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Here Is Our Micro-Homestead. Enjoy.

 
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Very inspiring posts about your Micro-Homestead. Thank you for starting this thread.

I noticed that the discussion is starting to wonder away from the main topic. I would like to remind everyone that permies.com is a a safe place for gentle souls to talk about homesteading and permaculture. Consequently we like to focus on solution based discussions, rather than problem focused ones.

One of the things I often forget is how different the soil is in other parts of the world. Different climates have different effects on how the soil works... and consequently, what works to build the soil in one place, may not work in another. If you are having a specific challenge building soil, this would make a good topic for a new thread. I bet the helpful people around here could brainstorm some possible solutions. Some solutions might work, others not, but I find there is always an idea or two worth trying.

Please remember that this site has publishing standards. It's a bit different than many forums, and can take some getting use to. I find the be nice thread very helpful for understanding the requirements of this site.

 
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R Ranson wrote:Very inspiring posts about your Micro-Homestead. Thank you for starting this thread.

I noticed that the discussion is starting to wonder away from the main topic. I would like to remind everyone that permies.com is a a safe place for gentle souls to talk about homesteading and permaculture. Consequently we like to focus on solution based discussions, rather than problem focused ones.

One of the things I often forget is how different the soil is in other parts of the world. Different climates have different effects on how the soil works... and consequently, what works to build the soil in one place, may not work in another. If you are having a specific challenge building soil, this would make a good topic for a new thread. I bet the helpful people around here could brainstorm some possible solutions. Some solutions might work, others not, but I find there is always an idea or two worth trying.

Please remember that this site has publishing standards. It's a bit different than many forums, and can take some getting use to. I find the be nice thread very helpful for understanding the requirements of this site.



Yeah sorry, I got a little out of hand there. Passion got the best of me. Good post ranson.
 
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Travis let me say I love your posts! Please keep them coming they are an inspiration for someone like myself that finally has plans set for a similar endeavor in two years.

 
Travis Schulert
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Thanks Shawn! Keep working hard towards your goal!
 
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Travis Schulert wrote:

I have very little pest or disease problems to speak of. Japanese beetles come around but a trap near the garden catches most of them, then they are fed to the chickens. Mold issues are quickly solved with all the lactic acid bacteria I spray on the garden. A 55 gallon compost tea brewer takes care of all the other preventative maintenance with disease and pest.

Off 3700 sq ft we fed 16 full shares 45 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Great starter year but we are not going to do a CSA ever again, too much headache and I don’t like being in debt to start the year off.

Last season we tried our luck at farmers markets and found a niche pretty quickly. We are the young couple who grows and picks and sells everything themselves, together. People really like that, and being permaculturesque the workload is pretty light except for a few weeks in spring. Maybe a part time job if I include all my house and yard work.


Now lets please get the questions flowing! I want to answer and correct as well as be corrected myself. I have much to learn, and I have much to teach.
Here are some of the awesome experiments and techniques I am using to increase fertility and microbial diversity.

Korean natural farming techniques, lactic acid bacteria growing, fermented plant extracts, compost tea, homemade and self caught liquid fish fertilizer, polyculture of 65+ crops on under 4000 sq ft, sheet mulching, living mulch, chickens, etc.



Ok, questions! (But first, I'm dying at the thought of all that double-digging, but it certainly gave you great results.)

What kind of trap do you use for the Japanese beetles?
What is the lactic acid bacteria spray thing? How do you do it, and how do you apply it?
How do you apply the compost tea, and what triggers deciding to apply it?
What are Korean natural farming techniques, and where can I learn more about them?
What's a typical homestead work day, in and out of high season?

Thanks!
 
Travis Schulert
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote:

Travis Schulert wrote:

I have very little pest or disease problems to speak of. Japanese beetles come around but a trap near the garden catches most of them, then they are fed to the chickens. Mold issues are quickly solved with all the lactic acid bacteria I spray on the garden. A 55 gallon compost tea brewer takes care of all the other preventative maintenance with disease and pest.

Off 3700 sq ft we fed 16 full shares 45 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Great starter year but we are not going to do a CSA ever again, too much headache and I don’t like being in debt to start the year off.

Last season we tried our luck at farmers markets and found a niche pretty quickly. We are the young couple who grows and picks and sells everything themselves, together. People really like that, and being permaculturesque the workload is pretty light except for a few weeks in spring. Maybe a part time job if I include all my house and yard work.


