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Choosing what to grow - What's your approach/philosophy?  RSS feed

 
pioneer
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I'm curious about how people who are interested in self sufficiency choose what they grow/raise, particularly in limited spaces.

I think there are different ways of going about growing much of your own food.  Some people want to grow as much of their calories as they can, which is a sort of category I think Carol Deppe's method and John Jeavon's method falls under.  I'm going to call this "maximum calorie production".  For example, Jeavons focuses on a whole plant diet in a small space in his method, and Carol Deppe focuses on high quality, easy-to-produce eggs (and potentially meat) and core crops of flour corn and squash.

Others want to grow the things that are the most expensive, a hassle, or difficult to obtain in high quality, which is how Steve Solomon's approach tends to lean in what I've read.   A sort of "cost-benefit" approach versus the "maximize calories" approach.  Like growing leeks, artichokes, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes, etc, and being willing to buy things like carrots, celery and cabbage, which are very inexpensive.

What others am I missing?  What is your food choice philosophy?  How have you chosen what to grow?

To answer for myself, I've tried a lot of approaches over the years.  I finally settled on a few concepts that worked for us, that mostly leaned towards the "cost-benefit" way of thinking:

1) I [let] grow and learn to use really well the plants that naturally flourish in my garden.  For me in Oregon, that included all the volunteers that would otherwise be considered "weeds" - pigweed amaranth, chickweed, and tomatillos.  I finally stopped fighting them, and set apart big patches for them.  And learned to make the most of those foods, including ways to cook and preserve them.

2) I stopped bothering with carrots, which were too much maintenance for me, and winter squash, which takes up so much space and didn't always make it all the way to ripe.  Instead, I focus on "gourmet" plants like leeks, Brussels sprouts, escarole, purslane, artichokes, oca - all things that are usually quite expensive in stores.  Also things that store well, but are slightly pricey, like parsnips and garlic.  Herbs of just about any sort really pay off, too.

3) We u-picked things that we used a lot of seasonally, like blueberries and raspberries.  We could have filled the garden with those plants and had barely any room left.  So that was a sort of space saver philosophy.

4) We grow things that are just unbeatable fresh.  Like green beans, strawberries, and for me, celery.  Love fresh celery.  We also grow things we want to be certain are non-GMO, like corn.


So what have been your approaches?



 
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Follow behind the pigs, scatter a seed mix, step it into the ground, mulch, 'set and forget' until harvest time.

If it produces well its a keeper. If it doesn't I try to identify the reason and select a replacement for that dietary niche that might perform better.

Edit: full disclaimer I'm on 5 acres nestled up against the woods.
 
Kim Goodwin
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Kyrt, which plants have done well for you?  Can you grow tomatoes that way?  What about root crops?  Do pigs compress the soil much?
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Kim Goodwin wrote:Kurt, which plants have done well for you?


Onions, radishes, sunflowers, beets, turnips, bush beans ..

Canu grow tomatoes that way?


Tomatoes actually grow best if you throw the whole tomatoes in with the pigs and let them plant fertilized seeds. Same goes for winter squash (they actually crunch some of those seeds but enough pass to get the job done.

What about root crops?  Do pigs compress the soil much?


If the pigs don't stay too long, most soil gets fluffed by the rooting rather than compressed. If they had a favorite place to roll around and tried to start a wallow, it's pretty quick and easy to fork a couple of square yards loose.

For potatoes I've always done above ground built-up planters but once my Back to Eden garden kicks off this year I plan to experiment with Paul's perpetual potato patch approach.
 
