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Market Gardening ABC’s: Looking at the Basic Building Blocks of the Market Garden

John Dysinger

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John Dysinger

Bountiful Blessings Farm

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Conference

Recorded

  • November 30, 2017
    11:45 AM
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So as I mentioned in our last session what I want to try to do is convince you of the benefits of small market gardens and I want to make sure you understand that I'm not against water fish farmers if you feel called to that and you have the money and you have the land and wonderful you know there's still a place for Marsh farmers. Growing. Things like we see and scenes and things that are hard to do efficiently on a small scale. So you know there's a there's a place for that I don't want anyone to think I'm against large farms but I have a passion for small farms because and I'll just start because I don't know what's going on here but. I believe. Many many more advantage to be doing this. But if you're like me you don't have the money to buy a large farm. You know when you think about the land and then you think about the equipment you know all these tractors. $100000.00 or more for this equipment that. You know so either you're going either you're independently wealthy or you're going way into debt or. I don't know what else. But I do I want to find something that can be done. By almost anybody you know how many of you have been a career who could afford that. That's. Pretty doable for most people. And if you didn't have to spend hundreds of thousands if you just had to spend a few $1000.00 on truly an equipment could you do. You know I would not want to do. Farming or any kind of market farming today without water. Water sorry. But you know it doesn't take a lot of water to do a small acreage if you're trying to hear of the. Tens or hundreds of acres you type in the belt a huge amount of water. You know when it comes to equipment. Everything is. Is simpler on a smaller scale. So let's start with what is a market garden. I mean just turn this and go it's not a distraction. It's getting more mundane here is minutes. So I hate it there is loosely defined terms but I would say it's less than 3 acres of cultivated land and most are an acre and a half or less Now I realize as I understand it acres are kind of on the way out here you use square meters or you have there's. No I just told everybody you know everybody knows what an acre is OK Good. It's characterized by intensive production. And multiple crops her bed her year so this is not something where you just planted crops in the sphere. Going in harvest it in the fall and you're done this is talking about in fact haunted crypt more he doesn't ever leave a bit empty for more than a few hours as soon as something comes out it's planted the same day that's intensive. And that's what it takes in order to get the kind of returns he's getting from small acreage. Takes advantage of season extension and often goes year round and I do need to point that out you know I turn around some numbers with some of these different Keep cool. Jumper times when 850000 that's for 6 months he doesn't grow through the winter he's chosen not to and I would encourage you it's market gardening is intensive not that if you try to do it year round nonstop Dilbert now. You need to decide how much you can handle and what can work really nicely is if you can get together with some other life minded earth. And divide the year you know we kind of what we've done on our far my brother who's here when. They were doing the winter for or quite a while what we did. We do spring summer they did fall winter. They have to have gotten out of it for various reasons and now my son is doing fall winter and we do spring summer that's 2 of 6 months of marketing by the end you're pretty worn out. But. You know like Curtis Stone and Conor Crick more those numbers I was giving you there that's for your room now. OK. Usually very diverse. Not all your eggs in 1 basket we learned that early on with the strawberries we had a design Astra's spring. And lost 3 quarters of our crop and that was almost the end of our farming experience the Lord is good and he got his out of that but. Yeah it's good to be diversified now you know every year we'll have some crops that don't do well but we've got enough other crops that do do well that all averages out. OK so I wish you could see this is less land needed less water needed these are advantages of small farms we talked about a lot of these less equipment needed less stressed need. You know there's. It's overwhelming to go out and look at 5 acres that need reading. But to go out and look at a small plot. I don't know maybe I should turn this around and recent a lot of you could see a little bit this is a material view of the main part of our. Let's see how can we do this. Might need to squeeze together but you can actually see it fairly well. Like they're not OK We will try to make this work. So now these these plots here we've got 10 of those those are. 100 feet by 40 feet. And again Are you familiar with feet. OK again. I didn't take the time to do all that metric conversion. So 4000 square feet so that's roughly a 10th of an acre inch of those plots we have 10 of those and then these are movable greenhouses going to have 3 stations each. And we can talk more about that later. And to me this is the key more people can make a living off the land you know if you have a 10 acre car market are making 500000 dollars. You know why not have 5. 