Farm hour: quantifying what’s possible
One of three tarp loads of oak, maple, hickory and walnut leaves we gathered up for the orchard compost.
The orchard “mulchery” is set up. It’s 20 feet long, five feet wide and about 4 feet tall. If half the space is used, that should be 200 cubic feet of mulch. We added about 80 cubic feet of compacted, harvested leaves to use throughout the winter and started a pile with some of them today in the middle bin.
To start, I used a lot of the leaves, 15 gallons of cow manure from the neighbor’s field, grass clippings from today’s upper field mowing and about 8 gallons of water.
Water is going to be an issue until I can figure out an easier way to get it to the orchard. By the time my two five gallon buckets got there, I had lost about 4 gallons to sloshing.
What’s Possible? I measured the space and determined if we use the entire space for blueberry bushes and apple trees, we’re looking at around 175 blueberry bushes and 32 apple trees. Using non-organic yields, the potential looks like this:
- Apple:10-20 bushels per tree is 320-640 bushels of apples, 960-3200 gallons of cider or 13,440-26,880 lbs. of apples
- Blueberries: 15 lbs. per bush is 2,625 lbs. of berries
- Market: at current market value: $26,000 – $47,000
What’s Practical? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. We have about an hour of daylight each night and two weekend days of winter farm hours. We can’t eat all that, and we probably can’t process all that for others. Can we do this?
We’re thinking of starting with 8 apple trees and 10 blueberry bushes, but I’m mulching as though we’re doing it all.