How much can you really grow? Sustainability.


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I kinda like your old school set up! I had a 52 8N about 15 years ago, but sold it. Wish I had it back most days! But, the 425 is probably better suited for most of my needs. It is the Kawasaki 20HP motor in it. Your style of gardening is definitely suited for for the use of implements. Amending the soil I think is key and would be way too much work without them.

Is your soil naturally as sandy as it appears? Our garden area is actually pretty full of grey clay. I added a couple hundred pounds of sand the second year it was in its current location and thought it helped let the water seep much better. I think I need more and have plans to add it this spring, especially after tilling up more area.

Do you use your own potato's for seed?
 
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Meadowlark

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1) My garden soil was originally part of a hay meadow a century or more ago. As such, weed control was hugely important to me when I first started gardening in it...and cover cropping solved that problem. No question, I wouldn't do this without implements.

2) Do you use your own potato's for seed? Some, but not principally. I use some of the smaller ones for seed occasionally but mostly rely on purchasing seed potatoes. Been doing it that way in the same space for well over 40 years and the potato production just gets better and better.

I'm assuming your Kawasaki is diesel? That's the way to go in my opinion. Reliability and long life. My old Kubota is worth as much today as what I paid for it over 40 years ago....not much I can say that about, LOL.
 
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No, unfortunately, it's a gasser, but I'll have to deal with that. I bought it from my Aunt this spring and know she had the cam replaced, which is one Achilles Heal it has. Other than that I think it should be good if I service it properly. Yea, those old Kubota's keep their value well! You got a goodun!

I've always, in the 10 or so times I've raised potato's, used purchased seed potato's as well. I've seen a few folks on the inter-webs using their own and was just curious. As a side note; I grabbed some Mexican food the other day and they had several plastic (Milk type) crates for free, so grabbed a couple that should work great for potato storage. :)

I would think I'll have to battle the lambs quarter, dandelions, and some sedge that are prevalent right here, but if I'm hearing you correctly it sounds like your cover crops kinda keep the nauseous weeds down to a minimum?

James
 

Meadowlark

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Those crates are GREAT! for potato storage. I use them for all kinds of things also. You're lucky to have a free supply.

Yes, I use cover crops as a primary source of weed control. Before using cover crops, weeding was a huge problem in my garden which was originally a bahia grass hay field. Now it just isn't a problem at all...but I do have continuous coverage of something. I never leave any of the garden ground uncovered or idle....always soil building.

I'm looking forward to following your journey into sustainability.
 
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I should have grabbed all 6-7 of them, but felt a little greedy! LOL!

So for a cover crop, since I love peas, what if I were to plant a good eating pea and some wheat, and only harvest some of the peas before mowing them down? Some would go to seed, but I could get a good supply and the rest would go to soil amendment. Just thinking.... ouch, my brain! Hahahah!

The tiller I am working on acquiring apparently has been setting outside for a while. Not sure of the condition, but it could be acquired for nothing. I really hope it isn't completely shot, but if it's just surface rust I'm fine with that. I love to sand things like that down and refurbish them. I'll keep you posted on that. I'll probably put something in the Tools & Equipment Forum with it.

I'll get some pics of my current site and show you, maybe throw in a few pics of this years garden. :)

Thanks for the good conversation!
 

Meadowlark

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Those old tillers were tough. It should be worth giving it a try.

You could try one type pea for soil building...the Austrian pea is excellent for soil building...and another different one that you like for eating. Best of both worlds.
 
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My parents were an estimated 90% + sustainable while raising 7 children well into the 1940's with no electric power and a windmill for water. Watering garden plants was un-heard of but the value of a good dust mulch had already been discovered. The Alfalfa area and the Garden areas were rotated every 4 years.

Did you know laying hens will pick the Alfalfa stems clean of good well cured Alfalfa leaves and that allows the Laying Mash to remain in the feed store. That info was passed down to me and I've passed it on to my favorite niece who is interested in having a nice flock of laying hens with beautiful brown eggs. She also keeps a few wood ashes for the her birds to dust bathe in. What's the purpose of wood ashes? That's to keep the chicken Lice and Mites in check.
 
