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Author Topic: Growing Food  (Read 13994 times)

yoplait

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Growing Food
« on: March 31, 2008, 07:12:29 pm »

For those of you that grow your own food or want to be able to survive if there should be some sort of economic collapse, what kinds of things can you grow?  Is a greenhouse a viable option?  Would you have to heat the greenhouse or would there be enough sun to keep it warm? Thanks

NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2008, 07:42:59 pm »

I grow quite a bit of my own food here in NJ. The growing season is a little longer here than NH. It is usually safe to plant things like tomatoes and such about mid-May. I'm told the growing season in NH is a bit shorter, and varies depending on what part of the state you are in, but most of the things I grow would probably do fine there, or I might have to switch to a little shorter season variety.

I usually grow the following:

Tomatoes - slicing, paste, and cherry
Peppers - bell, frying, and hot
Cucumbers - pickling and slicing
Peas - snap and shell
Beans - bush beans (green and yellow wax), pole beans, and usually some sort of shell bean
Eggplants - I try them every year, some years they are great, last year I got one from 6 plants
Kohlrabi - an interesting vegetable that I grow between the tomatoes, they are done before the tomatoes need all the space
Cabbage - red and green
Greens - mostly chard and kale, though some years we will try some of the mustard family
Lettuces - we grow a variety and take a few leaves from each plant for salads
Squash - both winter and summer, we prefer the yellow zucchini since they are easier to see before they become ball bats, we try new varieties of winter squash each year
Melons - usually watermelon and muskmelons
Onions and garlic, once in a while I'll plant shallots but not often
Plus all the herbs my family prefers, both annuals and perennials
Sometimes I plant corn, but it takes up so much space, is such a heavy feeder, and yields so little that I only plant it if I have extra space.

I have a great deal of trouble with root crops here. Between the stony soil and some critter I've never caught that eats the bottoms off the plants underground, its just not worth it to me

As far as fruits go we have a cherry tree here, an old apple tree, three crab apples and some choke cherries on the property. We also have some sumacs which produce a usable berry. I have rhubarb and strawberries in the garden, lots of black and red raspberries around the property as well as a bunch of wild Concord grapes, and some Niagra grapes I planted against the barn. There are any number of wild rose bushes around, all of which produce large quantities of rose hips which we use for jellies mostly. There are also fiddlehead ferns from the swamp next door to my property in the spring.

Whatever we don't eat fresh I put up as pickles, preserves, jellies, jams, relishes, etc. Some things, like the squashes, don't can as well so those I freeze. The apples, winter squash and such I keep back in the old stalls in the barn. The walls are built into the hillside so it works fine as a root cellar, though I would rather have a proper one.

I only grow open pollinated varieties of vegetables so I can save the seeds from year to year. Most seed packets hold way more than you will plant in a given year if you have a normal size garden, but if you store them properly you can get a number of years out of them. There are a number of fine vendors of heirloom and open pollinated seeds available. I personally purchase mine from Baker's Creek in Missouri, though I have also bought many seeds in the past from the Seed Savers Exchange.

As far as a greenhouse goes, if you are just looking to extend your harvest then an unheated one should do you fine. If you want summer vegetables year round then it will have to be heated, but that costs a lot of money to heat a few tomatoes. If you do some reading up on the subject there are a lot of other ways besides greenhouses to extend your harvests well into the winter months.

I hope this was of some help to you.

George
 
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Ron Helwig

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2008, 08:05:32 am »

I did a "test plot" last year, to figure out what I could grow here in Deerfield. (Not only what can grow here, but what I can grow  :) )

Tomatoes came out fine, herbs worked great. Peppers were pretty good. Radishes were OK. Leaf lettuce was a waste, because I don't care for it much - too much effort for so little reward - but it grew well.

The length of the growing season is a concern, but you're more likely to have issues with soil depth and rocks. We have lots of rocks. I'm planning on building many more raised beds, and maybe eventually putting in a greenhouse.