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Here's our current priorities:

  • Easy to grow: Potatoes, berries, daikon radishes, herbs, fruit trees all fall into this category. Nettle and other wild foods that I encourage also fit in here.
  • Have lots of calories/nutrients: potatoes, berries, tree fruit fit into this category.
  • Things that help my husband's Crohn's/are in-line with his diet: He can't eat starches, so (other than my potatoes) I focus on growing the often expensive-per-calorie staples that he can eat. like duck eggs, berries, fruit, and squash. I also grow lots of mint because it helps his Crohn's
  • Expensive/hard-to-find things we like: Herbs and berries as well as fruits like persimmons and paw paws.
  • Things we like to eat, even if they're not easy: My son loves carrots, so I try to grow them, even though they always come out tiny... Tomatoes also fit in this catagory. And, recently peas and green beans have been in here, too. They're not growing easily for us, or producing a lot, but we love them so we keep trying to grow them.
  • Things we like having at our fingertips: I want to be able to spontaneously go outside and have the herbs I need for a soup, and chives and green onions to throw in a dish of just munch on. I continue to expand my alliums because we never have enough. I'm also planting mint because my husband seriously uses 1/4 cup of fresh leaves per day in his tea.


  • Of course, some things--like herbs--fit into many of those categories, while some--like potatoes--really only fit under one.

    I also keep finding that my annual beds keep turning into perennial beds. My kale and sorrel and green onions live for many years. I planted them in annual beds, but they're still around...so I end up converting the bed to a perennial bed and needing to build another annual bed for all those carrots my son wants!
     
    Posts: 366
    Location: Derbyshire, UK
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    I grow things that we eat! So salad stuffs- things like spinach and lettuce leaves in Supermarkets are always overpackaged in plastic. I'd like to grow carrots as well but am not very good at it- they're cheap but they also come in plastic packets.

    I also grow things you can't buy here- winter squash, colourful corn, tomatillos, redcurrants, fennel.
     
    Kim Goodwin
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    Kyrt - that is SUPER interesting.  I wouldn't have guessed that a heavy animal like a pig could leave the ground in such great shape.  Very interesting about which things grow better through the pig's digestion, as well.

    Nicole - I noticed how you say your "current priorities"; very sound!  I like how you a growing for special requirements, too.  I had severe food sensitivities years ago, and to deal with that and find more foods I could eat I tried just about every new-to-me food that could be grown in the PNW.  It was a necessary adventure, but really cool in the end because I probably wouldn't have done that otherwise.

    I also love your breakdowns, they make a lot of sense to me.  Also there never seem to be enough alliums.  Besides us eating them, a few alliums seem oddly appealing to some pests.  Nothing ever ate my leeks or green onions, but garlic was always targeted.  One year it was my own dog!  She ate all of the garlic cloves I had just planted.  I wouldn't have believed it except I caught her in the act twice.  She got into them a second time when I replanted.

    The last year in Oregon, we grew a lot of garlic, but voles got 1/4 of our crop.  Those were probably extremely healthy voles.

    Charli - Does the UK have the "legal seed list" that the EU has?  Can you get new varieties of seed easily where you are?  I relate about carrots, and plastics. 

     
    pollinator
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    Our first goal was to buy no meat and i think we have succeeded in the last 12 months.  It is supplied by fishing, deer season, and we raise chickens, sheep, cows, turkeys. Next goal was to not buy chicks and baby turkeys, so we bought an incubator.

    Gardening is ever expanding based on the same thought as meat. First growing it myself, then quit buying seeds (or trees). Example-Blackberries are now expanded by digging up the shoots. Next year may be the first year i dont buy trees as i should start getting harvests and will attempt seed starting trees to get the good taproot.

    Ill never not buy seeds though because of trying new stuff. This year is a first for sorghum and sugarcane. If it grows and i can make a press, i may commit to not buying anymore sugar. Bees are coming also. I guess sugar is my big push this year.

     
    Posts: 69
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    Hi Wayne. My approach and philosophy to gardening is always changing. I'm 46 now and if you told me I'd be a gardening enthusiast when I was 20, I'd have laughed hysterically. I started out as a cook with a small garden who wanted to grow ONLY veg I like to eat back in 2008 but so much has changed since then. Didn't know about pollinators so I hated flowers and ornamentals like succulents and ferns - turns out I'm now better at propagating those than I am at growing edibles. I also try to start as many trees as I can  but give them away since I don't have space. Right now I have several papaya and moringa in containers ready to be be transplanted - no takers so far.
     
    gardener
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    Sometimes, I make conscious choices about what I grow, and sometimes, it's sheer dumb luck based on community standards, climate, volunteers, etc.

