Introduction: Grow Ten Tons of Organic Vegetables: Leeks, Onions, Potatoes, Broad Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sweetcorn, Courgettes & Marrows, Sugar Beet, Beetroot, Carrots, Swede, Kale, Calebrese & Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Rhubarb & Strawberries

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

Equipment:

  • 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

Step 2: Get Some Help!

There are plenty of people around the world and even in the neighbourhood who will work for food and accommodation. Some of my neighbours come and work for 'Golden Goats' in the Spring and then cash them in later on in the Summer/Autumn/Winter for vegetables.

If you'd like to come and help in 2017 etc, please contact me in advance and I will arrange for a boat to pick you up from the mainland.

Step 3: Soil Preparation

The soil is processed in early Spring, as soon as it is dry enough for the tractor to drive on the land without damaging the soil structure.

Firstly, the field is ploughed: The aim of ploughing is to scoop up an 8” deep by 12” wide piece of earth and turn it over 180 degrees, burying any crop residue or weeds in the process. This results in loosened soil which can be made into a seed bed.

Detailed info about ploughing is here: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Plough-or-plow-a-field-for-beginners/

Next, the ploughed field is rotovated.

Since we seem to be using technology from about 40 years ago, the Howard 'Rotovator' is now used to break up the crude sods of earth created by the plough. Again, only do this when the ground is nice and dry and it is a massive false economy to get over excited at the start of the season and do things to early. Much better to slowly come out of hibernation like a big sleepy old bear.


There is not too much skill involved in using the Rotovator, but it's a good idea to set the machine up so that it breaks up at least one of your tyre tracks by having it offset to one side. With this in mind, we would then have to rotovate in the same direction each time, to keep the tyre tracks at bay! Sometimes, particularly on newly cultivated land, we may need to go over the filed with more than one pass. In this case, the field is left for a couple of weeks to allow weeds to germinate and then rotovated for the second time, annihilating those new weeds in the process. We should then end up with what is called a 'stale bed', stale meaning 'no weeds'.

Step 4: Stale Beds

Diary notes: It's now the 11th of May and the soil temperature has gone up one whole degree in the last 24 hours. It really is time to do a whole load of planting, but it has been so wet since the beginning of May that it has been impossible to make any progress. However, there is some consolation, as when the final pass with the rotovator is made, it will destroy a whole swath of freshly germinated weeds.

Stale beds are not beds that have not had the sheets cleaned for a long time, they are beds of soil that have been specially cultivated to be 'stale' or, more precisely, free of weeds. The work with the rotovator is iterative, in that every time the soil is turned over it destroys more weeds and the number of viable weed seeds in the soil is significantly reduced. For optimum benefit, rather than keep turning the soil over on the same day, it is better to wait until the weed seeds have germinated and then kill the small seedlings mechanically, preferably on a nice sunny day when the sun will frazzle seedlings brought to the surface.

Step 5: Leeks

Leeks are grown over a 12 month period, so just when you are planting new leeks in the spring, the old ones are coming to an end and starting to flower. I sow my leek seeds in cell modules in the glasshouse as soon as the temperature within it is suitable. The minimum temperature for seed germination is 7 degrees C, but they will tolerate temperature swings quite happily. Leeks are also frost hardy so can be left in the ground all through the winter for harvest in the 'hungry gap' in May and June.

Step 6: Leeks - Plant Seeds in Seed Trays

Diary notes: It's the 20th of February and time to sow leeks.

The modiform seed trays specified are ideal for leeks and I would strongly advise not to use any other size. Sieve your compost onto the seed trays and use the pronged push out tray to create small indentations, or holes, for the seeds to fall into. Using your thumb and forefinger, pick up about 6 seeds and roll your fingers gently over the seeds allowing one seed to fall into each hole. This takes some practise!

The seed trays are now lightly covered with more compost and put in the shelving. Never put leeks on the top shelf or they will frazzle - I made this mistake one year! They do not need or like full sunlight at this stage. Keep them well watered and check them every day or twice a day when the sun is shining.

There is no set date for planting the seeds as this will depend on you local weather patterns. I planted mine on 20th February 2015 and they germinated nicely and I live in North west Wales, UK at 200m above sea level on the East coast of an island where the prevailing wind is from the S.West.

