Clueless farmer seeks advice

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snipped-for-privacy@tucklings.com wrote:

Hi Vernon! I live in Lufkin, about 100 miles to the north of you, so our growing conditions are similar. We already have squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, potatoes, onions, turnips and cabbage (several varieties of each) that are harvestable. Our sweet corn is already making tassels and our beans/peas should be ready in about a week. They were planted in March, so I don't think there's time to wait for the seed order. Consider buying plants form your local feed store, they also have seed. They will have varieties that are known to grow well in your area. Or you may still find plants at Lowes or Home Depot.
We have two gardens, the one in the back field is about 3/4 acre, and the one out back of the house is about 30' x 50'. The larger one has soil like yours and smaller one has richer soil. Our corn is doing well despite the sandy soil. Alternating two rows corn then two rows of beans has made the corn picking much easier. We use the one out back for often picked items such as tomatoes and peppers and the larger one for less picked items such as corn, okra and beans. I don't often help in the garden, due to physical limitations, and my husband said he couldn't have managed so large a garden without a little larger machinery than you have available. Also we don't rotate our plots, but only specific crop locations within the same plot.
Some other things to think about is watering, storage and equipment to make processing your harvest a little easier. Last year we had little rain throughout late Spring to late fall. We had to pump water from our pond to water the large garden several times and still lost most of the corn but the other crops did well. After giving away oodles of veggies, we still had to purchase a 2nd freezer and wound up with both freezers full. We found that an electric pea sheller is indispensible, saved us countless hours shelling peas/beans. They are kind of expensive, but worth every penny. Our was ordered thru the local feedstore and took about two weeks to get here.
In our county growing hay and selling it qualifies as agricultural use, so if your land has been in grass all these years, check it out, you may already qualify for agricultural exemptions. Raising hay is much easier than raising a large garden. Around here you can hire someone to cut and bale it and sells for $25+ per round bale and it can be cut several times during the growing season. Then you could limit the size of your garden to one more suited to the size of your family.
Best Regards and Happy Growing! Alana
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Hi Alana!
You're practically our across the street neighbors!
Vernon
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As a young man thirty years ago, I too shared your aspirations, but after five years of truck farming five acres, the bloom came off the rose. Growing the stuff was the easy part. Getting it picked and selling it at a fair price was the hard part. As another poster said; Pick-Ur-Own is the way to go but only if you live near where your customers live.
Small farms can be financially sussessful if they can produce a niche crop. If there are resturants nearby, find out what fresh herbs they use and grow them. Big bucks on a little as an acre.
I, too had a Farmall Cub. Great machine for cultivating but I wouldn't plow or disk with it. The engine's too small. Hire someone with the proper sized equipment or buy something bigger to do your ground preparation.
Finally, if your real goal is the ag tax exemption. consider leasing your land to a local farmer and continue to garden for your own pleasure.

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Hi TQ,
I'm always happy to hear from folks who have already been where I hope to tread.
There are a couple of aspects to our situation that appear to be especially favorable.
First, the property is on a rural stretch of busy highway. It has great visibility and easy access. Therefore, if we can grow significant volumes of quality produce it would seem to me that we could market it on the spot.
While alone, that does not mean that we can compete with large scale agribusiness, it sure seems that we can get to market without all the "middle people".
But I agree that a niche market is the way to go. We just haven't figured out what niche.
Another aspect of it is that we don't really have to live from this. The fundamental reason for doing it is physical exercise and the harmony of being closer to nature.
On the other hand if we can make some money at it that's great. But it's not the driving force for doing it.
Thanks to everybody who's provided your point of view. I've learned something valuable from every single response!
V
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