    One of my selection criteria is,  "What am I currently buying that I could grow/preserve for myself?" In response to that question, I started growing mustard spice to make mustard. I started growing tomatillos to make enchilada sauce. I increased the amount of tomatoes and peppers that I'm growing. And I started growing hot peppers.

    Another selection criteria is, "What can I grow to increase the reliability of my garden?" The idea being that if I grow only one species of bean, or squash, and a disease, pest or weather conditions take out one species, that perhaps another species will thrive. So I grow soup peas, favas, common beans, runner beans, lupini, limas, lentils, garbanzos, cowpeas, teparies, etc... Some are cool weather crops, some  are warm weather crops, and some are hot weather crops. Between them, I always get a harvest, of some species or other, regardless of that the weather is doing in any particular year. I grow 6 species of squash. It's unlikely that all of them would succumb to the same bugs or disease. And some do better in warmer years, while other species do better in cooler years.

    One of my primary selection criteria is, "Plant seeds that I grew myself." That is important to me, because I live in an area that is marginal for many species, and I might have 50%, 75%, even 100% failure rates if I plant seeds that I bought from a glossy seed catalog. Plants that produced seed in my garden are likely to do so again the next year.

    Another selection criteria is, "What nutrients am I not currently growing on my garden that I could be?" In response to that question, I started raising chickens for protein, B12, choline, and oils. I started growing chia and flax for omega-3 oils. I started growing more varieties of greens, and more sulfur rich plants like onions, garlic, brassicas.

    I live in a family and community I grow what my kin want to eat. And I grow what I love to eat. I grow for the herbal healers in my community.

    I don't purposely grow plants that are purely ornamental.

    Sometimes, I have selecting what to grow based on my health, or the vagaries of my living situation. For example, for a couple of  summers I was taking care of an ill family member, so I focused almost exclusively on corn, beans, and squash: Species that grow vigorously and out-compete the weeds, and have one harvest in the fall. So I didn't have to spend a lot of time fussing about weeding, or harvesting fiddly crops.
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    pollinator
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    My priorities:

    1.  I've got to like it.  Why grow it if it's not going to get eaten?  I don't grow much Swiss chard because I don't like the feel of it on my teeth -- it feels abrasive.  But we can't seem to grow enough sweet corn for our family.

    2.  The exception to priority 1 is that I'll grow stuff that the chickens enjoy.  Thus, there is Swiss Chard in the garden.  As stuff gets leggy or starts to bolt, it goes into the chicken tractor for the girls to convert to eggs and fertilizer.

    3.  Greens need to be planted weekly if you are going to have a constant salad bowl throughout the year.  I plant lettuce, spinach, arugala and other salad greens about every other week.  I'll plant carrots about once a month except the hottest summer months.  Cabbages get started and planted about 8 months of the year.  Moringa is available 8 months of the year, as is Chaya. 

    4.  I've selected fruit trees so that there is always something available 12 months of the year.  Right now, we are enjoying the last of the citrus for another month or so.  Stone fruits will start ripen in late April and early may, and then we'll have peaches, plums, pluots, apricots, apriums, nectoplums, nectorines . . . for about 3 months.  Berries will be available all summer.  Apples ripen from May through October . . . 6 different varieties, all with different "due dates".  Figs are available in the late summer and into the fall, as are Asian pears.  Pomegranates are ready in Sept. and Oct.  Avocados are late fall and continue to hold on to the tree throughout the winter months, even into spring.  Basically, I never want to buy fruit --- there is always something good growing on a tree.  Selecting trees according to their ripening date is as important to me as selecting trees that are really productive.

    5.  I don't want to be out in the garden working hard in August and Sept. when things are super hot, so hot weather veggies all go in during May - July, so I won't have to plant when the heat comes --- just go out and pick okra, sweet corn, watermelons, tomatoes, tomatillos, various peppers.  These are also the busiest months for canning, drying and preserving.  Once September is over and the summer plants are spent, then I'll get my hands in the soil again as the fall crops are sewn -- but I'll wait for a cool weekend to do it.

