Pingdong, sounds like we’re doing very similar things. You’re right about the trees - I have no intention of cutting them down (and I think the landlord would be unhappy if I did), but yes, might trim them a bit where absolutely necessary. Rain/wind damage is, indeed, one of my main concerns. The smaller trees I might crop down to the ground and try grafting other things (fruit) onto them; I have no idea what species they are, so I don’t expect that to work very well, but I’m just experimenting at this point. But yeah … “food forest” is the right word for what I’m trying to achieve here - slowly replacing the native plants with edible/useful analogues. I deliberately avoided a flat piece of “farmland” because I’m pretty confident a “lumpy” plot has a lot more potential in this climate. I notice you’ve got raised beds there; I’ll be doing something similar, except with a more 3D feel to it!
I will certainly be making sure there is complete ground cover, either with mulch or with fast-growing species to outcompete the weeds. As you say, weeds are a nightmare here - you can almost see them growing - but there must be a way. I know the black plastic works, but I’m going to try a cardboard/compost layer instead; after it’s served its purpose, it just rots down and adds to the humus. I don’t intend to do any plowing (except possibly some earthworks to build terraces and swales) because all that does is turn the topsoil underneath and bring up dormant weed seeds.
You’re right, the wildlife is amazing (another reason I need to tread carefully, both figuratively and literally). If I screw up, I could easily get a pest epidemic; if I do it right, the local critters will remain nicely balanced. That’s one of the reasons I want to get electricity installed asap - so I can rig some lighting so I can do some evening work … or not, as the case may be; I’ve already got some ideas about where to put the hammock and the beer cooler.
btw I think a ‘fen’ is a metric measurement - one-tenth of a hectare, ie., 1000m2 or ~300ping. Could be wrong about that though.
Here’s a real nice organic way which is quite popular in Taiwan. Changhua produces loads of cow shit(one farmer makes $1 million NT a year from his) and mushroom waste(about 90% of the volume is waste, only 10% is fruit) so organic fertilizer is popular. I just have no clue where to buy it.
So what I would suggest is get some rice straw, wood shavings, cow poo and/or rice hulls, order some oyster spawn(pretty easy to make, I do it all the time. I’ll try to find the website though), pasteurize your cow poo, dilute and use the water for fertilizing your crops, drop the rice straw, wood shavings, rice hulls and cow poo into your restoration land add spawn, then ???, profit.
Aerates and fertilizes your soil quite well and does a great job removing chemicals and pesticides. Mushrooms are fantastic at removing chemicals, especially oysters, use pink during the summer and white/brown the rest of the year. Blue in winter, but you’d have to get me to make that spawn because no one is going to sell/make that for except me.
Okami, there’s a guy on the plot next to me has a couple of cows, but unfortunately he uses all his cow poo for his own crops. But that’s certainly the kind of thing I’m planning to do (I was thinking chickens for my compost activator … probably just let them run around scratching for bugs, then they can poo at will). It’s nice to know some farmers do understand that cow poo is valuable and profitable, and isn’t “waste”. I can’t imagine anything like that happening in China (or in Europe, for that matter).
There shouldn’t be any need to pasteurize anything. Composting, if done properly, gets hot enough to kill anything nasty.
But yeah … nice idea about the mushrooms; I was reading about mushroom cultivation the other day but have no idea where to get mushroom spawn. Are you saying you’re ready to supply mushroom spawn on a commercial scale?
if you are composting in a heap it will get hot. leaf litter wont when it falls and gets turned into compost jsut on the surface…especially in rainy season. But i dont find it to be an issue anyway.
back when we planned to live here forever we planned out a farm that used mushrooms, bugs, animals etc in a circular system. mushrooms work great! especially oyster, and its easy to get them here.` you can even clone store bought mushrooms on cardboard if you want, its easy as pie. but i think looking for agriculture waste that isnt already in demand is best. left over rice is already kind of in demand. but things like left over corn, banana and such is not. jstu sun dry it and break it up and your golden. certain weeds like grasses also work good.
i dont want to sound like the doom kind of guy, but you are not going to beat weeds with crops, im sorry. i have tried a lot and here they are just too tough. there is a vine here that is REALLY bad, makes morning glory look like a cactus. I dont use gas inputs on my farm, but if your open to the idea i think a weed eater/whacker is a good tool.
i dont plow either. we did it in the beginning to level the land to prevent channeling in floods. its flat ehre and we get huge erosion even here in heavy rains. i think that will probabyl be your biggest issue after weeds. a terrace sounds pretty sweet, lots of work, but very good design the “raised beds” are actually not raised, i just dug the trenches down for irrigation. i personally suggest not doing this, i wish i hadnt. simply because it doesnt soak well for small root vegetables. large root crops can get down to moist dirt anyway (only 3 feet deep in the driest times). soil erosion is multiplied a lot, and on a hill would be WAY worse. and its a but load of work to dig unless you get a rototiller and the ground isnt like rock (ours is and the machines cant do it). at least for my taste and what i have seen work or not work i would keep it flat, place down pvc pipe and lay down fabric. get some valves and hook up hoses to them for surface and under plastic watering. i see this done more now here and although its a big input and pollutes a lot for the initial plastic, long run you save a lot. i spend about 20+ hours a week pulling weeds and it doesnt even look like i go there. the government guy wont even give us annual money anymore for economic whatever it is because too many weeds.
