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Posts: 12
Location: SE Texas
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Hello to everyone,
I found this forum via a Google search for 'perennial vegetables', and after a couple days of lurking, decided to jump into the fray. Great site, lots of information to absorb...I'm sure I'll be reading for days.
I'm currently living in southeast Texas, not far from the Louisiana border, and FINALLY got my hands on a little bit of land (approximately six acres), after about five years of yearning and searching. It isn't much, but it's a starting point.
The land itself is in very bad shape. The previous owner had about two thirds of it clearcut shortly before we bought it, leaving only a few well-established cypress and oaks. The remainder is wild, with cypress, oak, and yellow pine fronting a small creek.
I'm in the process of cleaning up the mess that the loggers left behind (stumps, broken trees, etc.), with the intention of moving out there and establishing a homestead.
There is a small, old cabin there which I have fixed up enough to be habitable, though I would like to build a different dwelling; The age and construction of the cabin makes it extremely inefficient. I am considering a small pole-built cabin, or possibly timberframe with earthbag infill.
The most important thing I want to do, however, is establish a means of producing sustenance from the land, enough to feed our two-person household and have surplus left over to sell. The idea of selling is in its infancy, so I am still brainstorming as to what I can profitably produce on a small acreage like this. So far, I have come up with fruits (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, fruit trees),  tomatoes, greens, potatoes, and a variety of beans. My wife suggested mushrooms, but we haven't looked into that yet. I have also played with the idea of aquaponics.
Beyond that, I'm just trying to generate ideas about what else to undertake. The idea of permaculture excites me, and I'm trying to learn whatever I can about it. This seems like a good place to start.
I'm glad I found this site, and I look forward to getting to work as soon as possible. Any comments/suggestions/ideas/etc. are much appreciated.

-Mike
 
                                  
Posts: 7
Location: Spicers creek NSW Australia.
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G'day Mike,Ya sound a bit like us,cept we are in Australia.
Don't know exactly what pumkins are worth in the states but,they are prolific little growers and don't take to much trouble to aquire a substancial cash crop.We got a thing down here called "Honesty Box's",basicly it's a tiny little shed type thing 3mx2m that sits out the front of our property that we put produce in for sale,Pumkins are just a gold coin,either $1 or $2, donation.Sure can bring in a lot of cash that way.The honesty box does have a lock on it though because well ,you know!

We only have two ac's and mostly it's about feeding ourselves,no kids..too old .
On our place we have plums,figs,peaches,apples,necterins,blackberries and olive trees,though not enough of either to make heaps of money from..more or less just for preserving.Although we are worlds apart it's allways exciting to be in the same situation,Y'all work hard now and it'll be easier in the long term.
It sure is a great site 'eh.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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Do you have a farmer's market close by?  Here's what I came up with:

Bees = honey
Chickens = eggs
Bulk herbs and seasoning - you could dehydrate onions (do it outside or it will run you out of the house), grind and add plain ol' salt, the same with garlic.  An Italian seasoning mix, or poutry seasoning, that kind of thing.  Package in little snack bags and sell by the ounce. 
In California, roasted dandelion root sells for $32 a lb....gasp!
Or take an online herbalism course, write up little tags that say what the herb is known/thought to be for. 
Dried flowers
homemade breads, noodles, cookies
Goats = milk = cheese
Pick your own - asperagus, Survegalist already mentioned pumpkins.  There's gotta be more.

Gourds - When I worked at a greenhouse, I was shocked by the number of people that bought fall decorations - paint a sports logo on a pumpkin (slightly different, because of copyright) and you can get $5 more for it!  Crazy.  Anyway, corn stalks, milo stalks, wild flower,  lily pods, a few tied together with a fall colored ribbon and bow.  Miniature corn, the gourds, white pumpkins, unusual squash.  We had a Cinderella pumpkin that sold for $25!  Oh, and also google 'gourd jewelry'.  There's lots of simple, but really cool things that can be made from a dry gourd.  Good winter project!
And it seemed like anything that had a sports logo sold fast!

