Hey everyone. My first post! I've recently moved to the country. Renting a stone cottage on a hundred acres of land. My landlord casually mentioned that when they plough the fields this year they could do an extra acre for me. I have little experience farming. I don't think I can manage that much space with limited resources and equipment but I'd like to try. Maybe some suggestions on what grows easy, crop rotation as well as what stores and cans well. I would like to try and sell some excess at a local farmers market. I want to play but don't want to fail. Thoughts?
Sigh...Now I'm jealous! I would grow just about everything! What zone are you in? Do you have a short growing season? Lastly, what do you like to eat?
I'm growing about 25 different veggies, herbs, fruit and tomatoes in my little backyard / side-yard plot. If this is your first time, expect to fail in a few areas and be elated when your first blooms appear then turn to edible deliciousness!
Plant whatever you like to eat. Plant tomatoes, considering how much they cost in the grocery stores. Plant potatoes, sweet potatoes (because they don't raise your blood sugar), green beans are easy, just plant them upside down, plant watermelons, cucumbers, zucchini is prolific (means it is easy to grow and you get a lot of it), just about anything you want to try growing. I am a primitive gardener. My plow is my long-handled shovel and hoe. I sit on the ground and fluff the soil by hand. You could also try growing berries, blackberries, raspberries, things like that. Elderberries are good and kill off viruses in your body.
Broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips are all cool weather groceries. Melons, cucumber, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, okra, berries are all warm weather groceries. As things mature and you harvest them, then plant other things. Find a book that tells about companion planting, that will help you.
Do you want to go organic? Do you need this land to make you money right away? if not than consider planting a cover crop/green manure crop such as field peas, annual rye, alfalfa or some other soil building crop.
Also i find for growing vegetables an acre plowed up is hard to deal with as it has no pathways. the Book The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman is an excellent resource on how to lay out a small market garden/farm.
Also if you have not done a huge garden before an acre will be unmanageable for you unless you don't have another full time job. An acre takes about 30 to 50 hours a week to manage unless you have the experience and equipment to make it work. Without mulching you will spend a lot of time doing weed control. If the farm is conventional and uses pesticides you will spend a lot of time (and likely money) trying to control pests as the chemicals have killed and driven off most/all the beneficial critters. Also your soil will be in poor shape for Organic growing if synthetic fertilizers have been used on the land (but growing a cover crop for a couple of years and adding a lot of compost and other inputs will help a lot)
If you don't have gardening exp start small, no more than say 25' x 50' of garden. You can grow an awful lot of food in that amount of space, more than enough for one person to put up for the winter.
As for what to grow, grow food which you like to eat and stay away from stuff you don't care for.
I have been growing a 4 acre market garden for about 15 years but my first gardens were small and I slowly got bigger (and over time amassed the equipment and know How I need to do multi acre gardens). I am a full time farmer and the farm does indeed take up all my time to do it well.
Thanks Lucy! Your response was definitely the type of advice I was looking for. I will find out from my landlord what has been growing on the land for the previous several years. Fortunately, the book you recommended is one that I picked up and have found it quite useful and informative. Do you use deep bed method for growing and soil cubes for seeding?
Brett we use a bed system not really deep but we have only been here 7 seasons and have been working on the soil and getting it slowly deeper. And yes we use soil blocks for seed starting when we do direct seed though we have changed his recipe a bit and use coco coir instead of peat