also may want to check the tree species on your land. some tend to prevent other plant growth (root) due to chemicals they release. One such common plant is Acacia confusa which is very common throughout taiwan.
but mostly keep in mind that every hole you dig, there is going to be a few meters of water fall on it every year and water on a hill doesn’t stand still, it takes stuff with it.
Pretty much for oysters, any monkey can do it. It’s just that easy. Then you have to decide whether to get into mass production or hobby. Yes, I can do almost any commercial scale mushroom spawn production with a 3 week notice. Once you get your LC going the rest is cake with the right equipment. Here’s a page from the place that can supply spawn at a very reasonable rate: agaric.com.tw/p4b.asp?pid=950034
For hobby farms*, oysters represent the easiest and cheapest way to clean, aerate and fertilize the soil. Your chickens and goats will love you. They also may run so you may find them sprouting up after rains meters away from where you plopped them in.
*I’m sorry any foreigner who thinks he’s going to farm for profit in Taiwan is :loco: . You may have a farm and it may be profitable but your not making it all from farming.
Just to ruin your day more, all those Hualian watermelons, probably come from the watermelon growing area near Mailiao. Taste the petrochemicals…
pingdong, thanks for all the tips! Sounds like you’ve been there, done that with some of the things I’m thinking about. I’ve realised I’m pretty lucky - some of your soil looks like desert, while most of what I’ve got is fantastic stuff, nice loamy soil with a thick layer of humus on top. I just have to take great care to keep it that way. There are a few toxic trees around (they’re easy to spot by the dead ring underneath them), but very few.
Yeah, I’ve seen that vine thingy. Anything that can send out stolons is a bastard to kill off. Thing is, the vine is only dominant in highly-disturbed areas (like, places on nearby plots where people have compacted the soil with machinery), and the areas I’m working with now have at least 10 different species living happily together. OK, they’re technically “weeds”, but it’s all good stuff for the compost heap. I’m not that bothered about weeds as long as they don’t choke my plants. I hate weeding and have rarely bothered. I generally get a good yield anyway. The weeds get ripped up at harvest time and thrown on the compost heap with the agri waste … like I said, all good stuff. But that’s in England, on a smallish scale. I do realise it might be very, very different here! On that topic, can you explain this comment:
Are you seriously telling me that there’s a gubmint guy who comes around giving out cash in proportion to the amount of glyphosate being sprayed? Or have I misunderstood? No wonder farmers are so trigger-happy here.
I agree. My farm is mainly experimental; in fact, my main aim is to test some photovoltaic power management systems I’m developing. Growing stuff is just for fun. On the other hand, I’m pretty confident I can develop a business model which doesn’t involve selling tonne-lots of produce to a middleman; there are many different ways to make money from a plot of dirt. It’s never going to make me rich, but it might pay the bills. Okami, once I’ve got things sorted, I’ll contact you about mushrooms; it sounds interesting and useful.
I looked into that, but the deal is, you have to be able to offer quite a lot in return - food and training, at minimum, and usually accommodation. I’m not in a position to do that … yet.
Taiwanese/Chinese is an agricultural society, so naturally there are a lot of farming on what little land is available. However land spaces are limited in Taiwan which means it will be expensive… mostly people grow rice, tropical vegetables and fruits, etc.
I have not seen anyone grow corn in Taiwan as most are imported from the USA (due to massive government subsidies). You really need to talk to rural bing-lang chewing Taiwanese for this, they know a lot more about farming in Taiwan than any expats here. Some Taiwanese will even grow stuff and raise chicken (for food) in the concrete garden of Taipei… it’s just in their blood.
corn is a massive crop in Taiwan, i see it everywhere north and south. around my farm there is 4 farms finishing up right now. this with most smaller type farms is they use crop rotation (as they should) and corn isnt often repeatedly planted. some places still get issues after a 7 year crop rotation with corn (not taiwan). most of th farms i see here rotate tehse: peanuts, corn, bean, tomatoes, rice. there are others but those are the dominant ones around me. and many farmers can pull out 5 crops a year when they get things rollign really good (not rice), simply amazing.
yes and no. they are pretty good at growing multiple crops under the betel nut, but at least what i see they are not any more knowledgeable than any other farmer…maybe less. look how fucked the mountains in taiwan are from betel nut farming. maybe they know better, but are not smart enough to change it. betel nut is in my opinion the easiest farming for the money, hands down. little effort, few pests and trees cant be pruned take no care. fertilize once in a while, spray even less and just wait to you clip the nuts and make a bung of money.
betel nut farmers are commonly the ones with more money. but organic is talking hold in Taiwan. i know a lot of farmings are going organic now, mostly younger ones, and they are making a killing once they get their system down and a market. i know there are organic grocers always looking for organic fresh veg/fruit. I was asked a few times, but the biggest issue is being able to supply consistently, not as easy as it sounds. for me i dont want the stress that comes with. but to those willing, it is very good money, relative to standard monoculture chemical dependent farming.
