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!
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.
I'm always happy to hear from folks who have already been where I hope
There are a couple of aspects to our situation that appear to be
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
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!
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