Michael Bush

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since Sep 13, 2014
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Recent posts by Michael Bush

A casual check of Zillow doesn't show much land in Sonoma for much under $100k an acre...the back side of LA on the Nevada side is CHEAP but there is little water and ugly as, well, its ugly

As for the house, I lived on a small sailboat for a year and as a single guy it was great, smaller in some ways than your average tiny house. Frankly, if you needed a covert living space a boat on a trailer would escape notice depending on the situation and being wired for DC would hook up to solar rather well. Boats are cheap in LA.
6 years ago
I am not the biggest fan of no til but give me a giant break.

Compared to WHAT? Few people till the soil and add nothing. I just might have to find a copy of the article in Nature but this comes out of the UC Davis ag dept so I am skeptical even if I did attend there.
6 years ago
I am a cynic so I just wanted to put that disclaimer up front. I help run a large community garden in Sacramento, I run a small B&B, and am starting an urban farm on 1/2 acre as well. So I DO believe in this stuff but that said...

Notice the number of people mentioned who run non profits, develop "programs" and license people to teach them? THAT is the end that is an actual business. Farming is a great way to make a small fortune you just need to start with a larger one!

A few have mentioned Ron Finley's Urban Homestead, four people working solid hours making $20k? Even if you say the food they eat is double that, that is $10k a year per person. Its sad but working at McDonalds pays more!

Most of these farms are labors of love, meaning the owners and volunteers subsidize them with labor and love. They are not a sustainable business. Their quality of life can be high, the emotional rewards wonderful, and certainly far tastier and healthier food but the people buying the food? They work real jobs and make in Los Angeles probably close $100k a year to afford to buy CSA food.

I am NOT saying any of this to discourage you but you asked about BUSINESS, not how to enrich your soul or your soil...

The money (and its not much) in all of this is in teaching others to do what you want to do, getting grants to do what you want to do (thus all the non profits that pay salaries to their managers), and staffing the whole thing with volunteers. Growing and selling raw veggies is also the lowest rung of all this, there is very little value added. A local company here raised $100k on kickstarter to make organic bloody Mary mixes...value added!

Now I am NOT saying "money" is the goal but you do need it to buy water, seed, gas, and a roof over your head so it IS important, although all of us here have a different value on it than the rest of society.

MY plan, is to open a cafe downtown, grow the majority of the produce and some of the meat for it, teach classes on the "farm" and create our own sort of closed loop setup where each space makes the other "cooler" and we not only add value as things move up the chain but we keep it all in house. If it becomes a roaring success I won't have to have a full time job to support it, LOL!

So, my advice is to first decide how much you need to make to live, calculate how much you need to grow to achieve that, and then understand that water is only going to get more and more expensive in LA so you will need to invest in rainwater harvesting to offset that cost. Now THERE is something that could be interesting. Ask the neighbors if you can capture the runnoff from their houses as well. They don't use it and capturing it from three surrounding properties could produce a fair amount of water. Now its urban runnoff so you will need to divert a fair bit and let the remainder settle in tanks but that should only set you back $10k but that IS something crowdsourcing or grants could pay for.

Anyway, best of luck!
6 years ago
Is the rest of the flat land above or below the incline your road is on? How much rain do you get and when?

Can you post some pictures?

What would you like to happen?
6 years ago
You follow the contour lines for elevation. In your case, you have none so you can "draw" them anyway you like. Since you can't see the underlying topography, I would suggest looking at a google earth map to see where the "greener" areas are on your property, places where things are less sparse and assume from that that some subteranian topography traps water and work at concentrating water there using circles.

When it rains does all the rain soak into the ground? if so, then adding swales and the like will not catch more water but I am sure water still flows over your land during a hard rain.

In addition, being flat, erosion is less an issue and you could then channel water from one place to another in ways that would be problematic on a hillside.
6 years ago
Bill, you should write an article on that as i am sure Sunset would feature it on the front cover! In our community garden alone we have entire plots taken over by bermuda and nutgrass. I guess lots of mushroom compost and cover cropping isn't enough to make our soil as good as yours must be. What is your secret?
6 years ago
Bermuda is evil but can be eradicated, I find using a potatoe fork is a great tool for digging it up. Loosen the soil a bit with the fork and THEN pull, you get most of the root that way. I have even done the sifting of soil through a screen to get rid of it. As many have said, in a garden, it takes over, shades out food producing plant and offers nothing in return. For those who hand wring over pulling it out, just pretend monsanto invented it.

Nutgrass is even worse and much harder to eradicate but the same technique works.

Its rare that you can eliminate it entirely but you can reduce it to the point where you can garden effectively without those taking over.

I find most who find kind things to say about things like Bermuda do most of their gardening with electrons rather than dirt.
6 years ago
I was a kid watching parents butcher both rabbits and chickens. I hated plucking chickens but cleaning rabbits always seemed so damn simple and "clean" by comparison. Thanks for the wonderful description of what you went through! Next year I will be butchering both for the first time myself and so stories like yours help a lot!
6 years ago
On our new property is this beautiful olive thicket decended from an ancient olive with a trunk about 2 foot in diameter that was hacked down many years ago. The tree is loaded with beautiful fruit we were so looking forward to harvesting.

Except they are all infested with olive fruit fly maggots...

SO, going to do what the conventional efforts to contain which is gather up and destroy all fruit, put out lots of bait traps during the year. I am going to prune the thicket heavily next year to limit fruit production but other than using the clay spray, anyone have an ACTUAL experience dealing with this little buggers?

Probably can't eliminate them enough to make a marketable olive but we can press them and make a decent oil in two years....
6 years ago
Those appear to be english walnuts, or Juglans Regia as opposed to native walnuts like Juglians Nigra or black walnut.

Here in California one rarely sees english walnuts that are not grafted to Juglans california as rootstock commercially.

They grow as weeks here, I have to pull them up all the time so I would say plant it 4 to 5 inches deep and in moist soil and leave them alone?
6 years ago