With the resurgence of small farm scale 'organic' vegetable production actual published useful information is very scarce or non existent. If you read gardening books, they are normally plagiarised from other authors, often by lazy celebrities, who either have no original ideas or just leave it all to their 'ghost' writers. Nonetheless, laziness is a common human trait and having not yet fully evolved into a robot I am here going to concentrate on my own innovations and not bore us all stupid repeating everything else! Hopefully some of the ideas will be useful for house scale gardeners as well.

I got much of my information by working for free on some of my neighbour's farms and spending the lunch break quizzing them incessantly on how they did things. They had been doing this kind of thing for over 20 years and were happy to pass on the info, particularly when bottles of homemade whiskey and apple brandy were offered!

To economically grow a ton of vegetables, or more accurately, ten tons, a certain degree of mechanisation is required, which basically means a tractor, a plough and a rotovator. Potatoes require some extra equipment such as a ridging plough, a planting machine and a harvesting machine, but try and borrow/share these items with your neighbours if possible.

Leeks require the minimum in terms of machinery, but need extra care and attention all the way from sowing the seeds to harvesting, so I have given them a much more detailed set of instructions compared to the other vegetables. The biggest mistake is to transplant them too early and in my yearly experience I have had to restrain myself for 20 whole weeks!

I do not practise permaculture as this does not work on a commercial level unless we could get a sizeable income from running courses or help from a large number of 'free' workers. Instead I practise 'Tractorculture' which takes much of the back breaking work out of the jobs. I do use 'organic' principles, but my set up is too small for it to be worthwhile paying for the official certification and so I call it 'chemical free' which means no pesticides, no artificial fertilisers and minimal use of plastic.

Step 1: Equipment and Machinery


  • 36 cc volume per cell seed trays eg. Modiform Multitray 104 - (#1557) multicell seed trays
  • Pronged push out tray for above (#6240)

  • 69 cc per cell seed trays (no push out tray required) for sweetcorn
  • 337 cc per cell seed trays (no push out tray required) for courgettes
  • 6mm (1/4") sieve
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Small glasshouse/polytunnel
  • Greenhouse shelving
  • Bubble wrap
  • Black woven plastic mulching fabric
  • Guerilla currency (Golden Goats).

General Machinery:

  • 50 hp tractor
  • 2 furrow plough
  • Rotovater

Machinery for Potatoes:

