Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space

Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space

by Andy Tomolonis


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In Organic Hobby Farming, Andy Tomolonis, a longtime organic gardener, part-time hobby farmer, and award-winning Boston-area journalist, strips down the concept of “organic” and explains why natural farming has emerged as the healthiest and most viable method of growing for hobby farms and other small-scale operations. In addition to the improved taste and the appeal of excluding toxic materials, organic farming benefits farmers, their families, and the environment. It offers economic plusses as well. The current consumer demand for “local” and “organic” food underscores the need for small hobby farms that offer unique high-end goods. Tomolonis explains the basic principles of organic farming and describes how hobby farmers and their families can eat healthier, save money, help preserve the environment, and even turn their passion into a small-scale side business.

Chapter 1 will help you assess the land you live on to determine whether it’s suited for organic vegetables, fruit, berries, or livestock. Farmers who are looking to lease or buy land will find practical advice on how to evaluate properties and find their best use, taking climate, soil, water and geography into consideration. In Chapter 2, Tomolonis continues with practical advice on how to choose the right tools without overspending—starting slowly with quality hand implements and then expanding as you determine the need for costlier power equipment.

Chapter 3 moves on to the heart of any successful organic farm—building the soil. “The Good Earth” brings readers down to earth, i.e., the soil. You’ll learn how to evaluate and improve your soil with compost and cover crops and protect it from erosion, chemical contamination and other harm. The author also stresses the importance of understanding the complex relationship between underground soil organisms that play such a crucial role in natural plant health. The best soil, with the right balance of nutrients and a healthy population of microbes, will help your plants survive hardship, resist diseases and produce healthier more bountiful harvests, the author explains.

Chapter 4 walks you through the steps needed to develop an organized farm plan. The chapter presents a convenient month-by-month overview of the farmer’s year, offering a timeline and detailed instructions for sowing seeds indoors, transplanting seedlings, guarding against insects and weeds, harvesting, planting cover crops extending the season and developing a schedule for successive food crops. Whether you want to feed your growing family all summer long or produce enough food for a small-scale agribusiness, the information here is invaluable. This chapter also covers organic methods for harnessing the power of nature by luring beneficial insects that will help control farm and garden pests.

Learn about heirlooms, hybrids, and eclectic vegetable varieties in the comprehensive directory of vegetable crops and herbs introduced in Chapter 5. Tomolonis reveals his favorite varieties, including many alluring heirlooms that have grown in popularity. Each crop description offers detailed information on soil preparation, sowing, companion planting, and battling weeds and insects without harmful chemicals. The author, a former produce manager for a national grocery chain, also includes tips for harvesting crops, prepping them for display, and bringing the goods to market.

If you’re looking for advice on fruits and berries, Organic Hobby Farms introduces new options in Chapter 6, where the author suggests ways to branch out with Asian pears, peaches, and apples, as well as nutritious blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. As he does in other chapters, Tomolonis explains in common terms, how to choose the best varieties for your region, prepare the soil for maximum production, and deal with pests and diseases organically.

Organic Hobby Farming also describes the basics of adding chickens to your farm—for wholesome organic eggs or pastured meat. Select the right breeds, raise a flock from day-old chicks and protect the birds from predators and pests the natural way. Tomolonis also delves into the fascinating world of apiculture in Chapter 8. He and his wife, Valerie, are avid beekeepers with hives that produce gallons of healthy unpasteurized local honey. In addition to bees, the book provides insight into keeping such small livestock as meat rabbits and dairy goats.

Hobby farmers who want to turn their agricultural skills into a money-making operation will find practical advice in Chapter 9, which discusses commercial options. Learn how to sell your goods to local restaurants, at farmers’ markets, or as part of a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) program. And, once you make a decision to turn commercial, you’ll find advice in developing a business plan, crafting a mission statement, setting goals, and creating farm budgets. You’ll also learn the myriad benefits—and challenges—of becoming USDA certified organic.

