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Old 05-28-2015, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in America
12,304 posts, read 11,484,315 times
Reputation: 20595

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Everdeen View Post
I know they did other things to survive, but I'm not interested in learning how to everything (although the alcohol sounds interesting ). I just want to know what practices they employed to optimize their family farms without running to The Home Depot.



I'll definitely look into those books. They sound like the kind of books that you should own and not have to return to the library.

There are a lot of very knowledgeable people here, and I'm sure they have some good wisdom to share. I'm going to garner information from any source I can, and I figure this as good as anywhere else.
Well, they didn't have a Home Depot. They built what they needed. They didn't live in houses like we have today. Ever see Little House on the Prairie? The first book took place in the 1860's.

Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for soil testing. They have Master Gardeners who can also help you out. They also have their own books that are for your state/region.
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Old 05-28-2015, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in America
12,304 posts, read 11,484,315 times
Reputation: 20595
Quote:
Originally Posted by Everdeen View Post
I think I may have used the wrong word in my first post. Instead of family farm, I should have said garden, as an earlier poster mentioned. Although I would love to have a hobby farm someday, I am nowhere near that now.


Wood ash? Okay. I'll look into this. The only manure I have easy access to is the stuff from my chickens.

I do have a three bin compost set-up that I have no idea how to use - it came with the house. I figure if I turn it and water it once in while, eventually, it will turn to soil. Especially if I add some composting worms.

I'm wondering how they knew back then the condition, pH, and whatnot, of the soils in which they wanted to plant?

I am so new at this and this year I just purchased some plants from the local nursery and some things to improve the raised beds. My lettuce and kale look wonderful. The spinach and tomatoes seem to be okay.


I've called the master gardeners at the cooperative extension and no one picks up. You have to leave message. Which I did, and no one called me back.


My grandfather too! When I was a kid, though, I didn't want to eat from the garden. I wanted my family to shop at the grocery store like everyone else. I could have learned so much from him.
You have to be VERY careful with wood ash!!! Too much and you'll kill everything and ruin your soil.

Chicken manure can definitely be composted. Don't worry about that bin container for composting. You can easily build a box out of lumber....build 2 or 3 actually. You need to let it sit for 6 months or so. Having additional bins gives you a place to start your next batch.

What to compost? Grass clippings. Autumn leaves. Egg shells. Chicken manure! Your vegetable and fruit scraps from the kitchen. Nothing with meat, grease, or dairy. If you have old flour in your pantry, you can compost that. Be sure to stir it up and water it periodically. There's no magic formula. You kind of just wait for it.

About the Master Gardeners, they're ALL volunteers! Sometimes it's easier to meet up with them when they're at a local event or historic house doing some work. Often times they have a schedule posted on the website. Don't give up!

Cooperative Extension also has ag employees. Call them directly for testing your soil and asking about their books. Ours has hundreds of books because Cornell does sooooooo much plant research and has for over a hundred years.
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Old 05-28-2015, 07:49 PM
 
3,588 posts, read 4,844,019 times
Reputation: 4732
Quote:
Originally Posted by makes no sense at all View Post
"successful" farmers in the past just owned the land and had someone else do all the work. it's been that way since the dawn of agriculture
Quote:
Originally Posted by Submariner View Post
'Farm'.

That is what farming was, back then.

Farming included: hunting, trapping, fishing, canning, salting, etc.





'Optimize', oh I see you want corporate Ag. That did not exist yet.
Yeah, that's why I clarified it here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Everdeen View Post
I think I may have used the wrong word in my first post. Instead of family farm, I should have said garden, as an earlier poster mentioned.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonchalance View Post
I've also been reading The One-Acre Homesteader on and off. Come to think of it, there are a lot of free or cheap ebooks like that, and some are vintage...which might make for excellent reading. Just look up free ebooks if you have a device for those.

We usually plant potato sprouts...the 'eyes' you'd normally cut out before you eat the potatoes. They grow very well! One year, I bought 'special' seed potatoes. They didn't do half as well as the supermarket kind.
That sounds like a good book and free is most excellent.



I feel like I need to further clarify myself.

I don't want to live like 150 years ago, I just want to be less dependent on modern products for gardening. I want to know what they did and how they did it in the garden.

I'm not interested in a semantics discussion and I apologize if I have inadvertently used the wrong word, term, or phrase. All I want to know is the information that the avid gardeners in this forum have about what pioneers and other people did to ensure, to the best of their ability, that they would have bountiful family garden.

