Win a deck of Permaculture Playing Cards this week in the Permaculture forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Dan Boone
  • Carla Burke
  • Kate Downham

Su Ba's Photos of Her Homestead Farm

 
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 29
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I really enjoy seeing Joseph Lofthouse's photos, so I figure I'd try posting some of my own homestead for people to enjoy.

Yesterday I harvested two pallet grow boxes of La Ratte potatoes. One box yielded about 7 lbs of tubers, the other close to 8 lbs.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The photos one month before harvest time.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
8 lbs of tubers, from large to small. We eat them any size.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
This is the typical size of the larger tubers.
 
pollinator
Posts: 244
Location: Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
74
purity personal care books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gorgeous, Su! What did you fill your pallet grow boxes with? I've burned down a thread or two of how to grow great potatoes lately, and would love to know your approach.

My climate is not yours by a longshot, but we do share the possibility of excessive moisture, it seems.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I made homemade compost. All sorts of stuff goes into making it. The ratio depends strictly upon what I have available. I just aim for 50% green/wet and 50% brown/dry in order to get a hot pile.

Compost items are chopped into small pieces. A lawnmower is my go-to shredder.
...weeds and other vegetation
...light brush & tree twigs
...grass clippings
...tree leaves
...manures (I don't have to chop these up)
...non-edible kitchen waste
...non-edible garden waste
...occasionally dead animals (no chopping up with these either)
...coffee grounds, coffee pulp waste, citrus waste
I also add small amounts of various soil amendments....
...coral sand
...lava sand
...biochar and charcoal leftover from a wood fire
...wood ashes
...urine
...ocean water
...burned bones
...hot compost from another pile in order to introduce microbes

I make compost in one cubic yard pallet boxes. When the compost has gone through its first heat up and is cooling off, I'll move it to an empty pallet grow box (if needed) or use it to top off a box or garden needing compost. In a garden setting, I can plant immediately. But when filling an empty box, the compost will reheat, thus do I have to wait several weeks for it to cool off before planting. While waiting for it to cool, I will keep the box covered with cardboard so the rain doesn't leech out nutrients.

So........my potatoes were grown in 100% new homemade compost this time. I have prepared these two boxes for the next crop by adding several inches of fresh compost and a 5 gallon bucket of sheep manure.....rototilled in. I checked the pH and it needed no adjustment. The seed potatoes were placed atop the refreshed compost and covered with mulch. 16 seed potatoes per pallet box. If I were not pushing for maximum production per box, I would only plant 9 seed potatoes per box, but I find that La Ratte does pretty good even when crowded.

If I grow a third crop in one of these boxes, I will add a 6 inch deep layer of fresh compost and rototilled it in before planting. Depending upon the crop, I may or may not add a five gallon bucket of sheep manure. Sometimes, if the gardens need fill, I simply empty the pallet box out and start over after 2-3 crops.
 
master steward
Posts: 2919
Location: West Tennessee
928
cat purity trees books chicken food preservation cooking building homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love it! Su, thank you for the detailed information and your step by step process. I enjoy reading how other people do things as everyone seems to do things a little differently, and it always gives me ideas to try here at my place!
 
steward
Posts: 4735
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1598
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I love the little things that sneak into the backgrounds of photos.... That looks like a grove of bananas to me. Oh my!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joseph....bingo! You're right. They are bananas growing atop my first hugelkultur pit. (Back then I had never heard of hugelkultur, so I referred to the project as a bio trash pit. The core fill was half rotted tree trunks packed with vegetation and dirty cinders. Around that went smaller saplings & tree branches, and more chopped vegetation. I recall that it took 3 years to completely fill.)  I planted my first banana tree there 12 or so years ago. I've never had to water them, even during the bad drought year that we had a few years back. Only 13 1/2 inches of rain that year from two rain storms and numerous dribbles here and there. That hugelpit was a big one, large enough to swallow 1 & 1/2 full sized pick up trucks and still have plenty of room to spare on the sides and top. That monster sized hole was created when the driveway was first put in 16 years ago. It was scooped out for fill in order to get a driveway across the defunct river bed.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dog Vomit Fungus

Over the years I've used a lot of woody material as compost, fill, and mulch. In those areas, and when there is adequate moisture (like now since it is raining a little every night), it's not uncommon to come upon a patch of bright yellow fungus. The first time I saw it I was surprised and curious. Once I found out it was a natural fungus, I've encouraged it to take up residence on my farm. It helps decompose woody material. I'll find it primarily on the soil surface, but at times it will creep up the side of a rock or fence post.

dog-vomit-fungus-
Dog Vomit Fungus
Found this patch in the grass growing through the mulch.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
This patch is growing up the side of a rock.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
This small patch is growing atop mulch made from chopped up fern stems.
Dog-Vomit-Fungus.jpeg
Dog Vomit Fungus
A close up view on a rock.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
A close view on a rock.
 
