Sunday, June 5, 2016

Farm Plan - Future Fodder

My future plans ----- expand the fodder production. Doubling the amount would help feed the livestock, but I'm really aiming for threefold within the next year or two. That way I wouldn't need to spend time out foraging for fruits and greenery if I didn't want to.

First of all, I'll explain the above map. It represents the front 1/3 of the homestead farm. The road is along the bottom of the map and the pasture area on the back part of the farm is shown at the top of the map. The grey line is the driveway. The blue area is the residential area. The yellow represents the areas currently being used primarily for fodder. And the red areas are areas that I intend to develop for primarily fodder production. I say primarily because while the main focus will be on fodder plants, there will be other things mixed in such as food plants, flowers, guava for trellis wood, etc. 

The nice thing about growing fodder is that I can tuck plants into little nooks. A banana tree here. A pipinola vine growing up a tree there. A patch of kale in the small unused corner. I have lots of unused small nooks, and there's edges and borders that never get used for anything but grass. So there is lots of potential to increase the amount of fodder being grown. 

Sweet potatoes are a great fodder crop for me. It grows even in rather poor soil as long as there is some moisture. It grows in semi shade and even denser shade. I plan to keep planting cuttings any place I happen to have not producing something otherwise. Whenever I have cuttings, I'll be planting them. I foresee the sweets being a predominant ground cover on the farm. 

I plan to add more diversity to the fodder crops that I grow. Why? First of all, it's fun! Second, perhaps it will make life a bit more interesting for the animals. Third, I'd like to learn about growing crops I've never tried before. And I find this all to be enjoyable and satisfying. I like diversity. 

On my list to try growing: 
Sugar beets, fodder beets , mangels
Cukes (I'm a flaming optimist!)
Daikon / radishes
Pigeon peas

Anything else that I'm missing for the list? 

Being frugally minded, I tend to produce my own starts. Sweet potatoes are constantly growing tips that I can harvest for cuttings. Since this is fodder that I'm growing, I don't need to buy specificly named varieties from a seed company, so a sack of fresh racehorse oats, whole corn, and barley from the feed store will do for fodder crops. The extra I don't need for seeding can go to feed the livestock. Wheat, buckwheat, sesame, flax, cowpeas, amaranth, and pigeon peas can be obtained from the health food store bulk bins. Surprisingly the germination has proven to be pretty good, and the purchase price quite low, far cheaper than if I purchased them from some seed company. 
Radish, alfalfa, and turnips seeds are sold bulk around here for sprouts. I can save the seed from one of my own cucumbers for starting more fodder cucumbers. That leaves comfrey, but I can get root cuttings from a local organization here. And finally beet and carrot seed, which I'll just have to buy from some seed supplier. 

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