Starting a market garden

So a series of unfortunate events is propelling me out of my lackadaisical approach to playing in the dirt and into seriously pursuing market gardening. I've thought about it, I've got a slew of half-read books, but I haven't ever put a plan together and executed it. And now I need to.

I have about 1/2 acre fenced, but so far only about 1,650 square feet of that is semi-prepped and ready to be planted. My chicken run is 624 square feet with a 64-square-foot hoop coop. The rest is mostly grass, and I have a 10x16 shed in the front (it's not wired).

There's a local nonprofit market that's pretty cheap to sell at. The organizer recommended silver queen corn, rattlesnake beans, okra, tomatoes, yellow squash, and purple hull peas as crowd favorites and said that strawberries, carrots, turnips, fennel, lima beans, English peas, and butterbeans would also be welcome. I was considering peppers and zucchini as well. I also keep reading that oyster and shiitake mushrooms, salad greens, and microgreens sell really well. Plus it's fall, and I wanted to try growing a fall crop while I'm sorting out spring/summer.

Do any market gardeners here have words of wisdom or warning as I embark on this? How many hours per day do you put into it? Should I start with just mushrooms and one or two other crops in my existing space and expand once I've actually generated some income? Or has anyone gone for broke, set up an full-scale operation in one season, and had success? For me that would look like a real greenhouse/potting shed, a prep/storage area, and removing sod on around 1/4 acre, plus soil amendments. Right now I have no specialized tools, either. I break ground with a broadfork, and use a hoe when needed.

My other big hurdle is fencing and critter control. I have about 1,025 square feet of garden fenced in with 2'-tall 1/2" hardware cloth, and the other one is 4'-tall 2x4 welded wire fencing. Bunnies get into both, although the fences were more to keep the dogs out, who like to dig and steal my plants. I'd love to hear what other people do. Is an electric fence worth the cost? Do the stinky critter repellants from the feed store actually work?

Comments

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