The shelving itself is made of steel angle and is four layers high, 400mm apart. In a small glasshouse there is room for over 10,000 seedlings at any one time. It may seem that the plants would not get enough sunlight in these shelves, but actually the opposite is true - seedlings in direct sunlight do worse than those in semi shade as they dry out incredibly quickly when there are no clouds.

Step 7: Leeks 2 Weeks Later

The leeks have now germinated and grown to about 10 mm tall. There is still a bit of frost around where I live but it has been dry enough to get out on the tractor and do a bit of cultivation.

The first cultivation stage is to break up the crops and weeds that have grown from the previous year. In the photo above you will see a strip of green grassy vegetation that looks like nothing in particular at all. In fact, it is the remnants of a beetroot crop and has been deliberately left there so that the remaining beets will form tall stalks and go to flower for subsequent seed saving. Beetroot is really good for this.

Either side of the grassy strip are areas that I has started to cultivate with the rotovator. What I have done here is just to skim along the surface, breaking up any stalks and roots so that the plough will go through it nice and cleanly. In previous years I used a flail mower, which was a lot quicker, but I reckon this way is better.

Step 8: Leeks Week 6

The leeklings are now 50 mm high and being watered twice a day. Any weeds are meticulously removed, as are any 'doubles', where two seeds have been accidentally dropped in the same cell. I did leave these doubles in one year and the leeks produced were quite inferior due to fighting each other for water and nutrients.

Step 9: Leeks Week 8

Diary notes: It's now April the 18th and after a prolonged dry spell, the ploughed ground is now lovely and dry for a good run through with the rotovator. The photo shows how 'raised' beds are being created with nothing more than this machine, with the height adjustment wheel on the left of the tractor. To achieve this, the tractor must be driven in the same direction every time, ie. You can't turn around and come back in the other direction to save time, you have to drive all the way around to the front of the field again.

Step 10: Leeks Week 9

The seedlings in the glasshouse are now about 125 mm high and are being kept on the lower shelves, rather than the top shelves, which get far too much sunshine. On a bright sunny day, the leeks have got badly scorched in the past. However, the weather has gone a little bit colder this week, so the seedlings will be left in the glasshouse until the next hot spell, and then the trays will be put outside in the great outdoors, but NOT in the ground.

What I am trying to do is get the plants as large as possible without cramping the root system so that when they are finally planted in the soil they will have a much better chance against the weeds. Leeks hate weeds!

Step 11: Leeks Week 20

Diary notes: It's now July the 11th and finally the leeks are ready to plant.

It's always very tempting to plant to leeklings too early, but much better to wait until the stems are the thickness of pencils and the root ball has pretty much filled the whole volume of the cell, as in the second photo above.

Step 12: Onions From Sets

Diary notes:It's 27th April and the soil temp is a steady 7.1 degrees C and today corrado onion sets were planted. Make sure that the sets come from a reputable supplier who has heat treated them or else they will just go to seed. Also, don't plant the sets too early or they will be overtaken by weeds and/or go to seed.

The ground is cultivated by ploughing and then rotovating and then the rows are marked out with a home made 'rake' as seen in the photo, which is dragged across the soil to make a small indentation. The rake has been built to create a 5 row bed with 15 cm between each row. The sets are then planted 15 cm apart to make 'square' patterns in the soil (see photo). The sets are then pushed into the soil, roots downwards, with just the tip of the onion showing. Do not use a trowel etc as this takes too long. Each person should be able to plant about 5 kilos of sets per hour. The popular gardening books and TV celebrities will tell you not to push the sets into the ground as this will damage the roots, but if the soil is nice and loose no damage is done.

After a couple of days, some of the sets will have miraculously done somersaults or crawled out of their holes to sun bathe on the surface. Unfortunately there is an entirely rational explanation for this - birds. Just go along the rows and put the onions back again and eventually, when the roots get a proper hold in the soil, this will no longer be a problem.

After 3 days, the soil temperature has risen to 7.5 degrees C and, with a nice bit of rain, the sets have started to form new roots and are on their way to success.