Now lets please get the questions flowing! I want to answer and correct as well as be corrected myself. I have much to learn, and I have much to teach.
Here are some of the awesome experiments and techniques I am using to increase fertility and microbial diversity.

Korean natural farming techniques, lactic acid bacteria growing, fermented plant extracts, compost tea, homemade and self caught liquid fish fertilizer, polyculture of 65+ crops on under 4000 sq ft, sheet mulching, living mulch, chickens, etc.



Ok, questions! (But first, I'm dying at the thought of all that double-digging, but it certainly gave you great results.)

What kind of trap do you use for the Japanese beetles?
What is the lactic acid bacteria spray thing? How do you do it, and how do you apply it?
How do you apply the compost tea, and what triggers deciding to apply it?
What are Korean natural farming techniques, and where can I learn more about them?
What's a typical homestead work day, in and out of high season?

Thanks!



Great questions! I do not know what the trap is called, but its a Japanese Beetle trap, sold for that purpose. It uses a pheromone to draw them in to mate, and they fall in the hole and cant get out. Really simple, cheap, and very effective. I put the trap upwind from my garden, and they are drawn away from the garden to the trap. First year I put the trap in my garden and it was not nearly as effective at keeping the bugs out.

I will post a video below of the L.A.B that will do a good job of describing it in full, how to make, and its many many uses. We use it on almost a daily basis for our own guts, our dogs gut, and the chickens, horses, and peacocks. Besides the many garden uses it has, or compost toilet uses it has... The list is damn near endless of what you can do with it.

If I am applying compost tea to seedlings I put it in a watering can and pour it on, if its been dry I water it in afterwords to get it to the roots. I do not like applying in full sun, so I usually do it in the evening unless its overcast sky. If the plants are well established I just fill up a 5gal bucket and pour it along each line of plants in the bed (I want to say along each ROW, but that would give the wrong impression of my garden lol) If it is one plant in particular that is suffering, showing signs of stress, or turning any color its not supposed to I pour a lot more tea on it. If certain families of plants are all suffering slightly then I hit them hard with tea several days in a row, and almost every time I do that within a week the plants that were suffering out grow the plants that werent suffering so much so that now the ones that looked healthy originally, look sad compared to the vigor of the plants that got all the tea. If I focus tea onto a single kale or lettuce for example, within a couple weeks that 1 kale or lettuce plant will be at least twice the size of the ones around it that did not get the tea. It is one of the single most important parts of my system.

You can learn all about Korean Natural Farming from these Filipino natural farmers: The Unconventional Farmer Look into the BIM especially, that is a marvel of natural farming. That is like instant compost tea without bubbling or waiting for it to brew.

Hard to say what a typical day is... demands change from day to day. If I were to try to average out my season, its one full day of work a week, and 3-5 partial days (a few hours of work). In spring its much more, and in summer its just picking and selling produce, and then come fall it picks back up again as we start putting up food for winter and trying to sell the bulk that ripens around harvest time. And in winter I dream of the days when I get to work in the soil again! And clean the chicken coop a bunch since they dont go outside in the snow....

Here is my Compost Tea Made Easy Thread

And here is the video on LAB.


 
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Travis Schulert wrote:And clean the chicken coop a bunch since they dont go outside in the snow....



This may be a dumb question, but have you tried the deep litter method in which the coop isn't cleaned frequently but instead is used as a big compost heap over the winter?

http://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2012/02/deep-litter-methodcoop-cleaning.html
 
Travis Schulert
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Travis Schulert wrote:And clean the chicken coop a bunch since they dont go outside in the snow....



This may be a dumb question, but have you tried the deep litter method in which the coop isn't cleaned frequently but instead is used as a big compost heap over the winter?

http://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2012/02/deep-litter-methodcoop-cleaning.html



Yes Tyler, I do not have the room for it. The coop is long but only 4 feet tall. My mistake when building it, but I wanted something the same dimensions as the building material so I could slap it together in an hour and still have it last decades. I have a poop tray that sits on an angle under the roosts, the vast majority of poop just falls on the board and I scrape it off with a shovel. The bedding has only been added to once in 4 months, which was about a half a brick of pine shavings. The way the coop is layed out, they dont really poo much on the side with the food and water, they eat and hop back on the roosts and poop some more. I am just scraping frozen poop piles off that board a couple times a week, a giant poop sickle form like a stalagmite growing up to the chickens roosts.