Posts: 235
Location: Richwood, West Virginia
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think I uncovered an Easter egg in your blog:

The rat that ate the small gourd last week, leaving it looking like an apple core, has moved over to the next trellis. He nibbled on a number of those small round gourds then got to one of the prized large gourds. He ate a hole into the side. Bummer! Bad rat!
Ok, he's got to go. He just ate a potentially $300 gourd. Not acceptable.  


https://kaufarmer.blogspot.com/2013/08/continuing-rat-attack-on-gourds.html

Followed by:

This years top winner (at the local art show) was the gourd, a intricate piece featuring honu (turtles). Now how can you not like that? It was locally grown, hand carved, dyed via the Ni'ihau technique using Ka'u coffee.




https://kaufarmer.blogspot.com/2013/10/local-art-show.html

Now Fess-up deerie, was you the artist that provided the winning entry?
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yup, I grow gourds. But I'm not the top gourd artist. While my creations will sell for $25 to $200, the local expert gets $300 to $600. To say the least my she is far better than I.

Growing gourds is one way to bring in some income. But I have to be growing the right varieties, mark each individual fruit with a date when they started, set them up on stands when they get bigger so that they don't touch the soil, put protection around them to prevent wind damage, control pests. They need to be harvested at the right time. The best shaped ones can bring $10 to $20. The less perfect ones $5. So you can see that if I carve and dye them, I can bring in far more money. But of course there is a lot of time and risk involved with carving gourd art.

My income on this homestead is based upon diversity. So gourds are just one small part.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pallet Grow Boxes

Below is a photo of 11 growing boxes planted with potatoes. The ground has a thin layer of soil, often only 1 inch deep. The grass essentially grows as a carpet. During drought the grass goes dormant or even dies, because there is virtually no soil to hold any moisture. So the only crop I can grow in this area is grass.

By using boxes, I can grow a variety of crops. The boxes are filled with homemade compost, sometimes layered with garden soil, depending upon the crop.

These boxes cost me very little to make. The pallets and black trash bags are free. The pallet pieces are simply screwed together....nothing fancy or complicated.

image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Portable Electro-net Fencing

After seeing a local ranch using portable electro-net fencing for their goat herd, I decided to try a bit of it myself. I was pretty impressed with the ranch's success. Upon their recommendation, I purchased 500' of Premier 1 fence and one of their solar energizers. I haven't regretted the purchase.

While I already have fenced in pastures that I rotate the sheep flock through (I maintain around 20 sheep and a donkey), there are plenty of places that are not fenced for various reasons. Up until I started using this electro fencing, I had to do quite a bit of mowing or weedwacking to keep things under control. Here in the tropics, greenery grows aggressively. But I can now use the sheep to eat the greenery down in places like....
...between the greenhouses
...along side the driveway
...around the barn
...over the access road to various spots of the farm
...around the house (I have to fence off the gardens where I don't want them to munch)

This fencing, being so easily portable, gives me access to grass on neighbor's property. The flock is often invited to munch down the adjacent neighbor's' land.

There are pros and cons to this fencing, but all in all I see it as a major plus on my homestead farm.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The flock is cleaning up a strip between a pasture paddock and the driveway.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a really tough crop to grow here in Hawaii. Almost every pumpkin variety I've tried from the seed catalogs failed either because of the climate, fungal diseases, susceptibility to squash borer, or susceptibility to pickleworm. By far the best success has been with my own landrace pumpkin. I started out using seeds from pumpkins I bought at my local farmers market. They were no special variety, but rather rough looking little things from somebody's backyard. I saved the seeds and planted them. Every so often I'd buy another one of those local pumpkins from someone else, and plant those seeds too. I made no attempt to select for any trait other than survivability and eat-ability. (Yeah, I made up that word.) I just let the pumpkins pollinate each other and harvest whatever was produced.

