Garry Hoddinott

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since Oct 30, 2012
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Recent posts by Garry Hoddinott

What can you do .... leave it alone.   Seriously, you will regret every step down the hill and have double the regret every step up it.  Trees are the best citizens for hilly land.  Consider advice provided Joel Salatin et al.  Lots of land is unused or under used.  Often a farmer is too old, or just uninspired to make use of his land.  In my case I'm 61, have 245 acres on mid north coast of Australia and run a few cattle to keep the grass down. I live 10,000klm away in another country.  Sadly I gave a bloke from Singapore full rights to use the land, including my car and caravan.  He lasted 4 weeks.  Thankfully I had no serious problems, but I wont be so generous with another.  Just ask around in the area you are interested, show some good faith, and you might be surprised.
2 years ago
Lots of good thinking in this thread. I didn't see much about seedlings. A seedling nursery is easy to eastablish and produces within 2 - 3 weeks. In Australia a punnet of 4 tomato plants of very boring breeds sell for $5. What's the profit on that lot? Flower boxes - simple stuff like pansies and petunias make great gifts and can be sold from your boot at a supermarket car park. Made from old fence palings (free) and "distressed" tinted (hugely watered down paint rubbed on with a rag) planter boxes filled with petunias will sell for $25. A bit of mass production and you can knock up 200 of them in a weekend. That's $5,000. Get a bit arty with a custom made "branding iron" and burn a leaf pattern or some such into them and you'll sell out real quick.

Flowers were mentioned. Great. I saw mention of a $5 a bouquet (wow if I spent that on a bunch for my wife she;d throw them at me!) And a pessimistec figure of 200 bunches. Gosh! Are there only 10 people in your town? Knock that up to $15 - 20. and go door knocking. A lot of people will order 2 or three bunches a week. Drop them off when you go into town. I'd do the numbers on 30 customers spending $30 a week. There's your first $45,000 per annum

Bulbs are great mate. They reproduce well and are pretty easy to look after. I once saw a lady with NOTHING to sell but a few photo albums of Bearded Iris pics - she had a queue of people filling in their order sheets and PREPAYING for the next season. Specialising in one type of plant is always good as you get accolades like an expert. Go all out on say Bearded iris, buy 20 each of 30 varieties. You'll pick them up for $3 each and then every year sell half the new lot. Check the net - even ordinary ones sell for $10 a bulb. Allow 2 years to build up stock then book your Carribean Holiday. You get to sell the blooms AND the bulbs - what a beauty!

Consider selling babies. Chickens and ducklings are always popular. Most town kids have never seen baby animals let alone held one. Day old chicks sell for about $5 each ... thats a pretty good return on a bit of electricity to power an incubator. Sell a bit of chick food too. Offer to take back chicks once they have grown too big to be a pet and are unwanted then sell them back as Point of lay pullets. These sell for ridiculous prices - $25 plus in Australia and still need to be fed for 2 months before you see the first egg. Offer your expertise to design an integrated vege / chook garden and sell every component - design, construction, seedlings, chickens. Some people might like to hatch their own chickens - you could rent out your prize rooster - $30 a week. Of course you'd have to be happy living off immoral earnings!!!

One way of selling is to crash a yard sale. These are often very well attended and if you add a sign or 2 with your special something the yard owners will love you for bringing extra customers.

Drinks: They are mostly water. That shouts profit to me. I live in Thailand now. Fruit based drinks are really popular, healthy and delicious. Rosella (here its called Grab Jiep) juice drink is easy. Ginger tea is extremely cheap to make, a bit exotic and 100% delicious. Lemon and honey with ginger juice is great and people tend to think it is health giving. A tiny taste will often result in a $10 sale.

Schools are easy to market to. 1000 customers all inside one fence with just one or two gatekeepers. Perhaps you could arrange an excursion for the kids where they learn / see/ and do. Imagine kids making seed balls and taking them home to mum and dad inside the little bag you have a note offering your other goodies.

P&F groups are always trying to make money. Grow up a set of 12 potted plants, arrange with a few mums to sit outside the school with the plants as samples each day for a week taking orders as the parents bring their kids to school. Trust me .... this is easy money! I've done it and never grew a single plant - I just went to growers and chose from their stock.

Hope you make squillions and live long enough to spend it.
2 years ago
Consider a low cost freezer conversion. Freezers are much better insulated than fridges and this solution uses less than 100w per day - and can be powered by the smallest solar setup. No Fridge may mean compromising health and missing out on whole swags of food types that need refrigeration. A second hand chest freezer may be cheaply had.

There are afew vids out there on conversion, but I had not see the little device shown here. A 5 cubic foot GE freezer was converted for $15 using a temp control system bought online. It used 40 watts of power in 24 hours after getting cold. Perfect for a single / double plate solar system.

Here's the Youtube vid


There is sure to be a topic on this somewhere else on Permies that you can reference.
2 years ago
I know what you mean about sandy soil. Mine grows bahir grass ok, its not much good for the cattle but it holds thru the dry and kicks on after rain. To grow veg is another disaster altogether. One BIG advantage we have on sand is that its dead easy to dig and it turns to loam very well. Here's my "instructable" about using Chooks and free veg to make soil in a hurry.

