I've raised flocks of hens entirely on compost. The girls are free to range at their pleasure. I usually have a few piles of leaves and compost around the place. As described in the OP, the bugs move right in. The girls do the turning of the heap for me and add their droppings directly to it. During the cool season, the heaps generate their own heat and keep the bugs alive, although the hens have to scratch a little deeper. They will flatten a 4 foot tall heap in a couple weeks. I go around with a pitchfork, pile it back up.
Seen below is a manual apple peeler. It peels, cores, and slices an apple with a few turns of the handle. Being somewhat mechanical I removed the handle at the long shaft and attached a cordless drill.
Squeezed the trigger...apple was peeled, cored, and sliced in a second. Peelings were hitting the ceiling.
An angle grinder with a diamond blade can cut into the mortar, separate the brick.
Since the brick will still be exposed to the elements, using chunks of several bricks stuck together may be the way to go. They will be heavy. Left exposed to the elements, they would continue to crack on their own but at least they would be in a non-load bearing spot.
The pictures show the brick and mortar to be in a bad state. I'd guess freeze/thaw cycles have already cracked the mortar. Hitting the brick with steel will shatter and chip the brick. Rather than brute force, go with finesse: use a rubber mallet. You'll get some of those bricks real easy. They will still have mortar in spots-chip it off with a small pointed hammer.
Pool acid will react with the lime, causing the mortar to disintegrate, but it is a slow process. You might try getting between the brick with a wood chisel. The chisel will be ruined but can be reground. With the mortar in such a bad state, the chisel will act as a wedge, pushing the break apart where the mortar is already cracked. You can further weaken the mortar joints with a masonry bit and a drill. Filling the drill holes with dowels, then soaking the dowels can give you a more gentle force as the dowels expand.
Up until a few years ago I spent many years working in restaurants. The last place I worked overlapped with my keeping chickens. The chickens will thrive.
Here's how we did it.
Meat scraps, chicken/pork/beef/seafood went into a container for the owner's dog.
Bread scraps went into a container for the owner's neighbor's mule.
All the rest of the food went into my container(s) for the chickens. The wait and bus staff separated the trash. It was no problem at all when the incentive of a dozen eggs was offered. Everything went in: potato, garnish, salad, dessert, pasta (the chickens LOVE pasta, looks like worms), vegetables, citrus, fruit, soup...all of it. On occasion, something from the cooler was past it's prime and went into the bucket. Fat trimmed from the new york strips went in. Hauling home 10 pounds of table scraps was a slow night. If my buckets were full, the staff tossed the scraps into the regular refuse. I brought clean containers with me for each shift.
I had about a dozen hens at the time. 10 pounds of scraps would disappear in a day or two. Anything they did not consume immediately would sit there to develop into compost. Bugs would produce larva from time to time which gave the girls something extra to go along with an already diverse diet. If I had an abundance of scraps I could store a bucket in the fridge for a day or two to cover a day off.
The restaurant generated other waste which could be repurposed. Beer bottles for home brew. Wine and liquor bottles and corks come in handy. I use them for white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, oil, storing beans and a few big bottles for putting change in. Pickles come in 5 gallon buckets. There is never a shortage of need for 5 gallon buckets. Olives and some dressings arrive in gallon glass jars-perfect for making sun tea. Many food service operations have deep fryers. The oil is replaced at least weekly, being poured into some sort of container outside to be picked up by soap or biodiesel operations. To get this stuff, all you have to do is offer the container and pick it up regularly.
There are pig growers who use restaurant scraps to supplement the pig feed. When using these scraps for commercial livestock it is usually required that the material be pasteurized before feeding to the livestock. Because these are post consumer waste, the risk of human pathogens must be eliminated. Boiling the scraps will do the job and this is usually how it's done. The hog guys come around each evening with clean trash cans, take away the full trash cans. The benefit to the restaurateur is reducing the dumpster demand, odor, and flies. The material has to be picked up daily in most cases. There is no room inside or outside for storing trash cans full of food waste, nor is it desirable to attract rats/mice/cats/birds.
There is a huge volume of material out there. All you have to do is go get it and be dependable.
