Courtesy of Wally Satzewich, Wally's Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK
I've used a multi-locational land base for over 25 years, and that has led me to appreciate low maintenance crops. They are ones I grow on plots that are not near my backyard home base. Most of the work goes into getting them established but once they are, maintenance work is minimal. Most years I can just rely on rainfall. If I get a substantial rainfall or two throughout the season, no irrigation at all is necessary.
Summer/winter squash and pumpkins was my low maintenance crop last year, and they really needed to be. We had a two month drought, and I would not have been able to invest the time to go out to the plot to do daily waterings. After transplanting, I watered each plant using a hose with a brush attachment. During the dry spell I did that once a week, and it took one hour to water 7,000 sq.ft. The plot has a well, and water is limited. So I created a crater around each plant to hold the water and directed the water right to that area around the plant. Weeding is the other consideration on plots away from home. With sprawling plants all you have to do is get them to maturity and then they take up all the space around them so weeds have no place to grow.
Low maintenance crops can also come into play in managing a larger land base. Keep your intensive relay areas to under an acre and close to the house, and put the the rest of the acreage into crops that need lots of space to sprawl, but do not need the tlc. My squash and pumpkin crop yield was 4,000 lbs. and $7K. Not bad for a crop that mostly took care of itself. Other low maintenance crops are green/yellow beans,garlic, onions from sets, and potatoes.
SPIN stands for s-mall p-lot in-tensive, but opportunity comes in lots of different sizes. If you see demand at market for a single season crop, or someone offers you a large plot outside of town, think beyond your backyard plot and put low maintenance crops into play.
SEE A DETAILED DISCUSSION OF HOW WALLY MANAGES HIS SQUASH/PUMPKIN PATCH AND WHICH VARIETIES SELL BEST IN THE FORUM > > >