Over the years I've ended up with a rather small pumpkin that does well enough on its own on this farm. I don't have to spray it, nor cover the stems to try to avoid stem borers. I don't have to spritz the flowers and fruits with Dipel (a brand of bt) each day to control the pickleworm. Yes, I still lose some pumpkins to insects, and some to mice & rats, but I actually harvest a good number too.

I tend to harvest them when the rinds are starting to change color. The light green areas change to cream. The reason I harvest then is to beat the rats & mice to the pumpkins. As soon as they start to become mature, those little rascals will hollow out a pumpkin in 1 or 2 nights. I then let the rather greenish pumpkin slowly mature ever the next several weeks, sometimes a couple months. Once they are fully orange, they are right at the stage where we like to eat them. Of course I save the seeds for replanting.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The flesh is dark orange. And usually not real seedy.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
A small pumpkin coming in different shapes and sizes.
 
pollinator
Posts: 426
Location: Upstate SC
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looks very similar to a Seminole pumpkin, a semi-wild squash native to southern Florida and which is very tolerant of borers and other squash pests.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Log Sitting Benches

Years ago, maybe 10-12 years, we made a number of log benches here & there around the farm. The various wind storms had brought down some trees, which we cut and used for various projects. But we saved the big trunks with the thought of having them milled into slabs. But alas, the person we knew with the portable sawmill moved away, so we ended up with these logs. Rather than trying to struggle getting them to a mill, we decided to make log benches. Yes, they could have been made into firewood, but we didn't need it.

A couple were made by the pastures for convenient resting spots while working with the livestock. Another by the chicken pen so that I sit and watch the hens going about their business. I find them quite enjoyable to watch. One is by the main garden. And 2 more along the street -- for walkers to use. from time to time I've spied people using them, and it makes me smile. Glad I thought to do that. And a few more in the orchard, food forest area, and banana groves. The one by the house gets used all the time by our farm cats, who use it as a sunbathing platform.

Some of these benches were made from eucalyptus, others from ohia trees. And one from a Norfolk pine. Only the pine has deteriorated. The others are still firm and serviceable. Looking at them you might not guess that they have been sitting there for ten or more years. These benches cost us nothing to make, money wise. We used a chainsaw and a hammer & hatchet, plus our time and labor of course. I like them because they are simple & woodsy looking. They fit into the image of this homestead farm.

image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
About 6 feet in length.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
It sits along the road for walkers to take a rest.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Greenhouse Veggies

Here on my homestead in Hawaii, certain vegetables are difficult to grow. Squash and cucumbers, if unprotected, are destroyed by a pest called pickleworm moth. Most tomatoes get badly stung by fruit fries, thus are rotting and maggot infested by the time they ripen. Sweet peppers can also have the same problem. I've tried a number of methods to combat these pests and finally resorted to using a screened in greenhouse.

I have one greenhouse devoted to cucumbers and squash. Since their pest is a night time moth, I can leave the ends of the greenhouse open during the day for good air flow. Another greenhouse is devoted to tomatoes and sweet peppers, and has screened ends to block the fruit fly. The third greenhouse grows hot weather crops, like lima beans. So the one end is open for convenience and the other closed so as to build up heat. Currently this house only has an opening where a door would be, but it gets pretty hot inside. So I plan to remove some of the greenhouse covering on the end and replace it with screen.

The cucumber and squash varieties are parthenocarpic or have strong parthenocarpic tendencies, so they self fertilize.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
My basic greenhouse construction.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Zucchini squash. Behind them are young cucumber plants,
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The squash started blooming exactly 30 days from the time I sowed the seeds.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pole Bean

I'm trying a new variety for me :" Succotash". I got the seed from Baker Creek. I know basically nothing about this variety, so it's a fun experiment. It's a pole bean, so I provided from rope for it to climb up. I'm growing it inside one of my greenhouses in order to provide extra warmth for it so that it hopefully produces seed. To date I haven't been very successful harvesting limas in my outside gardens.

