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Thread: gardening vs farming

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    East TN Smokey Mountains
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    Default gardening vs farming

    Well once again I start off the growing season as I have the last 2 years vowing to grow enough food to support us for the year.

    As background I have been an avid gardener for 50 years since my grandfather and I put in my first garden when i was 8 years old. And by garden standards I have had some large ones.

    I just want to point out to everyone that growing enough food to support a family is extremely difficult. I have plenty of good land, unlimited water for irrigation from our spring and creek, gardening experience, sufficient income, access to seeds and fertilizer, access to petroleum for running equipment, access to the internet for advice / problem solving - and I haven't reached the goal yet.

    I guess the moral of the story is to store as much food as you can so you aren't totally dependent on growing it. Then growing becomes mostly a way to stretch your larder.

    And especially if you haven't started growing anything you better start and get some experience regardless of how modest your first garden is.

    I made a big mistake early on when we bugged out to our new retreat in 2010. I had the mindset that I wanted to be already gardening same as I would post shtf, so I went pretty much manual tools. That was a mistake. It just takes too long to go from pasture / grassland to massive food production using only hand tools.

    So this year I bought a 4WD diesel tractor and lots of implements and have been using that to open up growing space. I can do in an hour what took weeks by hand.

    I have stocked up on additional diesel fuel. I already had a reasonable amount for our diesel generator, just added another couple hundred gallon tank for the tractor. I haven't really tracked diesel consumption but I kinda think that would be good for one season.

    Long rant I know, but it has certainly dawned on me the huge chasm between being a gardener and being a farmer.

    Cammie has it going on, this is where I need to get to:
    http://www.whenshtf.com/threads/5490...421#post710421

  2. #2

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    I own an ancient feeds and feeding book that I dearly love. Our ancestors knew how to do things with less labor and less cash.

    For example, "hogging off" a crop. Basically, the farmer would fence in some cropland- and a hog tight fence is a lot of work to do by hand! - and then when the corn or wheat or whatever was ready a lot of pigs would be turned into the field. They would eat the grain, along with skim milk or whatever the farmer had to give them because corn is too low in protein, and when the grain was gone was gone the pigs would be herded to market with the help of the farm dog. That meant the corn did not have to be harvested or threshed, and there was no need for a truck.

    I do not remember what they did about weeds: perhaps the horses could pull something to cultivate between the rows?

    Folks, a draft horse eats a LOT, so it does not pay to farm with horses unless you can use them often and use them year round. One reason tractors were a hit was because gas was cheaper than the hay UNLESS you had a use for horses year-round. After harvest horses eat but tractors do not. Some teams haul firewood in the winter, or would be hitched to a sleigh, but some were not needed in the winter and so tractors were cheaper to run. 1/3 of a farm used to be used to feed the work horses.

  3. #3

    Default

    Explo, the difference between your adventure in farming/gardening is mostly the length of growing season. I pretty much grow year round and Instead of growing huge farming style crops, mine are broken up into several smaller gardens which makes them easier to manage by hand. All of my tools are manual. Because i'm strictly organic, no fuel operated equipment is allowed in my gardens.
    I companion garden, meaning I grow in sessions of multiple products that mature at different times so one doesn't shade or choke out the other produce. You get a lot more bang for the buck that way and some produce actually enhances the growth of it's companion crop.

    Because I grow a lot of my produce in huge molassess pot, there is no need to build mounds or rows that waste a lot of space between the rows that can be used to grow more. My vining crops are vertical, allowing me to utilize the space that would otherwise be needed for the vine and having access to harvest.

    Some things I do grow in rows, like black-eyed peas but you can grow those types of lagumes very dense.

    The difference in the minds eye and for serious returns, is that row farming is 2 dimentional and takes up a lot of man power/hours and usually mechaincal equipment, where as gardening the way I do is 3 dimentions, growing up and out rather than just growing out. I can stand in a 10ft squared area and pick enough groceries to feed 4 for a couple of weeks or so. Row farming doesn't allow that simplicity. When you grow flat, you're limited.

    By the time i finish harvesting for the week from my #4 garden, it's time to start harvesting again from my #1 garden and it continues like that throughout the growing seasons. When one area stops producing, I start more or plant something else in that area after I let it rest for a week and amend it. Crops like corn are usually replaced with a nitrogen rich crop.

    Once you get a system down, it's pretty easy. The hard part is learning what, when and where. An old 1800's almanac was my friend years ago, along with learning my grampa's methods. He didn't have a lot of land but he knew how to work what he had to his advantage. While the row farmers were struggling to keep their families fed with what they grew, my grampa was able to sell some of his to make money for other needs.

    Use the space above you. It's free!



    Quote Originally Posted by explo72 View Post
    Well once again I start off the growing season as I have the last 2 years vowing to grow enough food to support us for the year.

    As background I have been an avid gardener for 50 years since my grandfather and I put in my first garden when i was 8 years old. And by garden standards I have had some large ones.

