Monday, July 16, 2007

Status: got rid of some chickens, planted some more stuff

I gave away eight more chickens to my friend Doug. So now I'm down to ten. Which still seems a lot, but not as bad as 18. Or the original 26. I still need to make one more chicken coop, plus a "mini-coop" for the kids bird, the type of which I have no idea.

Doug gave me some turmeric root to plant, it's very similar to ginger. I planted that in some peat. I also planted a bunch more stuff last night. I need to get on the ball with the gardening, I should/could be growing a lot more of our food. I've been pretty tired lately though.

I mowed a back section of the yard today and started a new compost pile with the clippings. I also mowed under the chicken coop, which sucked up a bunch of chicken manure, which ought to pretty much get that new compost pile burning fast. I'll turn it tomorrow and see.

I've been reviewing John Jeavons book "How to grow more..." and Dave Duhon's book "One Circle." Both indicate that you can grow a single person's food in a pretty small amount of space, assuming that person was a eating a vegan diet. Not my thing, but I like the idea for other reasons, such as it uses a minimal amount of space, and a minimal amount of effort.

Both break things down into something like this:
30% of your space should be used to grow special root crops, such as parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, others. These are "area efficient" crops that produce a maximum amount of calories per unit area.
10% of your space should be used for vegetable crops, crops intended to provide maximum nutrients.
60% of your space should be used to grow high carbon crops, crops that, in addition to food, create organic matter for composting and hence soil building. They're really, REALLY in to soil building.

So part of what I've been doing is playing with potatoes, sweet potatoes, and now parsnips in an effort to move towards backyard sustainability. The thing is, it kind of conflicts with one of the gardenings goals, to save money. Ideally you'd use the garden to grow expensive stuff, like all your fruits and vegetables. Wasting valuable space on potatoes and sweet potatoes, which are pretty cheap by comparison to veggies and fruits, doesn't make a lot of sense. Unless you're trying to grow your own food.

I'm losing my point in there somewhere, but part of my goal is to figure out a way to grow as much of the families caloric load in addition to as much of the families vegetables and fruits as possible. Plus soil building seems to be a pretty good thing.

As a result of this dual goal thing, I'm looking at other crops to try, such as amaranth. Amaranth seems to have a lot of potential, though I don't really have an understanding of the space required to provide a significant portion of one's diet. I'm still studying it, so hope to report something later.

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