Onion sets (there are approximately 200 per kilo) are basically immature onions grown professionally from seed. This means they will mature more quickly, and are less choosy about soil conditions. Where varieties are heat treated, the treatment is designed to kill off the flower embryos within the bulb, to lessen the chances of bolting (running to seed). Treated sets have a darker skin colour and have low moisture content. Initial growth may be restricted but soon accelerates.

Step 13: Strawberries

Diary notes: It's the 25th of May and time to transplant strawberry plants out of the weeds onto nice clean ridges of soil.

Although strawberries are obviously not vegetables, I've included them here anyway. Thankfully, they are incredibly easy to grow and require work at the very start of the season when there is not too much else to do.

It's not worth trying to keep the plants free from weeds after they have cropped, so I just let them battle it out for themselves and salvage all the plants and runners in the Spring, when the weeds have died down and the plants reveal themselves once more. Again, it's not worth trying to weed them and it's much easier to dig the plants up, throw them into a wheel barrow and transplant them into clean, weed free soil on ridges made by the tractor. The plants themselves are incredibly tough and will tolerate a huge amount of abuse.

Step 14: ​Brussels Sprouts

Another crop to grow in cells, the seeds tend to be very expensive so none should be wasted. The plants need lots of space and, this year, attracted an enormous number of caterpillars which had to be removed by brushing and shaking the plants vigorously by hand.

Step 15: Calabrese/Broccoli

One of the easiest crops to grow - plant then sequentially to get a harvest all through the Summer and Autumn.

Much loved by the pigeons, who will eat this in preference to everything else, so it can be used very effectively, through 'tactical planting' to lure them out into good lines of sight for shooting.

Purple sprouting broccoli grows into a huge plant the size of a small tree and is harvested in the early Spring.

Step 16: ​Courgettes & Marrows

These plants require larger cells for planting the seeds and need to be transplanted into a sunny patch sheltered from the wind as much as possible.

Use a stack on the leeward side of the plants to prevent the wind blowing them out of the ground.

Step 17: ​Sweetcorn

Diary notes: Soil temperature is now 8.5°C and there are four full weeks to the last frost. The weather has been generally cold, but now seems to have gone into a warm spell. (Today is 4th May 2015 and the last frost where I live is normally 1st June each year)

Sweetcorn is normally fairly easy to grow and benefits from being planted in blocks protected by fence posts and pallet wrap, see HERE for more details. The plants need to be started in the glasshouse and planted out after the last frost.

Step 18: ​Cabbage

Diary notes: It's the 30th of June and pigeons are being a real problem this year. They are totally camouflaged when sitting amongst the cabbages and very difficult to shoot. .

Cabbages are fairly easy to grow but pigeons can be a real problem in the late spring when there is little else for them to eat. This year, I set up a small garden shed and cut a hole in the front so that I could shoot a gun out of it without being seen by the birds. For a few weeks, this meant getting up at about 5.30 in the morning until the pigeons had been persuaded to relinquish their bad habits.

The gun needs to be propped up on a tripod to get accurate shots at 100 metres and targets are placed out in the field at 50, 75 and 100 metres to get correct vertical ranging.

Cabbages are tolerant of weeds as they produce big leaves which fan out at ground level. When they reach a certain size, I use a strimmer with a metal blade attached to weed out the thistles etc. The plants don't seem to object to being caught by the blade every now and again!

Step 19: ​Carrots

Diary notes: It's the 17th of May, the soil temperature is holding at 9.5 degrees C and there is forecast for some wet and mild weather tomorrow, which means that night time temperatures will be higher and an all round more even temperature between day and night. Hopefully, this should help with germination of the carrot seeds! Six days later, after scrubbing around in the soil a bit, I found some germinated seeds, as in the first photo.

30th June and it's time to weed the carrot seedlings, as in the second photo.

Don't try and sow carrots by hand in high winds as the seeds will blow away. Also, it's easy to sow the seeds too close together because they are so small. I've sown the seeds and I will wait for about 3 days and then scrub around in the soil by some marker sticks to see if the seeds have germinated or not. If 'not', then the beds will need to be re-sown.

Carrots are notoriously difficult to grow and total crop failure is very common. Carrot root fly is also a big problem.

