So, my friends have 5 acres that they are letting me farm, in exchange for some of the food that grows. Years and years and years ago, this used to be a cow pasture, but they've had it for about 15 years, and haven't done a thing, so mostly trees now, with maybe an acre of grassy land. They are somewhat open to the idea of me messing with the trees, but would like me to use up the still cleared land first.
I'd like to manage it in such a way as to make a small income off of it (It will be my full time job by next year). It is a 20 minute drive from my place, so I'm thinking at least for this year, fairly easy to care for crops that I can work with about 2 days a week, while I'm just starting up. We are in western Washington, and they are located on the south end of the sound, so pretty mild weather.
So far, I've got potatoes and tomatoes in the ground, but I'm also planning on squash, just have been too busy. Thinking of green beans, too. I was thinking of sowing a cover crop of buckwheat over the summer, and then planting kale, chard, broccoli, spinach, and possibly garlic to over winter into spring for next year's crops.
I was also thinking of planting in raspberries (tend to do pretty well over here) starting next year, and maybe some other perennials? Don't want to do strawberries or blueberries because there are too many people doing those fruits. Maybe flowers for sale?
Any ideas or comments?
I'm a young and I'm not going to contort myself to fit in with our very ill society. I am a citizen of the world, not a mindless consumer. If you want to follow along with my journal, here's my blog: Life Happened Today
Dont know what your finances look like but a 40 miles round trip drive could be costly for a low income farmer. dont know what your standard of living is but i would cosider camping or an old travel trailer on site. you say its a mild climate. Also, one tip of advice, when selling produce your order of importance is market, market, market, then growing produce. start small and with what others are selling. whwere im at its sweet corn, tomatoes, greenbeans. you could make your whole living with these three here. good luck, God bless
Character- every decision you ever made culminating into the moment we call now.
what is your location? That will play a big part in determining what crops will do well for you. My easy-peasy no work crops are mustard and garlic. Here in South Carolina they almost grow themselves.
I only eat one third of the garlic that I havest then each year replant the rest to increase the yields. The mustard we eat the small leaves in salads/sandwiches, mince into soups, and properly sauteed, my husband learned that a 'mess' of mustard greens can actually taste very good - not bitter.
The mustard is allowed to go to seed and then I replant the seed.
I work full time so I am learning which foods we can grow here with minimal human intervention.
I have just been reading about the economics of plant nurseries, including trees.
They have a lot of advantages over trying to grow and market vegetables.
Mike McGoarty has a whole program with all details explained.
For example, one can buy very young trees for little, put them perhaps in their own square foot and sell them in one or three years for 10-30 or more times their purchase price. With thought and care, this can be done.
I too, have looked into the tree nursery aspect, and can see a huge potential for earning enough income to subsidize my other operations. I can get Virginia Pines for under 10¢ each (14¢ for the Christmas tree variety), and some fruits, nuts, and other hardwoods in the 30-40¢ each price range. After a few years, I could have a valuable crop.
In my opinion two days a week is not enough time dedicated to a "new garden". The old riddle was........... What is the best fertilizer? and the the person asked starts naming off different manures each time being told-> NOPE.
the correct answer is "the farmers shadow..." meaning your standing there casting one taking care of all your plants.
the other consideration and this doesn't pertain to fruit trees or any kind of tree... but a single person can take care of A 100' by 100" food garden really well ...which is about 1/2 acre.
Kathleen Sanderson wrote: 104' X 104' = 1/4 acre, if it matters to anyone.
Yep, easy mistake to make though. It is because people think 208 x 208 = 1 acre, so 104 x 104 must be 1/2, but 104 * 208 would be half, since you cut the property in half, instead of quarters.
Okay, aside from the math lesson... If you are a first time farmer, you should be on top of what you are growing, as in out your back door. The distance will discourage you from really giving it the care it needs and for you to react quickly enough to your mistakes. Once you can understand what you are seeing, you can make the changes before you lose everything, otherwise, the time between visits probably will be too much to prevent disasters.
At least that is my experience.
Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
if you have plenty of mulch because you planned it that way you mow and dry your grass clippings you import materials that others consider trash from suburbia never waste a trip to town -eh (one mans trash is another man's treasure applies here)
then you can spend much less time weeding and more time smothering (ie mulching) which is far easier and you reap the benefit of providing your garden soil with more materials to feed your installed earthworm population and then let them create your fertilizer.
that being accomplished ...... you can then start increasing your garden size.
this is when your working by yourself without a tractor using mostly hand tools ..... in a new garden.