In the place I worked the baked potatoes were wrapped in aluminum foil. The bussers did not remove this when tossing the scraps in the bucket. The hens, not knowing any better, ate the foil along with the potato. Got some really shiny eggs from them.
Grew up picking berries in the summer. A long day working in a hot field demands a lunch that will stick to your ribs.
Mother made Spammiches:
Through the grinder put:
3-4 hard boiled eggs
a can of SPAM
blend with mayonnaise and a splash of mustard, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Nothing better than SPAM, eggs, and mayonnaise on some stale bread sitting in the hot sun half the day.
I was at the supermarket one day, looked down to find a whole frozen salmon for 10 bucks. The thing was a beauty. I had to have it.
The next store over was a big box hardware store. I found a benchtop band saw for $99 plus tax. Threw that in the back of the truck beside the salmon.
Got home, sliced the salmon into steaks before it thawed out, wrapped em up, tossed in the freezer. I cleaned up the band saw real good, put it back in the box, called a buddy of mine who did the maintenance at an apartment complex:
"Hey Bob, I got a band saw on sale at the hardware store. Want me to pick one up for you? Can't beat the price."
Dropped off his new saw half an hour later, got my money back.
There is more out there. So much more it is difficult at times to understand how limited we are. Break free of your bonds for just a little while to explore the possibilities of what you can become. The first thing you realize is that those limitations are imposed upon us by ourselves.
I've got a Lowline Black Angus bull in the back field. He's 8 years old, fully grown, and is lower than my belt at the shoulder, tipping the scales at about 1000#. There small size means less tearing of the sod. He's as gentle as a kitten, the breed being bred for docility. Lowlines will put on marbled beef on pasture alone, with a carcass yield of 75%. The back field is about 2.5 acres with some woods in there. I offer him hay, about 4 round bales will get him through the cold season in northern Florida. Their small size means a small area is all that is needed for each animal. The result is more meat per acre than most other breeds. Calves come in around 45 pounds, so calving is much easier on the ladies. Bred with a normal sized cow for the first calf presents a high survival rate for the cow and the calf. They can be an expensive breed, Bull, pictured below would command $1200-1500, while a cow of breeding age can draw $1800-2500 and up. A calf will run you a grand. I picked up this handsome fellow for $600 with delivery as the owner had to find a home for him or install fence which he could not afford at the time. He was cheaper than a lawn mower and can keep up with the back field most of the time.
The space is so small it may not be practical to grow crops to use in the restaurant for regular menu items, although herbs, specialty and featured items may be possible. Foot traffic nearby suggests fresh ripe tomatoes will drive away along with all the work you put into the project. It's proximity to the parking lot presents an opportunity to offer the guests a visual or sensational delight.
-An aroma garden would be interesting: plants with pleasant appeal as people walk in and out of the place. Jasmine, honeysuckle, rosemary for example.
-Eye appeal: an assortment of leafy and flowering crops
-Decor. Something akin to the Gardens of Versailles, but on a smaller scale.
-Edible Landscaping. Berry bushes can be attractive and offer a tasty treat as people walk by.
There is some space to work with for raising crops for use in the place. Lots of lettuces out there with are fast growing, cut and come again, and attractive. Added to the house salad, the dining experience in enhanced.
I'm not transplanting 5000 beans. This is a job for the Earthway Seeder.
Quick to germinate, sends out a long root in just a couple of days. The value per plant is low, may not be worth your time to transplant. I've got 2 cultivars I'll be growing this year. The one I want was only available in limited quantity. I'll be treating these like gold and starting them in tall pots (20 oz Solo cups). For the bulk seeds, I've used the Earthway to great success. I've also tossed the seed as grain and walked away. When they sprout I go back through and plant branches or bamboo for them to climb.
Most are quick to germinate and grow to considerable size rapidly. The large leaves can be cut on the inside edge of the pipe (see below). Your call.
As with peas, the roots outgrow the pot in just a few days. With a pot several inches tall, it can be done.
I find starting them in small pots is the way to go, but the roots have to keep growing. I follow the rule: stunt the roots, stunt the plants. Pot up a couple times if need be, or start them in at least a 20 oz container.