Use the standard Autumn king variety and sow successively all the way up to late July and abandon any plots that do not germinate or develop properly. There is not much advantage in sowing carrots early as they will not grow as well as a later sowing and will need much more weeding, unless you enjoy doing a lot of weeding! As soon as the seedlings are visible, it's a good idea to go through the rows with a hoe, even if the weeds can't be seen yet as they won't be far behind the carrots. I have tried carrot fly resistant varieties, but they don't work and the seeds are incredibly expensive. Carrots sown in May/June can be harvested until late November after which the carrot fly larvae have grown big enough to ruin the crop. Later plantings SHOULD yield a harvest later into the year, but this has yet to be proved!

Diary notes: It's the 21st November 2015 and the carrots are now too wormy to sell anymore :(

Step 20: Kale

This is a great crop where I life as I am limestone soil and the climate is nice and wet - perfect for kale! It's easy to grow, tastes fantastic and lasts all Winter, producing a glorious array of flowers in the early Spring.

Let the plants go to seed and it's great for the honey bees and seeds can be saved for growing micro greens in the late spring.

Step 21: Beetroot

Growing beetroot in cell trays is preferable to direct planting as the time taken to plant the individual seedlings is a lot less than the time needed to weed direct planted seeds. For a comparison, look at the third photo above - on the left is beetroot transplanted from cells and relatively free of weeds.

Cell grown plants benefit dramatically from the small amount of compost in which they are grown, which stays with them around the main part of the root system right up until they are harvested.

Step 22: Potatoes From 'Seed' Tubers

Diary notes: It's now the 8th May and the soil temperature is up to about 8.5 degrees C. I dug up a few tubers from the ground and they are showing small shoots of growth, but nothing fantastic yet. Apparently, it has been a cold spring here. Definitely too early to plant the main crop.

To grow a ton of potatoes, quite a lot of machinery is needed as it would be too hard on the human body unless a dozen or so volunteers were available.

Equipment required:

  • Tractor
  • Rotavator
  • Plough
  • Ridging plough
  • Planting machine
  • Harvesting machine

The ground for growing potatoes should not be 'virgin' soil which has had no previous cultivation and should be treated with well rotted manure. Never use fresh manure or the spuds will not grow properly. The land can be ploughed in the Autumn or the spring, depending on constrains of time and suitably dry weather.

The next task is to loosen up the soil with the rotavator and the machine needs to go fairly deep into the soil to get nice clean ridges. Also, the soil must be sufficiently dry or otherwise round balls of clogged soil may be produce which will set hard like clay and ruin the chances for growing crops for that year. A few passes with this machine may be necessary to create a nice 'fluffy' soil quality.

The ridging plough is now used to create the ridges within which the potatoes will be planted. It's essential to get all the tractor wheels in line with each other and set the ridger according to the wheel spacings themselves. It's common sense really! Also, accurate tractor driving is essential or otherwise the planting will be off the centre of the ridges and the tubers may even be exposed.

'Chitting' of the tubers is not necessary as the mechanical planter just removes any shoots sprouted. Set the planter to the required spacings as below:

Earlies & Salad types: Plant the tubers around 30cm (12”) apart in the row (slightly further apart for maincrop types), in rows 45 (18”) cm apart, at a depth of 10cm (4”). For maincrop types, spacing in the row is 37.5cm (15”), at 67.5” (27”) between rows, and again, allow 10cm (4”) to the top of the tuber.

And off you go!

After the foliage just starts to show on top of the ridge, go over the rows with a hand rake or a chain harrow and partially destroy the ridges to knock back the weeds. Do this on a nice sunny day and the sun will zap the freshly germinated weeds. Go back a few hours later with the ridger to build the ridges back up again.

Potatoes are very susceptible to blight and once this is spotted it is important to remove the foliage to prevent the disease from going down into the tubers. After natural die back, the potatoes can either be left in the ground or harvested, depending on storage space available. After some weeks, rats and birds will try to eat the spuds and weeds will be growing so there comes a point where harvest can no longer be delayed. Adequate weeding is essential, or the harvesting machine will constantly get clogged up, which is a right pain in the proverbial!

Storage considerations are important: the spuds must be dried out for 24 hours and then put into breathable bags away from rats, sunlight and frost in a cool, well ventilated location.

It's a good idea to try and get some help during the potato harvest as, even with all the machinery, its still hard work to get the spuds off the ground, into bags and into safe storage. I created my own currency so that people helping early in the season could return the tokens later on when there was more produce available.