Dig out a level trench in a straight line and as much on contour as you can, 2 - 3 shovels deep and 1m (36") wide ... or if you have short legs whatever you can straddle - this will be soon be your veg bed. Anything less than 10 m long is a bit wimpy, but length is up to you, has more to do with your landscape and gardening habits. Stack the dirt on each side, lay in some cardboard (protection) and lay plastic over it forming a 15 - 20cm shallow pool. Any plastic works it will not degrade underground, joins made by double folds work well. . Find some PVC pipe a bit longer than your trench is deep - 2" plus - bigger diameter is better. This - or they ... will be used to fill your trench with water and also tell you when you need to "water". Drill lots of little holes drilled for 15cm at one end. Wrap the end with shadecloth a few times so the plastic does not get damages by the pipe, and sand in the trench doesn't fill up the pipe. Pack around the pipes with small stones, then fill up the "plastic pool" you have made with your sand. You should still be at least one shovel depth below the surface! Use a slow hose to fill the trench. Make a note of how fast your water is flowing and how long it takes to fill. If you have badly behaved sand it might resist the flow of water thru it. Just keep an eye on it. If the water does not move through the sand fast enough you'll need to put round gravel along the bottom of your next trench, or just slow your hose to suit the water flow. You want to see water pooling evenly along the length of the trench. You can use a bit of rag twirled around a stick to measure how much water is in your trench pool at any time. Efficient watering without miles of tubes and bits that get clogged or leak. Nothing will evaporate and weed seeds willnot get a nice watering from the top to grow. Now fill 5cm more of your trench with your lifeless sand and any organic stuff. We dont want roots to go to CHOOSE>>

2 Choices: With or without chooks - WITHOUT. (Bad idea but I understand)

Now you are going to kick start your soil by growing your own compost. Throw in lots of seeds of anything that produces a lot of leaf growth. All the better if they are legumes. They grow fast because they have the perfect water qty available all the time. Water is constantly being wicked up through the sand. When they grow to a really thick carpet 15 cm high (about 4 weeks in summer) throw more seeds around and then throw in more sandy stuff. about another 2". You dont have to fully cover the old plants - they will keep the earth shaded a bit and keep out unwelcome competition.- of sand - Note you are still way below the old soil level. Good. Repeat this exercise adding whatever else you can find. Dont weed unless you have a really obnoxious plant growing. Put some old sacks and gloves in the car. Anytime you pass a field of cattle grab a sack or two of pats. Drown it in water for a week or three - smashing it up is good. That kills the weed seeds and makes a great, easy to add fertilizer. Over the non winter seasons you will have at least 4 crops of "compost". If you can put in a few inches of cow pats over winter, you'll feed all the little elves and fairies who will help you big time in the spring. Of course make your own piles of compost with whatever wlse you can get. But remember, animal dung is gonna have to show up sooner or later for you to get the best soil. Alternative ... worms, but ... not here, not now. Here's a tip. Never pull out the roots. I know its hard to resist, but as you keep growing stuff, use what grows above ground but leave the underground stuff to the fungi and soil biota. Just use a sharp blade to cut off the stuff you harvest, add some new compost and then sow again.

WITH CHOOKS and green grocers waste. Make a few roly poly hen hoops.

Over your trench, make a low slung half round hoop house. So that will be about 50 - 60 cm high and you can make it permanently shaped and easily ROLLED OVER by adding cross bits to the bottom. Cover sides and bottom with strong chicken wire. Dont skimp. Electrical conduit, Poly irrigation pipe with bamboo inside, whatever you can find, and make sure it has a bottom. We dont want chooks scratching up the sand of the trench or bad dudes getting your chooks. Add a longways center pole and one halfway up the side. Cut 40cm feeding flaps with bits of wood attached as weights. This will be your moveable chicken coop. you'll toss in HEAPS of old veg you collect from green grocers, through the flaps, cover one end with a bit of old vinyl sign and add an easy to get at removeable egg laying box - again with a lock down flap so only you can get the eggs.

The chooks will mascerate your veg, you will need to give them nothing more than some shell grit. Add chopped straw if its all getting a bit wet, but you really want a MESS. Overpopulate the enclosure. After everything is very messy - depends on population density, move them to a new Roly Poly hen House over more trench and repeat. Roll away the old coop, toss in a little of your sandy soil, and sow seeds. When the plants are young and juicy send in your chooks again. They will eat and scratch out your plants, make great soil and every time you add a little more sand, the water holding capacity of your soil will be huge and it will be very fertile. You can do this forever harvesting only eggs, or you can grow a real crop, leaving the remnant for chooks. HINT : Quit while you are ahead. Don't grow crops past the first flush of fruit. Leave the rest for the chooks. All crops get bugs as they get older.

My digging into sand has shown you can really move a lot quickly. Ponding water underground is easy. Watering by a letting a trickling hose hose fill your "ponds" over night, is something you may only have to do once a month even in summer. In a short time you will have worms queueing to get in.
2 years ago
Paul, some ideas.

Do you take a deposit from people who come as gappers? A thought, getting your deposit back becomes incentive to pick up the ball.

A FULFILLMENT card - a kind of report card that someone in Authority stamps as tasks / responsibilities are completed. An incomplete card could mean early departure and possibly lost deposit.

You are right that the failure of a program is in most cases a failure of leadership.

Has someone delineated the pathways to profit, with a simple business plan for each? Generally, its hard to make money on the land. How will Wheaton Labs generate income from what gappers can do? I dont want to know - but someone should know.
3 years ago