I have alot of Farmer's blood flowing through my veins, and I love
this time of year. I enjoy getting the soil ready, planting a garden,
but most of all waitng to see those little plants sprouting through
the soil. I love to watch the plants grow, take care of them, and of
course eat the fresh tasty veggies and fruits that come from the sweat
of my brow.
I'm getting excited, too. After living in the city for way too long, we
are closing on our new 'estate' in a week. Ten acres! Woo hoo! I have
been looking at the seed catalogs and checking out the nurseries and
drooling. Sort of like a one-eyed cat in a fish market.
Ten acres! get organized, Ray. I wish I had known as much as I do now
when I bought my present home (which is also my first). I would have
veggies year round and fruits ten months a year, and plenty of nuts
and mushrooms of course, even though I live in Michigan. And, sure,
why not, a couple goats for cheese and a few chickens for eggs. In
retrospect what I should have done first (that would make gardening
more pleasurable and productive now) was:
1) figure out what grows well around here, make a list of fruit plants
that can cover the season continuously. Here the first fruit of the
season are mulberries. Unfamiliar with them at first, I found in time
that there are varieties growing around here which are excellent (yes,
I took cuttings).
2) set up a garden in full sun and with proper wildlife protection
(though I have since eliminated the problem by a variety of methods).
Soil quality does not matter as much as sun and water, unless you have
toxic soil. You can always get good soil in two years by adding
organic matter and/or ground rock. It is better to plan ahead. I was
fortunate enough to place chicken wire under my beds. My lawn is
overrun with moles, but the garden is unaffected. But I had to find a
different solution for slugs, mice, rabbits, deer and groundhog.
3) build large, walk-in tunnels for winter and early spring
vegetables. I have been having large salads for over 6 weeks now, out
of greens that were planted last september and that survived the
winter under the tunnels. You can use the tunnels as a greenhouse for
seedlings (if you plant in the ground and not in pots, to limit
thermal fluctuations). I think a household (we are four) needs 500
sqft of tunnels (mostly greens and roots that can be stored in the
ground) and 500 of open garden (seasonal and warm weather stuff). To
that, I would add another 500 sqft of "storable" garden (potatoes,
winter squash, bush peas, garlic, onions, favas).
4) perhaps most important, put down a serious irrigation system. If
you go for a big garden, having a well would not be out of the
question. Drip, with buried lines wrapped in chicken wire and
driplines kept under the mulch, is by all accounts the best method (I
am installing my own right now).
5) ruthlessly eliminate veggies that do not grow well on your site,
and get as many perennial veggies as possible. Sorrel, asparagus,
sunchokes, cardoon and perennial chard under cover, mushroom logs and
mushroom beds, herbs of course, raspberries and strawberries.
Thanks for the advice. As it turns out, I also live in Michigan -- in
that small strip of zone 4 just south of Cadillac. We're less than a
quarter mile from the Manistee National Forest :-)
As it turns out, about half of our property is already planted -- with
neat rows of red pine. They need to be thinned, so I'm going to have to
figure out how to use the logs to make our next house. I have lots of
There is a low spot fairly close to the house that should work well for
a garden. I have to check the soil better, but most of the stuff in the
area is either sand or sandy loam. There seems to be some clay near the
house, and the strip behind the house (between two plantings of red
pine) is sandy loam.
I already have the orchard and berry location figured out. There is a
lower spot between the house and the road that will work very well. I
know that because there are already a bunch of apple trees and wild
raspberry brambles there. There is a really small creek (or ditch)
running near the road. It appears to drain a swamp that's across the
road. I'm thinking of digging a small pond to keep some of the water
for irrigation and stock watering. I'm planning on running an electric
fence around the entire orchard area, along with some chicken wire. I
want to keep the chickens (we accidentally acquired four of them a month
ago, and have 25 pullets, 2 cockerels, and 6 guineas ordered) in the
orchard area to keep the bugs down and the windfalls picked up. When we
get goats, we may use them to clean up the area on occasion, but dairy
goats shouldn't be kept with chickens. They also tend to strip pine
trees -- though most of ours would be safe because the lowest live
branches are too high for them.
