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What's going in your garden?

These are very exciting times! After relying on old stock and the much appreciated wild treasures for two years I'm now making preparations. It's time to dig my heels into the garden, to trade sweat for bread.

It's a great deal for me. When I was challenged to do the math it was undeniable. Take two kernels of corn and a sharp stick. Poke two holes in the ground, drop in your seed, and step on it. With a little maintenance those two seeds become hundreds. How does a a 10,000% return sound? Yeah, sounds good to me too.

I've learned a lot from you folks and I'm back for more. What are your plans? Browse for some inspiration. Share your progress, even your failures, if you dare.

And if you don't have a piece of earth to start, consider the waste places. Learn to use a new wild edible. Make it a game. Each one is worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars over a lifetime. If you have thirty bucks lying around, Sam Thayer's books on wild edible plants are excellent. No tillage required, just dress it and keep it. What fun!

As always, remember the law, respect the gleaner's rights, and respect the land. Give it rest. Avoid mingled seed. Then you may reap the benefits of rain in due season, and watch as the Creator of heaven and earth rebukes those who would devour.

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Can someone check my math

Return on Investment- 20,000%

Take two kernels of popcorn and a stick. Poke two holes in the ground, drop in your seed, and step on it. With a little maintenance those two seeds become hundreds.

I started with around 100 kernels of corn. I now have around 100 ears of corn with on average 200 seeds per ear, or 20,000 kernels. That's 200 times my original investment. That's a 20,000% return.

Thanks to and, where I was challenged to do the math and TRY IT.

Could you be underestimating your true overhead?

What you speak of as a total is Gross return, there were many costs accrued in the "little maintenance" you mention right? Mostly from your own time and labor let alone "costs of doing business" like water, fertilizer, Etc.

With these factors in mind what was your true net profit? During the season Corn can be purchased at 2-3 ears for a dollar. So your 100 ears would have only cost 33 to 50 dollars at the store.

In the end you may have lost time and money unless you are growing "Special" Corn worth much much more per ear?

Unconstitutional War - "The story you are about to hear is true; the names and places are being changed to protect the guilty."

That's true

I've got about 3 hours in right now, but it was easy work, and I think I could produce more with very little labour added. The water and grass clipping fertilizer were free of charge.

That's cool.

Free water and fertilizer will help! Just as an experiment keep track of your hours and apply what you think your time is worth an hour and please let me know how it goes. I once grew Potatos that I could buy in the store at $3.00 for 10 pounds, what a waste of time that was! lol. But now organic Sweet Potatos would be well worth the time! I think it is all in the crop and effort put into that particular crop.

Thanks for the reply!

Unconstitutional War - "The story you are about to hear is true; the names and places are being changed to protect the guilty."

Question for permies and no-tillers...

Would you plant your garden to a cover crop and then poke the veggie plants in? Or just use mulch between the plants?

What I did

was to mulch the entire garden area, then I drilled holes with an cordless drill powered auger, filled the holes with compost/fertilizer and planted. I did it with corn first time last spring and it worked out very well.

mountaincat's picture


I agree with tonton. Heirloom vegies just explode with flavor.
I'm kind of fond of horse manure for fertilizer. I doesn't smell bad and it's already the consistency of dirt.
I will start my plants from seed next month.
This year I'm planting,

Tomatoes - at least a dozen variety s
Broccoli - unlike cauliflower it produces into the 3rd snow
Kol robis - plant these between the broccoli, about the time that the broccoli grow into the kol robis, harvest the kol robis and let the broccoli have the space
Beans - just worked out the proper growing tech last year
Peppers - hot and mild
Brussel sprouts
Apples - 2 kinds

BMWJIM's picture

Just wondering, have you tried manure

from the local zoo. I think I am going to try it this year. Can get dump truck loads for free. Somewhere I read that elephant manure was very good for in the garden. Normally I use horse but it is getting harder to find around here.


1976-1982 USMC, Having my hands in the soil keeps me from soiling my hands on useless politicians.

mountaincat's picture

Hi Jim

My local zoo would be about 160 miles away. Although I'm sure it would be fun to haul a truckload of elephant dung, stopping in every town square along the way. It just wouldn't be cost effective.
I think elephant should be good as so much material is undigested,
but i would check into possible pathogens especially from a variety of exotic animals.

