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Skandi's "Beachtree farm"

 
pollinator
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(Bøgegården)
I'm going to use this thread as a kind of reminder to myself on how the garden did this year, and I hope that I can be either a good example of how things are possible or a horrible warning on what not to do, either way I promise some entertainment and a lot of weeds. I'm only concentrating on the Market gardening part of the place on this thread.


So as a little start the garden is roughly 1/2 acre, sloping gently to the North, I have a very sandy soil with a pH of around 8 it's 1-1.5ft of soil with flint and then it turns into chalk with more flint. It is therefore very well drained but due to the type of chalk deep rooted plants can use it as a water reservoir.
We're Zone 7B  heat zone 2 so similar to coastal Alaska. rainfall is around 800mm a year (32inches) evenly spread and humidity in general is around 80% Our Property is outlined in red in the satellite image below and the garden is the ploughed area you can see that photo was taken last year, and was the first year in over 30 years that the field had been ploughed it had been in grass for horses and then before that cows.


Unfortunately last year the weeds got away from me last year so this year we're dealing with a huge weed issue on this photo you can see the green stripe? well that's what the entire thing would look like if it hadn't been ploughed under, of course all the perennial weeds are just coming back up, sigh. The bit to the right has been under black plastic which worked wonders but now we have a huge vole/water vole problem.


One of the main crops we sell is strawberries! In the above image you can see some new plants that went in this year (and pest-control inspecting the premises, her name is Mischief.). they are a late and a middle season type, (500 in total) both A2++ plants which means they will give some strawberries this year, I would expect to get around 100 punnets from those two rows this year. this photo shows the other three rows that are last years plants, last year those plants (1000 in total) gave us 300 punnets, they were a mixture of A2, A3 and waiting bed plants which is why we expect a few less berries per plant with the new ones. The "grass" in between the rows is just the weeds that come back naturally on this field, it's a mix of grass, clover, dandelions, tansy, creeping buttercup, thistles, melliot wormwood and fat hen, we mow it every week (it needs doing in these photos!) and other than the clover/buttercups which are a real pain crawling up over the plastic it generally stays pretty much where it should. on the new rows I have actually tried planting some lawn grass seed to see if we can get something less creeping in habit and therefore less work, but "weeds" will still be perfectly welcome there.

 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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One issue we have had is cabbage white butterflies, we get three different caterpillars on cabbages here, those from the large  Pieris brassicae and small Pieris rapae cabbage whitebutterflies, and those of the diamondback moth. Plutella xylostella this netting will stop the first two but it will do nothing to stop the moths as they are much smaller, I have read on land cress being an effective dead end trap crop but I have not sourced any seed for this year, so we will just have to go round squishing the little pests again. There's room under that netting for around 400 full sized cabbages. I hope you appreciate the reuse mantra here, since the supports are all old rusted electric fence posts (rebar by any other name) and then old plastic bottles and a few cans when I ran out of bottles! for weights we're using some random pieces of concrete we found behind the shed. The field behind is ours but is rented out and at present has barley in it, we do have a few hops plants so one of this years many projects is trying to make a drinkable beer.


And last for today a picture of some stones.. With a few seedling radishes and some celery. The celery is actually celeriac and it came as plug plants, the only organic vegetable farm up here buys almost all it's starts as small plug plants and they gifted me 6 half trays of various things to try them out and see how it goes, I feel that buying plug plants from Germany/holland/morocco is somehow cheating so I really hope they don't do very well! the two greenhouses in the distance have potatoes in them at the moment they will get tomatoes etc but more on that later. As to the soil, you can see it's very sandy and very stony this part has been raked and as many stones as possible collected, the stones we find vary from the ones in the photo right up to boulders that it takes a tractor or even a pair of tractors to move. head sized stones are not uncommon at all, and to add to the stonieness right in this area there used to be another house, so bricks and lots of random metal also surface.
 