More info on growing potatoes is here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Grow-a-Ton-of-Potatoes/

Step 23: Cauliflower

This crop can be very hit or miss and the seeds are incredibly expensive. Winter cauliflowers are planted in seed trays in July and harvested in February and March.

Step 24: Broad Beans

This is one of the easiest crops to grow and is good for the soil as it puts nitrogen back into the ground. They are, however, susceptible to damage from pigeons and crows, who will pull them out of the ground, seemingly 'just for fun'. They are OK when they are bigger, but are particularly inviting to the birds when they are just sprouting. Crows are easily deterred by being shot with a rifle as they seem to communicate to their whole family that the field is then a dangerous place to visit. They can also get eaten by mice so it's a good idea to set up posts for owls to perch on during the nighttime and keep the crop well weeded for the predators visibility.

It's often said in the books that the beans can be planted in the Autumn and be over wintered, but I've had absolutely no success with this technique, even after mild winters.

Step 25: Sugar Beet

I am growing sugar beet this year to attempt to make my own alcohol and vinegar. As the name suggests, the root is very high in sugar content (20%) and so, with the right processing technique, can be fermented.

The crop is very easy to grow, especially from cell trays, and competes with the weeds very well.

The seeds seem to be very hard to find as the modern varieties are controlled by the sugar industry.

Step 26: Swede

Step 27: Rhubarb

All the info available says that rhubarb is easy to grow. Well, I followed all the instructions from the reputable sources and have failed every year for the past five years. I even tried growing from seed. The plants would grow OK during the spring and then at the first sign of warm weather just give up and die back into the weeds.

I also became increasingly frustrated by one of my neighbours reporting how incredibly well his plants grow. I quizzed him incessantly on how he grew it and there seemed to be no particular trick to it. The end of the saga came when he declared: 'It was just growing there when we moved in'.

After nudging a few of the more sceptical brain cells out of the way with the correct dose of home-brew, I eventually realised in one of those classic 'light bulb' moments that his rhubarb was probably genetically adapted to the soil in our area - the crowns that I had been bringing in were from a different and almost opposite soil type.

Eventually my neighbour's plant grew so large that he had to chop up the now massive rhizome into smaller pieces as it was starting to threaten the foundations of his house and being a very kind hearted person he took pity on me and gave me ten 'crowns' planted in large pots. Surprise surprise ..... They grew fantastically well!

Use locally adapted rhubarb crowns/rhizomes.

Step 28: Fertiliser

The land can be kept fertile by adding well rotted manure from neighbouring farms. It's important to apply the manure in such a way as not to damage the soil structure, so driving machinery on wet, soggy soil must be avoided. The best time to apply manure is when a field has been put out of use for a year or directly after an early potato harvest.

Land 'put to rest' for a year or two will naturally rejuvenate as continued cultivation will inevitably destroy the mostly invisible bacteria, fungi and insects living therein. During the first year the weeds will slowly populate the whole field and by the end of year two the soil will be thick with 'natural' roots and wildlife.

Step 29: Final

Please feel free to add suggestions for improving this Instructable in the comments section below - it will be updated if I have missed anything and ........

Please in the competitions - top right - Thanks!

Comments

author
Thrasha (author)2017-07-07

Where can I purchase the pronged push out tray (#6240)

author
MKR51 (author)2017-04-04

Just need some land....

author
User1 (author)2016-12-30

Very impressive! Nice job on the 'able too! Wish I lived near by. I'd be buying all my veggies from you!

Voted!

author
Callie Lea (author)2016-12-30

Very interesting, educational and presented. Thank you. I especially loved the "wildlife" photo of your lovely dog!

author

Thanks. Ila has been especially trained to pose for the camera!

author
xusatiketeimporta (author)2016-12-30

It's the same with mediterranean climate? Or are there any ground differences?

author

mediterranean climate will be very different due to water constraints, different pests and diseases, different crops etc.

author
BurnettaB (author)2016-12-29

I noticed in this last pic that there are lots of weeds around the Cabbage? Broccoli? Do they affect your plants much?

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)BurnettaB2016-12-30

The weeds also protect the soil and help maintain healthy soil microbiology for future crops.