I see carrots as a low value crop not worth the labor cost to transplant. I'll be trying out soil blocks for the first time. In blocks, transplanting might work well: the spacing is so close I can set the blocks in contact with each other right on top of the bed.
I grow them now and then but I don't eat more than a handful. If I have a space to fill, I might poke in a few seeds.
Starting in Cells
I've used 1020 trays with 72 cells. Handy things to start a pile of seeds in a small space. Most plants will grow roots out the drain hole within a week of sprouting. Transplanting when the plants fill the depth of the sell means a small plant. Potting them up takes time, but it's a good job for rainy days and evenings. I find these cells to be terribly fragile and went looking for alternatives...
Controversial due to claims of outgassing. Most pots are smaller at the bottom than they are at the top, but roots want to grow wide as well as deep. The pipe is straight, giving the roots a little extra room. The smooth interior makes transplanting a breeze: dig a hole, set in the pipe, back fill, tap the side, lift. Larger leaves need to be protected from being cut on the inside edge. These last a long time-I have some I cut 10 years ago that are holding up just fine. I've tried 1" pipe as a replacement for the 1020/72 cells, cut to 2" long, but still encounter the fast growing root obstacle. An advantage is the ability to select the length of the pipe. I've used 6" tall sections of 3" PVC with excellent results. Another advantage is being able to tilt the pipe to see if the roots are reaching the bottom. Long lasting and durable, but can be expensive and they don't stack.
Cheap, more durable than the 1020 cells. I use them for my coffee, keep them for growing transplants. Anything that saves me doing dishes gets my approval. I cut small pieces from the bottom corner for water drainage and absorption. Can be reused several times before cracking/breaking. 15 fit in a 1020 tray, 9/sqft. Can get heavy so I use 2 trays together for added strength. I put them in 5 gallon buckets to move to transplanting. Start the seeds in 72s, repot into the cups. I've sold many transplants in these. If I use a plant label and stick one in a group of cups, the customers take the plant with the label. A sharpie will write on the cups clearly. With constant sunlight, these last maybe a year. A distinct advantage for me is the depth of the roots and size of the leaves. The plants go into the ground with some drought tolerance due to their size-big roots. Also, larger plants will hold up better to cutworms-a menace around here.
Commercial plant pots work fine. I want something with more depth and cheaper so I use the cups. For plant sales, this is professional route.
Start a group of seeds in a single container and prick out the seedlings as they show up. LAWDY this is tedious, I'd rather staple pastrami to my face. I'll use this for tiny seeds such as Oregano. With my eyesight I can't even see the seeds.
Too expensive for a single use in my view. For selling transplants these can be appealing, but I fin that if they get too wet they can split, sag, and fall apart. Transplanting is dig a hole, set in the pot, backfill, move on to the next one. Nothing to carry back to the greenhouse.
Yup, I'll be trying this over the next few weeks, if I get the time. Being I may be too cheap to cough up the money for a soil block maker, I'll probably make one out of that PVC pipe I've got. Lots of sweet talk about them, no plastic pot to throw away.
No, I would bleed to death.
Not particularly expensive. Used to be found for a buck each in places. A case of 100 will run you $70 plus way too much in shipping because of the size. Tend to crack if lifted with too much weight. Double them up for more strength-put the cracked one on the inside. Will last for several years if not cracked. Will not hold up to being stepped on by a bull.
Carlisle makes a fast food tray, 12" x 16" that is excellent. You've probably usxed something like this at a buffet or fast food joint. 12 of those Solo cups will fit, about 16 pounds dripping wet, not too much weight to break them. Just enough lip to water to last a couple days. They hold up very well to sunlight and are easy to clean. Stackable. Less than 3 bucks each brand new with shipping. Can sometimes be found in used restaurant equipment stores. Also handy under the coffee machine, in the spice cabinet, on top of the dryer, breakfast in bed, feeding someone with the flu, in the workshop, and for hosting a BBQ. These get my vote.
