|Food growing & time||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sharon Gordon (gordonseiac.net)|
|Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 08:35:59 -0500|
When you are growing biointensively, if you had two people who could do 20 hours a week during the growing season, you could grow an incredible amount of food. Based on CSAs that I am familiar with, you could probably feed 30-50 families. Here's where there could be some concerns. The double digging for the bed preparation is labor intensive. So if you started now or when you first get land and start the bed preparation or have a digging party, this could be done on a regular basis and be ready for the next planting season. People in warmer regions could dig thru a lot of the winter on a steady basis. People who live where the ground freezes would have less time. Also during the off season, it would be good to put that time toward designing the garden and making decisions about what seed to order. The first time around would take the most time if you look for vegetables that are adapted to your local region, are open polinated, bred for taste, and ripen over a varied period. The second year it would be a matter of changing a few things that didn't do as expected and choosing some new things to try for the joy of it. Also if you are planting for other people, it helps to survey them to find out what they like to eat. Then it's good to maximize this along with offering people a smattering of interesting and novel items in small quantities (often with recipes). Another thing is that the preparation is not an all or nothing thing unless people are trying to develop a CSA and completely support themselves on it simultaneously. You can plant as much as you get ready. Then dig more beds and plant them as they are ready. As the soil gets better, you will also get more in the same space. To speed up planting, it would probably help to put Jeavons data and related info into a spread sheet. The Duhon info and similar info collected from USDA nutritional guides in a spread sheet would be a tremendous help too, though it's probably possible to get a really detailed professional nutritionist's database at this point which would contain the detailed nutritional info. The popular databases that I have seen often contain a subset of the nutrients that most people are interested in. Will the coho community have a green house for starting seeds to get a jump on the season? Theat would help spread out some of the work. Also there are usually crunches where labor intensive picking hits suddenly. Somethings don't hold well on the plant and need to be kept up with. Two of these where the main growers often need extra help for instance are strawberries and green beans. With the biointensive gardening, the amount of weeding is usually low as the plants shade out the weeds. I usually weed a 4 by 25 foot bed in less than 5 minutes once a week in the spring. In the summer and fall I weed once every three weeks. The only situation where this has not worked is in a bed halfway down a hill in a suburban area where the multiple neigbors above on the hill threw out copious amounts of grass seed (repeatedly) and it washed through the garden during every spring rain. It was happy there and grew with the joy of alfalfa sprouts. What I said above might not be clear. I usually weed a bed every day (at least) but rotate around to each one about every three weeks. Will each house have a compost bin? Will there also be a compost bin for the common green where perhaps the leaves are carried to the group garden compost bin? If a common grower and harvester person is used, will the harvester take the harvested items to the common building and divide them into boxes/baskets for each household to pick up? Can you landscape as much as possible with edible items? Fruit trees make nice shade, though fruit falling on sidewalks can be a hazzard. Strawberries are a pretty ground cover. Grapes are beautiful on a fence or arbor. Lots of flowers are edible and there are a number of new flower cookbooks out now. Though personally I'd like to save some flowers to look at :-). If you have your own hives way out on the edge of the garden away from where the children play, you can increase your polination rate. Honey could then be harvested. Right now though the bees are very sick and being decimated by a mite, so this would be a trickier proposition than usual. Would you like to also grow grains and purchase a common grain mill for all to use? Lots of CSA type situations have 2-5 main workers and require each family to put in x amount of hours over the season. Some have an option of helping or paying more so someone can be hired during the crunch. Children can learn to be good gardeners, too. Everywhere I've lived the neigborhood children like to help. So far the only mishap I've had is with a seven year old who toppled over backwards when the 14 inch daikon radish that she was trying to pullup broke off. It didn't phase her and she got right up and went for the next thing. Even two year olds like to pick though they need constant supervision so they don't pick and eat some inedible/toxic part of a plant. And if you have plots where children can plant anything they like however they choose, so much the better. A 3 foot wide bed is easier for children to reach across. Probably the best source of info in a area would be someone who has a CSA and gardens biointensively or at least in wide rows. They could give you an idea of when the biggest work and time crunches are for your area. Sharon gordonse [at] iac.net
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