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Potatoes, Corn, Beans How many and how much water  RSS feed

 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Hi Guys and Gals,

How many potato plants would I need for a family of 8 for a year and how much water do they need. Also What kind of corn would I grow for flour/meal and what kind of yield per plant. I will also be growing pinto beans black eyed peas and lima beans. How many plants per bushel?
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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It Depends


Seriously though, trying to grow enough food for a family on the first go is likely going to result in heartache.

At least on the Potato front I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on a bunch of TPS [True Potato Seed] and growing it out under your conditions to see if you can breed up something that works well where you are.

On the water front... I can't help you there. I deal with drought every year, but A- the soil has been saturated for 8-9 months and B-our summers are very cool, evaporating no more than 2 feet out of a pool in our hottest year in recent memory.
 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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You might want to try to get a hold of John Jeavons' book How to Grow More Vegetables to help you with your calculations. He goes into all the staples, not just greenstuff. Then double the space of everything until you get your soil fertility amped up. That said, DH and I grow enough potatoes to satisfy our minimal needs in 2 4x8 beds of less than 20 plants per bed. Figure 1 pound of seed potatoes yields 10 pounds of potatoes. You'll have to figure how often your family eats potatoes and how many. And what varieties grow in your soil and climate.

We grew a gallon and half of Painted Mountain flour corn in 6 beds with poor watering and having been attacked by ducks before they were 4" high. Painted Mountain was bred for cold climates. It makes awesome cornbread. Take a look at a company like Native Seeds/Search or Terroir Seeds for varieties that will do well in your area. The beans were a total loss to ducks or I'd give you those numbers too. More crops for staples in your area: sweet potatoes, and squash. I can't grow sweets here, too cold, but you can and they'd probably do well and be easier to store than potatoes. Same with squashes, you need to find what is working locally. Don't forget onions for one of the best ways to store vitamin c.

I lived in Houston for 6 long years and admire anyone who can grow anything in Texas. You might want to try things like grain amaranth in your climate too, see if your family will accept it on the table.

The biggest thing I would caution is that it will take more than one year to understand what works in your area and soil. Ask your gardening neighbors for advice, then experiment wildly. But you can grow a lot of food as a beginner, maybe not the complete package you want at first, but you'll get there.

For water, the books all say an inch a week as if it rained everywhere. We finally went to drip on a timer because I can't be trusted to water consistently otherwise. So I can't say exactly, but not necessarily every day except in the hottest weather, and then early in the morning or after sunset. I like watering late in the afternoon so the plants have it all night and into the next morning. If it dries out in the afternoon and they don't get a drink untill morning, it stands to reason they can't grow. Mulch and direct watering, not sprinklers, will keep the amounts down. But they are plants and they won't grow unless they have water to transport nutrients and you don't want to stint them if you can help it.

After you get the staples covered, I hope you'll consider putting in some perennials for long-term production. Everything from peaches and pecans. Things we think of as luxuries that can become staples once our systems start producing. I don't know how asparagus will do in your climate, but it is a weed here. I think what I have paid in the grocery store for a weed! If it's too hot for asparagus, chances are artichokes will do well-gorgeous plant, produces year after year. There are loads of plants like that. We'll be here when you are ready to explore that part of permaculture.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 115
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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We are not dependent on growing all our food in the first year. We have a small fleet of trucks to support us so this is not a HAVE to situation, but we do want to be self sufficient within a few years. Our plan is to start with just a few crops, or staples if you will, and see if we can grow enough of them to make this a viable option. We will in the meantime grow others on a smaller scale to get the feel of them. We are working on chickens a few pigs and goats as well as a milk cow and a few steer as well. I want ducks but I am told the meat is greasy.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Find some pastured duck meat [Muscovy is probably a really good choice for the climate down there] and try cooking it according to quality instructions for yourself before you write it off.

