What is Hobby Farming All About? 

Hobby farming is usually a small scale for pleasure operation. Often the owner or owners of the farm do not make money. Although an unfavorable yield wouldn’t break the bank, there are some common pitfalls to keep in mind. Avid beginners usually are ambitious and want to grow a little of everything. This can be a costly approach. It takes time to get good. Starting small is a fantastic way to get the best results.  

Starting a hobby farm with too little money won’t cut it. Generally speaking, between the tools, maintenance, supplies, you’re looking at a setup of $600 to $20,000 to start. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency is an excellent source for startup loans.   

Consider a few things if you are thinking about making a little money with your mini-farm. First, whether you are getting a loan or financing this venture yourself, you must create a business plan. This will increase the chance of your farm succeeding. It is important to remember to grow better, not bigger. Try not to make the mistake of getting too big too fast. Follow these steps to help you get going the right way starting your hobby farm:  

Learn about farming – Brush up on the fundamentals
Create a budget – Start small, progress organically
Get along with your neighbors – Build a rapport
Get permits – Check out your state and local ordinances
List out your crops – think low-maintenance to start
Design the layout – Does your barn need insulation, so do you need to prepare a concrete slab
Create a business plan – An operation plan is vital whether you’re doing this for profit or not
Maintain equipment – Study the owner’s manuals, reduce wear and tear, order spare parts
Enrich your soil – Animal manure improves the quality of soil and reduces the need for water

Cultivating Fungus

Farming Mushrooms can be an excellent value and a great place to start for the effort invested.  Since gourmet mushrooms may be hard to find and often pricy, cultivating might make sense. Once you’ve chosen your selections, consider the environmental conditions needed to produce mushrooms. Each species has its humidity, temperature, and lighting preferences. The pro of growing outdoors is several years of harvest, but they take longer to fruit. Growing indoors, you have way more control and can harvest all year long. Mushroom food can differ. Common substrates (growing mediums) are:  

Wood – Maitake, shiitake, lion’s mane, and oyster mushroom love freshly cut logs
Wood chips – Stropharia, blewit, and wine cap are decomposer mushrooms that enjoy mulch
Coffee grounds – An excellent substrate for nameko and oyster mushrooms

Starting your hobby garden growing mushrooms is both rewarding and easy. Oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane, and wine cap mushrooms are great for beginners. In fact, fungi decompose organic compounds like leaves or mulch into food for the rest of your garden. As you reap the bounties of what you have sewed, you may need to think about ways to preserve your harvest. Listed are ways I like to extend the shelf life of produce.  

Pickling – Pickling does not require a long fermentation process and can vary with the produce you choose to use
Fermenting – Is an ancient means of preservation that creates foods rich in probiotics. Fermented shiitakes would pair well with a duck fat infused bourbon Manhattan
Alcohol infusions – Alcohol is one of the most fun ways to preserve your fruits and vegetables. If done right, your produce can make an excellent garnish for your infused libation
Craft cider and wine – Making wine or cider requires patience, skill, and specialty equipment. The rewards are a phenomenal way to enjoy the fruits of your labor

Greenhouse Agriculture

Greenhouses are an all-in-one gardening solution great for beginners. You can control the temperature and garden any time of the year. Pest prevention is a breeze in this pesticide-free environment. There is little to no need to spray dangerous chemicals in an enclosed space. The warmer temperature inside promotes plant growth, yielding larger crops. In a greenhouse, you can grow pretty much anything, and you’re able to house your equipment and tools with your garden.  

How do you choose a good hobby greenhouse kit? First, choose the right lighting solution. More plants die in greenhouses from overheating, and natural sunlight contributes to that. Solexx panels provide the best diffused light to protect your plants. Next, select a space that can be modified and has room to grow. Finally, make sure that the greenhouse fits your plan. Typically it takes about a year to fill a greenhouse. Remember to pick one that is easy to maintain.  

The primary item you’ll need to start with is hand towels, shovels, pots, seed flats, and containers to mix growing mediums. Use benches, tables, raised beds, or shelves to get your plants off of the ground. Sanitation is a must in this cultivation environment. Bleach, alcohol, or other disinfectant sprays are perfect to battle bugs, pests, bacteria, and fungus—either water your garden by hand or set up drip irrigation with proper drainage. Ventilation helps keep plants healthy. You may need to purchase lighting for those plants that need more and shading for those that need less. Lastly, set up precise climate control with fans, heaters, evaporative coolers, thermometers, and hygrometers.  

Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane are gases omitted gardening this way and are known as greenhouse pollution. Instead, use both intake and outtake air filters to improve the atmosphere inside and outside your greenhouse.  