    6.  A common problem is that production out-strips your capacity to eat the food or preserve it.  It kills me to have so much available food and no way to use it.  We give away so much food, yet hundreds of pounds end up in the chicken pen or compost pile.  The key is to not over-plant.  Only plant 2 or 3 cabbage plants every 2 weeks.  Do this throughout the spring and into the summer -- lest you suddenly have 30 big cabbages that are all splitting open because you haven't harvested them in time.  Plant 6 sweet corn kernels every 4 days, so that you will have a steady crop of corn throughout the summer, not one big burst of corn.  Same thing with zuchini and crook-neck squash: plant a new hill every 2 weeks so that you can pull the old ones out.  Get the drying racks ready to go by July 1 and the canning equipment all set up so that you are ready to go when the rush of productive harvest happens. 

    7.  Multi-purpose plants are scattered throughout the garden and orchard.  Sweet potatoes and peanuts are our ground cover on the hillside.  They don't need any attention at all.  Moringa and Chaya grow in hot places that don't get a lot of love, attention or water.  If there is a little space anywhere in the garden or orchard, something is planted — a little drift of beets or carrots, a little spot where a pepper can be planted . . . maximize every square foot.

    8.  I only grow stuff that sets seed and I'm able to from year to year without having the purchase seed.  There are a few exceptions to this (cabbage), but most things produce WAY more seed than I'll ever use.  One beet that goes to seed will give you enough seed for your whole garden for the next two seasons.  Poppies, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, and sweet potatoes volunteer.  Plant them once and never plant them again.  As summer transitions into fall, I work hard to be disciplined about gathering seed for next year.  I keep it all organized and well-labeled so that I know what I've got.  Small packets of seed are easier to store than big bags.  Then, when you are ready to plant the next year, you just grab one of your packets of, for example, okra, and are not tempted to over-sew because there are 2 lbs. or seed in a bag.

    Those are a few of my guiding principles in what I choose to grow and how I go about facilitating the gardening process throughout the year.

     
    Posts: 23
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    I only plant what we love to eat :-) Especially with annuals, why waste time on something that the whole  family isn't jazzed about?

    In the past I've gotten distracted trying lots of different varieties (it's so tempting!), but it can get crazy making so many plant markers and having a garden map, etc.

    This year we're growing lots of salad stuff (lettuce, bok choi, arugula), tons of carrots, dandelion greens, dill, parsley (160 plants because we use about 1 plant per week in our salads!), peas & beans (the kids love), a few zucchini, tomatoes for sauce, potatoes, corn, winter squash (it's a gamble if it will mature), and that's it for annuals. So I guess we're kind of doing a high-calorie type method.

    I'm trying to focus mostly on perennials this year, since we're at our new place & have nothing planted permanently yet. So, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, chinese yam, asparagus, walking onions, echinacea, mint, elderberry, garlic, mushrooms, and rhubarb! These perennials are easy to have shipped  to me until I can get to a tree nursery and pick up my big load of fruit & nut trees. Good question Kim it's interesting to see everyone's answers.
     
    Posts: 24
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    I saw an article in the last month or so about the most pesticides on product like what in stores are the "dirtiest list".  Strawberries were high on that list and it made my heart glad to think my wife put in a significant strawberry patch.  I think she just likes them fresh, but she may have already known that the store boughts get a lot of 'cides on them.  So I think a good rationale would be things you are suspicious of in the stores, like things that get safety recalls often (leaf lettuce), things that are gmo; or things with a lot of 'cides on them. 

    If I piqued your interest just search for "dirty dozen of produce."
     
    pollinator
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    I would have to say all the above. I've gardened in 3 very different climates & soils. Fortunately space has never been a factor. The decision process goes something like this ...

