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As a first-time rural gardener, starting your first garden after relocating to your new rural life, it is usually high on the list of priorities. Plants take time to germinate and grow. If you aim to be self-sufficient you need to ensure you take the right actions at the right times of the year. You also need to start as soon as you can. These methods have all been successful for many people and offer ways you can start as soon as possible. They also allow future development so you can grow your garden as it grows. Or are more holistic approaches when compared to mainstream or conventional methods.
- Duck Pest Control
- Recommended Books From Amazon
Duck Pest Control
Most homesteads look at chickens as the first animals to keep. They provide food in the form of both eggs and meat. The eggs and meat can be for personal use, or with a slightly larger scale system sold to generate income.
Breeding chickens by hatching and incubating some of the eggs can also be developed as a potential income stream. Ducks can provide all the same as chickens with an added benefit. Ducks Love Slugs!
Huw Richards has a great video explaining this and why he thinks you should keep ducks.
To break down the benefits between ducks and chickens Know your Chickens has a great article on the pros and cons of both.
There is nothing stopping you from experimenting with keeping both if you have enough room. It is important to highlight that ducks will need some sort of bathing pond as well as separate sleeping quarters to the chickens.
No-dig is a great method, to begin with as by using compost and raised bed systems you don’t need to rely on the soil in the area. The downside is until you start producing your own compost you need to ship it in. You may also have to use an external supply if you do not produce enough ‘in-house’ compost. This may not be a problem when you first start but as you scale your growing production you may have to plan for this.
Charles Dowding has a wonderful video showing his success over four years of no-dig gardening.
The experience over those four years has included less need to weed between vegetables, improved crop yields, and the obvious less work with not having to dig each plot numerous times.
Moving to a new rural area you may not know the ph value of the soil so the no-dig method allows you to bypass this and start growing straight away.
Hill culture or hügelkultur is perhaps the next step to the no-dig method. Hügelkultur uses a mound of material, usually logs and branches, covered with soil. The premise behind this being that as the logs decompose they release nutrients into the mound.
Like the no-dig method this doesn’t rely on existing soil type to provide good growing matter.
Mark Valencia from Self Sufficient Me shows how he used the principals of hügelkultur in his raised beds without even knowing.
Hügelkultur can take a while to get up and running. Creating mounds one year to utilize the following year is a good plan. Another benefit is with high enough mounds you can create both sunny and shaded growing areas for different plant requirements. The mounds are also great at conserving water
Toby Hemenway discuss Hügelkultur and other methods of water conservation in this video
If you tried growing herbs in water as we suggested in What Is It Like Living In A Rural Area? you have already experimented with hydroponics. Hydroponics is simply growing in water instead of soil.
The benefits of this are scaleability. You can start with a single small pot of water and branch out from there. A common method is to utilize plastic piping as both a water delivery system and a growing medium.
Family plot has a great video showing how easy a basic system can be to set up.
Hydroponics lends itself well to vertical gardening, this can help you maximize available greenhouse space, something a first-time rural gardener can struggle with.
There is potential to utilize hydroponics as a way to start a microgreens income stream within a short time span and with minimal space and effort. This would allow you time to establish other methods while starting your business off.
From scaling up a hydroponics system you can diversify and develop it into an aquaponics system.
The use of aquaponics lends itself well to being a progression from hydroponics. Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture or the raising of fish in a controlled environment. Essentially you will be combining two food production systems into one. Using much of the same system structure with the addition of fish into the system.
Rob Gray from Rob’s Aquaponics & Backyard Farm explains the system very well in his video
One of the benefits of scaling up to an aquaponics system is the introduction of a second food source in the fish. This could again offer the potential for another income stream. This polyculture will also help you develop concepts and ideas that you can expand upon to slowly move towards more of a permaculture system.
Permaculture is a huge subject to delve into and covers many aspects. In simple terms it is an attempt to live and work closely with nature. By understanding how nature works and using those systems in our designs, we develop a more natural holistic approach to life.
All of the methods here fit in some way within the realms of permaculture. Making it easy for a first-time rural gardener to start. As a more natural and sustainable method of living permaculture methods lend themselves ideally to rural living. They take time to set up and implement and should be developed as a longterm plan.
Brett Cooper of Limestone Permaculture Farm provides an inspiring tour of what can be achieved with permaculture principals, over a long term plan.
With small incremental developments over time, it is possible to develop an organic, holistic system that has the potential to not only provide your food but also potential income sources.
By using ducks as pest control, no dig, hügelkuktur and hydroponic and aquaponic systems, it is possible for a first-time rural gardener to start on a journey towards permaculture.
Looking forward and planning how you are going to implement each of these systems would be a great next step. Systems like aquaponics and using ducks offer insight into how you can combine methods, to achieve results.
Generating multiple income and sustenance opportunities is the way to develop your rural life into something long-lasting and fulfilling. Concepts such as vertical farming and polyculture have been introduced to offer further avenues of research and experimentation.
If you have any thought or ideas about other methods to combine or test out drop a comment below.
Recommended Books From Amazon
- Veg in One Bed: How to Grow an Abundance of Food in One Raised Bed, Month by Month – Huw Richards
- No Dig Organic Home & Garden: Grow, Cook, Use, and Store Your Harvest- Charles Dowding
- Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture – Toby Hemenway
- Hydroponics for the Home Grower – Howard M Resh
- Aquaponic Design Plans Everything You Need to Know, from Backyard to Profitable Business – David H Dudley
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