Why rope or string for pole beans rather than mesh? Beans are twiners. They don't produce tendrils. The vine simply twines around anything it touches. By using rope or string, I will have plenty of room to harvest the beans. Working with a mesh is difficult. In my greenhouse I would only have easy access to one side of a mesh.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
First bloom was 31 days after sowing the seed. Photos is a bit bleary but you can see how the vine wraps itself around the rope support.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dog Vomit Fungus - revisited

I've often had gardeners ask me why in the world such a bright yellow surface fungus is called dog vomit fungus. To them it looks nothing like what some poor dog would upchuck. While a dog could bring up frothy yellow bile tainted slime, it surely isn't as vibrant a yellow as fresh dog vomit fungus. Aaaaaah.....but let it sit a day or two and the fungus matures and produces spores, it changes in appearance.

I just happened to come upon this mature patch of dog vomit fungus, so now I have the opportunity to see something that looks more like what your dog barfed...........
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looks like my greenhouse experiment with the zucchini is working. At least, so far. I currently have 3 varieties growing : Desert, Golden Glory, and Black Beauty. Desert was the first to produce, with Black Beauty giving me baby zukes about 6 days later. Golden Glory is a week behind the others.

The plants were started from seed June 6th. All three varieties are now producing as of today. I'm picking baby gourmet sized zucchinis for our own table, not to sell. But I do have one friend who as requested any of our excess, so I'll be sharing some with her.

So far the only pest I've seen is a little bit of leaf borer. But after the initial outbreak I haven't seen anymore. I'm keeping an eye out for powdery mildew, which has been a problem on the farm in the past. So far, so good. We shall see what happens as time goes by.

These plants have produced more squash and have lasted longer than zucchini plants have in my past attempts of growing it here in Hawaii. Growing it in my open garden beds has always be problematic, basically a total failure. In New Jersey, zucchini was a beginner's crop, always successful and prolific. Here in Hawaii it's considered a master gardener's crop, so difficult to grow.

image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Lush, robust plants are doing well in the greenhouse situation.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
This is the size I harvest. Baby style 4" to 5".
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Did a bit of harvesting today. Some is for ourselves, some will be traded or sold, and some goes to the livestock.

30 papayas
20 pipinola
One large bunch of bananas
6 zucchini
1 cucumber.....my first!
10.5 lbs of Dark Red Norland potatoes
One fistful of snap beans
2 pineapples
8 taro plants
A 5 gallon bucket cramped rull of okinawan spinach trimmings

I love harvest days. It feels so rewarding.


image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
My first cucumber from my greenhouse experiment.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Zucchini squash. This is the size I pick for market.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Dark Red Norlands.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The first of my Red Swan snap beans
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11478
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
776
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow!  Beautiful!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
More harvest today because I'm making soup for the freezer. So I snuffled around in the forest garden picking a several cupfuls of those volunteer little tomatoes, a fistful of sweet potato greens, a dozen tiny sweet potatoes, and a good sized bunch of onion greens. Headed down to the main garden area and picked about a pound of snap beans (variety: maxibel), half dozen baby bok choys, a dozen baby carrots, two zucchini, and two globe onions. I also picked a small pumpkin, but that's not for the soup. Checking the pipinola vines I located 4 baby ones ideal for eating. Last stop - potato box. The Purple Majesty looked ready for harvest. They were a little sparser than normal, but I still got 14 lbs.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
14 lb harvest. Variety = Purple Majesty. Purple skin & flesh.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Cucumber success! My greenhouse experiment is successfully foiling the pickleworm moth. So for the first time in 15 years I'm getting a bounty of cucumbers. Since I don't need to store food for wintertime use, I'm using my excess cucumbers for trade and sale.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
This morning's harvest of 3 different varieties.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
I traded cucumbers for these mangos. (The black marks are normal skin coloration for this variety.)
 
Posts: 119
Location: Southeast Arizona, Latitude 31, Zone 8A, Cold Semi-Arid, USGS Ecoregion 79a
50
forest garden foraging trees books wofati food preservation fiber arts medical herbs solar rocket stoves greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nice! You are making some pickles, though, aren't you??? (What is life without pickles?)
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, Beth. Of course!!! I made a quart of refrigerator pickles out of some of my first cukes I harvested. After all, I'm a pickle lover from way back.
 