2 acre market farms each making $100.00 you know that's enough to support a family at least. Where we live and you know I'll say we don't we don't have any debt which is a big help. But we didn't always start out I mean we didn't start out that. Way the Lord that's all in our book but he has many ways to deal with our financial situation and he emancipated us from our debt. But if you we'd love to see many many more families making a living and so we like the small. Scale keys to success intensive production multiple crops per year or so I'm just going to quickly go through. It in again this is an overview a lot of these things we're going to come back to in the next few hours and talk about little more depth. So that means tight spacings your plant spacings. Beds rather than rows notice these are a 30 inch wide beds and. You have multiple cross multiple rows in a bad. And there's a lot of reasons for that it's just a much more efficient use of space less bare ground to cultivate the people that we now. And so on we'll talk a little bit a book might have more about that in the meeting part of high value crops. There are very very few small farmers that broke corn sweet corn because all those sweet corn is 1 easy to sell. Everybody loves it at least in the States. But your dollars per acre are very low compared to really you need to grow crops that can earn a $100000.00 and he. And sweet corn is not 1 of them maybe 20000 if you have really good market. Good corn. But that's just not enough money per acre of highly fertile soil I think you all know enough to realize you can't keep taking off all that produce without investing in your soil you know because a lot of your nutrients are coming out of your prose so you really have to be on top of your fertility to make it work. And you know that's a whole nother track I'm not going to spend really any time on fertility that's just here the deep subject. You want to get your soil tested you want to mandate and it's recommended. I use Whitmarsh McConnell for all my recommendations I just send my saw the test and say what do I need to do which is a blessing. Grow cover crops I put a question mark there you all familiar with covered crops you know what we're talking about there. Crop that's growing back to improve the soil but the reality is that on this intensive production level very few farmers have some space should grow covered crock because you need to be having stash crops in there so most small market farmers. Use composts rather than covered crops and you know you're basically. Taking out a step. Rather than letting nature break down the cover. Here you're doing it with now. To make compost. More keys to success a season extension again. Even if you choose not to go year round which as I said I wouldn't really recommend but for us our money is made in the spring. After winter everybody is anxious for something fresh and. You know when we come to the market we come to market a month early with tomato juice. Compared to those who are growing outside his restart of a greenhouse and this is unheeded. But we can still get at least a month job. On tomatoes are from me. So so that season extension is really helpful and we grow a little we have quite a few hoop houses you all know what I mean when I say who palaces OK just a simple metal frame plastic covered structure. So yeah we we get at least a month headstart on everything you know all or prosecutor has. Everything because we started it all in under cover. The simplest season extension is floating row covers do you know what those are. Actually Rob was saying that they're not easily available here I think but it's it's it's. Polypropylene material. I'm sure you have like White House. Hand wipes that kind of material or dryer sheets that you put in the clothes dryer balance do you have anything like that that kind of material is what row cover floating row cover is made out of but it's just a big sheet and you cover your crops maybe some places they call it frost. I don't know what the term is here but it's amazing how much that thin layer can do. It I've seen where we had some kind of outside of the house just so we hadn't put it away and that the Crimson clover in the spring flower under that thin thing at least a week earlier then it flowered outside. So it protects from somewhere and it also adds a little bit of warrants. It's it's extremely helpful for season extension flow tunnels you know you can get little. Metal wires to cover your beds or we have. We have. No conduit that will cover 2 beds. You have the metal electrical conduit here do. You keep. Well you can use plastic to the metals a little easier to use but you bend it Johnny's actually sells a bender be nice somebody invest in that you know for sure I mean it's $60.00 I think but your bend your conduit to fit over to bed and then you put your floating rope cutter older