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View Diary: At least make it easy for hardworking Americans to create FOOD (105 comments)

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  •  Not even getting into the CA water war, (19+ / 0-)

    those with small acreage should be getting help. We desperately need to be growing local. And you know what - it may just happen without help. I've got two neighbors who have chickens now. We have been eating lamb, pig and beef raised by our friend outside Marysville for a few years now. If we need to, we have the acerage. I refuse to be beholden to agribusiness. Each season, our garden gets bigger and we're trying to grow more "stuff".

    Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

    by mrsgoo on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 10:06:07 PM PDT

    •  if people used the dirt in suburban yards wisely (17+ / 0-)

      rather than being amateur lawn farmers, i suspect that a significant proportion of suburban food needs - esp. tree fruit and fresh veggies - could be produced in the suburbs. to say nothing of people on rural allotments.

      •  I've got a couple of apple trees on my property (5+ / 0-)

        I don't think I've ever seen an edible fruit off either one.  Some years they develop small apples, maybe a couple of inches across, but between birds, squirrels, wasps and who knows what else, they never seem to make it to 'ripe' before they're gone.  Most years they don't seem to fruit at all.  I suspect most foods can't simply be grown through 'benign neglect', and that those lawn farmers would have to learn how to tend them, and spend a lot more time working to produce actual food.  Just an observation, not trying to actually discourage your idea - I think it's a good one overall, but I just think like anything else worth doing, it will take more work than it seems at first glance.

        •  you ain't whistling dixie, doc (5+ / 0-)

          despite my pastoral ode above, I have learned that lesson, too. Growing food is not a simple task.
          I didn't necessarily want to learn about powdery mildew, Early Blight, Asparagus beetles, cabbage moths, soil pH, calcium deficiencies, and more, but it goes with the territory.
          (If you treat your lawn, and the trees are in it or nearby, don't eat the fruit under any circumstances. Chemicals could be one reason for poor fruiting. Of course, it could be a nitrogen issue, lack of pollinating insects, poorly draining soil...)

          Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

          by kamarvt on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 06:26:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is all about your soil (4+ / 0-)

            Healthy soil, with alot of composted leaves and some well rotted manure will produce a bumper crop.

            Try this- in the fall, designate a new garden patch.
            Pile leaves- anything but oak- much too acid and takes years to break down- a foot thick over newspaper covered with a couple of inches of fresh or rotted manure.
            Cover with a tarp, until freezing, if you live in a windy area.
            Remove tarp and let the winter snow and rain work their magic.

            Next spring, do not till- tilling destroys the soil structure.
            Plant your seedlings down thru the semi- rotted leaves.
             You will have a fantastic garden- check moisture and water with soaker hose laid on the surface.

            Try to disturb the soil in your garden as little as possible- this method can be used to rehabilitate a spent garden space.
            Leaves are solid gold.

            •  ah, yes. comforter compost. (3+ / 0-)

              there are some great names for different types of piles (Hospital Heap is one of my faves). That's the next step for the corn patch I've begun making by suffocating the grass. No-till makes a lot of sense, but since my space is limited, I cannot rotate crops, and so I have problems with plant diseases. I generally rotate the soil, and add finished compost to revitalize. I'm also pretty good about testing the soil, so I have an idea where the pH is, nutrient levels, etc.
              No problem getting leaves in VT right about now, either. Maybe I can sell tickets to my compost pile to the tourists...

              Oh, yeah; tourists? We fixed our roads, and most of the bridges, too. What Are You Waiting For?!?

              Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

              by kamarvt on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 08:36:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You're right, apples can be tricky (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Siri, Orinoco, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

          There were two decrepit apples on our 1 acre lot when we moved in, and we planted a Wolf River apple tree about 7 years ago.  I set in pruning the old trees, and they do make fruit (one every year, one every other year, generally) but just about none of it can be eaten out of hand.

          I tried bagging the apples (which you should investigate) but it hasn't worked for me.  It could be that by the time the apples are 1 inch in diameter, it's too late to bag them.  I do make a lot of applesauce, but it is labor intensive because I have to cut off all the brown areas and discard the worms.

          I'm actually considering using some sort of spray, or at least I'm thinking I should look into it.