Someone left an old plow and disk back in the forest (probably two or
three owners back), so we'll just need to get an old tractor with a
I would like more information on digging a trench greenhouse. I saw an
article about it a couple months back in either Mother Earth News or
Hobby Farm or some mag like that. It looks like a good idea, and we'll
have some used windows available in a couple years. I'll probably cover
it with two or three layers of plastic, though, so the light will be
If you google this group, in the past I sought advice for a large
hoophouse (not a green house, but cheaper and just as durable). The
post by Bill Bolle pointed me to a simple and cheap way to make one. I
have just broken ground, and it should be done in two or three
I remember seeing an article about one that uses stock fencing for
support. I am considering that as a season extender. Rather than using
it for potted plants, I plan on using it to get the ground warmed up
earlier in the spring, and as protection against late frost in the
spring and early frost in the fall.
For a genuine greenhouse that can be used all winter, you have to either
have a heat source or really good insulation. Digging into a
south-facing hill to take advantage of the fact that the ground stays
relatively warm once you go down a few feet sounds like a good idea.
Adding a bunch of fresh manure would help generate heat and carbon
dioxide for the plants. That leaves the short day as the greatest
consider container growing for potatoes. the crop is supposed to be
multiplied greatly when grown this way.
see www.irish-eyes.com . in the growing guide you will see instructions for
producing 100 lbs of potatoes in FOUR SQUARE FEET. the method allows for
easy continuous harvest. i wonder if it will work for sweet potatoes.
you will find similar info on agricultural college sites.
When you have excess acreage, the thing you try to optimize is yield per
(cost + time) rather than yield per acre.
I have about twenty-five pounds of potatoes that are rapidly growing
sprouts. They're going to go into the ground as soon as we take
possession of our land.
true even with one acre. My deer have a runway not five feet from two
of my potato rows and don't touch them (so far, three years running...
they have destroyed my sunchokes patch 50 ft away though). I plant the
potatoes in rows where I don't want to mow, like where I have trees in
a row. All I do is put the potato down, cover with one foot of
woodchips, and show up in august for harvest. Very low yield, mostly
because I neither water nor fertilize, but the yield per unit of
effort is great.
Interesting... say, here's a question about potatoes:
I've noticed that red potatoes grown here in California are
pale-skinned and flavourless. Quite unlike the good red potatoes from
North Dakota and Washington.
So when I planted some "eyes", I used good Washington potatoes.
But they *produced* typical pale bland California potatoes -- yuck!
So appears it's a soil, water, or climate issue (SoCal desert), rather
than a variety issue. Any thoughts?
As a side effect, they also produced literally hundreds of half-inch
nubbins which were impossible to dig out, all of which sprouted this
spring. So now I have this patch of volunteers which apparently don't
mind that I'm not watering them, in the hope that they'll dry up and
go away. <g>
On Sun, 02 May 2004 18:05:42 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Rez)
Were they cut up .. one eye to the chunk or did you plant smaller
Did you let them dry up or just dig them while the vines were still
green? In california they might just keep growing and growing if you
didn't withdraw water and then make sure no more got to them...
because they will start growing again, making bumps on the already
existing potatoes and some small new ones could form.
Certainly growing conditions affect the outcome, water.. and too much
of it will make anemic potatoes, if you suspect there is something
missing from the soil, have it tested.
The variety you're growing is the biggest difference .. there is an
early red.. norland I think.. and it doesn't have good flavor, very
anemic even grown here in Idaho! (at least in my opinion). Pontiacs
are a later variety, better keeper, MUCH better flavor. I grew some
Levitt's pink..red skin and pink flesh, it was very tasty. Sangre are
a russet skinned red, a bit more mealy than what most of us think of
as reds.. waxy moist.
Well you could hill with soil or mulch some of them, don't water them
and see what they produce with just the natural water. They produce
tubers above the level of the "seed" piece, so you might as well get
something out of them if you can, they may be better dryer.
In the future, be sure to know precisely what variety you're planting,
and if you don't like what you get, then you'll know for sure what not
to buy next time, because all red potatoes, or white potatoes are NOT
created equal! I've had wonderful flavored russets and
horrible--throw out the rest of the bag--russets, they may look
similar, but there is a world of difference in the flavor. Even the
strains that one seed grower has versus another .. sometimes just
taste different even though the name on the "seed" was the same...even
on the same ground.
Not a red, but I love kennebec potatoes, they're cobble shaped white
potatoes that can get so big they suggest you plant them closer
together than other varieties to keep them from getting too large.
They're good baked, fried, or boiled.. just let them cure a bit, and
once you've withdrawn water, don't water them again...or they'll start
growing again, or.. rot.
Some of each, since some were real small and others had plenty of
They died off on their own and looked like potatoes normally will when
they're ready to dig. Probably the heat and dry air finally got to
them. They were every which size, from pea to fist.