How many times can I say poop in one paragraph? That was on purpose by the way lol
 
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That's what I was afraid of, that the coop might be too small for it. My coop is very low also. Those old style chicken coops were usually good sized buildings with a concrete floor - there was one on the old farm my folks owned not far from where I live now. It was pretty darn fabulous, but we never used it as a coop because when the interstate was put through, the old coop ended up right near the road. It would have been no problem keeping chickens on deep bedding in there, I think it had a nearly 8 foot ceiling. There were some great buildings on that old farm. *Sigh*

 
Travis Schulert
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Yeah man thats a bummer, damn interstate...

I have an old camper that I am using as a shed right now, once I get new land that big camper is becoming my mobile hen house for sure. And then I will have plenty of space for deep bedding.

Check out a couple idea people posted in my "chickens wont go outside in winter" thread. There were some really good ideas that I will do next year. Just make a cheapo greenhouse and put a ton of mulch in there for em. Love it.
 
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How large is this homestead? I saw the title and was assuming the entire homestead was under an acre (perhaps as small as an 1/8th of an acre). Perhaps your skill with photography makes it seem larger than it is?
 
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Thomas Partridge wrote:How large is this homestead? I saw the title and was assuming the entire homestead was under an acre (perhaps as small as an 1/8th of an acre). Perhaps your skill with photography makes it seem larger than it is?



We are leasing 2 acres from a retired gentleman. The garden itself is 3700 sq ft not including pathways. Please follow the links in my signature to see more.
 
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Travis Schulert wrote:

Thomas Partridge wrote:How large is this homestead? I saw the title and was assuming the entire homestead was under an acre (perhaps as small as an 1/8th of an acre). Perhaps your skill with photography makes it seem larger than it is?



We are leasing 2 acres from a retired gentleman. The garden itself is 3700 sq ft not including pathways. Please follow the links in my signature to see more.



Ah that is the same size as our homestead.
 
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nice photos. i love raspberries
 
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Gregory T. Russian wrote:

Travis Schulert wrote:As far as I know there is no machine that can double dig a bed for you lol. It takes about 2 to 2.5 hours for each bed if the person is a hard worker. It can take upwards of 5 hours for a slower worker. We double dug off and on for 2 weeks.

Our Compost Toilet.
My cheap greenhouse



Per what I read lately: double-digging is an overkill with not much to show for (google that).

In fact, (minimal soil turn + heavy mulch) is the way go it sounds.
This is what I am tilting for now days (much easier on the back too).



I am working with glacial till here. Seven years ago I made 8 3ftX10ft beds bordered with 2X6 (I have 28 beds now). I double dug them and sifted the rocks out of the top 8 inches. It was a lot of work!!!
I quit using a tiller and fluff the beds with a garden fork each spring. What took two days with the till and remake the beds method, takes 4 hours with my bordered raised beds.
After 7 years when springtime comes I can hold the garden fork 18 inches above the bed, drop it and the tines will sink out of sight! I think the initial hard work was well worth it.
 
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Jotham Bessey wrote:

Gregory T. Russian wrote:

Travis Schulert wrote:As far as I know there is no machine that can double dig a bed for you lol. It takes about 2 to 2.5 hours for each bed if the person is a hard worker. It can take upwards of 5 hours for a slower worker. We double dug off and on for 2 weeks.

Our Compost Toilet.
My cheap greenhouse



Per what I read lately: double-digging is an overkill with not much to show for (google that).

In fact, (minimal soil turn + heavy mulch) is the way go it sounds.
This is what I am tilting for now days (much easier on the back too).



I am working with glacial till here. Seven years ago I made 8 3ftX10ft beds bordered with 2X6 (I have 28 beds now). I double dug them and sifted the rocks out of the top 8 inches. It was a lot of work!!!
I quit using a tiller and fluff the beds with a garden fork each spring. What took two days with the till and remake the beds method, takes 4 hours with my bordered raised beds.
After 7 years when springtime comes I can hold the garden fork 18 inches above the bed, drop it and the tines will sink out of sight! I think the initial hard work was well worth it.



I agree, you put the time in at the beginning and your payed back for years to come. Those are always sound investments.
 
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Have you experimented with polyculture at all?


 
Travis Schulert
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Kamaar Taliaferro wrote:Have you experimented with polyculture at all?




Yes. As should every farmer.
 
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Aiight. Any experiences with crop rotation in a polyculture?