You could also start gathering baskets at the thrift stores.  Put some filer in the bottom, then do theme stuff, like herbs, or fall baskets with gourds, etc, tie a bow w/ some rafia.  Years ago I had Virgina Creeper.  I would cut the vines to make wreathes.  They were pretty cool.

Okay, how come I'm not doing some of this stuff!!

Some things that I had never considered, but the people made money from:

Selling iris rhyzomes (too early for me to figure out spelling!) every 4th of July.  They had iris beds all over their property, labeled and even had the picture of each one in a book.  When you decided what you want, they dug a start, put it in a paper sack and labeled it for you.  They bought most of the starts from catalogs, and have been doing this for years now.

Someone else did the same with peony roots. 

I heard of a guy that did a corn maze at Halloween.  He said he made more from the maze than he did from the harvest of the corn.

And the craziest one was the guy who would buy all different kinds of soda pop, even cheap flavored pop.  Load it all up in coolers with some ice on the back of his truck and then he sold ice cold pop at the farmers market.

Well, that's all I could think of...AND WELCOME, GUYS!
 
                                
Posts: 12
Location: SE Texas
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Thanks for the reply...pumpkins are a good idea, and just made me think about another possibility: melons.
I knew it would be a lot of work, but I underestimated the time it would take to clean up the land...the four acres I have to clear out doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're doing it by hand, it definitely takes some time. But I don't want to bring in more heavy equipment, and I don't have the money to do so, anyway. The chainsaw has become my friend in the last couple weeks.
No matter how hard it is, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I feel good and alive when I'm working out there.
 
                                
Posts: 12
Location: SE Texas
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@Marianne: Wasn't trying to ignore you...You replied while I was still writing.
Thanks for all the ideas...I'm writing all of this down. We had the ideas of selling cheese, eggs, and soap. I'll have to look into it more, not sure what the legal ramifications are for doing that here. Not that I'm really concerned, but it's hard to farm if you're in jail, haha. We also considered selling bread, since I am an intermediate-level artisan baker.
There is a small farmer's market about 30 miles from the homestead, but not one in our local area. We were thinking of starting something similar close by, maybe more like a farm stand or tiny country store. If I can produce enough to fill it up, and build a market for our products locally, we may do pretty well.
One other idea I considered was to rent the old cabin out once we get the other house put up, sort of like a retreat/bed & breakfast sort of thing.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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order the free Paul Staments mushrooom catalog from fungii perfecti online..it is very informative..

you did good getting land bordering a creek..woot woot..that is your best investment, that creek.

as for your fruit and nut trees, I suggest you plant them semi near that creek..they'll reach down and get the water they need and in freezy weather the creek will help protect your crops.

also you won't have so far to haul water to keep things going.

when the property was logged, was alot of scrap wood left laying on the ground, if so, gather it up for some hugel beds..if the stumps are dead and not sending up suckers..you can even pile the mess up around the stumps and then cover the mess up with organic material and any manure and soil that you can come up with..and make hugel raised beds..all that organic stuff in there will provide nutrients and also hold moisture..

welcome aboard
 
                                
Posts: 12
Location: SE Texas
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Yes, there is a lot of scrap wood laying around...it seems like they left more laying than they hauled off. I'll look into the hugel beds this evening...the idea appeals to me because I'd hate to just burn all the wood, but most of it isn't usable for much else. Now it can have a purpose.
 
                            
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
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I fully understand the clean up on 4 acres.  That's all we did for one year.  Hauled off old appliances, you name it.  But because the property was so bad, we got it pretty cheap for this area, just had to work hard.  Come to think about it, we're still working hard!    

On the bed/ breakfast idea, there's a house behind us that's been for sale and vacant for over 4 years.  Out of desperation, the owner finally got some leases from farmers that had hunting ground, and has advertised it heavily as a hunting lodge.  He's actually starting to make some money with it.  He also rents it out by the day to families, etc that need bigger accomendations than a motel room.  He rented it out for a family reunion one time, too.

The li'l market might do real well for you.  My husband buys melons, peppers and corn from roadside vendors every year (they don't grow well on our land).
I hope some of us on the forum can inspire that *right* thing for you!   We just need to pitch ideas at'cha and then you have plenty to consider.
 
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