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Intensive Farming/Gardening

 
Posts: 97
Location: South Mississippi
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hugelkultur hunting homestead
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I was writing about my soil test in another topic and decided to start a thread on just this topic to see how many have tried this or are doing it. I also want to teach those who have never heard about intensive farming or intensive gardening.

So here is what intensive farming/gardening is....

To explain about intensive farming, or what some call intensive gardening, it is when instead of say planting corn 12" apart in rows and having 3' between each row. I instead have 48" wide beds that I plant corn 12" apart and each row is also 12" apart in the 48" bed. You still do what the plant needs in spacing "in row" but instead of wasting space with multiple feet between rows you instead plant the rows the same distance as what they recommend "in row spacing" to be. Another example is my onions which they say to plant 3-4 inches apart IN ROW and have 2-3 feet between rows I instead plant my rows 3-4 inches apart and the onions 3-4 inches apart IN ROW. Also I would suggest to make the beds 36-48 inches wide so that if you can't reach every plant from one side you can reach from the other side but to make the beds as wide as possible to reduce the number of walking paths needed thus increasing the overall amount of actual growing space per acre (or whatever size garden you have). This increases the amount of harvest you get and lowers the amount of wasted water and fertilizer needed. Now it will also increase the total amounts of fertilizer BUT this increase is because of the massive amounts of increased harvest. To show what I mean the average 1 row of carrots planted in 1 row 100' long, requires a total of 500 square feet but only grows 600 carrots (2 inch spacing)(this is 1 row and having 2' of walking space on each side of that row). Now to grow intensively you only need a 48" wide bed 5 feet long to produce 660 carrots with a total square footage of 40 square feet ( 4' wide bed x 5' long with 2 foot walking paths on both sides of it. That means your growing over 10 times the harvest on the same square footage so you may waist less fertilizer per square foot you will need to add more per square footage but NOT 10 time that amount so your overall cost of each carrot (or whatever else) is WAY lower though your overall cost on fertilizer is 2 time that of normal farming practices but as said your harvest is over 10 times normal practices. This also lowers your need for weeding as intensive farming/gardening also reduces the sunlight under the crops so you don't have as much weed pressure, this doesn't mean I don't weed, but I do weed far less than I used to and usually after the cash crops grow enough canopy I then don't weed at all for that crop.

Some other things to suggest is to have multiple beds and to rotate crops and have 1 bed that just has a cover crop all year long to let it rest. I divide my 3 (1 acre) fields into 2 sections per acre and then grow 4 major crops per season (some crops can have a early spring crop, a summer crop and fall crops) allowing me to have between 6-12 crops per year and having 1 field covered in legumes for a year to rest and kill any soil pathogens and nematodes in that field and lets me have a total of over 2 years + between when a family of veggies grew there last. (For those not knowing about different families of veggies here is an example- tomatoes and peppers are in the same family, while corn and grasses are in a different family, brassicas are another family that includes cabbage (including Asian), turnips, mustard, rutabagas, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. I rotate between where in each field and or wich field each family is grown to reduce both soil pathogens and also to lower the insect pressure from bad bugs. (by moving crops that a particular insect eats it helps to move them so that when their eggs hatch they can't find that plant right next to them and usually it lowers their damage because of some not finding a host plant and dying, flying away (to bother someone else) etc. It also allows any soil pathogens such as Tomato mosaic virus that can live in your soil for 1-2 years will be killed if no host plant is planted there for that time. So by rotating you can actually kill these pathogens by not allowing the virus a host plant to sustain it. Now 2 notes are needed here, 1, if you use tools or equipment in an infected area you MUST clean it and sanitize it (simple washing and a bleach, water mix should kill it) and 2, weeds that are in the same family as crops you grow can keep these pathogens active in the soil. Some examples is lambs purse and morning glories can harbor viruses that can also kill/damage cash crops you may be growing. Another benefit of rotating crops while intensive farming/gardening is to kill root nematodes. Again check what plants you grow and are bad or immune to root nematodes and if you had an issue with nematodes plant resistant crops there for 2 years in your rotation plan and they will have all died by the time you rotate back there with plants that may have issues with root nematodes.

Now if I may ask anyone who has done this type of farming/gardening may I hear from you and tell us the good, the bad and the ugly about your experience. I have only tried test beds last 2 years and have had good luck with them so I now started doing this type of farming on my main crop fields.
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