Skandi Rogers
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We are trying to reclaim an old orchard right now, it has mixed fruit trees on 5m centers a ton of black and red current bushes, chives, strawberries, raspberries and one sick horseradish. We've added some more trees and some rhubarb. we cut down a what seemed like hundreds of self seeded plums (thorny with dry tasteless fruit) and cut a lot of branches off an old plum tree where they fall in the storms and then root where they fall. all in all we opened up the area a ton and made it much more passable,

Before.. to the left of the picture there are three old wood and metal calf huts they have been there 30 years and also have to go.

Oh look an apple tree! the tree dead center is quite a nice apple tree but it wasn't even possible to see it before! It had a massive crop of flowers this year so hoping for a equally good crop of apples.


But this means we have a problem, the ground cover was wood avons mainly with lesser celandine in the spring, nothing once the trees leafed out the shade was too deep. neither of which is an issue at all, there were a few patches of nettles but since we couldn't walk through the area they were not an issue.. but now they are! Nettles here grow to over 6ft and I hate being stung as it stings for a good 24hrs. so nettles next to paths just have to go, so lawn mower to the rescue.

Hubby found these caterpillars on some he was about to mow, they are either peacock or small tortoise shell butterfly babies so I went to collect them into a pot to move to some safer nettles, well I discovered they have a defense mechanism, when you touch their plant they all curl up and fall off scrabbling around on the floor under some pretty dense nettles isn't much fun, but I found at least half of them and moved them to some high-rise accommodation nearby.
 
Skandi Rogers
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There's not much of any substance edible round here yet, my peas are 6 inches high, carrots have just grown their first true leaves and cabbages, well they would only make a very small snack for a single caterpillar right now, but the weeds are doing well so here was dinner, weed and leftover salad, with a few new potatoes out of the pollytunnel.

Yesterdays plain white bread, new potatoes, Fat hen, chickweed, hawthorn flowers, chives and chive flowers, fennel, tarragon and lovage.

Plus a bit of chorizo which is not pictured, then I fried the chorizo in a dry pan, and then fried the bread in the fat that came out of the sausage, the potatoes were just plain boiled, to do anything else to such nice new potatoes is sacrilege, wait until they start getting old for fancy stuff. while they were cooking I made a balsamic/olive oil dressing, then while the bread and potatoes are still hot through it all together and serve.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Marketing.. Urgh that should be a four letter word as far as I am concerned, I hate sales I really do and being in the business of selling stuff that is a problem. I'm working on my farms facebook page this spring, trying to get some bulk in it before really pushing it out publicly, I've used groups before but not a page the latest picture to go up was this one, showing our new potatoes and strawberries on the way. I didn't link it on any of the local sites because we are already selling out of potatoes, I don't want more customers yet. A nice problem to have I have to admit.


I'm really bad at saying why you should buy MY stuff rather than Freds down the road, sure I don't spray or use artificial fertiliser but neither does he, it's local! so are his. It's much easier when the competition is only supermarkets everyone knows they are evil, or rather everyone thinks they are evil whether they are or not is an entirely different matter.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Greenhouse economics.

Well pollytunnels really, while I would love a nice glass greenhouse the reality is that it is totally unaffordable. The planning regulations here allow 75m2 of greenhouse space before you need to get permission at present I use two 24m2 greenhouses so I can add a third if I want, we fill them with potatoes and then plant tomatoes and cucumbers afterwards so I get two crops from each house every year. Over the last two years each greenhouse has produced around 30kg of early potatoes sold at 30DKK/kg and then they give 50kg of tomatoes (1000 DKK worth of them sold) and 7kg of cucumbers each, (150DKK) we also get some peppers and melons but they are just for personal use so I don't include them in my calculations. The cucumbers are to cheap we sell at 5DKK which is supermarket price, but 10 is to high and anything in-between leaves an issue with change since the stall is unmanned. I think I will go to 7 each this year as we now have Mobile pay set up so people can do that if they need to.

looking all shiny and new.