Dave de Basque
pollinator
Posts: 244
Location: Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
74
purity personal care books cooking food preservation writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congrats on the cukes, Su! What an accomplishment!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the things I do with being food independent (= grow your own, forage, hunt, barter, trade) is that we tend to eat what's available that's fresh. Over the years I find myself preserving less and less. Of course keep in mind, I live where food can be had year around. So food preservation isn't all that required for survival through a winter.

Today I harvested a pound of green beans, a mature pumpkin, a bunch of bananas, 2 quarts of cherry tomatoes, a couple small zucchini, a gallon of macadamia nuts, several small pipinola. I already have avocados, onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes on hand from past harvests a week or two ago. Foraging, I picked up a big coconut, some mangos and limes. Add to that the daily goat milk I get from my Nigerian nanny. By picking some herbs, gathering eggs, and using some assorted meats I'm storing in the freezer, I actually have the makings for several days worth of meals. If needed I could always pick some of the assorted greens I have growing year around -- sweet potato, cholesterol spinach, okinawan spinach, nasturtiums, and chaya.

It took me years to switch over to eating what was on hand, but I now get deep satisfaction out of doing so.

Next weekend I'll harvest again. The beets need thinning so I'll get plenty of beet greens. The earliest carrots will be ready as baby carrots. The first lima beans should be ready. Snow peas will be big enough. The baby bok copy and tatsoi will be 4 weeks old and ready. I can start picking lettuce. And there will be more macnuts, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, mangos, and pipinolas. I can forage more coconut, limes, lemons, and oranges if I like. I can always fall back on taro and assorted greens to add to the dinner table. I still have assorted meats in the freezer, plus frozen bananas and papayas. I'm almost out of honey, but I can harvest more from the hives next month.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Some of today's harvest
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Out of what I've gathered food-wise this week plus the stuff stored in the freezer (meats, some fruits- jaboticaba sauce, pineapple, mango. Previously made soups and sauces. A loaf of homemade sourdough bread.), here some ideas I had for upcoming meal segments for the week.....

Bananas (or mangos) & cream (or yogurt)
Banana or mango popsicles
Banana milkshake with honey
Fried bananas
Fried pineapple slices
Guacamole made with chopped tomatoes and onion
Hard boiled egg salad for sandwiches
Omelet with onion greens, leafy greens, and herbs
Cucumber salad
Pumpkin & coconut soup
Pumpkin stir fry with chicken, onion greens, leafy greens, and tomatoes
Pan fried sweet potatoes
Potato onion soup using a chicken stock & goat milk
Vegetable curry using whatever veggies are in hand (pipinola, green beans, potatoes, etc)
Sweet stir fry using pineapple, macnuts, and assorted veggies.
Lamb, potato, onion, pipinola stew
Green beans with a tomato, onion, herb sauce
Green beans with ground macnuts
Grilled mouflon steaks (mouflon is a wild sheep.)
And I can defrost some previously made soups to fill the menu up. And any leftovers from this week's harvest will go into making a pot of soup or some sauces to freeze for the next week or two. Extra macnuts and bananas can be frozen whole, as is.

Drinks include homegrown coffee and tea. Water flavored with citrus and/or cucumber.
 
Dave de Basque
pollinator
Posts: 244
Location: Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
74
purity personal care books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, Su, I'm way impressed with your almost-self-sufficient lifestyle! I really like your philosophy of switching your eating habits to what's available fresh from the garden right now. I can't do that year round here (though I could come close most years if I had more time for gardening). But what I do often do is have whatever needs thinning out. I plant pretty densely as I have such a small garden, and I have loads of different things chock-a-block next to each other, so things inevitably start invading their next door neighbors. So I thin them out, and that's dinner. And often lunch the next day. Sometimes, my ideal harvest dates fly by me unnoticed while I'm thinning things out. So we spend all our time eating random thinnings rather than the main crops we were supposedly interested in. I like to fool myself into thinking that years from now when I'm retired like you I'll do this better! You're a great example!

I hope you don't mind if I throw a few random questions your way that have been intriguing me.

1. I understand that in the dry tropics, the primary decomposers are ants and termites rather than worms. How is the balance in the humid tropics where you are? Who breaks your compost down?

2. I know taro is a hugely productive crop. I tasted poi once, and let's just say I didn't go back for seconds. What do you do with taro? Did it take you a while to acquire the taste?