  • Planter
  • Ridger
  • Harvester
<p>Very impressive! Nice job on the 'able too! Wish I lived near by. I'd be buying all my veggies from you!</p><p>Voted!</p>
<p>Very interesting, educational and presented. Thank you. I especially loved the &quot;wildlife&quot; photo of your lovely dog!</p>
<p>Thanks. Ila has been especially trained to pose for the camera!</p>
<p>It's the same with mediterranean climate? Or are there any ground differences?</p>
<p>mediterranean climate will be very different due to water constraints, different pests and diseases, different crops etc.</p>
<p>I noticed in this last pic that there are lots of weeds around the Cabbage? Broccoli? Do they affect your plants much?</p>
<p>The weeds also protect the soil and help maintain healthy soil microbiology for future crops.</p>
<p>They were actually weeded about 3 times using a strimmer.</p>
<p>No problem with those weeds on these plants. Caterpillars were the real enemy this year.</p>
<p>I may have missed this in the article; what acreage do you use for 10 tons of production?</p>
<p>It's from about 7 acres, but production is very much increased by the amount of farmyard manure added, which gets imported from outside. It's not a 'closed loop' system :(</p>
<p>So lets see... the UN says the average person can live on 100x100ft (1/4 acre). Of course climate varies.</p><p>Conservatively, 1500-lb per acre if no fertilizer or optimization is used.</p><p>= 1500/.25 to get a 1/4 acre is 375-lb per year for 1 person,<br> = 31-lb per month</p><p>Ya, it makes sense, that's about 1lb per day. Add a little rice or beans and a chicken or goat once in awhile and a person could pretty much eat off the land. I guess the frontier pioneers knew what they were doing!</p>
<p>Sounds about right. Remembering that we probably eat 2 or 3 times what we actually need nowadays in modern society.</p>
<p>I have some property on the Oregon coast but there are many slugs. Do you know anything about dealing with them?</p>
<p>Ducks, they will keep any area pest free including ticks and slugs. And they will manure the growing areas. So free fertilizer. Eggs are real good too. </p>
<p>This is a great article and a lot of information not found else where thank you. Another great place to find information on organic gardening is a web site called You Bet Your Garden run by a gent named Mike McGrath he also has a weekly radio program of the same name on NPR (National Public Radio). </p>
This is great thank you! I'm from a village where my bloodlines are acclaimed to be master cultivators and growers, and now with western influence our youth are drawn away from heritage and we now no longer have a growing sense of agriculture, the older generations still grow watermelons, bananas &amp; coconuts to sell a few hours away in the cot capital. <br><br>I'm trying to implement a Self Sufficient Village model for 6000 people catering to Food, Water, Electricity, Agriculture, Trades, Education, Import and Export as long as prolonging our heritage and introducing the most efficient, eco friendly - renewable means possible, just so that the people can thrive and continue to live off the land &amp; not ending up to &quot; Live to Pay &amp; Pay to Live &quot; <br><br>Your instructables are great, thanks!
<p>Sounds like a great project. Which country are you in?</p>
I'm in Australia, however the land I have acquired is in Hisiu Village, Papua New Guinea
<p>Great Instructable! me and the wife cant wait to start a big garden, not quite this big but lots of good info here</p>
<p>Very detailed!</p>
So glad I clicked on today's ible email. This 'ible is amazing, perfect for the mini-climate in my area, some mountains in NE United States. Our last frost is technically in late April, but we've lost whole apple crops and gardens due to late May freezes and deep snow! Much of this information can be adapted to small homesteading if the practitioner squints a bit ? I'm impressed with that onion set rake! Going to try to make one by hand out of an old garden rake - remove tines - until I can get my hands on some welding tools...or barter with a neighbor. Thanks for all of the advice
<p>You are very welcome!</p>
<p>Maybe not interesting enough for a commercial scale operation, but I planted marigolds next to my carrots... never had problems with carrot fly</p>
<p>Marigolds are very cool. I planted calendula for a few years, mostly because I liked the plants and the fragrance. Did not seem to affect the fly though :(</p><p>The seed is dead easy to save too.</p>
<p>I think these are the wrong type of &quot;marigold&quot; you need tagetes (French/African marigolds) to affect bugs.</p>
<p>correct... both help. I plant Calendula and tagetes, who in Dutch have completely different names so there cannot be any mistake ('Goudsterbloem' and 'Afrikaantjes' [=Goldenflower and Africans]) and I hardly have bugs. Snails, mice and birds are my biggest problem, other pests hardly</p>
<p>2 old fashioned cures for mice, oven dried eggshells crumbled around, and chimney soot. The mice (and cats) don't like sharp edges or dirty feet! :o)</p>
<p>I already use eggshells against snails. Will have to apply that around more plants then. The mice are mainly a problem with planting beans, but snails can strip a young beanplant in a night. Chimney soot i have enough, just thinkinghow to get it out easily. Thanks for the tip</p>
<p>Ah thanks .... That could explain it!</p>
<p>yes, seeds stay fertile for a few years. Supposedly they also keep other pests away, especially nematodes</p>
<p>If you live in an area where they will grow, my go to companion plant is geraniums, believe it or not. I've had great success with them for discouraging pretty much any insect problem. Their pungent smell really masks well and so the bugs just don't become attracted to whatever you're growing. They're tough, perennial, easy to grow in a variety of areas (if you live in a colder area they are tricky, so perhaps not suitable).</p><p>I've found them particularly successful with tomatoes, but they really are an under rated companion plant with most veggies.</p>
<p>actually I had considered them and tried them but they grew kinda big so I stuck to marigolds.</p>
​This is super complete and comprehensive! Thank you so much as this is very useful and worth being kept as farming reference. Just &quot;a little&quot; investment on farming machines which is not so friendly for us who amateur farmer :]<br>Anyway congratulations your PE/pallet wrap cayenne chilies farm had won contest :)
<p>Hey thanks! Yes there is some machinery investment cost but there's always some good bargains to be had when buying old second hand machinery :)</p>
<p>Rhubarb is a problem for you, well I think I have a solution for you. Rhubarb has to have a well prepped bed if you want to grow it for many years. First you start by digging a trench three feet deep and three feet wide and as long as you want. then find a good source of horse manure and not that stuff you can buy. as you fill the trench back in you mix equal amounts of earth and manure then mix, or do it before. Keep mixing till you get to the top. Then mound up 18 inches of earth and plant your Rhubarb and water it well. Check it every day, if it needs watering water it. When you get a big rain the bed will settle and it should be level or close to it. Happy farming.</p>
<p>Thanks for the tip. The patch I was using was well fertilised and everything else grew extremely well. I'm on limestone soil and the rhubarb came from clay soil and ..... Died. Eventually I got rhubarb from limestone soil to replace it and it is growing very well, at last!</p>
<p>Do Caterpillars like purple broccoli any less than green broccoli? Unfortunately, the worm &quot;protein content&quot; of this crop is high. What do you do to minimize this? Any companion planting to deter green worms?</p>
<p>Not sure about purple versus green. The caterpillars seem to like green broccoli as a favorite, then Brussel sprouts and then cabbages. I've been out every day this week for an hour or so picking off large 'pillars by hand and shaking off the small ones.</p>
<p>When I saw this link somewhere else.... I just knew it must be from you Tecwyn.<br>interesting reading. Definitely will apply some of the tips you gave me for next season. Interesting leek reading. Mine have been doing ok but not fantastic. I trust your tips will help me secure better yield next time</p>
<p>They never do until later in the year when the weeds die down and they reveal themselves to the world.</p>
<p>I have them completely weed free. Some grew big and some remained only 2 cm diameter. Tasted all very good though. Still have some thin ones in the soil, see if they pick up... but we have had a weird summer</p>
<p>Why don't you plow the field in autumn or early winter? It makes spring works on the field alot easier, things get done with less fuel done, faster.</p><p>I am also a farmer and i cultivate around 160 acres and from my experience, worst winter plowing has always been better than best spring plowing.</p>
<p>Thanks for the tip. I will have to try doing this.</p>
<p>Such an amazing reminder to the amount of work that goes into our plates... really nice guide, even if not relevant for us city-folks.</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>That's very interesting, thank you! Ok I will not do the whole process, but it inspires me to try some vegetables... like potatoes, onions and leaks (so cute little sprouts!). And why not trying stuff like this downtown...</p>
<p>Go for it!</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I live on an island in the Irish sea called Ynys Mon which was once inhabited by the Romans, the Vikings and is still inhabited ... More »
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