I don't want to trap, salt, or hunt. I just want a narrowly focused history lesson on best practices of gardening from before the industrial age.
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Old 05-28-2015, 09:05 PM
 
Location: Kalamalka Lake, B.C.
3,073 posts, read 4,250,953 times
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150 years ago the farmer ran for President, that's what. WHERE are you? (looked at profile; no infor.) All four of my grandparents homesteaded in the worst soil, coldest place, shortest growing season next to the Arctic and somehow survived. It very much depends on the soil and WHERE you are.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:18 PM
 
Location: too far from the sea
21,751 posts, read 20,808,041 times
Reputation: 38240
Quote:
Originally Posted by thedwightguy View Post
150 years ago the farmer ran for President, that's what. WHERE are you? (looked at profile; no infor.) All four of my grandparents homesteaded in the worst soil, coldest place, shortest growing season next to the Arctic and somehow survived. It very much depends on the soil and WHERE you are.
Yes, and whoever said you can't be successful is wrong. I still have relatives in northern Vermont who have a farm. They work hard and will never retire. They make their own maple syrup, the mend their own fences, they must be 80 years old but they still work hard, they climb ladders but they are strong and healthy and happy. Part of being so healthy comes from eating fresh food that they have grown themselves. No chemicals either. The only people who need the chemicals are the very large scale farmers who have to sell all they produce and have to depend on their farming for their livelihood.

OP, you said you wish you had paid attention when you were younger. I never paid much attention either (as evidenced by the time I jumped into the compost pile and came out covered in worms!!!) but I learned later on. You can still learn--it's in your blood and you have seen it for yourself. Much of it is just commonsense and paying A LOT of attention to the soil and the right growing conditions. Practice, trial and error. Keeping a notebook of what works and what doesn't. Write it all down and study it, practice it. You are already growing some things and it just keeps getting better.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:37 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 18,413,482 times
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Once upon a time we found a full set in a used book store for fifty dollars. Skipped going out to dinner and bought the books. It was awesome just read through them and gives you a sense of how people lived, like a preserved time capsule. I would LOVE to have another set. Fifty then was cheap for them.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:51 PM
 
2,620 posts, read 2,693,745 times
Reputation: 7250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Everdeen View Post
I think I may have used the wrong word in my first post.
Yes, unfortunately, the wording of your initial post attracted a ton of people more interested in making fun of your idea than being actually helpful. What you're basically talking about is organic gardening, which hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country do. It's not that hard, and yes, you really can garden without ever going to a nursery for supplies (tools being the exception, of course, unless you are a blacksmith ).

When it comes to organic gardening, there are some very good forums on the internet where you can get serious answers to your organic gardening questions from people very knowledgeable and experienced. It's common and not that hard to garden organically without chemicals and supplies, lots of natural pest remedies, seed saving, composting, that sort of thing. There are even seed saver exchanges where you can trade seeds with other like minded people. If you message me privately, I'll be happy to point you to some resources.
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Old 05-28-2015, 11:45 PM
 
12,763 posts, read 21,404,044 times
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One thing I learned as a child -- you plant your lot two years and then you let a year go in between and plow under the growing weeds (clover is the best weed to do this with). It's called letting a plot go fallow -- and it renews the soil.
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:20 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
16,255 posts, read 13,025,679 times
Reputation: 12197
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightbird47 View Post
Once upon a time we found a full set in a used book store for fifty dollars. Skipped going out to dinner and bought the books. It was awesome just read through them and gives you a sense of how people lived, like a preserved time capsule. I would LOVE to have another set. Fifty then was cheap for them.
We actually only had two books of the series and loved them both. But we loaned them to our 'friends' that never returned them and then had the nerve to die! I miss the two books that we had - probably more than those 'friends'.
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Old 05-29-2015, 05:53 AM
 
3,362 posts, read 2,282,005 times
Reputation: 6893
If you can find an old blender that still works, using it to chop your vegetable waste and eggshells into small pieces will speed up composting.

Use your spent tea leaves and coffee grounds!

You'll want to turn the compost pile, too. We're lazy and no experts but composting does help.

Have you tried regrowing celery and lettuce from stubs? I don't have a lot of success transplanting them (they get eaten) but I always have some in a glass on the counter.

PS: works really well with green onions, too.
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