BTW, John and Rosalie Babiarz have greenhouses in Grafton. Not sure of the specifics though.
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yoplait

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2008, 01:54:19 pm »

What kind of things can't be grown because of the short growing season?

mtgirl

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2008, 03:27:06 pm »

I'm from northern NH and my father has had a bountiful garden for nearly 40 years.  Granted, he gardens on land that was once pasture and farm land right near the Connecticut River, so it's not very rocky and the soil is good.  He's also a rabid composter.  He grows corn, asparagas, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, carrots, cukes, unbelievably huge and delicious garlic, peas, cabbage, broccoli, squash, zucchini - all your basic salad vegetables.  He starts most of his plants indoors - not in a greenhouse, but a really bright/sunny south facing room.  His garden doesn't get any shade.  He uses those tomato insulator thingies when he first puts his tomatoes in the ground.

I, on the other hand, live on a mountain north of Plymouth and my husband has been trying to garden for a number of years with some difficulty.  Our patio plants - tomatoes, peppers & cukes - have grown well.  We've built raised beds, but have a problem with soil and sun.  We're slowly cutting down more trees to get more sunlight (and burn in the winter) and I think our gardening efforts will improve. 

I think a small greenhouse or even a cold frame could really help you get your plants started earlier.
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MaineShark

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2008, 03:42:35 pm »

The seacoast is a micro-climate for grape growing, apparently.  Flag Hill is a commercial winery and vineyard, here.  You can grow grapes elsewhere in NH, but with less crop reliability.  Losing crop every few years because of a frost is not a huge deal for a residential grower, but the commercial applications for grapes are pretty much only in this specific area.  I'm not an expert on which plants will grow here, but I just attended a seminar on grapes, so I know those tidbits.

NH is usually considered zone 4.  We have apples and pears growing here.  We'll be planting some nut trees and some hawthorn hedges (haws are edible) in the near future.  There are wild strawberries growing in my lawn, but they never grow to any appreciable size on account of growing in my lawn, and getting mowed with the grass.

We have chives, sage, enormous amounts of Thai basil, cilantro (left by the previous owners, and we don't eat cilantro, so if anyone wants plants, just ask), and several other herbs growing.  We'll be growing some Chinese and native medicinal herbs outdoors, and more in the future when we build greenhouses for them.

Greenhouses can be heated here.  It depends on the specific application.  There are good ways and bad ways and worse ways to heat greenhouses, so do yourself a favor and talk to someone who really understands heating (a skilled heating contractor) before starting construction, or even before getting too far along in your plans.  Building a greenhouse that you can't afford to heat because it is simply too large for your heating budget or because it isn't designed for high levels of energy efficiency is a recipe for disaster.

I'm happy to talk to anyone who needs help with design of greenhouse heating, whether on a hobby, residential, farm, or commercial scale.  We can heat with oil, gas, wood, pellet fuel, corn, wood chips, solar... lots of options.

Joe
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margomaps

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2008, 07:15:48 pm »

On a related note, if anyone has any experience with fre-fab lean-to greenhouse kits, I'd like to know.  I'm considering that as a replacement for my deck (which I never use).  I think I could get good use out of a greenhouse/sitting-room combo.

After moderate internet research, it seems that the pre-fab kits are pretty pricey.  Anywhere from $5k-$10k+ for a 14'x14' lean-to with good quality glass.  I also found that in the commercial realm, you can get a 36'x90' greenhouse for about the same price.   :o
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MaineShark

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2008, 07:25:57 pm »

On a related note, if anyone has any experience with fre-fab lean-to greenhouse kits, I'd like to know.  I'm considering that as a replacement for my deck (which I never use).  I think I could get good use out of a greenhouse/sitting-room combo.

After moderate internet research, it seems that the pre-fab kits are pretty pricey.  Anywhere from $5k-$10k+ for a 14'x14' lean-to with good quality glass.  I also found that in the commercial realm, you can get a 36'x90' greenhouse for about the same price.   :o

Quality can be pretty variable.  Insulation differences between a plastic-sheet greenhouse and a glass greenhouse make a big difference during the winter.