than. Who Powell says that's the ideal you know it's the small tunnels it's a lot of work getting in and out you know you have to weigh it round the way the rope covered down with. Sandbags or something so it's more work but it's cheaper so you know you you start where you can but ideally who Powells is so much nicer to be able walk in there you're out of the elements you can work in the rain it's wonderful. Transplants for almost everything this is a real key in market gardening is using transplant. Because I think you can see quite easily that it extends your season by a few weeks. Not starting with the seed you're putting out into the ground that's 3 or 4 week old plant. But it also has many other advantages it maximizes your space as I was saying it covered more as soon as a croc comes out he's got another crop in there that maybe a month old so he's just being much. More growing Does that make sense. OK more keys to success efficiency it's really all about efficiency this is the difference between a home gardener and a market gardener you're just doing everything more efficiently. And I will confess that this is not a strong point of mine but I'm continuing to try to learn and use specialized tools we're going to talk about those we have a whole session talking about tools. Every trade has specialized tools. And if you want to be efficient at that tree you certain tools. I need a new computer. This is getting too slow. And a hard time reading this functional layout standardization of space and materials this is this was huge for us we the layout of our land you know every piece of land you're going to have well said Kurz and so on and so we did not have a very efficient layout and so we went to a seminar by Sean Martin time 48 J.M. Ford CA. And my wife went with me which was wonderful because she said why are we doing it this way and I said well it's because of this this. She says Well. I think we should do this I started thinking about it or. You're right let's do this so we made all our plots the exact same size that 4500. You know you would think it makes a huge difference but it is amazing you know all now we have all our irrigation line the exact same line we got quick Connex We'll talk about some of these things more when it comes to systems and fission so what used to take hours to set up now we can do in you know move in your day Sion around got enough irrigation that we set it up in a pot and we can leave it there we don't have to move it to different spots. You know it used to be that we had all different sizes of row cover and you know you gotta try to fold them up and get them in the barn in the off season and then it's like well how do I know how big this well if they're all the same size it's huge huge. It's really all about efficiency. Work smarter not harder that's really a key these people who are making the kind of money I was sharing last session they're not working harder. In fact if anything they're working a lot less than those who are and so smart. OK he. Yeah I apologize I added a few slides and we've been having issues sensory God here with this computer and we were able to insert pictures so there is you're going to see some. Slides without pictures. I've already talked about this you really want crops that are going to produce the equivalent of $100.00 a year. Now obviously you may not be growing a whole a year 1 cry. You know how much it's made from purse where foot. You know you have more of this in the later because presentation we got a whole presentation on that now marketing again we've got another presentation on that but that it really is dependent on direct sales. There are people that are selling wholesale and in fact there's actually kind of a move that way because in our country some of the farmers' markets and things are getting saturated so people are having to be more creative in their distribution but the bottom line is you want as much of that food dollar as possible not to be greedy but you just need to survive. So if you hear only you know the big farmers only pay pennies on the dollar of what's sold that's crazy you can't afford that. But. You want to eliminate the middlemen farmers markets are great start see a say is we mentioned that community supported agriculture high end restaurants that can be good if you get in with the right restaurants in will talk about that more planning you know how much money you need to make you know you have to set some goals and figure out how to reach those know how much you need to plant and you know I mean this seems obvious but it's amazing how many including myself you know you start out just saying well this is Face It's just try to do this it's somewhat haphazard but the more you plan out the less. The last surprises you're going to have. You know when it needs to be planted have a succession of plantings that's a real key to market farming and again the difference between Home gardening you know most people go out and plant their tomatoes in the spring. When they're down there. But when you're growing for market you need to have tomatoes all season so you have to have maybe a 2nd even a 3rd succession plan thing of those things. Ok I'm totally. Lost track of time here 1230 is that right. 