Author Topic: Need advice, where to find answers.  (Read 3252 times)

Offline Vash1016

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Need advice, where to find answers.
« on: August 23, 2016, 12:31:59 PM »
Greetings TSP Forum members!  This is my first post, I have been listening to TSP for only a couple months, and have been working my way back through the years of shows and I have decided I am wasting a huge opportunity to turn my property into something that works for my wife and I, rather than a big patch of grass.

We own a little over an acre, though I would guess between "natural" areas and the home its closer to 2/3 an acre of workable land.  It is mostly "flat" with a gentle slope towards the back of the yard.  We are located in the Southern Piedmont of North Carolina, and I guess I would just love to know where to start.  I am a person who easily gets locked up in analysis paralysis so I have been doing a lot of listening to shows about permaculture that Jack has done as well as watching videos on it, but It seems hard to find information on the basics of planning out where, what, and when to plant when it comes to permaculture. 

Neither of us has any gardening experience but we love learning things, and our hope is to learn skills that we can eventually use to create a mountain retreat for ourselves up in the Appalachian mountains. 

I hope this post is in the right spot, if not I will remove it!  Thanks again to anyone who takes the time to read and respond.   :)

EDIT: Added picture and some description.

Offline Carl

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2016, 04:31:57 PM »
Plant as seed and raise to selling size FRUIT TREES.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2016, 08:32:15 PM »
I will jump on this in the morning. It has been a LONG day..

Cedar

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2016, 08:42:48 PM »
Start with food crops. Something simple, perennial, that you'll actually eat (save the weird exotic foods for later, when you have more experience).

You mentioned someday building a mountain retreat for yourself. Does that plan involve selling this home and moving, or maintaining a secondary property? If you intend to sell this home in the near future, I would be less inclined to do anything drastic.

How about some strawberry beds? There's nothing easier, it's fairly cheap, hugely productive, and will let you experiment with finding the ideal locations, managing irrigation systems, plant propagation, harvest timing, perhaps, canning, dehydrating or fermenting your harvest.

Garlic can be planted soon (I usually plant in October). That's another one which doesn't take up a lot of room, produces a lot per square foot, is low maintenance, and is something most people know how to use. It's virtually guaranteed to be successful if you keep the area weeded. A great beginner crop.

For trees, you can't go wrong with mulberry. The "Illinois Everbearing" is a great cultivar. It's hugely productive, one of the better tasting varieties, and extremely forgiving if you make any mistakes with (over or under pruning, less than ideal soils etc). Very few pests and diseases affect it.

Other than that, get your herb garden started. In terms of value returned to you, herbs out produce anything else. You can pay $4 for a sprig of fresh thyme in the store, but buy a live plant twice the size for half the cost and have it for decades. Again, start with perennials.

Here's the beginner's perennial herb garden. Grow these in approximately these proportions (you can double or triple the quantities, but these ratios work out well for cooking), and set them as close to the house as you can. These are all low maintenance, very durable, commonly used plants.

10x Thyme plants
2x Oregano
10x Lavender
4x Onion Chives
3x Mint (assorted varieties)
1x Lemon balm
4x Bee Balm
3x Sage

If you really want to test yourself, plant a full meal (not 100% of your food, just one simple meal). The objective is to produce all of the ingredients on your own. Perhaps a Chicken sandwich. You start with a little bit of grain for the bread (oats and rye work in small quantities). You'll need chickens for the meat and the eggs to make mayonaise. Sunflowers work well for oil production. Possibly some lettuce and tomato, the assorted herbs and spices. Don't forget you need to feed the chickens, so you're growing their food. You may not have enough land for milking animals, so cheese is probably out (though you can buy milk if you want to try your hand at it). It's a simple exercise in self-sufficiency, illustrates your strengths and weaknesses (and those inherent to the land you're working). This will give you a very well-rounded view of food production, preservation, crop planning & cultivation, resource management... It really is a challenge though. It will also be the most expensive sandwich you've ever had in your life. You quickly realize why subsistence farmers eat a lot of stew, lol. If you have kids, this is a great teaching opportunity. More importantly, it will change the way you look at your own diet. Something as simple as a sandwich you could get off of a fast-food dollar menu actually represents 12-18 months of work. I highly recommend this exercise, you learn so many lessons from it.

Offline Vash1016

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2016, 07:02:33 AM »
Thank you all for the responses!  We will certainly look into strawberries or garlic, and an herb garden is at the top of our "To-Do" list.  No immediate plans for animals, we both work from 6am to 7pm so we barely have time to take care of our basic household chores, much less caring for the needs of animals.  The good news is we are paying off the little debt we have to be able to start saving for the future. 

We will probably end up selling this property when we are able to move but that wont be for another 5-10 years assuming all goes well, we want to buy the property and use it as a getaway we can work on in between now and then.  Neither of us flourishes in the Piedmont heat.

I will make sure to post when we get our garden started and I am sure I will ask for more advice.  Thanks again I.L.W!

