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#234064 - 10/20/11 04:39 PM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: dougwalkabout]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
There it is in a nutshell: "You need to know your soil."

When you know your soil, you know it will take more of your sandy, rocky, thin-topsoil land to provide the same amount of food as the guy in the valley sitting on four feet of good topsoil.

Even on the gardening forums, I've noticed that many people don't/won't get their soil tested. They seem to be afraid that they won't understand the results, or they won't understand the suggestions, or that if they call and ask questions, the lab people will laugh at them. Step One: DON'T BE AFRAID!

Here's mine; they offered the overview in a comfortingly-familiar letter format:


Susan,
Here are the results of the soil testing you requested.

Organic matter: 15.6%. This is quite high. Organic matter provides water holding capacity and some slow release nutrients. Given your address, I'm assuming this is Rochester Grand Mound prairie. This soil (Spanaway complex) is gravelly with stable organic matter that tends not to release much in the way of nutrients. [Note: I think it is too high, probably due to my incorrectly collecting the sample.--Sue]

Phosphorus: At 57 ppm, you have plenty of phosphorus for this season. I like to see at least 30 ppm.

Potassium: at 63 ppm you you are a little low. I like to see potassium in the range 120-200 ppm.

Magnesium: at 73 ppm it is low in relation to calcium.

Calcium: at 992 ppm is moderate. Increasing the magnesium and calcium will improve the pH.

pH: at 5.8 this is moderately acidic. Most garden crops prefer near neutral conditions.

Nitrate nitrogen: at 3 ppm this is the limiting factor. You had virtually no available nitrogen at the time this sample was collected.

Sulfur: at 11 ppm is adequate for this season.

Nitrogen is definitely the limiting factor at this time. You need to apply 5 to 6 lbs of available nitrogen per 1000 sq ft of garden area. It is best to split your applications. Apply half at planting and the rest as the crop develops.

I would suggest that you plan to lime this garden with dolomite lime. If you haven't tilled the garden yet, you could till in about 150 lbs of dolomite lime per 1000 sq ft of garden. If you have, then wait until fall after the corps are off and till in lime for next year.

You need some additional potassium. You could use wood ash to improve the potassium level, or you could use a muriate of potash fertilizer. About 3 lbs of available potassium per 1000 sq ft annually until soil tests indicate levels in the 150-200 ppm range would be good.

I am enclosing some handout information on garden fertilization. If you have questions, give me a call at ###-####.


The next page was from the lab, with the levels and Cation Exchange Capacities (CEC). On the back of this page was the explanations of the various info in the report.

I borrowed the video from the library of Neal Kinsey's Hands-On Agronomy, and sat watching it with my soil report in my hand. Quite informative, and he is easy to understand.

Sue

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#234159 - 10/21/11 05:37 PM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: dweste]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1308
"Foraging in a large-scale disaster is nothing but a joke, and some people need to get their heads wrapped around that.

So, if/when our steadily-faltering economy crashes, EXACTLY what is your plan?"

I began the slow and painful process of growing food in my backyard this year. The results were not bad ... my 1'st attempt at preserving fruit jam worked fairly well, and the tomatoes were quite prolific (after almost dying at first). But I'm a LOOOONG way from self sufficiency. I think you've got to just start going down the path, and trying to improve each year.

I do expect people to be foraging after a major quake in L.A. Much of this activity is really going to fall into the category of looting grocery stores. After that's over, I won't be surprised to see people taking buckets and draining the water out of ponds at local parks. But I don't think enough city dwellers know survival foods - to really eat what's growing in the park or the side of the road. So their activities may boil down to "foraging by stealing other peoples' stuff at gunpoint". Hunger and thirst are big motivators.

Pete2



Edited by Pete (10/21/11 05:38 PM)

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#234163 - 10/21/11 06:51 PM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: Pete]
Unca_Walt Offline
Newbie

Registered: 10/03/11
Posts: 27
Loc: Floriduh
Originally Posted By: Pete
"Foraging in a large-scale disaster is nothing but a joke, and some people need to get their heads wrapped around that.

So, if/when our steadily-faltering economy crashes, EXACTLY what is your plan?"

I began the slow and painful process of growing food in my backyard this year. The results were not bad ... my 1'st attempt at preserving fruit jam worked fairly well, and the tomatoes were quite prolific (after almost dying at first). But I'm a LOOOONG way from self sufficiency. I think you've got to just start going down the path, and trying to improve each year.

I do expect people to be foraging after a major quake in L.A. Much of this activity is really going to fall into the category of looting grocery stores. After that's over, I won't be surprised to see people taking buckets and draining the water out of ponds at local parks. But I don't think enough city dwellers know survival foods - to really eat what's growing in the park or the side of the road. So their activities may boil down to "foraging by stealing other peoples' stuff at gunpoint". Hunger and thirst are big motivators.

Pete2



Too right you are.

One thing for sure: The "foraging period" will be chillingly short.

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#234164 - 10/21/11 08:20 PM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: dweste]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2810
At least your off to a start. I started growing things this year again too, had a garden before we had kids at our old house.
got a handful of beans and carrots and squash did well. Going to move things around next year and see if I can't get some of the other things growing better. Need to research and see what grows best in the shady areas.

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#234186 - 10/22/11 09:17 AM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: dweste]
NuggetHoarder Offline
Member

Registered: 07/01/11
Posts: 145
Loc: Appalachians
If you want to live off your land, as the title of this thread suggests, then you'll have reject a lot of what many modern farmers are doing. Sure, you can adopt some of their best practices, but for the most part, if you want to stay out of Tractor Supply and hold on to your wallet, you're going to have to embrace a mixture of old fashioned farming along with some outside the box thinking and incorporate the best of other methods like permaculture, organic farming, aquaculture, wetlands habitat building, heirloom seed storage, gravity irrigation, drip irrigation, rainwater catchment, agroforestry, wildlife management, passive solar strategies, hydroponics, and free ranging your livestock - among many other outside the box subjects.

For instance, most modern farmers who have too many bugs will simply drive down to the farm store and drop some serious coin on pesticides. A permaculturist would just tell you that you don't have too many bugs, you just have too few guinea fowl!

I can't recommend enough that you look into permaculture. It is the best way, in my opinion, to manage the inputs and outputs from your land if money is tight and also provides the most comprehensive set of techniques to bring together garden crops, field crops, nut trees, fruit trees, berries, water storage, livestock, timber, and wild areas - all in one self supporting system that minimizes the inputs and maximizes the outputs in a way that is permanently sustainable and allows a home and family to sit at the center of it all.

With all of that said, you can see how hard it is to say how much land is required to sustain you.

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#234207 - 10/22/11 07:14 PM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: NuggetHoarder]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Originally Posted By: NuggetHoarder
With all of that said, you can see how hard it is to say how much land is required to sustain you.


That is why we ask those who have actually managed it to share.

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#234208 - 10/22/11 07:25 PM Re: Living off how much land? [Re: dweste]
NuggetHoarder Offline
Member

Registered: 07/01/11
Posts: 145
Loc: Appalachians
Originally Posted By: dweste


That is why we ask those who have actually managed it to share.


Well, in my first post, I said 15 acres is what I thought was a good starting point and it's what has worked for me. Since then, a lot of folks posted all kinds of statistics about yield that sound like they came out of a college textbook that also teaches intensive fertilizer and pesticide usage which is just flat out unaffordable for small holders - so I thought I should elaborate my answer and bring up permaculture.

Yes, I have "actually managed it". I live it every day.

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