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1874 Book on Gardening  RSS feed

 
                                      
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I was listening to the survival podcast the other day when the soil cube guy was on the show.  He mentioned a book that was written in 1874 on market gardening.  It is long past copyright so you can download the ebook for free on the net.  I downloaded and started reading this Gardening for Profit book out of curiosity since this was pre-oil and pre-green revolution gardening.  The gentleman writing the book had a market garden in the NJ area and sold into the NY market.  It is an interesting read if your interested in seeing how this worked in a world prior to the internal combustion engine and the things used today.

The one thing that completely floored me was his comment that per acre of ground it takes 75 tons of manure for that 1 acre.  I thought that sounded pretty incredible until I did the math per square foot.  It comes out to about 3.44 lbs of manure per square foot.  I thought is was a mind blowing figure and quite interesting.  However the techniques were anything but permaculture.  I know I am starting to terraform my own postage stamp city lot where my home is which is a high plains desert and just starting to dig my swales and looking at my water catchment on both the landscape and the home.  In this process of cutting the swales I am about to start obtaining truckloads of manure and compost to give my landscape a jump start.  So to see a figure of 75 tons per acre floored me.  My little lot is only about 8200 square feet for the entire lot, but subtract the house, shed, driveway then we are talking 6000 sq ft to work with.   Based on that formula of 3.44 lbs per sq ft then I would still be looking at over 20,661 lbs of manure!  So this is pretty mind boggling. I am curious what your thoughts might be on this much inputs into your own gardens.   Thanks.

Longsnowsm
 
                                      
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I realized I forgot to post the info on the book.  You should be able to find it with the following info if your interested in a snapshot in time....


Gardening for Profit - A GUIDE TO THE SUCCESSFUL CULTIVATION
OF THE MARKET AND FAMILY GARDEN.
by - Peter Henderson
 
                                      
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Thanks Jami!  I wasn't sure if it was cool to post links on the forum.  So far I find it a fascinating read.

Longsnowsm
 
Len Ovens
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Longsnowsm wrote:
I realized I forgot to post the info on the book.  You should be able to find it with the following info if your interested in a snapshot in time....


Gardening for Profit - A GUIDE TO THE SUCCESSFUL CULTIVATION
OF THE MARKET AND FAMILY GARDEN.
by - Peter Henderson

He seems to have written a few books on plants and gardening
 
maikeru sumi-e
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Longsnowsm wrote:
I was listening to The Survival Podcast the other day when the soil cube guy was on the show.  He mentioned a book that was written in 1874 on market gardening.  It is long past copyright so you can download the ebook for free on the net.  I downloaded and started reading this Gardening for Profit book out of curiosity since this was pre-oil and pre-green revolution gardening.  The gentleman writing the book had a market garden in the NJ area and sold into the NY market.  It is an interesting read if your interested in seeing how this worked in a world prior to the internal combustion engine and the things used today.

The one thing that completely floored me was his comment that per acre of ground it takes 75 tons of manure for that 1 acre.  I thought that sounded pretty incredible until I did the math per square foot.  It comes out to about 3.44 lbs of manure per square foot.  I thought is was a mind blowing figure and quite interesting.  However the techniques were anything but permaculture.  I know I am starting to terraform my own postage stamp city lot where my home is which is a high plains desert and just starting to dig my swales and looking at my water catchment on both the landscape and the home.  In this process of cutting the swales I am about to start obtaining truckloads of manure and compost to give my landscape a jump start.  So to see a figure of 75 tons per acre floored me.  My little lot is only about 8200 square feet for the entire lot, but subtract the house, shed, driveway then we are talking 6000 sq ft to work with.   Based on that formula of 3.44 lbs per sq ft then I would still be looking at over 20,661 lbs of manure!  So this is pretty mind boggling. I am curious what your thoughts might be on this much inputs into your own gardens.   Thanks.

Longsnowsm


On one hand, it seems surprising..on the other, not. I suspect most of the weight is water. I add a lot of organic matter to my garden regularly. I estimate I've done at least 2-3 tons or maybe more of organic stuff in the quest to improve the soil and feed earthworms. My garden is tiny. Every week I heft about 100-200 lbs of free stuff I pick up, which is eventually used for composting, mulch, soil improvement, etc. It adds up fast. I've been doing this for 1 1/2 years now.

btw, this further underscores the importance of adding organic matter to the soil. If you're adding that much in, imagine how much water-holding capacity that organic stuff has, even after it has degraded and become humus.
 