Duck meat is amazing.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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You can keep the asparagus lol. But I am up to trying just about anything else. I sat down and made a list of what we eat on a regular basis and the list is a short one. For the most part, everything on that list will grow in our area with a little I have 104 acres but do not want to go anywhere near that scale. Water is a big factor and in our area we only get about 10" per year. We are working on that one but will probably never get to the point where we could water an area that big. As for fruits and nuts, I really don't have a clue which ones, if any, we can grow there. We are planning to move out there in September so we have a lot to learn in a very short time. I look forward to the challenge but a few in our little group will bail rather quickly if we are not making some headway in the first year.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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If you keyline the property, then [considering the wash that presumably carries a ridiculous amount of water] you should be able to grow nearly anything that performs well in that heat [that doesn't die or dieback from your minimum temperatures.]

Pecans and Oaks should both be viable nut options [and great hog/turkey feed], the right cultivars of Apples, Plums, Peaches and Apricots should do well.

Grapes! If your nights get fairly cool [and as a desert environment they should] then you should be able to grow some amazing grapes in that heat so long as you get water to them.

Pomegranates and Figs too.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Find some pastured duck meat [Muscovy is probably a really good choice for the climate down there] and try cooking it according to quality instructions for yourself before you write it off.

Duck meat is amazing.


Oh I am not writing it off until I try it. I didn't think I would like goats milk either but a trip to Alabama a few years ago changed that. I just don't wanna plan for ducks until I know one way or the other. The trick here will be finding out how to cook it. I don't eat deer meat because of the gamey taste, but I am told there is a way to get rid of it. When I find out how, I might like it too lol
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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'Gamey' isn't a taste, it's the presence of taste.

Our modern palates have been pretty screwed up by commercial meat.

Getting over 'gamey' and learning to love the real flavor of real meat was one of the best culinary experiences of my life.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:If you keyline the property, then [considering the wash that presumably carries a ridiculous amount of water]


Please explain "keyline". And as for the wash, I have not been there when it has rained so right now all I have are erosion patterns and satellite imaging of the terrain and existing ponds to go on. We already know that without the well we will be hauling in water from town but the "subscription" is 2500 gals. per month for $25 will probably not be enough. Without the flatbed IBC tanks that wouldn't even be viable
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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I am grossly oversimplifying here, you will want to search around for more detailed information, but here goes...

Keylining is ripping tiny channels in the soil that go very slightly downhill from the valleys to the ridges, carrying water away from where it's moving and into the dry zones of the property.
 
Ann Torrence
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Joseph Johnson wrote:
the "subscription" is 2500 gals. per month for $25 will probably not be enough. Without the flatbed IBC tanks that wouldn't even be viable

That's our winter usage on town water, to water us and our animals and I think we are profligate with water despite my best efforts. Not going to run a washing machine off an IBC though. I hauled 2 IBCs a day to water some trees we planted, every day for about 4 months. It was not good. It had to be done, so it was. About wore out the springs on my trailer. I had to load it up this Thanksgiving to water some new plantings and that triggered all manner of not happy memories from that summer.

What's the altitude where you are at? Any native vegetation? How alkaline is the soil? Deer factor? If you drill, you'll probably be able to water more than you can afford to deer fence right away.

But you live in Texas, man. Get some peaches in the ground! You can plant them in the fall. And almonds, they are basically peaches. Pecans for shade first, then nuts. We'll talk apples when we know more about your climate, but you will have plenty to choose from. Avocados? Citrus? If you can't do citrus, then you can probably do cherries and plums!
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 746
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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He's in Zone 7, there shall be no unprotected Avocados.

Certain corner case citrus are an option though.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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I had not thought about grapes! and I love figs, but I have never grown them or even knew anyone who did. I will have to look into some fig trees and I know right where to get the grapes. My mother grows a few every year. as for the keylining, with only 10 inches of rainfall annually, how effective would this be? I have attached a photo of my land with the potential pond somewhere inside the red circle as well as a pond about 4 miles away. Google only shows this pond dry once since 1995. Now the images are done every year in Febuary so we are not talking mid summer but we should be able to fill a couple 10,000 gallon tanks for summer watering. Your thoughts?
water.gif
[Thumbnail for water.gif]
Ariels
 
Joseph Johnson
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With our flatbed we could haul 20 IBC tanks at a time but at 275 gals each 9 tanks eats up the 2500 gals.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Ann Torrence wrote:
What's the altitude where you are at? Any native vegetation? How alkaline is the soil? Deer factor? If you drill, you'll probably be able to water more than you can afford to deer fence right away.