Anyway the income from each greenhouse each year comes in at 2050DKK each after sales tax that is 1640. the greenhouses cost me 1440 before tax. Which means that they pay back in their first year even including the cost of seeds and potatoes, any money they make after that first year is profit. They are on their third year now and this will be the last year for the plastic, it is sown together and the stitching has gone in many places, some of the poles have sheared off as well and are held straight with rebar and tape. I think it will be possible to canibalise the frames to make one usable frame from the two. It was possible to buy the plastic alone for 1000DKK but I see that it is not on the website anymore, however the same place now actually sells normal greenhouse plastic so they could be recovered with that, or I can buy new ones or buy plastic and make some kind of frame. all that maths has not been worked out yet, but the bottom line is that I made a profit of around 3000DKK per greenhouse over two years growing things that I could not grow without them. I would like to buy the third and take myself up to the area limit, but while I can easily sell the potatoes I am not sure I can sell any more tomatoes or cucumbers, and we got enough tomatoes last year from two that were not sold to keep us in tinned tomatoes all year round.

The joy of these little tunnels is that they are movable, I can easily rotate them with the rest of my crops and not have to worry about growing potatoes/tomatoes in the same spot every year, but a down side is I cannot trellise anything to them and they are not very tall (6ft6) the small volume means they heat up and cool down fast and their flimsy nature means they cannot stay up over winter. I'm going to price up wood to make a wood framed pollytunnel and then compare it to the commercial available tunnels.
 
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The stitching wore out? ???  Was it UV or what? Are there not some quite impervious threads to be had out there.

Not that it may matter too much if the fabric degrades out of hand (in 3 years or so).


Regards,
Rufus
 
Skandi Rogers
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I can't say we make a huge amount of money from selling things but we make enough to pay taxes and insurance on the property, and we get enough fruit and vegetables to keep us more than fed. The compost also gets a fair amount. This year we are selling from our roadside stand, to a box scheme and we will be having a stand in town on a Monday, it's not really a market and as I understand it we will be the only vegetable sellers, but it is in the market square and there is a lot of footfall, apparently last Monday it was very busy there, so hopefully we will do well this monday

This was how our stand looked at 9.20am this morning, it had been pretty well emptied over night so the stock levels are a bit low! The sign says Vegetables and then lists what we have right now. Strawberries, Potatoes, Onions and lettuce are what it is advertising, we also have herbs kohl rabi and swiss chard on the table.
We take cash in the black box on the left and the mobile number on the right is for payments via an app called "Mobil Pay" which is what it sounds like most Danes have the app. The box on the right is insulated and contains the potatoes and peas when we have them. unfortunatly I had terrible germination this year or they were eaten as they emerged so there are not very many peas to be had which is a shame as they are a big seller.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Tried the local towns market today, it's a flea market there was one stand selling honey they even had some bees with them and apaprently there is normally someone who sells potatoes and a few bits of veg. But this week there was just me with vegetables. It's 8am to 5pm so an awful lot of standing around and I made the same as the roadside stand does on a good saturday, but I didn't have any peas, potatoes or strawberries with me so I could have made a good bit more than I did. I was in the shade up until around 2 which certainly helped keep the veg cool. Here's a little picture of the stand and some of the rest of the market in the background.
107861033_10158931310687697_3878073383388605447_o.jpg
[Thumbnail for 107861033_10158931310687697_3878073383388605447_o.jpg]
 
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Beautiful farm stand, and you have a spacious garden! Do you also have animals? I'd love to visit someday, it's actually not that far.
My garden is too small to really focus on selling crops, but if I wanted, it would be mulberry. It's really low maintenance, grows like crazy, and to collect the fruit you just need to spread a cloth or something on the ground around it, and they will drop.
But I usually just eat them from the tree. Maybe I will dry the leafs for sale, they're super tasty and healthy as tea.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Flora Eerschay wrote:Beautiful farm stand, and you have a spacious garden! Do you also have animals? I'd love to visit someday, it's actually not that far.
My garden is too small to really focus on selling crops, but if I wanted, it would be mulberry. It's really low maintenance, grows like crazy, and to collect the fruit you just need to spread a cloth or something on the ground around it, and they will drop.
But I usually just eat them from the tree. Maybe I will dry the leafs for sale, they're super tasty and healthy as tea.