                      
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Location: Burbank , Washington (south central)
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Lets do the math!! (oh no, MATH)

if 1 yd (27 cubic ft) of stuff weights 1 ton (2000 lbs) and 43560 square feet to the acre;

a 1 yard will cover (27 * 12)= 324 feet  1 inch deep so 2000lbs/324 feet = 6.17 lbs/ft

therefore  to cover one acre 1 inch deep (43560*6.17)= 268765.2 lbs of stuff would be needed.

So 75/134=.556 inches/ft

Looks like a good chop and drop cover crop would equal that in a year.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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DaBearded1 wrote:
Lets do the math!! (oh no, MATH)

if 1 yd (27 cubic ft) of stuff weights 1 ton (2000 lbs) and 43560 square feet to the acre;

a 1 yard will cover (27 * 12)= 324 feet  1 inch deep so 2000lbs/324 feet = 6.17 lbs/ft

therefore  to cover one acre 1 inch deep (43560*6.17)= 268765.2 lbs of stuff would be needed.

So 75/134=.556 inches/ft

Looks like a good chop and drop cover crop would equal that in a year.



It seems like a lot, and it is a lot, but with enough plants on the land producing enough biomass and/or animals contributing, it's totally doable. This is the amazing power of nature.
 
                                      
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I think quite interesting since all of that manure would have to have been transported via horses and wagons.  So that is a pretty incredible figure given they didn't have the tools, equipment, and fossil fuels to do this with.  I also really drives home the point how everything you needed had to be local and the further away it was the more costly it became.  So it is both exciting and frustrating at the same time to think about how our local systems today are not setup or equipped to deal with this today, but that it can be done without the use of the modern conveniences we have today.

I know in my yard I started cutting swales and will be using both swales and raised beds and will be putting a lot of manure, peat, biomass into these swales and beds to get things started, but to see these figures on how much they were putting into the soil is making me do a double take on just how much I need. The plan is to plant a couple of the swales in cover crop for some biomass.  However if the figures I have heard about dry matter biomass in tons is correct it is nowhere near this 75 tons figure provided in manure input, but then again this manure may be the fresh and wet type so that makes a difference as well.  So I don't think green manure crops alone will get it done to match the amount that is being talked about in this book.  But it is quite eye opening so I thought it would be interesting to get everyones thoughts.

Longsnowsm
 
Len Ovens
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Longsnowsm wrote:

I know in my yard I started cutting swales and will be using both swales and raised beds and will be putting a lot of manure, peat, biomass into these swales and beds to get things started, but to see these figures on how much they were putting into the soil is making me do a double take on just how much I need. The plan is to plant a couple of the swales in cover crop for some biomass.  However if the figures I have heard about dry matter biomass in tons is correct it is nowhere near this 75 tons figure provided in manure input, but then again this manure may be the fresh and wet type so that makes a difference as well.  So I don't think green manure crops alone will get it done to match the amount that is being talked about in this book.  But it is quite eye opening so I thought it would be interesting to get everyones thoughts.


I don't think he was doing permaculture. He was doing factory farming using manure instead of chemicals. The result would be better because the manure would be alive, but yearly plowing and replanting wouldn't be the best. However he was growing for a market what that market wanted.

 
Miles Flansburg
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In my Wyoming and western Colorado gardens I would always start by finding local supplies of well rotted manure (usually horse) and compost. I would put about 1 ft of this material all over the top soil and then rototill it in. This added lots of air spaces, water absorption and plant foods. My plants seemed to love it.

I love old books like this, Thanks for the link.
 
Paula Edwards
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the maraichers in Paris did the same. There was simply a lot of manure around as there were no cars. We don't have this luxury at all and you must do with what you have. If you make your beds all the same size, at least the same width, you can use a chicken tractor. I would only put in some hens and no rooster, IMO this would be too small for the poor hens.
 
