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Su Ba

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since Apr 18, 2013
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Retired from veterinary medicine. My second career is creating a homestead, aiming to be self reliant.
Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Recent posts by Su Ba

I can’t speak for your own place and conditions, but much of my food growing area has only 6 inches of soil. So I’d say that it all depends upon your climate conditions and your gardening methods. I grow almost all of our own food plus excess to trade, sell, and giveaway. For long rooted crops like carrots and daikon, I use container boxes.
1 month ago
Leigh, excellent observations and so true. I concluded the same things on my own journey for self sufficiency.
3 months ago
Gray, I grow most of our own food, and could do 100% if we had to. For the sake of variety and convenience, I don’t do 100% at the moment.

I have 20+ acres. I supplement that with hunting, foraging, guerrilla gardening, and trading. A few things are store bought and again, they are a convenience rather than necessity. Hubby likes his Brown Cow yogurt and Fuji apples! I love grapes! The 20 acres is not a fully closed system, basically because the land was incredibly infertile when I moved here. In order to quickly get food to feed our farm, I brought in outside resources (green waste, lava sand, manure, epson salt, lime, boron, soil microbes, etc). To maintain fertility, I still do some of that although the farm now produces much of its own resources. Some resources it cannot self-produce enough of, such as calcium. I still bring in coral sand and bones. I also bring in ocean water. But since these are gathered from within my own district, one could say that they are not imported. Thus the reason I questioned if you meant 1 acre or a 1000. People have different ideas of what “closed system” includes. Just about everything for my farm comes from within a 10 mile radius (it’s 10 miles to the ocean).

I also bring in food waste to feed to my chickens and pigs, who in turn produce manure for my food production. I could indeed skip that, but to what benefit? Just to brag that I have a closed system? The food is not only free, but I get paid money to pick it up from the local businesses. So it generates farm income. Using this waste stream reduces the need for me to work harder to produce all my own livestock feed.

So while I have a good working system, it’s not completely closed. Yes, I could close it. But I prefer to just limit what I go out and buy to bring to the farm.

One other closed system, just how closed would the purist demand it to be? Would bringing in gasoline to run garden equipment mean that the system isn’t closed? Would one need to revert to horse drawn, homemade equipment? Just something to think about,
3 months ago
That’s a tough decision....what to put the effort into, and what not to. For beginners, it’s quickly answered. Due to lack of experience and knowledge, you’ll quickly learn which crops are too difficult for you. But as others indicated, as you experiment and gain skill, you will expand into those more difficult varieties.

Personally I don’t bother growing difficult veggies that we either don’t eat or aren’t popular for trading/selling. So in my region that rules out growing eggplant, zucchini, most squashes, most pumpkins, turmeric, plus many others. I also accept the fact that some things simply won’t grow in my region —- things that require a chill, things that require higher temperatures, things that want it drier than where I am, things that want lower elevation, etc.

And you hit the nail on the head about the grains. Unless you have lots of room to devote to them, plus the ability to harvest & thresh, plus the time to devote to it, grains are better off being purchased. I grow corn, but don’t bother with much in the way of other grains,
The first thing I would want clarification on is how large of an area are you designating to be “your area” of the closed food system. Are you envisioning 1 acre, 5, 20, 100, 1000 acres? It’s easy to have a closed system in a fertile region with 200 diverse acres as the size of your system. It becomes near impossible if the habitat and climate is hostile and the land available is only 1/4 acre. Another question, are you including livestock in your vision? What about salt, spices & flavorings? What about seafood?
3 months ago
June, I invest my time but little money in my guerrilla gardening efforts. Plus I accept the fact that some stuff will die off, some will be “stolen”’, and some will be over harvested. With guerrilla gardening I know that I can’t control that stuff. So I accept that and simply move on. I’ve had to replant plenty of sweet potato, sugar cane, bananas, and breadfruit trees. At least I’m consoled in knowing that somebody now has those plants on their own land, producing food.  Since I produce my own starts, it’s no big deal. I don’t feel that I have to control every plant that I plant. That’s just my viewpoint.

One benefit that came out of my replanting efforts is that the word got out. I’m the local “Johnny Appleseed”. Now people steal less of what I plant. And they know that they can come to me for starts for their own land. For each start that I give them I require that they take two others to plant out some place else. They get enlisted in my guerrilla gardening project! So. now THEY get to dig the holes, not me. 😀
3 months ago
Aloha, Mike

The coconut grove is still there and thriving.  I’ve been there many a time, resting amid them. The trees have grown quite a bit. There’s one tree that gre sideways before heading for the sky and it makes a wonderful bench to rest upon. It’s delightful to have a coconut grove to visit! Glad to know that you’re a part of it. That’s a marvelous legacy. ..... For those of you who don’t know where it is, it is down along the end of Chain of Craters road in the Volcanoes National Park. At one time the road connected to the Puna district, but lava flows broke the road. During that last eruption the road was bulldozed complete again, but it is only available for emergency use now as an escape road. But you can still drive down to the coconut grove.

This island has some real beauty in it. Perhaps some day it will call you back for a visit.
3 months ago
Aloha, Marjory! I’m a bit of a guerrilla  gardener myself. While I have planted plenty on my own 20+ acres, I’ve also planted unused plots of land around my district. But not native food plants. Being located in Hawaii, there’s not much native that is worth eating. But I have planted ...
... pineapples
... bananas
... sugar cane
... lilikoi
... pipinola (chayote)
... avocado
... sweet potato
... cholesterol spinach
... papaya
... coconuts
... breadfruit
... jackfruit

These plants can pretty much take care of themselves. I’ve notice that some people have been harvesting them, and that’s what I intended. Food for my community.
3 months ago
6 puppies. Now how do you suppose one could guarantee a litter of at least 6 pups? Over the decades I’ve had plenty of litters that had less than 6 pups in it. Sooooooo, if somebody bred their litter and only got 4 pups does that mean that they need to breed yet another litter of excess pups in order to qualify for this badge?
3 months ago
Wow......having been a responsible dog breeder myself, this one needs some serious adjustments. The raising of a litter should be the final step to earning a PEP Animal Care badge, not the beginning one.

Suggestions for steps.....
...criteria testing for choosing the “right” dog & bitch. Included should be health, temperament, and workability certification. DNA testing by Embark. Veterinary certification for hips, eyes, and any other inheritable health concern within the breeds being used. Understanding of pedigree evaluation.
... Demonstrate an understanding of safe breeding methods, care during gestation, preparation and care during delivery, neonatal care.
... Demonstrate an understanding of emergency methods for when things go wrong.
... Create a safe whelping area and box.
... Create a safe environment and area for puppy growth to weaning age and to “sale age”.
... Demonstrate knowledge of proper puppy and bitch husbandry, including preventative medicine health care, nutrition, and socialization.
... Create a plan for rehoming strategy  beyond simply just advertising.

Oh my, I think I could write a book on this one. Just throwing two dogs together, having a bunch of puppies born.....well, that’s simply irresponsible in my book. It’s not like raising pigs or chickens where you could just slaughter your mistakes and eat them to make your failures disappear.
3 months ago