3. Care to post a pic of a pipinola? I have no idea what it is.

4. Macadamia nuts: Do you know what cultivar you have? How do you like it? Flavor-wise, especially. And I'm assuming you don't produce tons of nuts so you must have a less-than industrial shelling setup... How does that go? They're legendarily hard to crack and since I've never had the occasion to try I have trouble imagining it. Do you just throw a hand grenade at a pile of nuts and then go around the room picking bits of nut out of the bits of shell?

5. Brazil nuts: Have you even thought about growing them? They've gotten so expensive this year that local places have stopped carrying them altogether and I'm missing them.

Thanks for indulging my curiosity if and when you have the time!
 
Posts: 97
Location: Fryslân, Netherlands
37
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm just stumbling upon this thread now; I like it! Except I believe a local name here for Dog Vomit Fungus sounds nicer: Witches Butter. Translated that is. I've never seen Witches Butter myself, but it does occur here. Apparently it belongs to a life form somewhat in between a plant and an animal; it's not a pure fungus. They have a memory and the ability to learn, it can find its way out of a labyrinth even.
I never would have thought it was that kind of thing just from seeing a picture of it!  
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I Grouwstra, yes this "fungus" can travel, though often they do not. The first time I saw it happen, I was flabbergasted. I knew that certain species could move a bit, but these colonies can move inches overnight. I'll see it on the ground one day, then up the side of a tree stump the next, then down on the ground again. Truly amazing. By the way, I like the term witches butter better.

Steve, I don't have the time to answer all your questions right now. But I'll get to them later.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave--

Question #1
    My compost in the bins doesn't not completely compost before I use it. By adding green grass clippings and manure to the mix, it heats up quite hot. Then once it cools enough, I use it. I use some of this fresh compost to inoculate the next pile with suitable microbes.
    Once the compost is in the garden, the earthworms and other soil life decompose it. As you might expect, my gardens have a thriving earthworm population.

Question #2
    Hahahahahaha, join the club! I don't like standard poi either. Poi is better if flavoring is added to it, such as herbs and garlic. Then it can be used as a dip. It's best served as a dip for dried fish. (Just think chips & dip)
    Poi is often allowed to ferment for a few days before eating. 3-5 day old poi is sour and more preferred by many folks. It's still not my cup of tea.
    Funny thing is that I do like pounded taro (called pa'i'ai) that does not have water added (thus making it poi). I'll make this with herbs, giving it a nice flavor. Without the water added, it has a pleasant chewy texture. Not at all like poi. This is my favorite snack using taro.
   Taro can be made into chips, like potato chips or like homefries. It can be added to batter for taro pancakes and bread. I prefer to dice it or blenderize it then add it to soups.
    Not only is the corm edible, but some varieties also have tasty leaves and stems. I will prepare the stems and cook them in coconut milk. The leaves can be cooked and used in place of spinach. The locals will use them in place of grape leaves to wrap food in.

Question #3
    I'll post photos later.

Question #4
    The variety I have drops its nuts when ripe, so they don't have to be picked. If I recall correctly, the cultivar is known as 644. I was given several culled grafted saplings many about 10-12 years ago by a commercial grower. 7 survived and 5 are doing great, 2 are doing ok. They give me plenty of nuts that are good tasting.
    There is quite a process to go from tree to ready-to-eat nut. The nuts are in a hull that needs to be removed, then inside a hard shell that needs removing. The nut meat then needs to be either dehydrated or frozen to keep from going rancid. I remove the hulls, after some drying, with a small commercial dehuller. It's hand operated, but a motor could be attached to it if I were doing volumes of nuts. Then after a drying process, the nuts are shelled with the same machine but using the side designed for shelling. BUT if I'm looking for high quality whole nuts, say for Christmas presents, then I hand shell them with a nutcracker designed for macnuts. It's slow, but I can get 1 pound of whole macnuts per hour when hand cracking.

Question #5
    I've never looked into growing Brazil nuts simply because macnuts are so easy to grow.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave,

Pipinola are known by other names around the world. I've seen them in stores on mainland USA sold as chayote and mirliton.

Around my area they come in both green and white varieties. Roundish, fluted, or knobby. Smooth skinned, a few prickly spines, or all covered in prickles. I grow both whites and greens. I prefer the smooth roundish types, but I also grow the fluted ones with and without some prickles. I'm gradually phasing out the prickly ones.