Starting corn indoors?

I saw a video of a seed farm setting out corn plants that were about 6 inches tall. Made me think. Has anyone here tried that? Looking on forums I saw discussions where some people sprout their corn before they plant it, but some said that the tap root of the corn was too long to successfully grow transplants.

This Summer, I plan to try

This Summer, I plan to try herbs, medicinal types. Even if I just get a few going, if I have seeds and store them, I can expand the following Summer. I will buy produce for canning from local farmers; they are cost efficient. My herbs, if successful are going into lotions and potions.
Thanks for asking!

A whole lotta Heirloom, baby - Here's how...

Ok, you asked for it. If you follow these plans, your garden will absolutely produce beyond your wildest dreams.

First, lets start with the seeds. Don't bother buying seeds unless they are clearly marked "heirloom". Heirloom seeds are the trade name for seeds which are non-GMO, and will produce fruit which seeds can be harvested, and replanted next growing season. Germinate seeds and let sprouts grow to about 6 to 8 inches tall (Under grow lights, on heat mats, or in a warm area of your home), then hardy them off by placing them outside for an increasing amount of time each day until they are outside all time. Then you are ready to plant.

Second, soil is very important. Maintain your soil throughout the winter by spreading wood ashes directly on top of your garden patch. Till in prior to planting. Spread mushroom soil over the entire garden (4 to 6 inches thick)to feed your plants throughout the growing season. After harvest, leave the leftover mushroom soil (very little will be left)on the garden plot (adding your wood ashes) and till in in the spring.

Third, water your garden with non-fluoridated, non-chlorinated well water, or collected rain water in barrels every day unless it rains (or rains really heavy). Soil should be easily permeated by your index finger to at least between your first and second knuckle of your index finger during the entire growing season if possible.

As for what we are planting this year in Lancaster, PA, here is the list:

Brandywine tomatoes
Amish Paste tomatoes
pole beans
sweet bell peppers
garlic (already planted)
peanuts (first try this year)
Spanish squash (like a big green pumpkin)
spaghetti squash
sweet corn

Also, along the fence row:

BTW...We will start germinating this weekend!
Now we should start a thread about preserving all of natures goodness!

So where can I get this magical mushroom soil?

At 6 inches deep, I'd need a caravan of pickup loads.

Let me know how the peanuts go. I gave them a try once, but really didn't do it right.

Mushroom soil (also known as Mushroom mulch)

Mushroom soil (also known as Mushroom mulch), can be obtained here in the northeast at any landscape materials store, or the same place you would buy your bark mulch for your landscaping. I usually buy 8 to 10 yards and have it delivered in tri-axle loads (usually free delivery because I am buying so much). The most I have paid per yard is $15, so it really is fairly inexpensive. Unlike many, I also own a tractor with a front end loader, so it is very easy to move and spread the entire pile in a weekend.

More on Mushroom Soil

If interested, please see the link below for more information on Mushroom soil.

Sounds good.

Saw a lot of recommendations by gardeners saying the same as you- incredible results. Seems like a good addition to my clay soil. One year we used manure/compost and got a great crop- of weeds. Weeds I'd never seen before. So being curious, I let them grow and go to seed. LOL. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.

I also found an article that says mushroom compost can contain chemicals used to control pests and fungal infections.

There is an organic mushroom grower not far away, but I'm not sure they sell compost. At least not in the amounts I need at a price I can justify.

Not Sure Where You Are In Texas

But I did find mushroom soil fairly cheap here:


I see that that company also strives to use minimal chemicals. And the prices seem very reasonable. I just finished watching the "Back to Eden" film that John Robb posted in the Seawater Greenhouse thread. One of the gardens in that film used several inches of mushroom compost topped by several inches of wood ships and then dusted with composted cow manure.

Thanks for the great tip!

Dad gets a half a bushel of fresh figs from potted plants.

He's in Flint Michigan. They summer on the south brick wall of his house and winter in the garage.

They grow 12 foot tall then he prunes them to store.

He waters them, they grow. Seems simple enough to me.

Free includes debt-free!

Not even close to thinking about the garden

But- I did go online last night to get my order in for six new fruit trees for spring delivery.

Last year our two year old Peach tree gave us about 2 dozen of the best peaches I have ever had in my life - couldnt believe it after only two years. I am hooked now.