1245 it is OK well good OK signs of the garden Well there is a saying that I love always tend the smallest amount of land possible but tended exceptionally well I think that's actually a quote from a French Market Garden. It's a lot easier to plan things than it is to maintain. And so a very common mistake is to plant more than you can really handle and do it well and that's 1 of the things that these guys are learning you know you could make more money doing less and doing it really well then you know. 100 tomato plants in a greenhouse will produce better than 500 tomato plants in the field. You need to plan on at least 1 full time worker per half acre. And I would say probably if you really feel intensive it's more like 1 full time worker per quarter. So you know if it's just you and your wife. Don't go out plan 2 acres. Produce because unless you have tractors and cultivating equipment you're going to be way in over your head. Income potential of 100000 or more per acre I shared with you. That this. Is very feasible Again we mentioned yes I think ideally you want to be within an hour of a major metropolitan area you know the reality is that's where you're going to sell this produce you're not going to sell it to fellow country living people. So if you're now in the States in New York New York City I know farmers that drive for hours the farmer's market. But I don't think that's how you want to end your life. Driving to market so now if you live farther than an hour that doesn't mean you can't get into market gardening but you need to to kind of look at your crops and say Well can I do things a little less perishable. That. Don't require getting to market really quickly. Yes and writer director Paul area is very What have what is a major measure Paulton area report that was really good right yeah there's a lot of variables there but I would say. Well. Ideally a 100000. But I you know with all of this I just want you to keep in mind if you feel God Calling you to it. Then. Don't be stopped by obstacles if he's calling you to it he's going to provide you know God's biddings are maple. So I don't want you to hung up in all these things because ultimately I believe in fact I would never recommend that any of you get into this unless you feel like calling because it's too hard that's just the bottom line we had so many people say I don't know how you're still doing what you guys do. Well we didn't have the choice God put all this through with. Our back to the. Good water source to me this is huge. We live in the age of climate change no matter what Donald Trump says. And. I would not want to farm without a good source of water. Good sun exposure these are pretty basic but you know a lot of people don't really think about that you need to not only know where the sun is in the summertime but also in the winter time and you know do you have enough sun exposure for your potential spot. I mean cutting down some trees but I know that that. I was in New Zealand and. My my cousin just bought a place that has I think we're getting to her but it's protected trees. They can't cut them down. To Kandahar anything without permission. In Australia. Yeah so you just have to think about these things because very few things are going to grow well without good sun exposure. Good soil and that's what I to me you know this is down on the list because I believe any soil can be improved obviously the better your soil is to begin with. The easier it's going to be to get going but soil is something that would hard work and be improved. If it's rocky. Take out the rock if it's. The 1 thing that can be a real challenge is if your water table is really high if it's a bog marshy kind of thing that that's a pretty big challenge it can still be over but it's a lot more work. Fairly level of course you can terrorists that's done all over the world but the more level the site I mean it's good to have a little bit of slopes so water drains but as you know if you have if you have any kind of a slope like this and you have bare ground and you get a hard rain you're going to lose some of your hard. Hard 1 talks or you know all that that you've invested into building your soil just goes down the drain literally so that's not something you want. So those are all things about location in questions on location before we move on. OK So pretty basic garden layout Now again this is. This is in feet and inches and I apologize for that but. You know the reason why I didn't change it was because. Number time in his book The market gardener. Gives a lot of really helpful information charts. He's got a chart here that I referred to. This is. Typical annual sales at his garden and he growth goes through all his vegetables and tells you the total sales he got this was like averaged over 3 years. The price per pound so you can compare well is this Can I get this kind of price here and actually I'll say we can for most things we can get a little bit more than. A back number of beds per season and so this is where it's his beds are all at 100 feet long so that's why I suggest 100 feet is that's how long our beds now are in our main fields because it makes calculations a lot easier now you can go ahead and transfer all that. If you want. What was. You how it would be roughly roughly $31.00. 