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Greg Martin

garden master
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since Oct 04, 2014
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food preservation forest garden homestead solar trees wood heat
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Greg Martin currently moderates these forums:
Biochar maker, forest gardener/edible landscapist, plant breeding dabbler, forager.
Maine, zone 5
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Recent posts by Greg Martin

Ron Cook wrote:Plus, I've developed my own variety of okra, called, "Heavy Hitter Okra."  I sell seeds each winter through our at-home-farm-store.

I can't wait to grow these this year Ron.  I read about them in the book "The Whole Okra" and ordered them after seeing your post here.  They sound great and I really appreciate the way you packed them up and included bonus seed gifts.  Hopefully some of the plants will do well up here in Maine!  (fingers crossed)  Thank you!!!
4 days ago

Ed Waters wrote:Greg, was wondering if you ever offer tours of your Forest Garden.


Not formal tours as I don't yet think of it as tour worthy, but sometimes folks drop by for other reasons and then I take them for a walk/talk if they are interested.  It seems to usually happen after biochar hands on meetup sessions.  I have a few scheduled this year, but so far not at my home.  If you're interested and are down in York county sometime in the spring through fall and we can make it work then you're invited!
5 days ago
This year I'm hoping to have some success with okra.  I've never planted it before and am a bit concerned about my Maine summer and if it will do ok up here.  Can anyone recommend good varieties for the north?
5 days ago

Kai Walker wrote:Drat I used that dreaded S-word again. Sheesh (slaps self on the forehead).
At least it was directed at my dumb self.
Sorry mods. I will edit if you want me to.

No worries Kai, I accidentally do it now and again (and have that same slaps self on the forehead feeling).  No crime no fowl!!!
1 week ago
I wonder too if it might have been good to put a thermal break between the ground and the dry soil mass.  A membrane with a horizontal wall of logs and then another membrane before laying down the dry soil layer might be an option for that.  Another thing to consider might be no vertical horizontal logs, but rather the use of horizontal fibers/branches to hold the thermal mass from subsiding and then cob to finish the wall so that there is no thermal break between the mass and the living space.  Don't know....just thoughts.
Oh, and btw, I love the pictures from your farm!
Hi T.  I went back to see what happened to it and it was reported for being an edge case on "not nice", which caused one of our moderators to delete it. Thank you very much for your thoughtful approach to asking about it here.  It's very much appreciated!  
Of all the inventions in the past 100 years, the dry erase board has been the most remarkable.
1 week ago

Travis Schulert wrote:
I have 9.5 acres that now have poly culture planted swales and berms. A half acre intensive market garden that pays all the bills, plus my wifes income, and after everythings paid still puts money in my pocket.

It took only the first 2 weeks of market this spring (2019) to pay for the years farm investments. We are completely killing it weekly at the farmers market. We only do one market a week and its paying very well. We stuck it out, and were finally making good money doing this. I say "good money" but for many living in the modern world it would barely be enough to get by, but for us we live good on it. Because we spent the last 7 years building a frugal, simpler life.

For the market garden- I used 20 year landscape geotextile fabric, and a fully automated drip irrigation system. We applied this to a no-till garden. Yes I know there are other ways to do it, and other ways to make money without using any plastics of any kind, and I encourage you to go out and be the example needed to show you dont need any plastic to be productive. But let me tell you we battled weeds and native rhizomes for 5 years, spinning our wheels. The first year on our new property, we tried doing the 20 year fabric and drip irrigation, this literally quadrupled the profits, for about half the work load as previous years. It literally saved our garden because I dont know how long I'd be able to farm and not make a good enough profit. But, that was my decision to use plastics on a half acre of my 10 acre poly culture food forest. But that half acre literally pays for the other 9.5 acres, and paid to have almost 500 trees planted in the last 2 years, another 500 this fall...

For the other 9.5 acres- we have 450 feet roughly of river frontage, places to hunt and fish along the river, I've kept 7 acres of the 10 to be zone 4. Because I like wild forested spaces, and I can produce enough food on a smaller scale to not have to use the rest of the property for anything but forest plantings, hunting, and fishing. We have dozens of edible and medicinal species, which I'll rattle off a handful right now, but missing some:
Elderberry, hazelnut, paw paw,gingko, poplar, spruce, mulberry, apple, seaberry, rugosa rose, perennial clumping grasses, currants, serviceberry, and many more I cant think of at 5:30am. Most of which is thriving and surviving and growing quickly.

