questions regarding large-scale gardening

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by stacwase, Dec 16, 2004.

  1. stacwase

    stacwase Member

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    Mar 26, 2004
    Location:
    MI
    I'm working my way up to homesteading. I just bought a 20-acre parcel in July. I got my chicken coop built and the chickens should be laying in Feb.

    My next step is the garden. I've had small backyard gardens before, but never one the size of this. The area which I want to garden is about 1 1/2 - 2 acres. I talked to the last person to garden here - and she said that they used that area for 20+ years so it's free of rocks. (We live in an area so rocky that it's called Stonington).

    I've decided to hire somebody to come in and bush hog the area in the spring.

    I have two 4-wheelers, but no tractor. I was looking at plow and harrow attachments for the 4-wheelers. It would cost me $1700.00 to buy them new, along with the necessary hitch & tool bar.

    So - a few questions for y'all:

    1) Do you have any plow/harrow ideas which would be more affordable?

    2) If I want to live on the food from this garden, what would I be best off planting? I live in zone 4, Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The growing season is very short. Potatoes keep all year, and do very well here. Any other suggestions?
     
  2. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    Unless you have a HUGE family, or intend to sell some of
    your produce, I think you are starting off way too large.
    A small, intensive, highly mulched garden will produce enough
    for you to put up plenty for your family.
    Hope it goes well.
    Ann
     

  3. stacwase

    stacwase Member

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    Location:
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    Thanks, Annie. Any guidelines on how much to plant? Any ideas on where I might find such information?
     
  4. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    ontario
    The Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond has charts as to how much per person to plant. Story's Successful Small Scale Farming has one as well, these books can generally be found in any library. Make sure you plant lots to freeze and can, I was at the gorcery store yesterday, and was absolutely blown away at the prices of 'fresh' veggies... :eek: And even if you were to sell for market, frozen in the winter might bring in a pretty penny, up here in the great white north anyway. Its something I am seriously considering!
     
  5. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    The Johnny's catalog (commercial at least, am not sure about
    the home gardener version) has a chart that tells what harvest
    you can expect from a 100 foot row of each veggie. Knowing
    how much to grow per family member (other poster's info), plus
    how much yield you can expect per 100 feet, should give
    you ample info to figure it out based on your family size,
    their likes and dislikes, etc.
    It is really a satisfying feeling to sit down to a meal and know
    that most of it came from your own efforts, and what went
    into that food item. Good luck.
    Ann
     
  6. dreadstalker

    dreadstalker Well-Known Member

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    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    central nebraska
    check out RUTH STOUT for info on sustainable gardening,do a google search on her,she not only wrote the book on it she lived the life.a green house will lenghten your gardening season,you can also develop micro climates on your property.there is a lot of heirloom seeds available for most zones
     
  7. stacwase

    stacwase Member

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    Location:
    MI
    Thanks soooo much, everybody!! I will look into ALL of those books next time I go to the library.

    Somebody else mentioned Ruth Stout to me, just today, in fact. I believe I'll go look her up this very moment.

    THANKS!
     
  8. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Canada
    If you have heavy clay subsoil, don't do too much plowing as it encourages hardpan which gives problems for drainage. Of course you could tile drain under that, but it's an extensive proposition.

    I live in zone 2b north and west of in Ontario. Potatoes are commonly grown to be sure. I've tried growing just about anything by using various techniques including suggestiions from a book called 'Cold Climate Gardening' and the Joy of Gardening which is an excellent resource as Jackie mentioned above.
    Your best friend is lots and lots and lots of compost. You'll never manufactur enough for a 2 acre garden, so keep your garden fertility by supplying those amendments to keep your soil tillable, well drained, and yet retain moisture. These conditions are best met with compost and green manure techniques, layering such as talked about in the book 'Lasagne Gardening'. Also mulch garden technques in the books by Ruth Stout. Read up on companion planting in books such as 'Roses Love Garlic' and also the Rodale book on Organic Pest Identification and Control.
    Do you have a Troy Built Tiller? That may be all you need for up to about an acre with some fairly intensive effort. The 4 wheeler might come in handy by dragging a spiked harrow or cultivator atttachment once you get estabilshed with reducing the current overgrowth.
     