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SC, was there any other food supplied to the flock? I know when I poke anything green through the fence, or anything green from the table, they devour it! I give them scratch grains and pelletized mash, but they love the mix of wheat and cracked corn food. I have dumped a bunch of curb collected leaves in the outdoor enclosure and it gives them great pleasure “scratching “ through them to find the tasty morsels. Love our chickens!
 

Meadowlark

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Very interesting reading SeniorCitizen. Thank you for posting it.

My Grandparents raised 18 children substance farming in the Ozarks about that same timeframe. They had a "cistern" for water and used water only for the humans. I learned a lot about companion planting, crop rotation, and soil building from their practices handed down through my Mother.

I've been experimenting with growing alfalfa the last couple of years here in East Texas. Kind of difficult climate for growing it, but it is a wonderous plant for the garden. No way I can let the chickens in on it or they would devour all of it. My Grandparents also used wood ashes a lot...like you said as a dust bathe, also used to dust the potato cuttings prior to planting to prevent rot and of course they made their own soap from the wood ashes.

I love the old ways and stories about them...keep em coming!
 
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Country QUOTE: SC, was there any other food supplied to the flock?

Yes there was whole grain ( usually whole Oats ) and Oyster Shells, and we're talking free range farm chickens so they had access to everything, including the vegetable garden in some instances and always the cow corral where the picking was sometimes excellent depending on what the cows were fed, lol and wheat is another possibility for winter green pasture if leafy Alfalfa hay isn't available, but Alfalfa, a legume, is the best if possible.
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Meadowlark QUOTE: No way I can let the chickens in on it or they would devour all of it.

Consider pasturing the hens on the Alfalfa about once / week for around an hour of time. If one allows them to the Alfalfa pasture only a short time before roost time they will usually put themselves to roost without a hassle. Well, unless there is one that is attracted to a nearby tree to roost in.:)

If you have a county extension service, consider checking with those folks to determine if there is a Alfalfa cultivar that's suitable for your climate.
 
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Free ranging our chickens is an option, and I did it for a couple years, but coons, coyotes, Mink, and at one time the neighbors dog, devastate our flock. I had to make an enclosed run and until I buried wire 6” down and 12” out, the Coon were getting in. They even tore holes in the roof and door trying to get at them. I have to deliver everything to them, but that’s ok, it means I check on them pretty much every day. If it’s alfalfa I grow for cover, I’ll gladly share with them! They earn what they get! :)
 
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Free ranging our chickens is an option, and I did it for a couple years, but coons, coyotes, Mink, and at one time the neighbors dog, devastate our flock. I had to make an enclosed run and until I buried wire 6” down and 12” out, the Coon were getting in. They even tore holes in the roof and door trying to get at them. I have to deliver everything to them, but that’s ok, it means I check on them pretty much every day. If it’s alfalfa I grow for cover, I’ll gladly share with them! They earn what they get! :)
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I know the feeling, including the neighbor dog(s). I bought an incubator and hatched about 40 broiler chicks. Allowed those to free run and I suspect there was the fattest litter of coyote pups in the county before they got all of those. Raccoons, those are easy to trap and send on their way to Raccoon heaven.

On the farm a couple of protective farm dogs seemed to always work for my dad, but a co-worker bought 100 baby chicks and about the age they feathered out his own dog got into the pen in the night and killed 90 of the 100. Maybe dog folks can answer the question, WHY , but the co-worker attributed it to jealousy. The dog wasn't the average general farm dog but a specialized breed.
 
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I actually don’t really blame the dog, it was a German Shorthair and they are great at what they do. I did, however, blame the neighbor for not training it and allowing the dog to run all over the neighborhood, which is also what they’re good at if not properly trained in obedience. Nuff about that. My coop is about 15” off the ground and the enclosure is 12’x20”x8’ high. It gives them plenty of cover in the summer and constant dry dirt for feather dust baths. I’ve got a couple branches propped up in the corner and it gives them some obstacles. I was looking at it the other day and think adding more of these things to give them more to do. I feel bad not allowing them to roam, but much worse when they get snatched. This bunch was a straight run bought this spring and ended up with all hens! They’re the nicest group I’ve ever had and some of them just fly up on my shoulder when I don’t pay attention to them.
 

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