Greenhouses aren't hard to build, actually.

Joe
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margomaps

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2008, 07:38:55 pm »

Quality can be pretty variable.  Insulation differences between a plastic-sheet greenhouse and a glass greenhouse make a big difference during the winter.

Greenhouses aren't hard to build, actually.

Yeah, I started looking at the kits first to get a sense for the cost.  Then if I didn't like the cost, the next step would be to find out what it takes to build one from scratch.

The "pre-fab" kits I saw were really just part kits.  You still had to install some sort of foundation and do all the assembly.  I guess the value-added is in having exactly all the parts you need, knowing they'll fit together, having an instruction manual, and a 1-800 number to call if things go awry.  But yeah, a greenhouse doesn't seem like the most complicated thing to build.  Seems like you'd want to be careful about things like heating and ventilation if you really want to use it to grow things though.
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MaineShark

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2008, 07:46:35 pm »

But yeah, a greenhouse doesn't seem like the most complicated thing to build.

Start looking for folks who are replacing windows, and preparing to trash the old ones.  Free glass is a good start... :)

Seems like you'd want to be careful about things like heating and ventilation if you really want to use it to grow things though.

Very much so.  Before you even choose a size, much less start pouring a slab.  For one thing, the only realistic way to heat a greenhouse is with radiant heat in the slab (and tables, if you are installing tables).  So you don't want to pour a slab before talking about heating.  The benefit of radiant is that what mostly matters to a plant is the warmth of its roots.  As long as you keep the air above freezing, most plants do fine, if their roots are warm.  The cooler the air is, the less difference between it and the outdoor air, so the less heat flows out through the wall of the greenhouse.  Heat loss is a linear function of the U-factor of the material and the temperature difference.  If the temperature difference is cut in half, the heat loss is cut in half.

Radiant is, in my opinion, with fuel prices what they are, the only way to heat a greenhouse.

Joe
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pstudier

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2008, 09:20:38 pm »

For those of you that grow your own food or want to be able to survive if there should be some sort of economic collapse, what kinds of things can you grow?  Is a greenhouse a viable option?  Would you have to heat the greenhouse or would there be enough sun to keep it warm? Thanks

I hate to discourage you but growing vegetables will not make you self sufficient in food.  Not enough calories, balanced protein or fats.  If you don't believe me, try eating nothing but vegetables for a week.  Adding butter or oil is cheating unless you plan to grow or stockpile it.

A more practical way is to stockpile a years supply of nonperishable food.  Mormons commonly do this.  Find a Mormon and ask them how they do it.

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NJLiberty

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2008, 09:47:07 pm »

Obviously growing veggies is not the total answer, but it is the basis for being self sufficient...non-perishable food will only tide you over for so long. There are many good books on that subject, though talking with a Mormon is a great start as far as laying in an emergency supply goes. If you want to be self sufficient then you will need to have fruits and nuts planted, as well as raise a simple source of protein, either poultry or rabbits are easiest. You can render the chicken fat to replace the normal use of butter or oil in cooking. If you have the land you could raise goats for milk and/or meat as well. You can also keep bees rather easily if you want access to honey.

George
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John Edward Mercier

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2008, 08:15:35 am »

What kind of things can't be grown because of the short growing season?
Not sure if there is anything that can't be grown...  just the effort/equipment needed.
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zelaya

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2008, 09:48:02 am »

I've been wanting to buy/build a greenhouse for years and never have (not as much incentive in Virginia) but I have this site bookmarked as a source of cheap greenhouse plans and materials, as well as cold-weather growing advice.
http://www.northerngreenhouse.com/
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NuclearDruid

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Re: Growing Food
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2008, 10:15:39 am »

Now is also the time to get with some old-timer locals and learn how to forage on wild plants/nuts/fruits. Throughout the year, learn the blooming period (so that you can spot patches) and the harvesting times. Also sample frequently because there is alot of variability between individual plants/patches on how palatable they are.

IMHO,
ND
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