    First I decide what I (& the people I feed) like to eat. Then research what will realistically grow in that area. Then ignore about 25% of that because I'm willing to experiment to push the limits a little & accept some failures. Then I consider how much time & effort each selection will require. I include a good mix of perennial & annual foods. I generally choose things that I can collect seeds from & also things that I can preserve for later use with canning, dehydrating, etc. Another big factor for me is the taste compared to store bought. Fresh asparagus for example is amazing. Cost of store bought is another factor. Same for the pesticides & GMO. I avoid both like the plague. Still another factor is trying to have something fresh to harvest daily. That one is tough sometimes. Sprouting helps fill the gaps. I also grow things specifically for soil improvement but that's a whole other topic. Dr. Redhawk covers that very well in his excellent soil series.

    Then there's food for animals. Wild & domestic. I'm not too experienced with that but it's a serious consideration for me now due to my personal paradigms shifting all over the universe this year. Intend to keep increasing quantity & variety of small farm animals over the next few years. So I'm in the process of learning & compiling a list. In recent years I've included plants for pollinators of all sorts too.

    Bee food is another thing I've been gradually ramping up each year. Two of my apiaries have gardens & plants specifically for them. Partly plants containing oxalic acid to help with mite control without chemicals. Partly plants that feed them when wildflowers & trees aren't blooming. I don't harvest much of the honey from them. Those bees are for mostly for breeding purposes. Most of those plants are quite tasty & edible to humans too. The bees I harvest honey from get no special foods. They are high in the mountains where sourwood grows naturally. Considered the very best type of honey by many experts. I'm not going to mess with that. Personally I prefer peach honey. If you have an organic peach orchard somewhere near east TN please let me know. Maybe we can work out a very beneficial pollination agreement.

     
    Posts: 84
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    My strategy is basically three pronged:

    1 -- I grow what I can't easily buy. I live too far from the expat/resort city to go to the American style supermarket there, so I see what there is in the local colmados and grow what they don't have. The locals have just one kind of carrot, one kind of cabbage, one kind of eggplant... They have no idea what collards are -- when my friend saw the collards in my garden, he asked me, perplexed, why those cabbages were not forming heads?

    2 -- I grow bulk staples. The first planting I made was of plantains and bananas, and as they produced offsets, I expanded the groves until they became my largest planting. I also have a lot of cassava, sweet potato, and air yam (Dioscorea bulbifera). I made sure to put in a breadfruit tree, too, where it would have plenty of room to spread out. I have a decent stand of pigeon peas, too, for pulses; the locals tend to buy them green in the shell, but I prefer dried.

    3 -- I grow tree fruits, mainly so that I can just step outside and pick whatever is ready, to eat on the spot. I have already been picking guavas (thanks to the birds for those), and expect the mangoes, starfruit, and grapefruit to come in within a few years. Hopefully the pineapples, too, though those are not a tree.
     
    pollinator
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    I knew from experience that anything over (3) major things means a person gets overwhelmed and cannot adequately address what they are growing. Equally, only relying on one or two thing means if the crop fails, or the market tanks, there is no recovery of the loss. So in other words, limited diversification is really the answer.

    To derive those three things, I set up a matrix, and that was just listing everything I could possibly think of for commodities. That included everything from raising potatoes, to broccoli to chickens and sheep. Everything, as much things as I could think of.

    In the rows, I then wrote all the aspects of farming, buildings, soil type, markets, terrain, equipment, storage, history of the farm, and yes even my own interest level.

    After taking my time, and being honest with my answers, the decision was made for me. For instance, I REALLY wanted to grow brocoli on a pretty large scale, BUT I lack the equipment and storage facility to do it. Instead my soil type, topography and history indicated that sheep was a better choice.

    The idea is sound, and permicultural in nature; why fight mother nature? After ten years of raising sheep, I do not regret my decision along with forestry and poultry.
     
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    Jason Hernandez wrote:I grow what I can't easily buy.