Our "soil" is so alkaline it's off the scale (our water is very high
in calcium, but not in other salts), has zero nitrogen, but is fairly
good for other nutrients. I've added Ammonium sulphate (can't find
straight sulphur here anymore) and plenty of horse manure and mulch,
but it's gonna be a long uphill climb to real soil.
Grass (but not corn), trees other than citrus, tomatoes, onions,
roses, bulb flowers of any sort, all grow like weeds with no care
other than water (tho the tomatoes really went nuts when sprayed with
insecticidal soap). Other veggies have highly variable and often weird
results. Peas do fine, beans look terrible unless you pile on the
nitrogen. Broccoli turns into a giant perennial thing with lacey
leaves, and doesn't make heads, but does make sugar-sweet tasty
blossoms (this was the headed variety, so it's not supposed to do
that!) Carrots are so bitter they're inedible (and make you sick if
you eat 'em anyway). Squash and melons do well if we get a spring, but
not if we just go from winter to summer in one day like happened last
year. Spinach and leaf lettuce get milky-sapped and incredibly
bitter (haven't tried head lettuce yet.)
Califlower was really weird -- didn't head up til it was over a year
old, and by then they were 4 feet tall -- and the entire plant was
sweet and edible (including the root nodules that look like they want
to be flower heads!) Finally had to get rid of them because they were
drawing HORDES of mice. Next time I'll plant 'em out in the middle of
the back 40, not within screaming distance of the house.
Pontiac rings a bell, I think that's probably what these were.
Now that it's gone up to 100F they've pretty much died back. That
area needs daily water or it turns to concrete real fast. Might be
worth spading around in there to see what they did, since they had the
whole winter and spring to do it.
Well, what I planted were good eating, so I'd hope they'd grow the
same variety as I just ate <g>
On 29 Apr 2004 11:46:17 -0700, email@example.com (Rod Tuomi)
Your last name pronounced "to me?"
Knew a John Tom Toumi in Mt. Home .. he was in the AF at the base
there, mid-late 60s.. probably 1968-69.
My dad always wanted to farm, but alas after he left his father's
house, he didn't do a lot of it. Worked on the Sands Springs Ranch in
the Thousand Springs area of Idaho. Anne Southern owned it briefly
after they (father and mother.. dad did whatever needed done, mom did
the cooking for the hay and threshing crews and whoever was hired on
for a Doctor that owned it.) It was sold to Southern .. but was
overgrazed by the time she got it, sued for her money back more or
less. Dad talked of a trout stream that was fully contained on the
place, spring originated on the ground, and went underground again
before it flowed out in one of the thousand springs down a hillside to
the snake river.
Dad was relaxed enough and not driven to drive straight home one day
and took the scenic route .. some of his drives scared me half to
death as the little roads he went up were only just wide enough for
the car, and I was looking straight down to the river hundreds of feet
below. When he got up the hill though, he showed me the siphon tubes
they used to pull water up the hill and over into the ditches that fed
the farm and ranch land and their livestock up above the basalt column
"supported" cliffs above the river. The huge square columns left over
from some ancient lava flow look like big square "crystals" stacked at
angles along the cliffs seeming to support all that land above them
keeping it from falling into the snake river below.
Those siphon tubes were amazing to me though, they were taller than I
was.. don't know if I was 8 or 9 or 10, but I was close to .. to over
5 feet tall depending on which year it was and I could have stepped
into them.. and fallen hundreds of feet down them to my death should I
have tried.. but I had a very healthy respect for them and stood well
back as I've always been blessed/curse ability to "see" all the bad
things that could happen in seconds of seeing a situation. Still do,
makes people so mad .. "you're so negative" and I say .. no.. I'm just
aware that fools do a lot of stupid things that cause harm to
themselves and those who then have to go get them. LOL I've never
been a boy scout, but I believe in being prepared!! ;-)
I digress anyway.. that frustrated farmer lived in my father though.
I remember him trying to grow a garden in our "pure sand" land when I
was around 5 or 6 years old. He was so disgusted he never tried to
grow a garden after that, until one summer when I was bored and asked
if I could grow a garden. He said yes, and I went about clearing a
place and started digging. Dad came out and started digging and he
kind of just took over pretty much.. but I kept working when I could.
I remembered we were planting beans and we ran out so I said, we have
a bag of red beans in the house why can't we just plant some of those
to finish out the row..and we did, and something happened that would
not likely happen now! They were pole beans as were the ones we were
planting! In the land of mechanized harvest we live in now, they
would have been bush beans. This was probably 1964 of 1965.