Getting three more peach/nectarine trees and three more apple trees.

For anyone considering -it is really not hard - just takes a little time every week to keep the bugs off(we dont use pesticides)and maintain. Easier than I thought. Although it helps that I live near a large commercial orchard so I just drive by now and again - look what they are doing with their trees - and just copy it - lol.

Gogi Berry and N-fixers

Check out the gardening forum at
for all kinds of helpful gardening and farming information. Wicking beds, hugelkultur, forest gardening, nutrient accumulating plants, water management - there are a lot of cool ideas over there.

I am adding nitrogen-fixing shrubs in our gardens to provide low maintenance windbreak, shade, food, and to increase nitrogen in our clay soil. Goumi and Autumn Olive have great berries and Pea Shrub seeds are good chicken food. I'm also planting Gogi Berry and trailing blackberry to cover the south side of my abode for some much needed summer shade. Serviceberry has great berries as well. When plants have multiple functions the garden is happier. Food, medicine, shade, fertilizing, windbreak, privacy, predator/pollinator insect attractor (cowpeas!), mulching and composting (comfrey, mullein!), etc.

Good plant nurseries: Burnt Ridge, Hartmann's, Ison's, and Raintree.

I grew Red Japanese Sweet Potatoes last year and they are amazing. I cured them correctly so now I'm eating good this winter. To me they taste like a cross between butternut squash and Yukon Gold. Best baked, but great any other way, especially with yogurt. I love sweet potatoes because they are healthy and will produce vigorously in my hot as the depths of hell summer. Same with Cowpeas, I grow an old variety called Bisbee that is supposedly from Tombstone, AZ. Baker Creek from Missouri has old and rare varieties and only $3.50 shipping.

Check out Tator Man for good quality sweet potato slips.

I am grafting Brandywine, Indigo Blue Beauty and other heirloom tomatoes and peppers on Big Beef and Supernatural rootstock so I can get disease resistance, heat tolerance, and a larger yield. I will share my results with my fellow gardeners of the DailyPaul.

My gal wants to get a couple pigs, not sure I'm ready for that step in our relationship.

The pigs for earth movers?

I've seen that tried before and the pigs just rooted up their favorite corner and dug a few holes in the pen. Maybe you have to bury corn where you want them to dig.

I'm not familiar with pigs yet

But I'm told that a paddock system works best. They would be useful in passively tilling out hard to kill weeds, such as Bermuda grass.


Snow. Over 2 feet of it atop the beds, which are raised.


We have to shovel out a path to get to our woodpile, and the path takes us past the beds and between some of them--

I wonder what IS going on down underneath all of that.


it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Snow is a good insulator

My strawberry plants are row-covered and insulated with a couple inches of snow. It also is helpful in observing what critters make their way through your woods. Puppy paws on the solar panels this morning.

And to answer your question: Magic.


It certainly is, and I love the stuff, even if it is a lot of work--

I wish that the bitter temperatures had come after the snow, though--

I'm afraid we lost a lot of things that would have come back--

oh well; it's the price paid for gardening in cold places--

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

The garden is under

a blanket of snow and ice but my three hens are working diligently stacking up fertilizer in their pen, should smell quite ripe by spring. LOL

"We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and feel with our touch, but we understand with our hearts."

Same thing here

it's 12 degrees and the ground is covered in ice and snow. My 8 year old daughter took her favorite chickens sledding yesterday, and that was hilarious. We're still getting about 8 eggs a day out of 16 hens though, so we're happy. It's so cold that we have to keep them locked up today and that makes us sad. I know it just drives them nuts to have to stay in that travel trailer/coop all day long.

Hey Dale,

With a coop-trailer you can just hitch it up and take a trip down to Mexico so the hens can be warm and the roosters can live their dream of glory in the battle ring. Also, tequila.

I hope everybody is well. I'll send you an email soon so we can catch up.

I hadn't thought of that!

That would be great! Pulling a coop/trailer behind the ole motor home and heading South for the winter. My dad brought back three bottles of Cazadorez from his last mission trip to Mexico and I've been loving it! Let me change my email address on here before you send anything. I got kicked off of Yahoo for not 'believing correctly' a while back and really haven't been using email. I did revive one from a long time ago when you had very limited characters. Give me until tonight. We're really really busy today, trying to stay warm! haha