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)BurnettaB2016-12-29

They were actually weeded about 3 times using a strimmer.

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)BurnettaB2016-12-29

No problem with those weeds on these plants. Caterpillars were the real enemy this year.

author
JjR8 (author)2016-12-29

I may have missed this in the article; what acreage do you use for 10 tons of production?

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)JjR82016-12-29

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 :(

author
jwzumwalt (author)Tecwyn Twmffat2016-12-29

So lets see... the UN says the average person can live on 100x100ft (1/4 acre). Of course climate varies.

Conservatively, 1500-lb per acre if no fertilizer or optimization is used.

= 1500/.25 to get a 1/4 acre is 375-lb per year for 1 person,
= 31-lb per month

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!

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)jwzumwalt2016-12-30

Sounds about right. Remembering that we probably eat 2 or 3 times what we actually need nowadays in modern society.

author
JohnD726 (author)2016-12-29

I have some property on the Oregon coast but there are many slugs. Do you know anything about dealing with them?

author
Xeromaru (author)JohnD7262016-12-29

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.

author
ithica2012 (author)2016-12-29

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).

author

Thanks!

author
OffgridHisiu (author)2016-10-23

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 & coconuts to sell a few hours away in the cot capital.

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 & not ending up to " Live to Pay & Pay to Live "

Your instructables are great, thanks!

author

Sounds like a great project. Which country are you in?

author

I'm in Australia, however the land I have acquired is in Hisiu Village, Papua New Guinea

author
JpsManCave (author)2016-10-24

Great Instructable! me and the wife cant wait to start a big garden, not quite this big but lots of good info here

author
offseidjr (author)2016-10-22

Very detailed!

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)offseidjr2016-10-23

Thanks!

author
zombieauthor13 (author)2016-09-25

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

author

You are very welcome!

author
diy_bloke (author)2016-09-10

Maybe not interesting enough for a commercial scale operation, but I planted marigolds next to my carrots... never had problems with carrot fly

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)diy_bloke2016-09-10

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 :(

The seed is dead easy to save too.

carrots and calendula.jpg
author

I think these are the wrong type of "marigold" you need tagetes (French/African marigolds) to affect bugs.

author
diy_bloke (author)DouglasC622016-09-23

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

author
DouglasC62 (author)diy_bloke2016-09-23

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)

author
diy_bloke (author)DouglasC622016-09-23

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

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Ah thanks .... That could explain it!

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diy_bloke (author)Tecwyn Twmffat2016-09-10

yes, seeds stay fertile for a few years. Supposedly they also keep other pests away, especially nematodes

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darklotus (author)diy_bloke2016-09-23

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).

I've found them particularly successful with tomatoes, but they really are an under rated companion plant with most veggies.

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diy_bloke (author)darklotus2016-09-23

actually I had considered them and tried them but they grew kinda big so I stuck to marigolds.

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Mohammade9 (author)2016-09-17

​This is super complete and comprehensive! Thank you so much as this is very useful and worth being kept as farming reference. Just "a little" investment on farming machines which is not so friendly for us who amateur farmer :]
Anyway congratulations your PE/pallet wrap cayenne chilies farm had won contest :)

author

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 :)

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Rehcaet (author)2016-09-15

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.

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Tecwyn Twmffat (author)Rehcaet2016-09-15

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!

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hfredrick (author)2016-09-14

Do Caterpillars like purple broccoli any less than green broccoli? Unfortunately, the worm "protein content" of this crop is high. What do you do to minimize this? Any companion planting to deter green worms?

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Tecwyn Twmffat (author)hfredrick2016-09-14

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.

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diy_bloke (author)2016-09-10

When I saw this link somewhere else.... I just knew it must be from you Tecwyn.
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

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Tecwyn Twmffat (author)diy_bloke2016-09-10

They never do until later in the year when the weeds die down and they reveal themselves to the world.

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diy_bloke (author)Tecwyn Twmffat2016-09-10

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

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Fretful (author)2016-09-09

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.

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.

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Tecwyn Twmffat (author)Fretful2016-09-10

Thanks for the tip. I will have to try doing this.

author

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.

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Bio: Ugly pirate roaming the seas in search of Treasure.
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