How to Start Your Hobby Farm
posted in Tractor Tips
Have you outgrown your raised garden beds and planter boxes? If you love working the land and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, starting a hobby farm might be the ideal option. A step up from casual gardening, but not all-consuming, they’re becoming an increasingly popular pastime. Learn how a hobby farm is defined and the essential steps you need to take to start your own.
What is a Hobby Farm?
A hobby farm is a small farm that’s created for enjoyment and self-sufficiency, rather than profit. Most hobby farmers have a separate job as their primary source of income, and maintain the land during spare time such as evenings and weekends. As a general guideline, a hobby farm is less than 50 acres, with many being only 10 acres or less. As long as you have the necessary space, a hobby farm can be started just about anywhere.
5 Steps to Start Your Hobby Farm
Hobby farming is becoming increasingly popular for many reasons. It helps you stay active, learn new skills, connect with the natural environment, and grow a reliable supply of fresh, healthy food. If you’ve been considering starting a hobby farm on your property, here’s what you need to know to get things up and running.
Do Your Research
When it comes to farming, there’s lots to learn. Before you start to think about techniques or specific crops, it’s important to understand your land. This includes the condition of the soil, the growing zone it’s located in, which sections get the most sunlight, and even pests or animals that are present nearby. Understanding these details will help determine what you can grow successfully.
One of the best ways to gather this research is to use the resources available in your area. Talk to neighbors who have an established hobby farm, or visit a local nursery for professional advice. Once you know what your land is capable of, you can start to craft a plan.
Make a Plan
Attention to detail is critical for a thriving hobby farm. Before anything goes into the ground, you should have a carefully crafted plan for how the growing season will play out. Here are some of the key factors to account for:
- Budget. Hobby farms aren’t designed to generate income, so you’ll need a well-defined budget to avoid ending up underwater. Make sure you account for materials, equipment, resources, and general maintenance to cover the entire growing season.
- Materials. Materials are one of the biggest budgetary considerations when planning a hobby farm. They range from fertilizer and compost to plants and ground cover. You’ll need an ample supply to set your crops up for a bountiful harvest.
- Interests. Since hobby farms are primarily for enjoyment, your plan should take into account what’s most meaningful to you. If you love making fresh salsa, plant tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Want farm fresh eggs for breakfast every morning? Incorporate a chicken coop into your plan.
- Mapping. Taking the time to map out the structure of your farm will help to increase yields and lead to long-term success. For example, watermelons need as much as 20 square feet per plant, while carrots can be placed just a few inches apart. Also consider sunlight and water requirements, grouping plants with similar needs together where possible.
When you’re growing acres of crops, you need the right equipment to get the job done effectively. For instance, instead of dragging the hose around, consider installing an irrigation system that will provide precisely controlled and scheduled watering.
One of the most popular pieces of equipment for a hobby farm is a compact tractor. Thanks to the versatility and power of these machines, they can help shave days off your most labor-intensive tasks. Plus, due to their smaller size, compact tractors are easy to operate in tight spaces and can be stored in a garage or shed with ease.
Set Up Infrastructure
With a budget, plan, and the right equipment, you can finally start getting your hands dirty setting up infrastructure. This is everything you need to help your crops be successful, ranging from digging out garden beds and building fencing to laying drip lines and creating livestock habitats.
Infrastructure is another area where a tractor can be especially useful in increasing your efficiency. Tillage attachments will break up the soil and work fertilizer deep into the ground, while a posthole digger can make short work creating acres of fence line. When you’re hobby farming in your spare time, every extra minute you can get back counts.
While it might seem like starting a hobby farm is mostly logistics, there’s nothing like seeing your vision come to life. Once the setup is complete, start getting your crops in the ground. Remember, each type of plant requires different nutrients, watering, and planting depth. Closely follow those instructions to give them a head start. In just a few months you’ll be enjoying a wealth of fresh food thanks to your hard work.
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