Urban Farming

Want to add green to your city and be a part of your community? It can get lonely in the hustle and bustle of large metropolitans. And it is all too tempting to stray from a healthy lifestyle with the explosion of restaurant growth. If so, urban and peri-urban agriculture may be right up your alley. Be a part of growing an incredible garden in an unusual space. Inner-city patches reside in the ground and on a rooftop or even a patio. If there is no outdoor access, you can utilize the windows of a lobby to enjoy communal gardening. The most common issues growing in the city that you may want to consider are:  

Permits – Your local municipality is where you want to check-in before breaking ground
Water supply – Rainwater and municipal water may have pollutants and concentrates
Contaminated soil – Lead is by far the most significant risk. Test soil for heavy metals before gardening
Humans – Produce theft is something to beware of. Build a fence

Different people can contribute their skillset in starting a community garden, which spreads out the responsibilities. Priming the city soil is vital and may need fresh topsoil with organic compost added. Supplies may include rototillers, shovels, spades, trowels, gloves, compost bins, plant makers, seeds, watering cans, or a drip irrigation system. Always fertilize properly for a robust harvest.  

Want to farm without soil? Try this out! Instead, plants grow in mineral nutrient solutions, gravel, or substrate. As long as you regularly clean them, they are low maintenance. In addition, hydroponic systems can take care of your plants while you’re out of town and require far less water than other agricultural practices.   

Hydroponic Horticulture

Before starting a hydronic farm, you have to decide what size you want, where you want it, how much you’d like to spend, the amount of work you can put into gardening, and what you want to grow. There are several main types of systems to choose from; such as:  

Aeroponics – The nutrient mist is sprayed on the plants every few minutes
Dip systems – An air pump feeds plants with nutrient-rich water
Deep water culture – The roots grow in nutrient-rich water housed in reservoirs beneath the plant
Wick systems – Takes the least amount of effort; where a wick in a reservoir draws water upward into a substrate Nutrient film technique – Plants grow in net pots where water circulates on an airstone and a water pump

Which hydroponic system is best for your needs?  

The Water Garden Duo is an aquaponic. It grows plants and seconds as a fish tank! This low-tech system is more of a fun project than anything. A DreamJoy Hydroponic grow kit can accommodate up to 72 plants. Although it requires more attention, it is perfect for a rooftop or balcony garden that provides a bountiful harvest. There are many systems online. Take the time to do a bit of research before making your purchase.  

Plants are Picky

Different plants have different needs. From humidity to lighting, water, air quality, you name it! Long-day plants require up to 18 hours of sunlight; short-day plants will not fruit or flower if exposed to more than 12 hours of daylight. That said, you will need to figure out how to custom schedule an electric timer. Hydro lighting systems have four parts; the bulb, remote ballast, timer, and reflector hood. LED, metal halide, and fluorescent are the most common. The reflective casing with many angles around the light bulb is the reflector hood. The remote ballast powers the light and is the most expensive element of the setup. The least costly yet most important piece it the timer – so don’t forget it.  

Temperature affects the speed at which your plant processes energy. Keep your plants happy in their ‘comfort zone’ between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit, and they will be healthy. Use a thermometer that records the maximum and minimum temp to allow you to monitor conditions over 24 hours. Place your thermometer in the right place – halfway up the room and out of direct light. If temperatures are too high, the plant’s leaves can overheat, causing cell damage. Keep the growing environment optimal using an extractor fan, ventilation system, and a thermometer. If using water as your grow medium, the ideal water temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Lava rocks, clay pebbles, rockwool, vermiculite, coco coir, peat moss, hay, coffee grounds, and wood chips are all excellent growth mediums for your hydroponics system. First, you have to figure out what aids the root system in supporting the weight of the plant best. Choosing a suitable non-soil substrate will increase yield and decrease energy and water consumption. Coco coir helps prevent mold because it is bacteria-free. In comparison, peat moss prevents the leaching of nutrients. It’s all about what is most important for your plant’s needs.  

For example, growing mushrooms hydroponically in a soilless setup improves the flavor and yields. Fungi thrive in low-light, so they are far more cost-efficient to grow. Different types of mushrooms need slightly different farm designs. A place to start is with a flood table, reservoir, water pump, timer, nutrients, a humidifier, and an air pump.   

Begin with the proper growing medium or solution. Mix the substrate with sports. Let the mycelium develop, fuse, fruit the mixture, then harvest before it spores. Pretty simple! All in all – hobby farming is very rewarding and can be done in many different ways. But, first, you must take the time to assess your wants and needs. Then plan accordingly, and you are sure to succeed.