          Universal Health Care - it's coming, but not soon enough!

          by DrFood on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 06:29:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like your apple trees need some nutrients (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bronte17, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

          The best way to restore stressed trees is to feed with good manure in the early spring and then mulch heavily with hay all the way out to the dripline of the branches, keeping the hay a couple of inches away from the trunk.

          The hay breaks down slowly and gives additional nutrients to your tree as well as retaining water.
          Your tree also needs adequate water during fruiting.

          Your tree 'wants' to produce apples but is too sick to do that.

          Go for it and hopefully next year you will be swimming in fruit.

        •  A great website for growing almost anything is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

 It's a forum format and the people there are very, very helpful. The collective wisdom of the gardening community is amazing.

        •  it might not be the right climate for them (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

          i dunno, i am far from an ag expert, and manage to come away with tons of fruit from my citrus, peach and pomegranate trees, with basic pruning every once in a while.

          there are harder crops and easier ones, but there's a lot that are close to idiot proof, and don't require huge investments of time. getting to where you grow all of your food, or even most of your fruit and veggie allotment, is another story entirely, but  even supplementary food helps.

          think about how much time, money, effort and skill goes into growing lawn. if people spent the same effort on gardens, they'd get a decent harvest of food. you can do a fair amount just with pots on the porch.

    •  Just met new neighbors a few blocks away who (7+ / 0-)

      want to get chickens and have gone to city hall to get a permit.  We live in a suburban community outside a major city in Ohio.  

      We have a garden that gives us salad all summer, along with herbs, onions, peppers and tomatoes.  I really have come to LOVE our salad garden.  As the neighbors talked about the chickens, I thought it would be a great idea for us to explore too.  We do have two cats who would try to kill them constantly, so that might be a problem, in addition to all the neighborhood cats on the prowl.

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 03:56:04 AM PDT

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      •  I wouldn't worry much about the cats/chickens (12+ / 0-)

        We've owned (well, shared a house with) cats for many years and on several occasions near chickens. I've seen several young, naive cats get started stalking chickens only to get pecked in the head and decide it wasn't worth the trouble. Once while we lived in Ca., a neighbors hen walked up on our front porch in the middle of 4 cats, (all experienced hunters) and ate their food out of the bowl sitting there and not one of them even tried to stop her.
        I don't know if we just happened to run across super chickens, or just happened to have a series of cowardly cats, but in my experience the chickens have nothing to worry about.

        •  I taught my cat that the baby chicks (0+ / 0-)

          were a no-no, but she was an exceptional cat.

          Also trained my dogs to leave them alone.  The neighbor dogs will inevitably be another story.  That wasn't my problem - I was in a very remote area, and it was a bear that decimated most of my flock.  I managed to kill the bear, canned the meat, and fed some to the chickens for a little poetic justice.

          The best thing is to make a fortress-like chicken coop and yard.  

          Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

          by Gustogirl on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 08:23:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Full grown chickens are o.k. (8+ / 0-)

        In my experience, full grown full sized (not bantam) hens are not enticing to cats.  To dogs, to raccoons, to foxes, yes!  To cats, only when they are small/young.

        You won't know you have fox or raccoons in your neighborhood until after you find multiple dead hens, so if you get some chickens, make their roosting place very secure.  Our cat is large (14 lbs) and comes from barn cat lines, kills mice, rabbits and small birds, when he gets outside, but he's never even swatted at a full grown hen.  They just look much bigger than they really are.  (They're mostly feathers.)

        I would recommend Mother Earth News and/or the Backyard Chicken as a source of more info. . .

        Universal Health Care - it's coming, but not soon enough!

        by DrFood on Wed Sep 28, 2011 at 06:33:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My brother has chickens. He was driving down the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      road one day and saw four of them just wandering around. He picked them up, took them home then he and a neighbor built a coop for them. He's since added a few more birds. They get all their eggs from their handful of hens.

      •  And he learned the hard way about making their (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl, DrFood

        coop secure. A racoon got one of his hens, just pulled it right out of the pen -- they found a few feathers and some blood, but that was it. He's since entended the wire fencing a good foot or so under the ground.

      •  Wish we could raise chickens here. (0+ / 0-)

        Dang zoning laws.  :P  But at least we should be able to after we move to Iceland, so long as we get a place outside the city.  :)

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