Not quite. The gov here doenst want sand sitting unused. So they give you money annually (they wont give YOU, they will give the owner, which in my case is my wifes dad so we get it ). Economic type something. i dont know what they call it. But if your farming it you can apply for money. its not a lot, and i think its based on land size…i dont know the details. he would not give it to us because he thought we were not growing enough and there were too many weeds…he saw weeds and didnt bother looking and seeing we have about 150 species we are cultivating…
ya that was year one in winter, dry season. garbage dirt, 100%. but now, even after this last dry period where we had about 4 days of rain during october-june it is lush (with weeds). plowing causes it. kills all protection from the sun and scorches the surface, then nothing grows well. keep the soil covered, even with plastic, and it stays moist…not much evaporation. your land sounds much nicer, cause its kind of forest. but it will get bad if let go. sounds like you got it going on though.
do you know the species you see? i dont know what mine is, but if its the same as yours, dont underestimate it. it doesnt need seeds. it roots from anyway on the stem, not just the node. it covers and roots. even a neighboring plot can cover next door in weeks if left unchecked. im not sure if disturbed is its only habitat, but it needs sun. it doesnt do shade well. it covers trees in the mountains here where there is ample sunlight. literally covers, like a blanket. the leaves are like uneven arrows. i need to get a pic.
just keep your weeds in check and its all good. I tried using dead weeds (i let them back on the black plastic for a few days…but be careful, when it rains all you’re doing is making cuttings) as a mulch. putting up to 2 feet of weeds on top of the dirt…it didnt stop the weeds from under growing at all. thats why i started usiong the plastic. as long as its kept fairly clear on top, nothing grows on it. but with that, keep it crackless. see here how hte weeds sneek up on you when the plastic separates.
1 week of seperation, thankfully that time only grass.
even without vines, grass can be pretty heavy too. this is after 4 weeks vacation in our greenhouse. 5 feet tall, it was bare dirt when we left… :fume:
here is my process now.
first lay done the plastic over top of all the weeds. really woody things like Solanum torvum i chop at ground level. i put bricks down along the edges. they dont all stay in place as there is a lot of air underneath until the plants die, so it needs to be snugged up after all the weeds have died underneath.
once all the weeds (well, most) have died down, i bring all the edges together and brick them.
once trees are in, the plastic stays in place far better. Like here, even in a flood and typhoon the plastic doesn’t move at all. in this spot all i need to do is whack em down around the edges and the odd few that grow out around the tree bases. when i weed i always just cram the weeds under the plastic. they die and add lots of organic matter to the soil.
here are some of the common weeds we see here. that arrow shape one is in this pic, though in this spot it is more under control.
[quote=“Taiwan Luthiers”]Taiwanese/Chinese is an agricultural society, so naturally there are a lot of farming on what little land is available. However land spaces are limited in Taiwan which means it will be expensive… mostly people grow rice, tropical vegetables and fruits, etc.
I have not seen anyone grow corn in Taiwan as most are imported from the USA (due to massive government subsidies). You really need to talk to rural bing-lang chewing Taiwanese for this, they know a lot more about farming in Taiwan than any expats here. Some Taiwanese will even grow stuff and raise chicken (for food) in the concrete garden of Taipei… it’s just in their blood.[/quote]Almost all sweet corn is grown locally and I’ve seen fields of it in Kaohsiung. I’ve also seen a lot of it in Changhua. The US leads in corn production for one simple reason, economy of scale. It’s hard to compete with a farmer who owns 2000+ acres and a harvester that costs more than his house when you have less than a 100 and a tractor worth less than your car.
Subsidies and political power play a big part in Taiwanese agriculture.
Indeed, they play a huge role. How do you think the signing of various trade agreements affect farmers here? Personally i have not met any that complain much, but i dont know any BIG time farmers here. although it has hit the meat farmers some, at least the ones we know. but feed price is also a huge issue.
We were visiting a friend somewhere East of Taichung.
We heard the neighbor is not in a good health.
We bought that piece of land.
We plan to keep on growing pears as long as we can.
It’s really big work… grafting and so on… without pesticides of course.
But sooner or later, we will transform it into a proper farm
Organic, even BD vegetable, grain and animal farm.
I posted and will post in the temporary forum invitations to join us!
We want this place to be open to volunteers.
You are welcome!