reply to post by otherpotato
I started doing serious hobby research in personal food production since around 1988. I started using thin film refresh hydroponics both outdoors and
in a basement in Wisconsin. Currently I have a home made 12x24 greenhouse that produces year round in Virginia, and a 80' x 4' raised bed that I am
just now moving the greenhouse plants onto, 12 grape vines, a berry bed (kiwi, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry) and 50 fruit trees planted in my
front yard. (Peaches, nectarines, american and asian pears, persimmons, apricots, plums, apples, cherries pomegranates and more.) I can tell you that
personal food production is VERY DIFFICULT. At least once a week I think about how amazing it is that the original settlers here survived at all.
The biggest problem I have faced is everything that wants to eat my plants and produce.
8' weld wire fence is keeping out the deer, racoons, possums and that dang ground hog. Half buried 1/4" hardware cloth keeps out the mice, bird
netting helps protect the cherries and grapes. When the fruit is about to ripen we hang very fine netting to keep away the wasps, stink bugs, Japanese
beetles and squirrels. But I still have to thin the squirrel population at least once a month with a 22 cal nitro piston air-gun.
Even then, my greenhouse was hopelessly over-run with aphids and thrips four weeks ago, and I haven't gotten a tomato or pepper worth eating since.
I've made mistakes in the past of using every know pesticide including some really expensive high tech stuff. In the last month, I have put down 100+
gallons of Milky Spore and Bacillus Thuringensis, set over 80,000 ladybugs into my four breeding beds, and released around 4000 baby praying mantis. I
also release ladybugs, praying mantis and green lacewing "lions" in the greenhouse. Only the lacewings are helping much. Today, I just ordered 5000
more lacewing eggs and a couple thousand parasitic aphid micro-wasps. I want to get the aphid and thrip population under control before I move things
out of the greenhouse. Last week I put out 300M beneficial parasitic nematodes of three different species that I bought from buglogical.com. (An
experiment in progress) All out bug-warfare here. Oh, and did I mention the toads and frogs in the greenhouse to control the crickets and slugs?
I am slowly getting better at this, but even after five years of modifying the ecology here and developing some pretty good techniques, I still am not
growing anywhere near enough to feed my wife and I. I probably could if I resorted to heavy fertilizer use and coated everything in a concoction of
bifurithen, mitcide, and fungucide. But that doesn't seem very sustainable in a SHTF scenerio, and I would be afraid to eat the stuff.
I am putting off my first few chickens until next year. Just too much to do already without having to figure out all of them problems now.
Anyway, I don't feel like writing a novel, but if you have any questions, I would not mind being a resource for you. I do have a good feel for how
many of what size pots of what and what kind of media and bio-controls are needed to even begin to think about feeding yourself. And how much power is
needed for what kind of materials to keep a greenhouse producing through the winter in Virginia. There are good reasons I don't do hydroponic any
I also am interested in everyone else's experience and ideas. Maybe with some help, I can get good at this someday.