No no animals at the moment, they are in the plan but you know how money goes, fencing is expensive. We're missing having chickens but where we want to put them needs clearing and we won't have time until the autumn, The end plan is to rotate between cows and pigs one year each.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Well Autumn is well and truely here, it's Mid October and we've still not had a frost, I'm really hoping we don't get another really warm and wet winter like last one, the vole and slug populations exploded and really had bad an impact on the garden and the bottom line.
Part of the plan to try and keep their numbers down is to remove any food that is still out in the field, last year we lost 80% of the parsnips to voles, we would go to pull one and it was just an empty shell hollowed out from inside. so today I went out and dug up all the remaining parsnips, the voles had started! The biggest and best parsnips were nibbled around 10cm down but most were ok. I got 18kg of parnips from around 16m of row. Not bad considering these are just the last ones the total for the area is probably somewhere around 30kg.

I like parsnips as a staple crop, they are very easy to grow and are a lot less work than potatoes to plant or dig. They were a staple crop for the poor before potatoes came to Europe even writers of the time who could be really scathing of "poor" mans food have little bad to say about them.

Culpepper had this to say on them;

The Garden Parsnip nourisheth much and is good and wholesome, but a little windy, but it fatteneth the body if much used. It is good for the stomach and reins and provoketh urine.


And Gerard this:

The Parsneps nourish more than do the Turneps or the Carrots, and the nourishment is somewhat thicker, but not faultie nor bad.... There is a good and pleasant foode or bread made of the rootes of Parsneps,...



Preserving the summer crops is nearly done now, with the last ketchup ketchuped and all the apples/pears now jellied or in the case of pears turned into sweetchilli sauce. There was a casualty this year however. and that was the glass top of our cooker, it couldn't stand the weight of the pan below. It only weighs just over a kg in itself but it's a 12L pan so it gets pretty heavy when full.



but there's not many nicer feelings than looking at all the jars sitting on the side waiting to be labeled at the end of the day. from left to right there's tomato passata, apple jelly, apple sauce and chutney on the right.

 
Skandi Rogers
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Autumn would not be autumn without mushroom picking! I've not gotten out much this year but I did find time for some woodland (and main road) foraging last week, I went with a friend so this is half the haul


It was a really mixed bag, with most of it coming from some woods near the sea and the big parasols coming fro m the coast road through the dunes. we saw them at 50mph from the car in the dark and then had to find somewhere to turn round and then stop to get them. they stand nearly a foot tall so on the very short windswept grass of the roadside they are very very obvious.

On the chopping board from the top left we have velvet boletes, Suillus variegatus below them chantarelles, Cantharellus cibarius to their right the cap of a cep Boletus edulis (my friend got the only full one of them we got) above that are some crystal puff balls, Lycoperdon perlatum to their right are Amethyst deceivers Laccaria amethystina and then the Parasols Macrolepiota procera In the bottom right corner and looking very strange is a bit of a cauliflower fungus Sparassis crispa. and last but most certainly not least right at the top are a load of hedgehog mushrooms Hydnum repandum. I will be out in the next few days after one of my favourites that no one seems to pick, the trumpet chanterelle or as I know it "Yellow legs" Craterellus tubaeformis which is the Norwegian name and a much better one!

As a treat I turned this lot into the mushroom pate part of a beef wellington and can I say it was delicious.

 
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Wow this thread is awesome! Why didn't you tell me earlier that it exists? :)

Started following it now...!
 
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I love your story
 
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just wondering when I read about your cabbage worms, loopers? is Dipel listed as an organic method to take care of worms such as these in Denmark?
 
Skandi Rogers
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bruce Fine wrote:just wondering when I read about your cabbage worms, loopers? is Dipel listed as an organic method to take care of worms such as these in Denmark?



Yes it is, however you need a sprayers certificate to buy it or most other herbicides/pesticides. that certificate is a week long residential course so it and the cost of dipel would make those the most expensive cabbages in the world. we didn't get the small moths much this year so the netting worked perfectly and is now rolled up again and back in the barn ready for next year.
 
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