    This is basically my strategy. The things that are expensive or hard to find: kale, Japanese and Chinese greens, blueberries, asparagus, sweet passionfruit, mulberries, brussels sprouts, artichokes, celery, dill. Good hot peppers and sweet corn!!!
    This year adding rhubarb, cardoons, spaghetti squash, scarlet runner beans, pumpkins, hubbard squash, asparagus beans/long beans, and US-style sweet potatoes. None of these things can be purchased here (yes, I am a seed smuggler).

    There is also the factor of what to plant to avoid pesticide- my own leafy greens, berries, spinach, chard. I`d rather avoid the sprays. In a few cases, planting certain things made me realize how much spray is on the conventional produce (broccoli and tomatoes here are just bug bait, and I learned that from growing them) and that has changed my consumption habits.
    And now I am planting things specifically for the rabbits (oats and peas).

    Things that I can get cheap, I don`t grow. I live in an urban area, and my space is limited. If I had the space, I would probably grow many more perennials (nuts, fruit) and more staples.
     
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    I have a small allotment where I grow berries and veg (herbs and baby salad and fruit trees at home).  I like playing around on paper figuring out what I could fit onto my allotment in an ideal year.  This has brought me to the conclusion: I grow stuff that my family and I enjoy, with a few experimental bits and bobs.  I recently drew up a plan based purely on my own likes and dislikes.  None of the family would mind if I ran the allotment that way, butt felt lonely, even as a paper exercise, to exclude loved ones from my decision making process. 

    In practise this means I have planted gooseberries just for hubby, parsnips for just me, and increasing numbers of raspberries for everyone.
     
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    I want to grow trees and bushes because I just want to. So I picked pigs to go with it because they would do the least harm to what I want to grow. As far as which of the varieties of trees and bushes I choose to grow, well I just plant ALL of the things and see what lives.

    So I guess for me it's just preference.
     
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    Next year I’m planning to grow potatoes. I’ve grown them in the past but have only a hazy memory of what I did and what I didn’t do. So why am I thinking of trying potatoes.


    1. Taste! From my childhood I have a memory of a different product than what we get from the store. I remember baked potatoes with delicious, crunchy skins and fluffy potato. What a delight. Today I don’t eat the skins. It used to be I ate the skins at home and left them when eating out. After all; I used to think. I don’t know if and how they washed them. When I was a kid I came home from school and washed and punched holes in the potatoes with a fork and coated them with butter and sprinkled on some salt. And I put them on a very low flame in the gas oven.  I recently read up on recreating that memory. Good with the buttered salted skins, but now they insist you need a high heat in the oven. Something’s off here.

    2 Contaminants! I think today the potatoes are treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting. And I’m thinking the potatoes were a different variety than we can buy in the store. I don’t know if I can find that variety; but it’s worth the effort. At least to me.

    3. The challenge! It interests me to have the knowledge of making the seed potato choices, of getting them in the ground, at the correct time. Caring for them for the year. Do I plant deep or hill them or should I vary between the methods. I’m working this fall to get my potato field, 80 square feet, ready for next spring. And then when and how do I harvest them. I once spent a lot of time in central New Jersey. There was a potato farm just off Rt 1, north of Princeton. They dug them and made a huge pile maybe 4 or 5 feet high and 6 ft wide and as long as they needed. And they let them sit there for weeks. Why? And then the best part, I get to devour them… I hope.

    4. The problems we have with the potatoes we buy at the store. We’re getting a lot of potatoes which when we cut them have big sections of black in them. Blight? I don’t know. We do know that one of the chains here has more problems than another. I remember from many decades ago getting potatoes from either Maine or Idaho. I also remember from the distant past; a maxim that you don’t grow potatoes below a quarter mile high in altitude, well maybe if you’re growing seed potatoes, just for myself? I’m at 1188 feet, I’m guessing/hoping that’s close enough. But I think the world has forgotten that old maxim. I can’t find it in googleland.

    5. The price. I like the idea of growing my own potatoes and saving some for next year’s seed potatoes.  But, I did put this one at the bottom

    So I’m planning ahead, picking out the varieties. I want to try a blight resistant variety. An early, mid season, and a late potato. Combine those options.
     
