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self sustaining basic farm design plan  RSS feed

 
peter gos
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Hello all,

I come from a family of small farmers (regular garden + chicken + occasional pork/cow) but I've never been into farming / permaculture / working the land and whatnot.

I've only recently become interested in these things and realised the impact we can have on the land, air, ecosystem or the world in general and how our decisions in terms of design/plant and animal choices and various systems that we use when working the land.

Although my familiy rarely used pesticides or herbicides, the whole garden is just a plain mess. Weeds growing everywhere, clayish soil 90% of the place plus the annual tilling, half the plants diseased/dead, chicken not taken care of and on and on and on..

So I've started researching for some time and somehow got the idea that it might be possible to have a whole system where you don't need to buy anything, and continuously produce food (as in meat and plant matter).
Now I'm not really sure how to do it but my vision is of a closed system where everyting is cycled.

Here is a basic setup that I'm thinking of: It can be expanded alot more, I know, but I'm thinking better to start small.

plant matter grown in soil --> fresh food scraps + old food scraps = compost (heat, co2 + soil improvement) --> red wrigglers --> feed for chicken
--> feed for chicken


- The soil can be ammended and improved naturally by using compost. The composting matterials would be the manures that you get, the plant leftovers (as greens), and the old plant leftovers (as browns)

- Chicken can eat the plant matter that you grow in soil. Composting with red wrigglers can give you a chicken feed. Mealworms (which can be grown just with leaves and water as far as I'm experimenting) can supplement that.

- Plant matter can be grown in a greenhouse that uses passive solar gain and/or compost inside it to heat it up. Keeping some of the animals in there (such as the chicken) can give you (together with the compost) CO2 for the plants, which will be turned into oxygen and so on.

Now this all sounds lovely, but can it be done?
Are the quantities produced by all these system enough, and if so, how do you get it right?

What I mean is (let's say the soil is better than you can dream of):

-how can you approximate how much land you need to produce enough plant matter for your : 1) chicks 2)compost ?
-can you compost just with food scraps (stems, leaves, peelings) as your greens, and OLD food scraps (the same things, just left to dry out in the sun) ?
-will that compost be enough to improve the soil fertility ?
-can you do that in the winter in a greenhouse and how much space would it take (passive solar gain building + chicken + compost)

-does this sound doable so you can get a surplus?
-even if you do get it right, there's the people living there that need to be fed aswell so you have to extend the land use again
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I see no problem with this. When my chickens were free-ranging I was only buying perhaps 25 cents worth of feed for every dozen eggs: the rest of their diet was table scraps and bugs. If I had raised enough corn I would not have had to buy feed at all!

One flaw, though, is that I live in Kansas and there are no bugs for 6 months out of the year. THAT would need more thought!

I have one acre of land, fenced, and at the time I had 5-6 chickens.

I did NOT compost peelings, I fed those to the chickens also! The bugs they got was from my lawn, and the table scraps were mostly cassarole and half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches: toddlers waste food but the chickens took that and turned it into eggs!

Permaculture is mostly how things work together: the scraps we gave to the chickens, and we provided them a protected spot to hunt for bugs, and they gave us eggs.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Ecology Action has done a lot of work on how to grow the most food on the smallest amount of land using the Biointensive growing method (compatible with permaculture). The work they've done is on vegan diets, but they've also done some work on systems which include animals: Ecology Action books and research papers are available here: http://www.bountifulgardens.org/products.asp?dept=113 http://www.bountifulgardens.org/products.asp?dept=104

More about Biointensive: http://growbiointensive.org/
 
peter gos
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Thanks for your help
 
                                      
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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Hi ludi
(i hope im not leading the topic offtopic too much)

would you describe the biointensive system as completely combatible with permaculture?
as i recall j. jeavons did promote the yearly 'double digging' of the soil, would you include this practice as well when using biointensive(-type) gardening whitin a permaculture system?
 
Jesus Martinez
Posts: 169
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:Hi ludi
(i hope im not leading the topic offtopic too much)

would you describe the biointensive system as completely combatible with permaculture?
as i recall j. jeavons did promote the yearly 'double digging' of the soil, would you include this practice as well when using biointensive(-type) gardening whitin a permaculture system?


