Episode-915- Efficient Vegetable and Protien Production on Small Homesteads — 48 Comments

  1. I got a good laugh. We all make mistakes and hearing you say it was show 615 made because my daughter had just got onto me for the same type of mistake. I got to tell her, see I’m not the only one that has senior moments, as she calls it. At 58 she likes to point all them out. Thanks again Jack you helped me out again. It is great how often you come up with something on the podcast that helps me out. Keep up the great work and the fantastic timing.

  2. Regarding shifting chickens around:

    Paul Wheaton addresses this concept also in his “paddock shift” system, basically moving the chickens to different areas daily or on some appropriate schedule.

    One problem I have with this idea, is that the chicken poop is a product that is desirable from chickens. Personally, while the eggs are nice, the litter is one of the main products I would be interested in and the concept of pasturing those rotationally kind of defeats that objective. Compared to have a traditional run or pen where the litter can accumulate.

    I don’t have chickens yet, but plan to put them in this year. I’ve been discussing with my wife putting up fences in a paddock style (one of them through the orchard for cleanup), but I plan to let them spend most of their time in a run so that the litter can accumulate for collection later.

  3. Another great dual purpose chicken for most climates (we are on the edge of zone 6/7) is the sussex (ours is a speckled variety)… big, beautiful birds that lay almost daily, great forager, lays through winter for us. :o) They are the biggest hens we have (out of 5 different kinds). They are free range (during the day, coop at night) and we have not lost any of the sussex to predators (we have lost some of the others).

  4. Regarding bluprint’s concerns about collecting the manure: If you have them in a coop at night, you get PLENTY of manure (depending on how many birds you have). We let them free range during the day to reduce feed costs, but they always have access to the coop. We have 12 birds and plenty of fertilizer!

  5. Oh, one more thing, we also have a “chicken tractor” coop that we sometimes use if we want to concentrate the manure in an area for a specific period.

  6. Any ideas on how. To prepare malabar spinach? My first crop this year.

  7. .
    Another great show Jack!

    It sounds like you don’t need to, but if you want an “overload” of veggies, just try an experiment, add some “Scotts- Rose & Bloom” (12-4-8) to one or two plants early when the the plants begin to mature and flower. (at Lowes, Ace and maybe Sears.)

    You should see a huge difference in the yield due to the burst in flowers and leaves.
    I know it worked for me, I couldn’t find enough people to give the extra yellow squash, zucchini and tomatoes.
    (My jalepenos as well, but I’m the only one that likes them.)

    • @TrekFanDan thanks but generally I only use organic fertilizers. Though I have to honestly say spot applications like you are suggesting don’t do any harm.

      • .

        Thank you for your help Jack !
        And for all you do- You’re the best.

  8. low carb, easy to grow, heavy producer: Zucchini – just ok raw or boiled, but fried or grilled they fantastic!

    If you are hardcore low carb then just slice and fry

    If you are taking low fat strategy then slice 1/8″ thick, spray on bothsides with cooking spray. Grill until golden brown on bothside and salt them.


  9. Always great to listen to your shows Jack and this is a real ‘goodie’. Just to add to the high value, super nutritious green crops, I recommend Okinawan Spinach (Gynura crepioides), Katuk (Sauropus androgynous), Aibika (Abelmoschus manihot) and Drumstick tree ((Moringa oleifera)……all are perennial, and although tropical (like Malabar spinach),will happily grow as house or greenhouse plants in cool zones as they enjoy filtered light.
    Cheers mate and keep up the good work!