    Posts: 50
    Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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    Kyrt and his pig idea (follow behind and sow seeds, mulch and move on) just changed my life. I've been contemplating how to use our Juliana mini pigs on our acreage and he just sparked all sorts of fun ideas in my head. Oh, my, my, my....

    Here's how I select the growies:

    * I sow what I know we will eat and every year I add several new varieties to crops that I already love. This year I added several varieties of pole beans to see how they did. I like the diversity, especially in light of our constantly changing climate and I like to bet on all the ponies. My approach is plant all the things and see what does well. If I like how it performs I save the seed from the best and sow again. I also spend lot's of time naturalizing things to our farm - like perpetual spinach, walking onions, wild leeks, huckleberries, all the herbs, sunchokes, etc. I have been known to tuck asparagus crowns anywhere the space will not be disturbed. On little hills, around a fruit tree, next to the house in our beds, etc. I use herbs as foundational plantings - sage, st. johns wort, mint, lemon balm, any kind of thyme, rosemary .....

    Our goal is to feed ourselves %60 of what our diet is from the farm.

    Now that I think about it, I plant with the more is more approach. Whatever doesn't get eaten or preserved get's gifted to friends and family or to the livestock.

    When I lived on a 1/4 acre,  I spent much time just planting what I loved - beans, squash, tomatoes, flowers, herbs. Now that we have 3 acres, I'm like a kid on Christmas morning.
     
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    I can grow year round so for me -personally- the goal is to be able to pick and eat everything as fresh as possible. I used to can a lot but these days am mostly down some convenience foods like potato soup base (just add milk), canned beans / chili for quick dinners and quarts of mostly chicken stock because I process my own birds and have to do something with the necks, feet and other parts.

    Second, I have a small market garden, so what grows well and sells well at market? Kale is a weekly seller and in cool weather peas, lettuce and spinach. Warm weather tomatoes are queen.

    third, extra chicken / duck feed (and in the future goat forage). Currently of course the birds get all the kitchen scraps and waste greens. Collards are not very popular locally but I grow some for the chickens because they really like them and because they are high in calcium when the hens need. I always let pigweed and lambsquarters grow as long as they aren't in my way, along with any clover or alfalfa that pops up. Hens also get lots of chopped herbs to eat and some other ones to put in their nest boxes.

    Fourth improved soil/pollinator/predatory insect habitat: along trails and paths are patches of herbs and flowers, some of which I pick and some are there for critters, I'm hoping some areas will begin self seeding and taking care of themselves, in the meantime I"m always planting something in any little empty space I see.

    Besides all those considerations I"m a sucker for novelty, average carrots are orange and beets are red so I grow them in rainbows, same for potatoes. Besides ordinary zucchini I grow round ones. I also grow yellow ones because everybody has green ones.  Besides little butter nut and spaghetti squash I grow 4' long Trombonccino.

    I've been planting fruit trees but most are not bearing yet. So this coming season hope to start adding berries and other small fruit.
     
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    Hey Kim I have a little cabin near you, near Joshua Tree. I talk to locals about what does well up here. My neighbors say that a lot of things grow fine up here with water of course!!! First thing you have to do is plant some trees so they can provide shade for smaller plants. I love native trees like the honey mesquite and palo verde trees. Dont get the chilean mesquites they sell at home depot or other nurseries. I know a guy in Joshua Tree that sells them his name is Damian Lester. His email is lester.damian@gmail.com  My neighbor has a bunch of Afghan pine trees also called Eldarica Pine or Mondell pine. They do great up in the high desert. I planted one last year and it grew 2 feet!! I only water it once a month (deep watering). Have you been to Cactus Mart? They have a lot of cool desert trees its in Morongo Valley.
     
    Happiness is not a goal ... it's a by-product of a life well lived - Eleanor Roosevelt. Tiny ad:
    Self-Sufficiency on nearly 10 acres of Eden
    https://permies.com/t/95939/Sufficiency-acres-Eden-renter-utilize
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