                                      
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Thanks for the replies and insights everyone.  The observation that this gentleman was not doing permaculture is very true.  I was looking at in from the perspective of geoff lawton greening the desert and the massive amounts of mulch and biomass that was piled into and on top of the swales and I have been focusing on similar efforts in my own lawn since I live in a high plains desert.  Getting as much compost, mulch, peat, and biomass on the ground to absorb the water that falls here is my objective.  However reading some of this book just made me do a double take on just how much I should be planning to get and apply on my own landscape given what I am trying to do. 

I think it is a great point that because everyone had horses, and large animals the location and availability of manure during those times was not like today where you have to go looking for a source in your area.  So it may not have been all that difficult for them to have obtained that manure at that time as I am sure most people would have been looking for a way to get rid of the animal waste.

Our metropolitan water district lost their water rights several years ago so all outside watering has been very restricted(rationed) and basically has killed all of the lawns in the area leaving a rather barren, dry, dead looking landscape for everyone.  My hope is that by terraforming the landscape to utilize the water we do get that I can still start my own mini food forest and convert this dry dead space into a green living one.  Also I cannot think of a better way to demonstrate to everyone that these techniques work and could set off a chain reaction of people all transforming their own lawns into food, and lovely living spaces.  So I think it is going to be interesting to see how far this can go and just how others in the area react. 

Longsnowsm
 
Len Ovens
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Longsnowsm wrote:
However reading some of this book just made me do a double take on just how much I should be planning to get and apply on my own landscape given what I am trying to do. 



Any way to get plant waste? Sawdust from a mill, leaves from trees, straw, etc. I guess they would have different composition, more carbon. Around here they use seaweed... but then it is not exactly dry here either. I am always amazed at how much "yard waste" is thrown away.... I use everything I trim from any plant around here from grass on up. I think I could collect enough just from this street to add 3 inches of organic material to my whole yard (city lot) every year from what people throw away. The thicker stuff could run a RMH for most of the year (probably wouldn't heat the whole house.... but then wood stoves are for one room normally).
 
                                  
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What this really shows is how green manures/cover crops are an absolute necessity once you want to grow veggies on any sizable scale.  A good stand of many green manures might produce 4-8,000 lbs of dry matter per acre (note the manure figures were for wet weight).  Grown right were you need it, no hauling, no turning, no spreading.
 
                                      
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Good points on yard waste and things like that.  I would be hesitant to ask people for their yard waste due to the amount of chemicals and poisons they put on their lawns.  However I may make up a flyer this fall and offer to cleanup leaves for people from their lawns in my neighborhood for minimal or no cost just so I can have the material.  So I am hoping that maybe I can come up with a decent supply of leaves.  I am considering planting fruit trees in my lawn, but I am still trying to figure out my earthworks water capacity, and what my natural water budget will be on the property.  So I am hesitant to get too carried away with plants that need a lot of water in the desert, but I would love to have the leaves.

I think your right about cover crops being essential in a conventional farming/gardening rotation.  After watching sepp holzer on youtube recently really makes me rethink everything.  The thing I am learning here is the more you learn the more you figure out you don't know.  It is quite overwhelming.   For the moment it sounds as if I have located a source of manure for my miniature landscape and I can only hope that it will be enough along with whatever other materials I can find.  

I know there are still several empty lots not far from my home that grow up in native grass and other things and become quite unsightly that I might be able to go there and help them keep it "mowed".  I will have to check around and see if I can find out who owns those lots and see if they mind me coming over there with a scythe and cutting back their lot and taking away the "waste".   I will have to keep my eyes and ears open and see what I can come up with.  Funny thing is most of these things in todays society think it is waste!  So maybe with enough asking and looking I can come up with the materials I need.  I do think though as the economy continues its decline more and more people will be waking up and trying to do what I am doing and any supplies of materials like this will start to dry up.  I see people now advertising for lawn waste on Craigslist so I know people are already becoming more and more aware.

I guess for me it is just getting a grasp of succession planting and understanding permaculture better and how the systems can more naturally support themselves instead of these massive inputs.  I am hoping that once I have done most of the earthworks and imported the biomass that I need to get started that the system will start to become sustainable as I try to leverage composting and cover cropping to close the loops in this ecological system.

Longsnowsm  
 
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