Theoretically it might be redundant. Theoretically it might be beneficial. Theoretically crop rotation in a polyculture might confuse pest bugs so much that there are too few prey species to support healthy predator populations (this may be sarcasm).

This will/was* be my "control" year in terms of gardening. No polyculture, no applied permaculture. Just a relatively healthy soil and rows of veggies.


I can imagine a system of planting beneficial species near one another and then rotating those guilds through a system.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I don't see polyculture and rotation being mutually exclusive.  I plant patches of a singles species and patches of polycultures of multiple species, and move those around the kitchen garden.  I also have perennial patches in my kitchen garden, some of which get rotated every few years (the herbaceous perennials, not the woody ones).

 
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I have plums, peaches and nectarines as an overstory to my raspberries and edge to my Loganberries. I can not do much rotation of those but I can change an select for the annuals that come up as ground cover. I have been selecting for an early sprouting flowering ground cover that come up around the canes and feeds early pollinators until the berries blossom then dies when temperatures reach 70's. Then there is a water storing shallow rooted plant that comes up with blossoms like snap dragons and provides food for the bumble bees until the next flowering which is happening now.
My principle pest problem is fruit worms and my principle predator is paper wasps which have adequate places to build their nests. The wasps patrol carefully trying to catch the maggots before they enter the fruit or when they emerge to pupate. Pupae over winter in the soil so this time of year I endeavor to  get all mulch down smooth and cover with carpet where I can to collect all fallen fruit to break the cycle.
Because I keep most of my vegetables and greens in wicking barrels I can move them to new locations as the seasons progress which further confuses the pests.
bumble-bee-food.jpg
[Thumbnail for bumble-bee-food.jpg]
Thees I am cutting down now and stomping the juice out of stalks
To-move-out.jpg
[Thumbnail for To-move-out.jpg]
wicking barrels overwintered and ready to move under trees.
Mycillium-feeder.jpg
[Thumbnail for Mycillium-feeder.jpg]
This come up in late January and feeds the soil until other leaves come out.
 
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This is a really great thread! So nice to see what everyone is up to, and Travis really amazing work getting CSA up and running in first year soil!! That's really ground breaking (pun intended) evidence that double-digging WORKS! I seriously doubt you could have done the same thing using sheet mulch.

I was recently inspired to do some double-digging myself and have actually been blogging about the experience. I want to share the knowledge with other people, but also do it in an entertaining way. So if you wanna see someone double-dig a garden bed in heavily compacted Colorado clay you should check out my vids & blog





The native soil i'm working with is virtually devoid of humus, with incredibly low levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. The pH is also around 7.3 which I am attempting to amend using coffee grounds (free from a local shop).

I have also turned this into a hugelkultur experiment. At the bottoms of the double dug trenches Ive placed lots of chopped logs, tree limbs and woods chips. On top of these I've mixed COPIOUS amounts of alpaca manure and rabbit manure that I found from some people on Craigslist for super cheap (150 lb of pure, dry alpaca manure for $30 and 300 lb of rabbit manure mixed with alfalfa for $20). Both of these manures are cold manure, meaning they do not need composting to be added into your soil.
Rabbit manure is extremely rich in nitrogen and phosphorus (2.4 1.4 0.6 NPK) where as cow (.25, .15, .25) or horse (.70, .30, .60) manure is much lower. Rabbit has more than 2x the nitrogen of chicken manure.

In the double dug trenches I mixed wood chips with the manure and also used coffee grounds from a local coffee shop. This was filled in around the chopped logs.

After I filled in the trenches, I mixed additional manure & coffee grounds throughout the bed (no wood chips in the top horizon because I'm concerned about them sucking up too much N), and I've also brought in some worms from a friend's worm farm. I've installed a few worm parties to encourage the worms, but I think they are going to have a feast anyway on all of the manure that I mixed into these beds.

When I dug down a foot or so into the beds, the soil was already smelling really great after just sitting there for a few weeks. The alpaca manure and rabbit manure has already begun to break down nicely!!

I'm pretty excited to see how this Soil will continue to develop. I haven't done any soil tests aside from the Home Depot dropper tests, but I want to do one in the future.

I'm also working on making my own EM culture using lactic acid fermentation. It just finished fermenting and I'm gonna try making some of my bokashi bran as well.

Lets keep hearing about what everyone else is up to!!

😃
The Abundance Gnome

 
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Very interesting, I plan to follow this topic
 
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