New outlooks: I hate to say it, but permaculture folks have left a very bad taste in my mouth in the last couple years. I considered myself a permaculturist since about 2008, I took Lawtons PDC. But then I started using landscape fabric on a half acre, which has upset dozens and dozens of people online, and many permaculture instructors have made it a point to attack us and our farm. It's kind of sad really, that we went through all this work, all this sacrifice, only to be booted out of the community because 5% of our paradise isnt perfection. And the catch 22, is our farm is called imperfect by them, and shunned because it doesnt resemble someone elses idea of perfection. Well, that my friends is a very subjective idea... perfection...

So, at this point, I've realized that most of the people criticizing farmers for not farming right, are mostly people who are still too scared to become farmers. I remember reading the "can you actually make money with permaculture" thread many years ago on this site, and I still wonder if you can.... the 9.5 acres of permaculture food forest are in their infancy stages, so many years before I'm picking fruit and nuts, instead of salad mix and broccoli. But the salad mix and broccoli (there are about 15 other crops we make money on) are what pays to continue "playing" permaculture. There are people out there "playing" farmer, I played farmer until I switched to something that kept the weeds down in my no-till garden... Now I am the farmer, we are farming, because we give the giant veggie farms at our market a serious run for their money. We have the premier quality product at our market, everyone else struggles to meet or match our quality, and we continue to sell out, year after year. We struggle to grow enough to meet demand, because people are thirsty for really high quality, really clean food.

The relentless frustrated criticisms by all the people out there in internet land finally got to me, and I quit trying to push my message online. People get hung up when they see the landscape fabric and cant look past it. At this point, I have lost a lot of faith in the permaculture world and movement, and I see it on the downword spiral. Mainly because of where it's gone, you have a handful of people making a lot of money in permaculture, and it's all being taken from the pockets of kids who have dreams of doing great things, but then they get out there and realize the world dont fart rainbows and unicorns. It's a tough world,you better be ready to make a good profit, without acquiring a shit load of debt, if you expect your farm to make it long term.

I have the beginnings of a permaculture food forest, in 10 years, most species will be producing, maybe then I'll write a book about how you need market gardening in order to subsidize the permaculture side of things. This is no fairytale world, there is no utopia. You can spend 30 years getting somewhere slowly with permaculture, or you could be there in 10 years by incorporating a half acre market garden into your permaculture... I was told by multiple permaculture educators that my methods and systems are a complete failure, and terrible advice. This has been thrown at me many many times now in the last couple years, whilst trying to promote my message and farm.

Travis, this is just my opinion, but I hope that it makes some level of sense.  If not I will learn from others opinions.  You're clearly doing great permaculture work on that 9.5 acres.  It takes a lot of time to develop a working permaculture system and in the meantime making money with annual agriculture seems like a great idea.  It let's you develop a loyal customer base, and as you start adding perennial goodies to your offerings to that base they will love what you guys are doing for them even more.  My personal view of what you are doing is that you have a job (the market garden) that pays the bills so that you can transition to a permaculture farm.  I go to an office job day after day, year after year, to pay the bills so that I can have a piece of land to grow food forests on.  I don't think an annual vegetable garden is a permaculture system, whether it has plastic or not, just as my office job is not a permaculture system, but you have to pay the bills.  I think your job gives you better alignment to transitioning to full permaculture as you can transition the annual gardens over to a permaculture planting when the 9.5 acres starts to pay the bills as well as the before mentioned ability to transition your current customer base.  My office job can't transition over other than perhaps a few skills that could be useful, though I fully expect that I will retire there.

For me a permaculture system has to mimic nature and the planting needs to ultimately maintain and build it's own fertility.  Annuals play a great role in permaculture plantings as mainly pioneering species after a disturbance which are quickly mostly replaced with perennials.  But you paying the bills with 5% of your land that has not yet transitioned to perennials in no way means your aren't a permaculturist on the 9.5 acres (and somewhat on the 0.5 acres if they get transitioned over and the annual market garden acts as a means to eliminate the unwanted perennials that were there)….it's just the equivalent of me going to the office...heck, probably much better as the plastic is less impactful than my commuting miles.  If you're doing what you love and paying the bills while building a permaculture farm then I say "Very good job sir!  Quite impressive!".  The pictures of your place are very beautiful and are a great testament to your hard work.  I can't see how anyone could put down the amazing stuff that you're doing.  I can't wait to see the picture of your food forest when it starts really hitting it's stride.  It will be amazing!

My only concern would be breakdown products from the plastic getting into your soil if you leave it there too long.  But many permaculturists use plastic at some point.  The famed Martin Crawford used plastic to kill the perennials in a space before moving the plastic and planting it out.  I use lots and lots of leaves and woodchips, but I'm doing things much slower than Martin or yourself, so that makes it more possible for me to do that.  I kind of think of this the same way as when people do earthworks with fossil fuel powered machines instead of with shovels.  Rapid transition is the payoff and it justifies itself by replacing modern farm produce and all the massive damage that that creates.
1 week ago