I would say permaculture food production is very "biointensive" at least to the meaning of producing more than conventional ag in the same amount of space.
 
Raven Sutherland
Posts: 164
Location: MAINE
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actually ruth stout's garden was a first attempt at permaculture
but she realized that even a permanently mulched garden
had to be dug up the first time out of trial and error.

Now some people would argue that this destroys the soils structure
and its better to have a no-dig approach but the weight of snow
will re compact it after just one good winter i have found.

The idea for a french intensive was to remove subsoil below the loam line
and replace it with more loam so that you end up with 16 inches.

this allows for a much bigger root system and makes for larger vegetables.
it also allowed for tighter plant spacing or crowding but at a certain point
in an effort to compete for light the plants get too elongated.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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There are some good videos on Paul Wheaton's youtube channel answering some of these questions. One interesting one was a tripod chicken feeder that places dead animals (found in the road or on the farm) and meat scraps as a worm/maggot feed producer for the chickens.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Joop Corbin - swomp wrote:Hi ludi
(i hope im not leading the topic offtopic too much)

would you describe the biointensive system as completely combatible with permaculture?
as i recall j. jeavons did promote the yearly 'double digging' of the soil, would you include this practice as well when using biointensive(-type) gardening whitin a permaculture system?


Personally I would not do the double digging repeatedly because I don't have the physical ability to do so and I don't think it's necessary after the one time. Earthworms do plenty of digging. If the soil needs to be aerated because someone stepped on it, a broadfork works great. I think in his book Jeavon's mentions the possibility of not digging every year. I think if a person observes the soil needs that much digging, they should feel free to double dig their Biointensive beds within their larger permaculture system, but I don't personally see so much digging being necessary or desirable. There's nothing in the methods or philosophy of Biointensive that conflicts with the ethics and principles of permaculture, in my opinion. The goal of Biointensive is permanent soil fertility, which seems compatible with all the goals of permaculture, even though Biointensive is mostly (but not all) about annual crops.
 
                                      
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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I would say permaculture food production is very "biointensive" at least to the meaning of producing more than conventional ag in the same amount of space.


i would agree!

is asked because i thnik the biointensive system is a very interesing one for the zone one. When i reas about it it mentioned being based on five 'pillars' one on which was annually double digging. It also mentioned as i recall the statement that it would only work when all five pillars were used because they togheter build this system. (which ofcorse didnt prevent me from loaning from their pamphlets whatever i thought suitable for me.)

i didnt know the double digging was more a loose thing that could also be avoided as much as possible.

i myself have double dug beds when creating new zone 1 (intensive) garden beds, and i imagine doing so again maybe, but i obviously would like to create the situation where i dont do that at all.

happy i got that clarified: yes, the biointensive system as defined by j. jeavons and ecology action is completely compatible whith permaculture.

sorry for the sidetrack, lets get ontopic again.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think by "work" Jeavons means "get those high yields." I've used a modified Biointensive-ish style of gardening for a few years and it definitely works as far as being able to grow stuff. I've never been religious about following the method, so I've never gotten the spectacular yields. I'm just not able to work that hard or be that diligent. :p
 
Raven Sutherland
Posts: 164
Location: MAINE
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i simply love to shovel soil.... but over the years i have learned because my back sorta hates it
to change my methods so that i lift far less weight and take more smaller wheel barrow loads.

having a good tiller that has allot of push power like a Troybuilt or BCS with a small angled
plow on the front allows you to create swales and raised beds with ease and it's allot of fun.
I love doing doughnuts and i broadcast seed into them doing a kind of spin maneuver then i gently rake/tamp.

The problem is, the weather turns from ugly to friendly and you try to do to much at once
and later you pay for it... learning the hard way!

It's better to sub divide certain tasks into smaller jobs so that you are not over doing it.

there's a specific word for the right time to play in the soil and that's when the "TILTH" is perfect
meaning the sunshine air and moisture has made a soil that will flow like sand in a sand box
then you can sculpt your raised beds and make them catch the rainfall but drain during a down pour.
 
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