Offline Carl

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2016, 07:33:47 AM »
Thank you all for the responses!  We will certainly look into strawberries or garlic, and an herb garden is at the top of our "To-Do" list.  No immediate plans for animals, we both work from 6am to 7pm so we barely have time to take care of our basic household chores, much less caring for the needs of animals.  The good news is we are paying off the little debt we have to be able to start saving for the future. 

We will probably end up selling this property when we are able to move but that wont be for another 5-10 years assuming all goes well, we want to buy the property and use it as a getaway we can work on in between now and then.  Neither of us flourishes in the Piedmont heat.

I will make sure to post when we get our garden started and I am sure I will ask for more advice.  Thanks again I.L.W!

As you have little time to maintain a garden or care for animals, a garden of hearty crops ,like potatoes,butternut squash,asparagus beans ,potatoes,nd sweet potatoes can be done with little care ,but will not produce as much as a well tended garden...I am not capable to care for a garden yet NATURE waters and tends my 'hand tossed' garden and while I share with animals and depend on nature to water...I still get adequate production to feed from and share with family.Others are correct that your consumption has about the best value for your effort as the area is too small for much animal production...though a few chickens may help debug the garden area.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2016, 07:46:49 AM »
My apologies, I got caught up in something else. Ad I do not have alot of time this morning,

If you would lke to get that area 'working', but do not have alot of hands-on time, you might make your 'spot' whether by tilling , lasagna-ing, whatever method, and even just put grain and sunflowers in there. If you want to even have a couple chickens, you could raise oats or barley with some sunflowers thrown in to pretty things up.

If you are going to be around, and have water, plant pumpkins like "Big Max" or something to give yourself a bit of an income for 2017 from it. If you have farm deferral over there, you might even quality and bring your property taxes down. "Big Max" we grew on the vineyard before dad all all the vine plants in, and my brother and I sold alot of them for $3 and $5 each when we were little, and those things go for $30-180 now.. yes each. Find a market for them however, unless you can do a roadside stand.

Cedar

Offline bigbear

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2016, 09:50:22 AM »
With a 12 hour work day:  I’d highly recommend a watering timer and soaker hoses.

“Grow what you eat.”  And I’ll add, grow what you’ll use.  If your time is short, there may be some things that you don’t want to spend the time on.  Herbs come to mind.  They grow well, are productive, taste better fresh, and have other health and garden benefits.  But adding chopping, grinding, etc. to the meal prep time may/may not be something you’re interested in. 

Grow what’s productive.  Squash/zucchini, tomato, beans and peppers can be used in a lot of things, are easy, and are productive.  If it’s easy and productive in the first year or two, then you’re more likely to get excited and want to continue with it.

Chickens don’t take as much time as you may think.  We (mostly my 9 y/o son) spend about 5 minutes a day (feeding/watering/egg collecting/letting them out of the run).  And about 5-10 minutes every week or two cleaning out the coop (it’s designed to be an easy clean).  All of my kids thoroughly enjoy the chickens!  You would need to consider when you leave the house for more than a few days though.

I agree with the suggest planting perennials (blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, gooseberries, strawberries, asparagus, apples, peaches, herbs…).  But if you’re moving in the next 5 years, then I would narrow down that perennial list to something that will produce before moving and/or to what you think will be attractive to the most buyers (a strawberry patch or blueberry bushes would be more attractive to more buyers than say the lesser known paw-paw tree).  Though the old “eye of the beholder” adage kicks in here… because some old school people love the paw-paw!

You’ll get a lot of thoughts, opinions, and advice.  Take what fits you and your goals.  Personally, we’re on an acre and have no plans for 100% food production.  At some point, maybe 25-33%.  Maybe I’m not a true homesteader/survivalist…  I’m ok with that.  My wife and I are learning a lot and enjoying the ride.  And my kids are loving the time together planting, weeding (ok, maybe that’s exaggerating), harvesting, eating, chickens, digging in the dirt, learning about bugs (my boys especially enjoyed learning about predator bugs), life cycles, pollination, patience, protecting what you love and so many other things. 

Welcome aboard!

Offline Vash1016

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Re: Need advice, where to find answers.
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2016, 12:20:54 PM »
Wow, I am overwhelmed at all the amazing advice we are getting.  Thanks so much to all of you for taking the time and energy to formulate such wonderful responses.  It is nice to know others out there are learning as well.  We don't know when we will move, but we are sure that the house will be of little to no value when we decide to sell, and whoever moves in will probably bulldoze the house and land(it is a mobile home from the 80's we have remodeled on our own with no permits or inspections but still done well).  So any improvements we make are for our own enjoyment.  We are both in our 20s (me late, her early) and we are still trying to figure out what we want to do "when we grow up" so to speak.  We always come to the same conclusion when we discuss it, and that is to have a little spot in the mountains to live on and disappear from the world together. 

Sorry for the rambling. I get carried away dreaming sometimes...

It is great to have such a vast pool of knowledge all in the same area to be able to absorb as much of it as possible. This is such a wonderful community.