Coated steel baking pans rust heavily in seconds. Save yourself the trouble and throw your money in the trash can right now. Aluminum sheet pans, 17" x 26" are out there and will hold up without rust. Can be expensive, don't fit standard greenhouse shelves, can be HEAVY when loaded, and can pit after several years. Lots of dialog about aluminum and health issues. Stainless steel is available but is cost prohibitive for a working Joe like me.
Disposable Baking Pans
These will be aluminum (in the UK: Aluminium). Lightweight, can't pick up the whole tray when loaded with plants of any size without bending the tray all to hell. At least you can reshape it. Try putting them on a board.
I've made em. A shallow box with a plywood bottom. Can be done cheaply with scrap lumber. Put the water to them the plywood blisters, the lumber gets moldy, screws and nails rust. Use them for a while, then put them in the RMH.
I put this article up a couple months ago. I thought I'd share it here. It's one more idea which makes it possible to earn a living on a piece of land.
Garden Plot Rental
A few years back I read where the average home garden in the US was 300 square feet. That's a rectangle 10'x30' or a square about 18 feet on a side. I make raised beds 4 feet wide by 50 long, so 300 sqft is pretty small from my perspective, and I've handled as much as a couple of acres of these beds. My current project involves setting up about 100 of these beds. For a first time gardener, little old lady, or experimenting student, 300 sqft may seem like a huge space. It's all in the eye of the beholder. Regardless of size, there are plenty of people out there with no garden space who would love to garden.
Without access to land, gardening can be a challenge. Container growing is possible, but for some, there is no substitute for digging into the ground. In the cities,
land is at a premium and often shaded by skyscrapers, although rooftop gardening is making great strides. Apartment and condo dwellers may be prevented from gardening due to leasehold restrictions. Backyard gardening around private homes is widely practiced, but there are still people who do not want to mess up the place and homeowners associations which forbid anything that makes the yard look different than a golf course. Access to land for gardening is in demand all over the place, for many reasons. A new startup farm operation faces the problem of generating immediate income to cover the bills. Land is undeveloped, systems are yet to be installed, or perhaps the focus is on development and construction rather than raising crops. The result is dormant land. Left dormant long enough, natural growth will further slow development. Unused spaces can be put to use through renting out garden plots. It's done all the time all over the world, both by private land owners and by governments.
An example is Fairfax County, Virgina. There are 650 garden plots in nine parks, rented on an annual basis. Most plots are 30'x20' rented for $85/year, 18 are 10'x20' for $60. There is a waiting list.
Let's look at the numbers...
A 30x20 plot, plus a 6' pathway in front measures 30x23. The other half of the walkway is added to the plot on the other side of the walkway. 690 square feet.
43560 sqft/acre says 60+ of these plots will fit per acre. At $85/yr for each of 60 plots, $5000/acre/yr would be possible. Considering that land around here can be had for about $5k/acre, that's a fairly good return on investment.
As an initial project for a bootstrapping farm, this one has some distinct advantages. Gardening skills are not needed. There is no tending of crops or livestock. No mowing of a field that will be idle. The rented plots are (ideally) taken care of by the lessee, and all the money comes in at the start. Setting up such a project can be done in short order and for little cost or effort, depending on what you choose to offer.
Fence Good fences make good neighbors. A 4 foot high wire fence with a gate separates each plot. The investment here is posts, fence, and fence nails. For the first few plots, it may not be necessary if the plots are placed about the property. There may be small sections of the property in out of the way places that would serve as rental plots all by themselves. Fence posts, if cut from trees and limbs, may have no cost at all. Wire fence is currently priced at less than 50¢ per linear foot. A field plan with plots in a grid allows sharing of fence and posts, keeping the cost down. A fence keeps out some critters, making it a value added offering, but most importantly it offers some sense of security to the growers in knowing noone is going to grab those tomatoes while they are away. With the gate, there is some investment in this project. If the project is terminated, you get to keep the fence. If the project continues, the fence will last for years. There are some community gardens that do not have a fence. The plots are segregated by a pathway only and marked with posts or stakes.