  9. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    South West MI
    Your growing season is a bit longer because your near the water. I think they call where your at the "Garden Pennsula" and I recall a lot of farming in the area. did you just move there??.


    mikell
     
  10. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    SE PA, zone 6b
    The book Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich is a more modern version of the Ruth Stout methods. Used in conjunction with Lasagna Gardening would be a good way to start. You really don't have to plow or till at all.

    Gather as much spoiled hay, leaf mulch, cut grass from the lawn, etc.etc. as possible. You can never have too much. I recommend you start fairly small and plant the rest of the large garden area in alfalfa. Cut it off 2-3 times during the growing season and let it dry in place. It will make almost perfect mulch. Save all the bedding/manure from the animals you can. Always have a pile of it handy.

    Another book well worth owning in your climate (and any others) is Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman. With the many season-extending ideas available there and elsewhere, you could just about eat fresh all year long. You can build all kinds of cold frames from a small window on up to 30' x 96' hoophouse. You don't have to get fancy heating to start with and add that later.

    The bible of gardeners is The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman. Another useful book is The New Seed Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel. She probably has every chart available in amounts to plant for your needs.

    With that much land to plant, you could supply a fair sized Farmers Market or CSA operation or perhaps you'd like a small cut-flower busiiness. It's exciting to consider all you can do on that plot of ground. Take straw (not hay) bales and build a 6' sq bin to put compost into. Just pile in a bunch of the stuff listed above plus animal manures, and stand by. The following year add extra bales and start a new pile. Year 3 = use the first lot and use the straw as part of the mulch. I hope you have fun!
     
  11. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Here in Kansas, my family of 5 got most of out veggies this summer from a garden that was 30' by 50'. We got a little tired of tomatos, but we really would have liked more space hogs like sweet corn.

    Lets see, the peak harvest lasted for 3 months, so if I were to want year-round veggies I would need 4 times this. Or a little more, as sweet corn freezes well and it is a space hog. Call it 5 x my 1500' garden, in Kansas, for a family of 5.
     
  12. randy in central missouri

    randy in central missouri Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    missouri
    If i had twenty acres to start with now. I would start planting my orchard. Trees, berries, vines would be a must. I would start a map of my property and start laying out where i wanted everything. What i would give for enought room for 10 apples, 2 pear, 6 peach, 6 cherry, 4 plum, Maybe 4 each of like 6 different kind of nut trees. I would be planting grapes and blackberries.

    A garden has to start out small and added to every year or when july and august and all the heat heat, with all the weeds, it can be so overwhelming. a 20 x 20 garden can grow so much if taken care of. But it takes years to grow a cherry tree.

    randy
     
  13. desnri

    desnri Well-Known Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Here is a list I got from a website. I think it came from Backwoods Home, but I'm not sure.

    FEET REQUIRED PER VEGETABLE
    16 100-ft. rows of sweet corn (I plant four rows of early, the rest mid-season for canning and eating fresh.
    10 100-ft. rows of Cherokee White or other corn for meal and hominy.
    4 50-ft. rows yellow wax beans
    4 50-ft. rows bush Romano beans
    4 50-ft. rows Native American variety of dry bean
    4 50-ft. rows King of Early dry bean
    2 100-ft. rows pinto bean
    2 20-ft. by 4-ft. beds of peas
    1 20-ft. by 4-ft. bed of spinach
    2 separate tomato patches of 50 ft. by 50 ft.
    2 25-ft. rows peppers (chili & sweet)
    1 wheat patch 50 ft. by 50 ft.
    1 10-ft. row parsnips
    4 25-ft. rows carrots or 1 25-ft. by 3Ѕ -ft. wide row
    1 25-ft. row turnips or rutabagas
    1 25-ft. by 3Ѕ-ft. bed of broccoli
    1 25-ft. row cauliflower
    1 25-ft. row cabbage (mixed early and late)
    2 25-ft. rows cucumber (trellised)
    4 50-ft. rows onions or 50-ft. wide bed gives green and storage
    1 25-ft. row pole snap beans
    6 100-ft. rows potatoes

    This would be a good place to start, although, I think some quantities are a bit large. Hope this helps.