I'm there. I could time my visits to coincide with planting/pruning time, varroa management time, etc. The harvests -- if I'm unable to be there for those -- could be given to neighbors for now, in exchange for them being a presence on the place.

    Anyway, thanks again.
     
  8. Philbee

    Philbee Well-Known Member

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    I'd be very careful what you put in as some plants ( raspberries for example) could well take over your land without proper control. You'd have a major pain getting things back under control later and your pasture grass would be ruined. As for bees and birds, they would have to be taken care of fairly regularly or they wouldn't make it. Money down the drain to have stuff and then lose it. Even free bees need a hive, supers and frames etc..That can be expensive. They also need to have their health monitered. If you have any kind of live stock you are going to be responsible for their health and well fare. Thats going to take more than 3-4 days a year. Maybe fruit trees would work if you could get over there to prune etc.. Don't know if you have a deer problem, but if you do, you'd have to protect the trees from them.
     
  9. Mary in MO

    Mary in MO Well-Known Member

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    Since you're only there so few days during the year I'd concentrate on the trees. Bramble fruit will go rampant. Your bees would probably swarm and leave, I'd wait till I was there to take care of them. You couldn't treat the hive or do any protective measures for them.

    With trees you'll still need to spend time pruning and cleaning up around and under them. I don't see much going forward till you could devote more time there. Things will revert back to wild so quickly you'll never get ahead. I understand about the gas costs, I cringe every time we go out to our place. At $30 a fill up it adds up quickly.

    Mary
     
  10. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    I'm with Mary. I'd focus on the fruit trees for right now.

    Plant them just as soon as the fall rains hit and they should establish ok by themselves. Critters will probably get the harvest from them at first, but you're thinking of moving there in 10 years and most of these trees don't even really start producing till 3-5 years. You can fence off the orchard area with 8' woven wire to help keep the deer out.

    If you've got mulberries growing there now, there should be enough moisture in the ground that the trees can make do. You can hard prune them and get them into full production once you get moved.

    Oh, and plant standard trees in this case. The dwarf rootstocks require staking and some extra care, standard rootstocks can take all sorts of abuse and keep right on growing. For apples, the smallest rootstock I would consider would be m111 (or emla 111), stay away from bud9, G30, and m109 if you can't be there to stake and prune the trees and watch that they aren't getting too brittle. I find the Antonovka rootstock is the toughest I can find - I just can't kill the apples on that stock.

    I'd forget the raspberries and other vine fruits for right now. They'd just mound up on themselves till you couldn't even walk through the place.

    Also, I'd wait on any kind of livestock until you're living on the property or visiting it at least a couple times a week. Anything you raised there now would either get killed or go completely feral. Most likely it would just get killed. The modern fowl breeds don't have the defense mechanisms their ancestors had and do need some protection.
     
  11. CountyAgent

    CountyAgent Member

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    Jen H, Mary and Philbee,

    Thanks for your wisdom. I think I'll take the advice I'm getting here and concentrate only on the tree fruit for now. I guess it's easy to get carried away when you're living so far away from where you want to be.

    But apples and pears are a start, at least.

    And maybe I can lease some of the property out to a local beekeeper or goat producer down the road a year or two.

    Thanks, y'all.
     
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Beekeepers usually only pay "rent" of a gallon or two of honey. The rest of the benefit to the landowner is in the form of increased crop production.
     
  13. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Being away from your land is difficult I know. I went through it for a while before I moved back home where I belong.

    I'd plant my fruit trees, nut trees and any other bushes or trees you might be interested in. Establishing an asparagus patch or two might be something to think about also. It comes up for years with little or no help.

    Have fun with it and get yourself onto that land as soon as possible! Life is far too short! Took me too long to figure that out.