Water access is an absolute must have. Anyone who has been growing regularly gfor a few years will tell you the weather patterns have changed. There will be wet periods as well as dry. Folks should be by at least once a week to work on their garden and they will be using water. I assume you will have a well with water under pressure and a place to hook up a hose. This will be enough to get you by at the start. If the project is doing well, the establishment of plumbing and hose connection points throughout the plot field would be another investment to consider. Hoses don't last forever, foot and vehicle traffic can leave you with a leak, running up the cost of operating a well, and a constant flow can cause further problems. However, hoses are fast to hook up and offer a quick solution to meet irrigation demand.
At the very least, you'll need to mow the walkways. If you have no fences, you'll need to mow the pathways in between plots. It would be up to you to determine if you mow inside the plot areas. Keeping down the weeds would be appreciated by the growers, as would the tidy appearance. Raised beds makes for an easy job. Do you establish raised beds for the customers to use? Up to you. Each additional feature gives your plots an added value and competitive edge, but takes more investment of time and resources.
There are plot managers who till all garden plots at the start of the growing season. With fences erected, a tractor will be impractical unless the fence and posts are removed. Some growers will return each year, and will want to keep their garden development going which can include raised beds, patio blocks, trellises, and all manner of decor. It will be up to you to determine tractor vs tiller, if its a service you provide, and how far the growers must deconstruct their season's effort. Some plot managers offer tilling as a paid service. Others will rent a tiller to the grower. With no-till gardening and raised beds growing steadily in poularity, it may be in your interest not to till as a free service.
Will you be fertilizing the garden plots for the growers, either as a fee service or a treatment of the entire field? Will your plots be All-Natural and Chem-Free? Will you allow your growers to bring in their own fertilizers? Will they need to bring in their own compost or will you have a community compost heap from which anyone can draw what they need? I've seen plot rental projects where compost is available for a buck a bucket. Pack it as full as you like.
Most tools needed to work a small garden are pretty cheap. 10 bucks for a shovel, 12 for a rake, 8 for a hoe. You can have some tools available for borrowing. If you have a large number of plots rented out, you may have several people all hoping to use the one shovel. Consider that one guy might set down that borrowed shovel in tall flowers and head home for the week or 'accidentally' take the shovel home. People will always have the option of bringing their own tools. Some will prefer this, even building a tool storage locker. There is opportunity here-if you had tool storage lockers available for an extra few bucks a year, there would be some demand for their use. Having tools available for purchase may offer potential.
If the project is popular, lots of people doing their garden thing in their own way, you may have a parade of people out there. At some point you may find it necessary to include features which the customers require for their personal needs. A bathroom tops the list. A place to wash their hands, sit down, get out of the sun to cool off or eat lunch. Are vending machines practical? Surely you will need parking. There will be some folks who wish to bring in a load of compost, mulch or manure. Making the pathways between the plots wide enough for a truck will give your plots greater versatility. Putting large plots on the sides for better truck access makes good sense and allows you to have narrower paths and more plots per acre.
Plot sizes can be whatever size you determine. Larger plots will get a lower price per square foot, smaller plots will be cheaper for the grower. 50x50 would be big enough that if you had several of them, holding a farmers market would be practical. This lets you sell your own produce as well as your growers to set up a table. Allowing crafts at the market tables brings a new dimension. If you have large plots for larger growers, and they are able to bring in cash, it would tend to keep those growers around and keep your farm in the public eye.
What you want to do with such a project will determine what sort of rules you will need. Offering some space to a couple of friends would be more of a casual affair with no documentation necessary. If you are taking money, you'll want a lease agreement stating your responsibilities as well as those of the grower. If you go with a chem-free operation, you'll need this clearly stated. Some places only allow one cultivar of corn and have seed available becuase of the quality changes from cross-polination. There are plot managers which prohibit GMOs, chemical inputs, and poison spraying. For an example of Rules and Regulation, have a look at Fairfax County Garden Plot Rules (.pdf). The grower signs a copy which you keep, and they get a copy for themselves.
If you have the room, this is a project that can be put together easily and inexpensively. It can be started small, bring in a few extra bucks, and provide exposure for your farm. Keeping those growers coming back each year can provide a steady, dependable income. Putting the work and investment into such a project can make it a successful enterprise all by itself.