We are at about 4200 ft, Soil hasn't been tested yet because we plan on building the soil for our beds to get us up and growing and deal with the native soil as we can. I have seen a few deer but my dogs will help out a little there. Wells there are 700+ deep and range from $15-$20,000 with no guarantee of hitting usable water.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Joseph Johnson wrote:I don't eat deer meat because of the gamey taste, but I am told there is a way to get rid of it.


Lots of spices, as in chili and curry. (I prefer Axis to Whitetail deer meat)

My region get 2 - 3 times as much rain as yours and I have had a tough time growing food here, only getting decent at it in the past couple years since I remade my garden with buried wood beds http://www.permies.com/t/52077/hugelkultur/Buried-Wood-Beds

You won't be able to store enough rain in tanks to irrigate a normal garden, you'll need to build a special garden for efficient irrigation, using buried wood, or wicking beds, or some other method which uses minimal water. http://www.permies.com/t/26276/gardening-beginners/Survive-Drought-Wicking-Beds

I second the recommendation to purchase seeds from http://www.nativeseeds.org/ I have had good luck with most varieties I've tried from them.

Because your land is in a dry region, you'll have to be extremely careful about how you plan the design of your land and buildings. Everything should be focused on water. I strongly recommend you purchase Brad Lancaster's book "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands Volume 2" if you haven't already. http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

Be very careful about thinking to put a pond in an arroyo - it is likely to get washed out in a flood.
 
Todd Parr
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If you can venison, it takes the game taste out. I only like venison canned.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Hi Tyler

We are going with wicking beds, 6 to start with 40ftx4ft. That was the first thing that we all agreed on when we started planning this out. Thanks for the reading material, I will be ordering the books suggested by everyone this afternoon as well as checking out the other posts on here. As for the pond, this is an idea that has only recently come up after exploring the area on google earth. There are several around us that have been there atleast since 1995. I have yet to return to the property since then but will be visiting these sites on the next trip to see how they were constructed as well as talking to the property owners about their experiences with them. (you can only see so much from satellite views)

Todd
Thanks for the advise. Curry works wonders with goat so I would be willing to try it on venison
 
raven ranson
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Very interesting thread. Lots of good ideas.

How many potato plants would I need for a family of 8 for a year and how much water do they need. Also What kind of corn would I grow for flour/meal and what kind of yield per plant. I will also be growing pinto beans black eyed peas and lima beans. How many plants per bushel?


Reading the first post was like reading a summery of Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener. Only she also talks about squash and duck eggs.

Deppe is writing in a different part of the world to you, but there is so much information there, there's lots you can use. I think this is the perfect book for where you are at right now.
 
Joseph Johnson
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Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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R Ranson wrote:
Reading the first post was like reading a summery of Carol Deppe's book The Resilient Gardener. Only she also talks about squash and duck eggs.

Deppe is writing in a different part of the world to you, but there is so much information there, there's lots you can use. I think this is the perfect book for where you are at right now.


Thanks so much. I will add this to my library
 
Kevin Elmore
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Location: West Texas - near Big Bend National Park
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Joseph,

I know the keyline concept can be difficult to wrap your mind around, but it is so important in the drylands. You just can't afford for rainfall to escape your property.

This is a link to a video called "Keyline 101" produced on Circle Ranch in Hudspeth County, TX., just north of you I think. The owner of the ranch is Chris Gill and he shows the whole process in the 18 minute video. There are additional videos at their site as well that document the work they have performed over the last few years.



Here is the Vimeo link: Turn off HD if your internet connection is slow.

Here is another video they produced on restoring desert grasslands (keyline & high density stocking) 21 minutes

I think you will agree (after watching) that their results are very impressive. Since they are also located in your same geographic area the results should be replicable at your site.

Kevin
 
John Polk
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Another crop to consider for starch is jicama. Besides being a starch, it is also a legume, which means that it will take nitrogen from the air, and put it into your soil.

Will it do well in Texas? Just ask these people: Texas A&M
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