I'll use the large ones for making mock apple pie, and pickles, because they give me large slices. But I don't enjoy dealing with the large fruits because you have to peal off the tough rind and deal with sticky fingers afterwards. For most everything else I use the fruits when they are small. Their skin is slightly fuzzy and very soft.....no need to peel them. Just slice or dice, and use. The prickly ones I pick when their length is the width of my hand, so that the prickles are soft and can be eaten. The smooth ones I pick a bit larger, but still when the skin is soft and slightly fuzzy.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
 
Dave de Basque
pollinator
Posts: 244
Location: Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
74
purity personal care books cooking food preservation writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks so much, Su! Really interesting!

I have heard of a chayote before and I may even have eaten one years ago, now I'm reading about them. Thanks for the pics!

I don't think I would have the patience to crack more than a pound of macs by hand... Bravo to you! Does the industrial cracker give you any whole nuts at all? I'm totally fine with halves too. I imagine there are big pricey industrial super-crackers on the market for growers that give them clean, marketable whole nuts. I keep hoping for someone to invent a high-quality universal nut cracking maching (good for hazels, almonds, pecans...) with a few adjustments, and I've seen some machines that say they do various different kinds, but there are a few kinds of nuts that are really tough and/or need weird processing, including macs, cashews and brazils I think, that seem to need specialized equipment just for them.

I'm super-impressed that your macadamia trees self-harvest! What a great quality! Especially since macadamia trees are supposed to be very very tall.

In my dreams I want to have a very few inside a very high tropical greenhouse. Do you have any idea if they can be pruned so as not to be so damn tall, and still be productive? Or any dwarfing stock?

There's nothing quite like macadamia nuts... I really think of you as a Gert (a permaculture "millionaire" in Paul's universe)! Do you think of yourself that way? I suppose it depends on the day!

In other news, brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, and that's not such a common trait. I have no idea how they are to grow, but I have heard that the trees again are huge and they're hell to shell.

And taro -- I'm glad there are some different things to be done with it. Maybe I will not be scared to get back in the water next time I have the chance... thanks for the culinary advice!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Photos of my greenhouse experiment.



image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The sweet pepper plants are looking healthy.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The peppers are starting to produce flowers.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The first tomatoes. This variety is Black Beauty.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
I use strips from old denim jeans to tie the vines to the supports.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The bush limas are flowering abundantly.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
These are immature Dixie Speckled Butterbean limas.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
My first picking of Succotash lima beans, picked at the green shell stage. So pretty!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Took a couple photos in the greenhouses today.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Black Beauty tomato. Not ready yet of course, but they had dark coloration from early on.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Black Vernissage tomato. The dark areas are still a dark green and I'm curious as to when they will change color.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
My first baby sweet peppers are starting to develop. This variety is Corbaci.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
The bush lima beans have overgrown their bed and are taking over the walkway. I will have to change my planting method for the next crop.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 8832
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
736
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You have mentioned many times that you started out with thin,  rocky soil and improved it over time. Was it like that on all or most of your farm? In the photo where I see the goats and later , the lawn mower , are those areas that used to have thin rocky soil ?

You are in a similar climate to where I am, although it's a little more hot and humid here. Everything you've done seems more interesting to me now.

How many acres , and how much added soil depth on average, compared to when you started ?

It looks just great. I wonder how many people see you working, and think of how lucky you are to have that nice soil. A perfect example of how luck starts with elbow grease.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How true Dale....elbow grease! When people tell me that I'm lucky to have such nice soil, I reply that there's no luck about it. It's hours of work. That's why I'm a plump 180 lbs and not an obese 400! Morbid obesity runs in my family.

My homestead farm is 21 acres of thin, rocky land. I started soil improvements in 2004. I worked one garden spot at a time, removing the big rocks and layering & tilling in loads of organic debris, mostly chopped up. I started out with a shredder/grinder but wore it out after a few years. Then switched to using a lawnmower. I wear out a lawnmower on average one a year. The mower gets abused and used 5 days a week. I find it is far cheaper to use a lawnmower than replacing & maintaining the decent shredder. I could have skipped the shredding but I wanted to get food independent as quickly as possible. Shredded material decomposes quicker than simply chop & drop material.