180k objective at $5k/supporter says 36 supporters would be required. At 9 units/acre, your plan would need 4 acres dedicated to these cottages. The Zoning Board may have issue with this. Would these 36 supporters be sharing the 9 units (4 sponsors/unit)? I'm afraid I don't have much information to go on.
Your profile lists Seattle. Figure 4 months/year on the chilly side. Even with a RMH in place, there would be little variety growing. If the residence window is 6 months, and each of these 36 sponsors stayed 3 long weekends/season, an average of 4 cottages would be occupied on any given weekend.
Details of your plan would need to include bathroom/shower facilities, kitchen facilities, particulars concerning what the sponsors will be paying for in addition i.e. food, fuel, furnishings, construction costs, seed, tools, bedding, laundry, as well as lay out details in regards to events by weekend and how to reserve time.
9 units on an acre says 4840 sqft/ unit. How will the sponsors determine what will be grown on that plot and how the produce is divided amongst the residents.
Kickstarter does not allow projects to buy real estate or other 'fund my life' project, but there are other crowdfunding sites out there. If you think you can pull it off, by all means, go for it. Any method of acquiring land legally, honestly, and fairly gets my approval.
If it does not work, there are other ways to make it happen. I wrote an article a couple months ago about Garden Plot Rentals. The size and price are smaller than your proposal, but requires considerably less investment in infrastructure. Perhaps contracting garden plots in advance could bring in the monies needed for financing this or a different property..
Seems like an awfully small garden for such a bountiful harvest.
It's February, gives you a couple weeks to find out what smelts are and a month or two to discover fiddleheads.
Got any maple trees on those 7 acres?
Those hubbards and butternuts look awesome.
If one strives to emulate those who are respected and admired for their contribution to a field, then a challenge has been handed out: Become knowledgeable and proficient about a subject to the point you are able to deliver a TED talk.
Found a worm in a garden bed yesterday.
This area was in drought for 3 years until 2012. The worm population disappeared so this is a big deal to me.
This guy was big, fat, moist, and active.
Life WANTS to thrive.
Ken Peavey wrote:In '09 my tomato and potato crops were completely destroyed by Late Blight, P Infestans. While it is not a fungus, it displays some similar traits. In searching for a remedy (there is none, by the way), I tried some things which slowed down the destruction just a bit.
Removing the infected part of the plant as soon as the problem is detected. Effects negligible due to the nature of the oomycete.
Removal of lower leaves and branches of plants in order to improve air circulation and promote a dryer environment. This slowed progress of the disease through sections of field.
Complete removal of the infected plant. It was already too late for the field in this instance.
How long you brew it determines the dominant microbe. A day or so favors fungal populations. A couple of days promotes bacteria. 3 days or more promotes protozoa. The fungal dominant tea serves to place the beneficial microbes from the tea on the leaf, taking up the space which could otherwise be inhabited by the malevolent fungus.
Trying this in the case of P Infestans, I found the plants sprayed with the tea were among the last to go down. The spread of the infection through the plant was slowed, but it was unstoppable.
Reflecting light can add intensity, but you'll need to double your estimates for insolation gain if you have not taken into account the polarizing effect of the reflector. The light may reflect exactly as you desire, but only half of the light remains after being reflected.
I am the ultimate hypocrite. In my job work for a contractor. My company performs services for industrial sites. A frequent location is a pair of PCS Phosphate plants, designed by Monsanto. These plants rape the countryside not far from my home, sending the pillaged resources across the globe to be used, without a doubt, for growing GM crops. I work at paper and pulp mills which mow down forest every day. I work at concrete plants whose product covers the earth. I work at power plants which belch carbon into the atmosphere 24/7.
I do what I have to in order to get by in the world. I did not create the mess we are in, but I've been a part of it my whole life nonetheless.
On my own time I work to make the world a better place.
The forums hold untold wealth in the form of information.
How big is the database?
Can it be reproduced on a portable USB drive and configured for browsing offline?
Sell a loaded drive.
Sell the downloadable software and database on Scubbly.
Next year, offer the update.