Start a 1-Acre, Self-Sufficient Homestead - Modern Homesteading - MOTHER EARTH NEWS: "1-Acre Farm With a Family Cow
Half of your land would be put down to grass, leaving half an acre arable (not allowing for the land on which the house and other buildings stand). The grass half could remain permanent pasture and never be plowed up at all, or you could plan crop rotations by plowing it up, say, every four years. If you do the latter, it is best done in strips of a quarter of the half-acre so that each year you’re planting a grass, clover and herb mixture on an eighth of your acre of land. This crop rotation will result in some freshly sown pasture every year, some 2-year-old field, some 3-year-old field and some 4-year-old field, resulting in more productive land...
The remaining half of your homestead — the arable half — would be farmed as a highly intensive garden. It would be divided, ideally, into four plots, around which all the annual crops that you want to grow follow each other in a strict crop rotation.
An ideal crop rotation might go something like this:
— Grass (for four years)
— Plot 1: Potatoes
— Plot 2: Legumes (pea and bean family)
— Plot 3: Brassicas (cabbage family)
— Plot 4: Root vegetables (carrots, beets, and so on)
— Grass again (for four years)
Consider the advantages of this kind of crop rotation. A quarter of your arable land will be a newly plowed-up, 4-year-old field every year, with intensely fertile soil because of the stored-up fertility of all the grass, clover and herbs that have just been plowed-in to rot with four summers’ worth of cow manure. Because your cow will be in-wintered, on bought-in hay, and treading and dunging on bought-in straw, you will have an enormous quantity of marvelous muck and cow manure to put on your arable land. All of the crop residues that you cannot consume will help feed the cow, pigs or poultry, and I would be surprised if, after following this crop rotation and grazing management plan for a few years, you didn’t find that your acre of land had increased enormously in soil fertility, and that it was producing more food for humans than many a 10-acre farm run on ordinary commercial lines..."