Every form of organic material goes into making my soil. If I can get my hands on it for free, I use it. The only exceptions are that I reject material coming from  locations that have Little Fire Ants and stinging caterpillars. I've already got all the other noxious pests in my locality, so I just avoid those two. I gather materials from my own land and accept green waste from friends & neighbors. I occasionally can get fallen leaves and wood chips from landscapers. I keep livestock as a ready source of manure.

The spot I choose for my main garden had the crappiest the soil on the whole farm. What was there was hydrophobic. Soil depth varied from zero to 3 inches, mostly 1"-2" between the rocks. So I started one small 3 foot by 6 foot patch at a time, removing the big rocks and flipping organic material into whatever bit of soil was there. As I had organic material available ( weekly, monthly), I added it in and lightly covering it afterward with mulch (lawn clippings). I tried growing in this mix but basically it was a total failure for the first two years when it came to producing food. But the roots of the surviving plants helped create soil. I should have used something as a cover crop, but I was eager and inexperienced, so I tried to grow food instead. After 3 years of this, I finally started getting productive soil.

It's now 2019 and that garden hosts 6" to 12" of fertile, friable garden soil. It supports a lush, productive garden.

Another trouble area was the concrete pad over our cesspool. 18' by 18' square. It had just a dribbling of soil. So I built one huge compost pile atop the slab, throwing everything into it. I tilled the compost once a month using a small Mantis tiller. Within 3 years I had 3 inches of "soil" and grew kitchen veggies on that spot. Today the soil is 6"-8" deep.

I've created over a hundred small garden spots around the farm, opting for numerous locations as a means to help control pests and disease. All these spots started with little or zero soil. They now have 4" to 18" deep soil.

I also made several hugelkultur style pits by utilizing large pits already in my land. All my coarse debris and wood went into these. Initially they were simply bio-trash pits, but I opted to layer and pack the material in a way that it would decompose into soil. I now grow banana groves atop those pits.

I've improved about 2 acres of ground with usable soil and it's quite productive with veggies, fruits, fruit trees, forage plants. The rest of the acreage has been either seeded or planted with forage plants for the livestock, or is in the process of being layered with organic material for soil building.

I also using containers for growing crops atop smooth lava rock. I made boxes out of old wood pallets, line them, then fill them with compost. This way I can grow right away in locations with no soil depth, rather than working to create massive amounts of soil over a 3 year period before planting a food crop.

Yes Dale, it just takes work and truckloads of organic material. Plus the wisdom to use a wide diversity of materials in order to end up with productive soil. Monoculture doesn't work all that well whether you're talking about crops or compost. Diversity is the keyword.
 
Dale Hodgins
master pollinator
Posts: 8832
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
736
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That was a very thorough answer. Many tons of new soil. I'm assuming that much of your gain was from breakdown of the softer rock, which occurs anytime materials are breaking down on top of it.
.....  Were you able to get much in the way of free manure?
......
I am naturally impatient. There are several soil building methods that I intend to employ.

My brother-in-law and a couple other family members need jobs. So , I am looking at starting a small commercial piggery, using a good amount of purchased feed but also plenty of supplemental food from nitrogen producing trees and other cut and carry crops. This will cost about $6 per day, per man. I also need to provide food and housing, so probably $10 a day per worker. So probably five people full-time employed at things that tend to build soil.

Rice hulls , peanut shells and many other things are available free by the truckload for anyone willing to pick them up. Pig and chicken bedding. Stuff that is within 5 miles can be delivered home for about $3 a load . This includes fuel and labor, but not truck purchase and maintenance. Miniscule no matter how you calculate it, and since it becomes bedding it's replacing some other cost.

The most common thing I see being done wrong at small piggeries , is that they really cheap out on the bedding , and allow much of the nutrients in the manure to become air or water borne pollutants.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1586
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
555
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
  • Likes 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some more pics from around the farm.....
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
I use standing dead trees as a trellis for the lilikoi (passion fruit) vines.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Lilikoi season has just started here. Fruits are beginning to fall to the ground.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Tree tomatoes are just starting to ripen.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Picked our first butter peas (limas) today. Plus a pumpkin ready for eating.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Got 17 pineapple suckers planted and mulched this week.
image.jpeg
[Thumbnail for image.jpeg]
Checked the coffee trees and saw that they are heavily loaded with green beans.
 
Die Fledermaus does not fear such a tiny ad:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!