100 feet just yeah just search. Roughly. 6 You know the reason why I love it is because as I said. So each. 250 square feet 2 and a half feet wide and 100 feet long. And we have 10. Hoff. So it makes calculations very easy and each plot is a 10th of an acre so I guess if I get recommendations from Wycombe are on so many pounds per acre I just divide by $10100.00 I need to put on my life so I'm not saying you need to do it all the same size but what I am saying is do it intelligently and the way that's going to make it easy to to do your calculations that make sense. Pathways everybody has a little different take on pathways how and why they should be basically the bottom line if you don't want them wired in they have to be is that way through faith and it's all faith that you got it if they don't want the weeds growing up here so keep them as narrow as possible but you don't want to know the arrow that they're off words now heard known I don't know what he's doing now but 1 time he had half wave length wise and the only way you know he was doing so intensively that 1 beauty of a 30 inch wide bed is an easy thing to straddle and easy to see that the Crown you're not on that you never want to walk in your bed so you know you're just working like this so with 8 inches you can do that but if you're walking you know if you're working like this. You're going to have your heels and totally connected and. So that's pretty intensive You know you have to walk. Keep your feet single on. J.. Does Aiken. Elliot Coleman 12. We kind of we do 12 and that's in our houses because they're all. Cause we got to say and we do a bad deal I mean I sorry that I mean I hold my bed all the beds are 30 inches wide. That makes sense. Blocks of beds for crop rotation purposes. You know it's amazing how the market gardening world is kind of. Their last and last and has to be placed on a proper station. And I think part of that is because the most of the profit you grow are not high Croft as far as well particularly in other words your lettuce is. High feeders heavy feeders and they're not detrimental to hauling prof. KRAUSS rotation is really important for something like. My theory. If you don't rotate the potatoes you're going to and. Serious problems but. It's just it's simpler for me for planning purposes too so this block these 10 beds this year are going to be in bras because you know what I mean when I say bronze because. This plot is going to be and tomato. This. Here. Someone. And yes. I. Go. Oh. That's a good question and I don't think we really talk about that anywhere else so all this is. We're almost done here with this line so the question is about some advice on how to lay out. Your Land. If it's on a slow. You know honestly there's different opinions on that some and I think it I would say it depends on. How much slope it is. If you have your best running up and down the hill you get less Roshan in your actual head because in the water's going to go in your aisles and run down down whereas if you have your bed across the field. The water may tend to wash through your head does that make sense. So most people are going to run them up and down bed but you know. The problem in farming is there's never any simple way. The other thing you have to be taking into account is your sun exposure and what you're growing and I have to transpose here so your son's coming from the north rather than from the south. So. You have to be careful about. If you have tall crofts and then you got something short got to be thinking about shading that makes sense. For the most part we run our. North south. That way you know the sun and it gets full coverage on the bed you know physics if it's a tall. Or short crossword whereas if you run your bed ether West. There can be issues with shading in so on when the sun is low. That makes sense I probably haven't answered your question because I'm not sure how to because there's just. A lot of very. If the slope is is not too great I would probably as much as possible run my bed with the flow if it got really steep then I'd be looking at trying to terrorists somehow. And we've done some of that we we've done a fair bit of bulldozer work on our farm where we made terraces for those moveable houses those are all terraces. OK so what infrastructure do you need to start a market garden. We've got a few minutes through this and notice I have a question mark here because again. If if you feel God Calling you to it you just start where you're out and move forward as you're able. But ideally. These are the things that would be nice to have a greenhouse a heated greenhouse received starting when I talk about a greenhouse I'm talking about the same structure is a hoop house but with 2 layers of plastic with air blown in between do they have you seen that you know. OK that gives an insulation value. So you you have 2 layers and you have a little fan that blows air between. You you don't want to heat. The house or your house that has just 1 layer plastic because it's very inefficient. Shielded through layers and creases the efficient it's still not very efficient. But having a heated place and again here since most of you are live in a more temperate climate this may not be as much of an issue for you but you know we're