That was the first garden we planted as a family, and the first one
that actually produced well and mom canned green beans all summer and
made pickles I sure wish I could have now! They were 14 day crock
pickles and since I have been pretty much homebound for 10 years, I
didn't get a chance to get them from mom..she pretty much gave them
away along with her huge canning pressure cookers she had all my life
and she got checked and got new seals for and it was still working
fine. *sigh* I ran out of the last bottle of her sweet chunk dills
in the midst of the occasional craving I got for vinegary things..
medium cheddar, miracle whip and sweet pickle sandwiches...so I went
to the store and bought some nalley or vlasic sweet pickles and sliced
the up and put them on the sandwich and took a bite expecting that
same flavor mom's pickles had.. and I was going what the f.....k
happened!? And that's when I found there was no comparison to home
canned food. As I found again when I bought store canned peaches.
I planted a $6 and change elberta peach tree I bought bare root in one
of those plastic bagged trees they sell in places like walmart now or
lowes or the rite aid "drug store". It was one of the best trees! I
canned 100 quarts, ate some gave some away and some rotted one year.
Cut it down because it sun scalded badly and I thought that was the
end for it. Shouldn't have done it and it'd probably still be out
there because one pit grew into a tree when I was not able to go out
there. It too became so sun scalded it bent over and I figured that
was it for it too! but.. it decided to live and started growing
upward from that 45 degree bend, and the tree trunk healed itself,
it's nearly 100% closed now years later. It started bearing peaches
without having any help from anyone, no pruning and until a couple
years ago, no real irrigation as it didn't get that far over until a
friend kind of dug a little ditch to get some water that way.. well it
so appreciated it.. it GREW .. a quarter of its then size more in one
The peaches are ok, better than some named varieties I'd bought and
planted years before ..that over bore and broke before I got to
support them.. and I didn't care because they weren't very good. This
one's better than them.. which I guess is rare for seedlings to
produce a peach that's even edible.. some are round rocks .. like one
of the trees I'd bought.. it was obviously a failed graft and I was
growing the root stock which golf ball sized and textured "peaches" ..
it was supposed to be a Hal-Berta (hale and elberta) cross that should
have been 1 lb each sized peaches. I might get half a bushel to a
bushel of peaches off it this year if they don't get frozen.
But yes.. my dad wanted to farm, and after that year we grew a garden
and mom canned .. we were poor poor then.. so poor we got church
commodities.. gotta be poor for that. But dad grew a garden every
year he was somewhere he could, and there were only 2 that we were in
that place, until he was 94 and died. I think he was 62 in 1966 and
it was 1965 we'd planted the garden... so he got 30 years to "farm"
his land whatever it was he had, and when he went to rent or buy a
place he looked at the yard and would say he'd take it before he even
looked inside the house. Used to make my mom so mad! If it had a
yard with access to alley or street a garage and outbuildings.. that's
what he wanted! But that last place had ground like the first
one..sandy..nearly pure..and even though he put in truckloads of grass
and other compost and manure over the years, it would burn out pretty
rapidly if he stopped. He tried raised beds, mounds, regular garden,
wide bed, narrower beds, he was never satisfied. Although one year he
planted Giant Noble (nobel?) spinach and it was HUGE ..because it
is.. but also because of all the nitrogen in that ground. Some of
those leaves were a foot long and half as wide!
And as I ramble on and on.. (I need to sleep) I know that I want to
grow so many things just to see what they look like, and taste like.
I would NEVER want to farm for a living though, it's like a gamble
forever, and unless you find yourself a niche market you can't compete
with corporate farms and ranches. If there's a good farmer's market,
you might have a good chance to recoup some of your expenses so you
can do it again. Not something I'd want to have to do.. as I say that
in a position where I can't even plant a garden on my own now. :(
When I would say what I liked about gardening it always reminded me of
Green Acres and Oliver's (AH LEE VOR as Eva Gabor aka Lisa would say)
speech about the seeds shooting out of the soil.. Eva's Shoosting ;-)
But I'm like that looking for those first sprouts breaking through the
soil. But, I don't like the labor and toil of the ground prep.. at
least not in the situation in which I live. too tight, too small, too
hard to get things into the yard and back to the garden with no alley
access no space to drive back. But, it was a necessary evil and I was
always running late.. as I'm getting to now as my help isn't helping.
But I understand the drive,and how depressed and cranky I get when I
don't get something planted in the yard to watch and water.. and if it
doesn't happen then the yard just becomes a big sucker of money from
my pocket to cut down weeds and grass.
I'll shaddup now and go to sleep I hope. been up since almost 24 hours
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