  10. Another block buster, Jack. Today’s show is the sermon I preach(except for the pond part). I watched my weeds for a couple of years and focused on eating a new one or two each year. I leave almost every mineral mining weed in the garden, except grass and thistle. I call them the “bug motel” Last year I tilled raw land for potatoes, but they didn’t come up. In their place there was an abundance of Sunchokes (wild Jerusalem artichokes.)! I fenced off the area to protect and nuture them. I ate all I wanted and shared as much as anyone else wanted. People were surprised by them. I grow regular Jerusalem artichokes in another area of the yard, too. I plant veggies in with flowers, etc. and call that gorrilla gardening. It is not easy to see what all I have growing. My favorite wild foods are purslane, lambs quarters, and the sunchokes. I just think it’s wise to know what edible foods grow around you, and how to prepare them so that in any event you can forage. I first foraged in ’96 when I was broke and nearing homelessness. I was looking out over some piling from gold dreggings in the mountains of Idaho when the verse came to mind, “consider the lilies of the fields”. I understood that to mean something to eat. The first exerience was with blue camas bulbs. Three small bulbs the size of peanuts filled me up and I was sold on the nutritional value of eating wild. Of course, I discovered other foods too, but that was the beginning of a love affair with nature. One last thing: For three years I bought lots of storable seeds, but this year I realized that there was no point in buying heirloom or open pollinated seeds if I weren’t going to seed save; so, this year I’m focusing on letting plants go to seed for planting next year. P.S. I’m keeping bees, rabbits, chickens and guineas. Thanks for spreading more of the gospel you covered today. I’d kiss you if I could. (no threat, Dorothy, i’m 75)

  11. Regarding Tomato hornworms… I went to organic farm last year and noticed he had a load of them in an old bee travel box. He said that he has a small hand held black light and those suckers glow underneath it! He goes and picks them off easily right after dark. Sounds like a nifty deal that i am going to try this year.

  12. We just started with the Buff Orpingtons they are a great looking bird and great with the kids. When we are out in the yard working they just follow us around and free range around the property. A great intro to livestock for kids.

  13. Has anyone tried raising rabbits in a tractor? That seems like a good way to go for efficiently growing meat “off the land” on a small scale.

    The concentration of mercury makes aquaculture a bad idea in my area. Mercury is one of the more pernicious forms of pollution, since it will fall as rain and snow on any property. I imagine it’s not a problem in Texas, but the northeast has a real problem with it (as in, expecting mothers shouldn’t eat ANY freshwater fish).

  14. I was daydreaming/brainstorming the other day about a aquaculture idea and this show reminded me of it. I was thinking of incorporating aquaponics into a traditional pond. What if I had a 1 acre pond and raised catfish for food, but also grew crops aquaponically. For example, what if I built a 20×20 dock out over the water and designed it with aquaponic grow beds incorporated in to it. I could use a solar powered pump and timer to fill the beds and let the water drain right back into the pond. I dont know if it would benefit the fish much (i guess it gives them shelter) but I would think the plants would benefit. I would think there is alot less worry about the system crashing, too. Plus, how cool would it be to have a garden suspened over a pond.

    • That sounds like it could be a winner Scott. I imagine if you could make some habitat from old water hose (think tree branches) or cut down a small cedar and attach to the bottom of the dock, or weigh it down underneath, and fish would really flock to it.

      I suppose you could also easily build this garden on the shore of the pond.

      If you were constructing the pond from scratch you could leave an island and land bridge for the aquaponic garden.

      • @LP Johnson and Sylvan, what both of you describe is a form or aquaculture not aquaponics. In aquaponics the plants and fish depend on each other. In aquaculture they simply benefit from each other. In an aquaponics system if you take away the fish the plants don’t get any nutrient and if you take the plants away the fish kill themselves with waste. Hence very specific ratios must be maintained.

    • Great point Gump! I usually squish them as soon as I find them, but catching a catfish with em sounds like a lot more fun.

  15. No offense, but…ABOUT DARN TIME!! hahahaha

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for confirming many of my own findings as well as teaching me something new.

    I have access to over 10 acres that my family owns in zone 6b, but they don’t do much with. The old pasture is slowly turning back into forest. I have pondered on whether or not I should plant a few Jerusalem Artichokes down on one corner and let them go crazy. However, I don’t want them to just flat out take over the landscape completely. Should I be too worried? Will the native species and wildlife help keep the JA in check?

    This same corner of land may also be future home to a few pigs. I may be able to use them as a means of additional control. Your opinions?

  16. Sylvan, you said you might plant a FEW ja, so I don’t think you should worry about them taking over completely. They’re not so fast to spread. Do you plan to eat any of them? If so, that will keep them thinned, but even if you don’t and you plan to turn the pigs in with them, the pigs will clear them in no time. Either way, not to worry. JA also make great pickles. At least that’s my opinion.

