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Victor Skaggs

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since Dec 15, 2013
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bike medical herbs wood heat
Small organic farmer for decades, farmworker advocate, anthropology, speak Castilian & French
Central Virginia
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Recent posts by Victor Skaggs

J Davis wrote:So, would like to help brainstorm on this, but want to make sure I understand the ask.

Agile has a meaning in the software and project management world, but that is not the context here.

Agile refers to, when you have non honesteading time, use what you have and what you know where you are to supplement income.

Would upcycling fit.the definition for agile work?

Collect free pallets. Construct pallet furniture.
Sell it on craigslist or at flea market?

If so, seems to me there are many possibilities where free, scavanged, foraged, or cheap materials could be transformed into something someone would pay for. If one had a market nearby..

Those way out in the sticks might not find this viable.

For those on some land attempting self-sufficiency, etc., I think agile work could be called intelligent assessment... of what is available and what people will pay for. I was surprised to discover how many wild things can be sold! And products from the garden/field which might not be seen as commercial products by most.

Example... we wove "Imbolc crosses", or "Bridget crosses" out of the tall and tough grass we were mowing in the back lot, and after I hung one on my farmers market stand as decoration, I began to get requests for them! And so, yes, essentially I am now selling mowed grass...

There are many possibilities, especially for plants with herbal applications, which can be everything from pine sap to sweet clover.
4 days ago

Trace Oswald wrote:My number one go-to would be a small plant nursery.  It's quiet, easy work that you can turn into a business if you would like to for little to no investment, and work as much or as little as you like.  You work at home, and while it takes some time to start generating income, the actual time spent working is minimal.  You have lots of "leisure" time while you are waiting for things to grow, or sprout, or develop roots, so you can work or play at other things.  Marketing is very simple.  A free Craigslist ad or a few signs on the street are as much advertising as you need to get started.  Everything about the business can be expanded if you wish.  You make your own hours, and you can have your dogs around for company while you work :)

Yes that is a great idea and it works! I sell herbs, veggies, etc., in the farmers market and began to also offer young plants, either cullings from the strawberry patch, or aloe vera which was divided... it all sells quite well.

Be careful with the state regulators because to sell a live plant in most states a nursery license is required. I've avoided this since I'm selling relatively few plants and nobody has noticed... yet.
4 days ago
Passive irrigation can be enhanced by certain actions... mostly involving an increase of water retention by the soil of the growing bed. Measures can be taken to increase the % of irrigation water being received by the plants, and to reduce the loss of water from beds.

1. incorporate a lot of compost, organic matter, into the soil
2. mulch!
3. place plants so that their leaves entirely covers the area, with no place for sun to reach the soil (or mulch) surface
4. if watering, use drip irrigation which delivers water deeper into the soil with minimal loss to evaporation or runoff
5. in high wind and dry areas, have windbreaks to minimize the wind over the growing bed, to reduce evaporation loss
6. collect rainwater for the drip system, or channel it to the garden, taking care not to flood the beds in humid areas
7. grow more drought-tolerant varieties, which exist for most vegetables
8. water selectively, since some vegetables (e.g., tomatoes) require much less regular watering than others (e.g., lettuce)
9. increase reliance on perennials, which generally put down deeper roots and can do without irrigation in many cases

These techniques are all well known, nothing revolutionary here, but this list is perhaps useful as an outline for proceeding with water-saving efforts.
2 weeks ago
I grew orach some years ago and like it very much, mostly in salads.

Lately I've ordered seeds for it from several companies but none of them will germinate!

Anyone know of a source who provides viable seeds?
3 weeks ago
When weeding in a bed with young plants to clear out the competition, I've come to leave in all the Fabacaea, mostly clover, which appears. As everyone probably knows, they fix nitrogen, so they are actually helping soil fertility, plus they attract pollinators.

Even the weeds I remove or chop up are useful, as their remains becomes compost, either in place in the growing bed, or in the compost pile.
4 weeks ago
We're beginning with efforts to gradually convert the surrounding 8th-grown oak woods into a food forest.

We're convinced that Schisandra would be a very valuable component of this. However, we are consistently failing in our efforts to get purchased Schisandra seeds to germinate!

Does anyone have some free advice for us about this? Just what do these seeds want anyway???
1 month ago
I'm no blueberry expert, but these facts may be useful in addressing soil alkalinity.

I was farming for a long time in the West in sandy alkaline soil, which wasn't too bad for most vegetables but still need to be acidified.

1. Compost is a buffer. If you didn't take Chem 1,  buffers cause any material to move toward neutrality, away from acidic or alkaline extremes.

2. conifer forest litter is acidic.

I would suggest preparing the bed a year before planting blueberries. Dig out the trench or bed, and then replace or mix the original soil with compost and a lot of pine (or other conifer) leaves. Let that mix "cook" for a year, and you should have a bed acidic enough at to allow the blueberries to survive if not flourish.

With alkaline soil, if you use pine (or other conifer) mulch, that breaks down and eventually is part of the soil, and can help to keep the high pH numbers at bay.

We've got a blueberry bush thriving now, but this is Virginia with acidic red clay soil...
1 month ago
Mid'70's, due to back-to-the-land mentality, Whole Earth Catalog and so on...

It was in St. Louis Co., Missouri, West Country. Grew in the back yard borage, hyssop, thyme, sage, squash, corn and 420. This resulted in my first cup of sage tea which was memorable! Also had my first experience with insect pests, in the person of squash bugs.
When I was the foreman of a ranch in NM, I had a moderate orchard of apples, pears, and peaches to pick. I used the ordinary commercial fruit-picking ladders, much wider at the bottom and with a pole attached near the top which extends as a support. They are far more stable than they look, and with a fruit-picking bag over my shoulder I could pick a lot of fruit fast. I've never found a better way to do it.

Marketing fruit will bring in a lot more money if you process it. Slice and dry it, or can it as purée. A commercial kitchen may be required in which to do the processing, in order to legally sell processed fruit, but these are usually not difficult of access, depending on what is near you. Also, fruit will keep over the winter if you store it properly, in a conventional root cellar or a more modern temperature-controlled unit.

2 months ago