Homestead Comprehension Check: Growing in 2014

I remember reading tests from my time in elementary school.  There would be a short story followed by somewhat relevant questions.  The questions were known as a comprehension check.

It’s about time to take a comprehension check of what this season has taught me.

The growing lessons:

The soil is so poor.  This isn’t a new lesson, but I’m just coming to grips with how big the problem is.  I can solve the nitrogen problem with critters and nitrogen fixers.  I can’t easily add the other needed nutrients though.  How can I add enough potassium, phosphorous, iron, etc. to sustain years of growth over several acres?  I could truck in amendments like basalt dust, spread it around, plow it in.  The cost would probably be close to what the land costs.

So what can I grow?  I can grow grass, clover, onions and squash stuff (like cucumbers) without amendments or critters.  With critters and nitrogen fixers, I can get stunted but viable tomato plants, berry plants and a few other things.  Will this change?  Maybe after a lot of time passes.  For now, I have to accept that I’m not going to be able to effortlessly grow fruits and veggies.

The corn did get taller this year, and the stalks and leaves were greener.  So, attempts at nitrogen adjustment were successful.  The corn is still too short though, with small ears.

Likewise, the tomato plants got waist high and are a deeper green than last year.  The improvement is obvious, but still not enough.

The beans produced a few pods.  I’m not sure what went wrong there.  Lack of Comprehension *sigh*

Clover may require more water than alfalfa in the lab, but it needs less water if it is growing densely in our pasture.  This is a major success.  We can reduce pasture irrigation drastically.

My attempts at cloning have met with poor results.  I need to get more education.

The AP project was put on hold, but I learned two vital things:

1. Keep the stock tank out of the light.  If you don’t you’ll get algae.  Algae eats CO2, which is an acid.  Reducing the acid increased the pH.  This is bad.

2.  Managing PH got me dark green plants (pepper and tomato) with leaves that didn’t fall off.  The plants were able to take in iron, etc.

2014 did not justify the money I put into seeds, irrigation or labor.  I do see improvement from last year, but there’s a long way to go.

So, for 2015, I’m planning on concentrating my garden stuff in a small area, filled in with compost or some sort of nutrient-rich soil.

I’m going to put compost on the terraces.

AP is going to get a re-make.  The fish tank will not be outdoors.  I’ll get rid of the grow beds as well.

I’ll be pondering this stuff all winter.


2 thoughts on “Homestead Comprehension Check: Growing in 2014

  1. I’m so proud to be married to someone that looks at what we can improve on, and focus changes to that, instead of getting upset over what we can’t. This is an awesome learning process and I’m happy to do it with you.

  2. Pingback: Income Planning meets Reality | This Happy HomesteadThis Happy Homestead

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