    • @hillhag – Yes, I plan to eat a few, but mostly have a relatively large supply of them as a backup if things go south.

      I suppose it’s one of those plants that you don’t want to just turn loose in your permaculture zone 1 around the house, unchecked. Based on what you are saying, zones 3, 4 and 5 should be fine for natural expansion.

      • Sylvan, have had JA in my garden since 2005. If you mow along the edge of them regularly then they wont spread. Im in zone 7A and they are a big part of my backup plan. So easy!

  17. Jerusalem Artichoke as feed stock for Ethanol can yield upwards of 1000 gal/acre…

      • @AngusBangus, Yes that would be a season, harvesting tubers and a cutting or two of the tops. Some folks are claiming yields (with 3 cuttings) of 1200gal/acre. This requires being able to process cellulose which is still pretty complex. From tubers alone (which is DIY possible) can yield 600-750gal/acre. For comparison corn typically yields around 400gal/acre.

  18. My problem with aquaponics has been the energy required to run it. DH and I are probably going to go for aquaculture once we get the basics of our homestead set up next yr.

    New Zealand and Red Malabar spinach taste delicious in green smoothies! If I have to put one in a salad, I prefer the malabar.

    • @Emily – Like Jack said, having had fish tanks over the years, things can go south for no apparent reason even once it is stabilized. I believe I’ll stick to ponds and aquaculture vs aquaponics. Even if I had less than an acre of land, I would still rather raise rabbits than try my hand at aquaponics.

  19. Jack,
    If you were off your game on Thursday, it’s only because you were still drawing back the bow, man. You unleashed one on us with this one and I really appreciate it. I’ve been trying to figure out which episode to tackle transcription on next and this one is topping my list – just so I have a list of all the things I want to go try and the tips/tricks for some of the plants with which I don’t have experience.

    I’m clearing & digging about 1/10 acre of my lot and turning it into a bed/patio. I’ll probably end up with near 1000 square feet of bed that needs to be planted with something. Ground nuts, Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, oh MY!

    The entire second half of the episode had my mind reeling. Keep up the awesome work. If you ever find yourself in the central Mississippi area, let me know – you’ve earned yourself quite a few cold ones.

  20. Hey Jack,

    Great show again. Do you have a link for your recipe to for cucumbers? You gave me a use for the ones that come out sour, thank you so much for that. Also, do you have a link for where you are buying ground nut tubers. I seem to always end up with sites in India for tubers.

  21. I remember hearing about ground nut and Jerusalem artichokes in previous episodes and was interested in them. How do people usually eat them?

    Great show, Jack.

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  23. Jack, check out They have have a huge, profitable aquaponics business in Hawaii. They have their system down to a science. It is still higher maintenance than a permaculture system and the fish are a byproduct but you can’t beat the growth rate and planting density of a good system. They do training sessions on one of the islands, could be a good time for a working vacation.

  24. Feeding your goats sorghum in drought areas can cause prussic acid poisoning, death can happen quickly and leave the owner somewhat clueless as to the death of their investment. DO NOT FEED YOUR GOATS SORGHUM OR SUDAN-GRASS. ;
    A better forage grass is clover for protein, nectar for honey bees, and will also provide nitrogen to alkaline soils while breaking up caliche soils (especially if you treat the dirt with a 5 gal:3 cup water / vinegar solution prior to planting).

  25. Jack, I can relate on the hornworms. Have killed huge ones on my tomato plants as big as my thumb and also found little ones eating on my carrots. The other big pest I have is caterpillars.
    Have seen some grasshoppers as well. More bait to go fishing with!

  26. Hey jack! Sweet potatoes are awesome! Did you know you can eat the sweet potato greens too? They are not in the same family as white or red potatoes.

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  28. Jack, You mentioned a book about the civil war; I missed the title. What was the title of that book? Thanks in advance. SULAE–

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  30. some great comments here…..this is an important subject as too many “preparedness” sites etc. are all about grains and carbs and not enough on protein. I’ve seen many people who eat too many carbs and are basically starving to death. Especially children who are getting the typical US diet of mac n cheese, ramen noodles, etc. protein is very, very important….cows, chickens, goats etc. all produce healthy proteins that will keep you alive in crisis…and living really well! not “surviving” we want to thrive…

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