    I just want to point out to everyone that growing enough food to support a family is extremely difficult. I have plenty of good land, unlimited water for irrigation from our spring and creek, gardening experience, sufficient income, access to seeds and fertilizer, access to petroleum for running equipment, access to the internet for advice / problem solving - and I haven't reached the goal yet.

    I guess the moral of the story is to store as much food as you can so you aren't totally dependent on growing it. Then growing becomes mostly a way to stretch your larder.

    And especially if you haven't started growing anything you better start and get some experience regardless of how modest your first garden is.

    I made a big mistake early on when we bugged out to our new retreat in 2010. I had the mindset that I wanted to be already gardening same as I would post shtf, so I went pretty much manual tools. That was a mistake. It just takes too long to go from pasture / grassland to massive food production using only hand tools.

    So this year I bought a 4WD diesel tractor and lots of implements and have been using that to open up growing space. I can do in an hour what took weeks by hand.

    I have stocked up on additional diesel fuel. I already had a reasonable amount for our diesel generator, just added another couple hundred gallon tank for the tractor. I haven't really tracked diesel consumption but I kinda think that would be good for one season.

    Long rant I know, but it has certainly dawned on me the huge chasm between being a gardener and being a farmer.

    Cammie has it going on, this is where I need to get to:
    http://www.whenshtf.com/threads/5490...421#post710421
    Last edited by Camouflaged; 04-27-2016 at 04:28 PM.
    Making good people helpless, doesn't make bad people harmless!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    East TN Smokey Mountains
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    Default

    I can't match your year round season, but I do lots to extend my season which is about 6 months between frosts.

    I also still work full time which crimps my style.
    And I am early 60's so just don't have the strength and stamina of a young buck.

    I have a greenhouse with lots of room to start things early, so once April 15 hits they have already been growing for a month or more:





    and I use row covers to give me a month either side of the frost free dates, here you see the row cover pulled over to the right:



    I companion garden, meaning I grow in sessions of multiple products that mature at different times so one doesn't shade or choke out the other produce.
    yup, see the tall broccoli inter planted with the chard which will be lower growing and stay in the garden after the broccoli is harvested. I use companion planting extensively in my 30" wide rows. I subscribe to John Jeavons bio intensive gardening, except that I add companion planting to that.

    All of my tools are manual. Because i'm strictly organic, no fuel operated equipment is allowed in my gardens.
    Yep, same here. My raised beds have not been stepped in or mechanically tilled for 5 years and counting. Check out the tap root on this turnip:





    I companion garden, meaning I grow in sessions of multiple products that mature at different times so one doesn't shade or choke out the other produce. You get a lot more bang for the buck that way and some produce actually enhances the growth of it's companion crop.
    Yup, here's another example of companion planting and dense planting as well:



    where as gardening the way I do is 3 dimentions, growing up and out rather than just growing out. I can stand in a 10ft squared area and pick enough groceries to feed 4 for a couple of weeks or so. Row farming doesn't allow that simplicity. When you grow flat, you're limited.
    I couldn't agree more:



    When one area stops producing, I start more or plant something else in that area after I let it rest for a week and amend it.
    yup, here I plant a month old bean plant right after pulling a turnip from this spot



    so as you can see I am not a neophyte gardener and actually do produce quite a bit of food, but still not enough to be completely self sufficient.

    In other words, it is harder than it looks.

  5. #5

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    Your garden is sweet and very organized and conventional! I grow a lot more dense than you do though and tiered and up. Looking at your photo's I can see tons more space that can be used. Everyone has their own style. None of it is wrong. If you can make it grow and produce, you're at a much greater advantage than most people.

    I remember when you posted the progress of your greenhouse. You lucked out on getting those glass panels! Lucky dawg!
    Making good people helpless, doesn't make bad people harmless!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    5,829

    Default

    Something I see mentioned on here but rarely is "learn to harvest what nature provides to supplement what you can grow." It will, perhaps, require a serious change of mindset for some as far as what they "will or won't eat", but there really is no reason for anyone to go hungry if you know what to look for. I've drilled that into my kids for a long time. Winn-Dixie, Food lion...whatever...is not down on the corner of third and main; it's out among the trees, on the hillsides, by the creek, etc. Nature provides both meat and vegetables if one can get "uncitified" and get rid of the attitude that "it isn't fit to eat if it doesn't come out of a can or plastic wrapping". Mindset, ignorance (lack of knowledge) the lack of desire to learn to take care of one's self are the biggest problems folks have to deal with.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    TN mainly, on the road alot.
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    Default

    Cammies a asymmetrical gardener lol!

    Ex looks good

    Siting with beowulf on this, been grazing on field finds just to see what's available and more palatable in the various places I travel.

    I still go to the store n stock up on canned goods but am trying to move away from this. There's a lot the world can provide if ya know what to look for and have some patience.

  8. #8

    Default

    Never thought of it in that fashion but, yeah, I guess so. lol
    Making good people helpless, doesn't make bad people harmless!

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