Finally, Organic Hobby Farming steers you to multiple sources of additional information with an extensive listing of resources, broken down by subject and chapter. With Organic Hobby Farming, creative-thinking readers will learn ways to increase the profitability of their organic ventures. The reader can decide to transform his hobby farm into a specialty destination for heirloom varieties, organic raw honey, preserves, dried herbs, or a particularly desirable breed of heritage livestock.

As Tomolonis states in the book’s introduction, “eat safer, more nutritious food, learn about your soil and plants, support the local food movement and help save the planet—one acre at a time.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933958583
Publisher: CompanionHouse Books
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 593,340
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 8

Chapter 1 The Good Earth 16

Assessing Your Own Property 18

Assessing New Property 19

Gathering Additional Information 23

Chapter 2 Tools That Rock the Farm 32

Choosing and Using the Right Tool 34

The Diggers 36

The Weeders 43

Seeding Machines 48

Other Essentials 48

Bigger Tools 51

Other Large Expenses 57

Chapter 3 The Living Soil 58

Healthy Soil - The Keystone to Success 60

The Fruits of Their Labor 61

Building Your Own Soil 66

Chapter 4 We Plow the Field 100

The Living Factory 102

A Time for Everything 102

January: Warm Thoughts and Icy Days 104

February: Sowing the First Seeds 112

March: A No-Nonsense pace 113

April: Extend the Season and Begin 117

May: Plant and Protect 120

June: The Heat Is On! 128

July: Harvest, Clean Up, and Plant Again 136

August: It is the Best Time of Year. So What is Bugging You? 141

September: It's Back to School and Back to Work 147

October: It's Garlic Season 147

November: It's Cleanup Time 149

December: Time for a Break! 149

Chapter 5 Vegetables and Herbs: The Spice of Life and Farming 150

Good Bug, Bad Bug 152

Organic Choices 153

Top Vegetables Crops for Small-Scale Growers 158

Asparagus 158

Beans 161

Beets 165

Broccoli 168

Brussets Sprouts 170

Cabbage 171

Carrots 173

Cucumbers 181

Eggplant 183

Garlic 185

Greens 188

Kale 200

Melons 202

Okra 206

Onions 208

Peas 213

Peepers 215

Potatoes 218

Radishes 219

Spinach 221

Squashes 222

Sweet Potatoes 229

Swiss Chard 231

Tomatillos 233

Tomatoes 235

Turnips 238

Perennial Vegetables 240

Horseradish 240

Rhubarb 241

Sunchokes 242

Herbs 243

Basil 243

Cilantro 244

Dill 246

Oregano 246

Parsley 247

Rosemary 248

Spearmint 249

Thyme 250

Chapter 6 Fruits of the Earth 252

The Fruits of Your Labor 254

Berries 255

Blueberries 255

Strawberries 260

Blackberries, Raspberries, and Black Raspberries 263

Fruit Trees 266

Apples 267

Asian Pears 268

Peaches and Nectarines 269

Chapter 7 Chickens in Your Backyard 276

Keeping Chickens 278

Getting Started 280

Choosing the Right Breed 283

Feeding and Care 288

When Will Eggs Begin? 292

Protection from Predators 292

Going Mobile 293

Pests and Diseases 294

Meat Breeds 295

Chapter 8 Branching Out: Honeybees, Rabbits, and Goats 296

Bees 298

Goats 304

Rabbits 311

Chapter 9 To Market, to Market 316

From Farm to Fork 318

Farmers Markets 318

Community Supported Agricultures (CSAs) 324

Restaurant Sales 332

Other Marketing Opportunities 333

Chapter 10 Foundation for a Business Plan 334

Why Plant? 336

Plan the Flight and Then Fly the Plan 338

Acknowledgement 354

Resources 356

Bibliography 364

Index 370

Photo Credits 383

About the Author 383

Hardiness Zone Maps 384

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Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Bunger73 More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read on the topic. Whether like me you plant a few heirloom tomatoes and green peppers, are growing for your own backyard agribusiness or looking to increase production for your neighborhood collaborative, you will find this useful and interesting. The writing is informal, topics are brilliantly researched and the graphics are excellent. I recommend it highly.