starting to made those in the greenhouse the end of January. And they stay in the greenhouse tell the middle of March. And then we plant them out into the unheated do house so they're the plants sort of this big when we were that's just giving us that much more jobs. So by having a heated place to start we can again get that head start and get the market when everybody's wanting fresh. By summer and our place you know where we are people are like oh yeah. You know. So our sales at the farmer's market go way down in the summer but in the spring that's where we make our money. Washing area again for efficiency you know you have to have a set up where you can. Where you can get your produce clean efficiently and quickly. You need water a good source. Of possible water ideally a roof to keep the sun. And heat the rain on and. Some kind of large sink with multiple bays you know for doing lettuce you want to dunk it a few times to get any dirt off of it. But some people just used a large bath for horse. Drinking trough. With you over here. You know just some big container obviously you've got to keep it clean but something to. You know 1 key to harvesting is getting it in water quickly because that takes the field out of this. So you know you need a huge source of water and you need some way to to done can clean that we're blessed with a wonderful water source and we take advantage of that by really trying to make our produce clean and we get a lot of remarks about that. Walk in cooler. This is really important and there are simple ways to do that there's there's. Something called a cool box that insurers a standard can do a window air conditioner unit into a room where. You'll see down to close to 0 to 3 degrees. You can just insulate your room and install 1 of those just low cool things and you can look down I think the website is storage whole. Store. It basically tricks the air conditioner running. At temperatures lower than what it is. This. Is my secret. Mercial cooling unit. But again with our cooler you basically have to harvest everything right before you deliver it which can become very hard and difficult but with a cooler you can harvest over multiple days and still get it to market in good shape. That makes sense. To Powell shade house structure for 2 or 3 as I said earlier once you start growing under cover it spoils you very quickly and you just want more and more under cover space so the more of that you can have the better. We're about out of time. Rod you look like you have something to say. Out OK So again you need water for your washing area as well as they are geisha and that comes back to a good water source. Fencing you know our big challenge is deer I know here you have kangaroos I don't know what else to. Be in. Bandicoot rabbit so. It's it's kind of frustrating to see the growth good stuff good produce and then to have it by. By the animals so you need to look at fencing what kind of things to keep them out. You know nobody likes to talk about shooting animals. But I will say that we have a shot in the last year too. There's actually a very interesting quote quite right. That is basically saying you can't let the roof. He should guard you would have to do. What was the thing. You can mean you're not allowed to but I think there are exceptions for foreigners as there are in the states if you can prove that they are. There harming your life and you Hood your crop you can get a mission you. Know Yeah well you have to figure that out and again I I don't like to kill things. So I feel like they are hard at least to to do some good fencing and and try to keep them out but if it if it becomes a real problem words your life be good for them. You know you do with your views. And I think Mrs wife would support you. Start up costs Well you know obviously there's a lot of variables here and Australia versus us being 1 of them but only Coleman in his newer Vienna grower suggests and this is 1995 he suggests that you know $15000.00 if you go in and market army and of course this is not talking about land. You know this is talking about infrastructure and tools to get started. J.M. in his book. Which is you know much more recent 6 yes 39000 and this is. Canadian dollars. So you have to figure that out but. You know that's giving you. A greenhouse in a house and all your basic tools and some basic word geisha and. So many variables that I would say. You you start where God put you and go from there if you feel a calling this then. He's going to open the way to me is. Obviously the more you have. The quicker start you can get but I'll caution you the flipside to that is. If you have the money without the knowledge you're going to end up wasting a lot of money. And we didn't. Even know we really didn't have the money we still wasted a lot of money because we didn't know when. That's where the more you can read the more you can learn before you get started the less chance you've been waste the money you do have. OK that puts us to. Over time here. I think that's the last session before lunch right. We can agree. This media was brought to you by audio person a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon leave a visit W.W.W. audio purse or.

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