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Undercover KaBlam! Looks great! War Eagle! I have these in my oven right now! Not needed, probably. Pingback: Welcome to my Pinteresting reviews! We used to make these growing up also! My mom would add pecans on the top also. Love ur site. Cream cheese being brought to room temp as we speak!
I love these! We make this but instead of a yellow cake mix, we use a lemon cake mix. We call them Lemon stickies and they are delicious! Thank you so much for posting this recipe!! This cake is not original to Paula Dean. We made it years before she came on the scene! So, do not feel bad. It has several names. We called it Ooey Gooey Cake. It is good make with whatever cake mix you like! Our family has been making these for over twenty years and we call it Pie Cake!
I ran into someone a few years ago who called these chess bars. But they added one more ingredient…………. You put a cup of pecans in a food processor to make them a fine chop. Put it in with cream cheese mixture. I love Pecans! BTW — Paula Deen has many variations of her gooey bars. Gooey Butter in Philadelphia has always been made with a yeast dough and a butter, egg, sugar and vanilla topping.
So I tried this recipe last night, of course it was amazing! Simple ingredients short prep time this one will stay with me for years!! I am the cook in the family former restaurant manager and chess pie and chess pie squares are always the first to go. Great recipe, I see different variations with 2 eggs in the base and 3 and even 4 eggs in the topping for the squares, but I like your recipe best.
Your photos are why I had to comment, they are great! Your squares look amazing I wish I had one right now and the photos are professional quality. I tried this easy recipe on yestesday which happened to be Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing your recipe….. I can simply imagine trying so many varieties for all occassions.
Thank you so much for posting this! I got a craving for this the other day and mentioned it to my husband — he had no idea what I talking about at all! I am so glad you posted this recipe! I have been wanting to try chess pie which I assume is the round version of chess squares for years, but have never gotten around to it.
Also, I just got back from St. Louis the day before reading this post. I saw signs advertising gooey butter cake everywhere, but we never got to try any. I am baking this recipe tonight though! I am so excited to try it! Is it 1 box of powdered sugar? I thought 4 cups would be 32 oz or 2 lbs. Am I mixed up? I am making these right now for a dear friend who just had her first baby!
Oh and I love your blog, you have some amazing talent! I just made this cake and it was a hit! I heart chess squares. I also love to take a recipe and change it. Last week I made this using a red velvet cake mix and mixed in mini chocolate chips. It was by far my favorite. It has changed my life. Making this today for the second time since you posted the recipe! So yummy! My mouth just filled up with saliva… in a good way! I must make these. Thank you for the very easy to follow instructions and stunning photos.
You two are happy and very cute! Those look really good. I have never heard of them before! Thanks, Amanda! I made these last night for dessert on a rainy Friday night at home with my husband and the kids. I made these last night and they were a huge hit. I cannot wait to attempt to make some other varieties. Louis who loves this.. Kris, how do you know it was created in St.
Regardless, there is nothing wrong with mentioning Paula Deen. She is a favorite of many, as is this recipe. No negativity, please. Making these this morning for a group of friends. I am making these for my Valentine they are in the oven as I type. Thanks for sharing such an easy, beautiful and probably decadently delicious recipe!
I used this recipe for a party this past weekend. They were a huge hit, everyone loved them. Also they were so simple to make!! Oh these one of my all time favorites but we call it cream cheese cookies!! My mom used to make and send them to me every summer at camp! Thanks for posting the recipe!!! I have never heard of either one, but chess squares just sounds so much better to me thank gooey butter cake, I am going to make these they look delicious.
I think they would be really good with the chocolate cake mix too like one reader said. I love your blog and I just wanted you to know that the recipe for Gooey Butter Cake, Neiman Marcus bars, Chess cake whatever you want to call it has been around a lot long than Paula Deen. I was shocked because I thought everyone had. But then again I am a southern girl born and raised, and chess pie was served at every holiday! My family and I have almost devoured them. Love this recipe! After I read the post at work, I dreamed of them all day!!
I made them up tonight and could not even wait for them to cool all the way. I just about melted into a puddle when I started eating the ooooeey gooey warm yummy-ness! You make it really, really difficult to stick to plan, you know! My mom made this all the time while I was growing up. It is a family favorite. We called it butter gooey cake. We love it topped with cherry pie filling!!!!
Ok, this is on the dessert menu for Sunday dinner. I will check back with you and let you know what a hit it was! I love chess squares! I have never heard of either… so I am glad you shared! These look just delicious, and I have a baby shower coming up that these might be perfect for! I make this with a lemon cake mix instead of the yellow. The best lemon bars ever! I love it! Gooey Butter Cookies from allrecipes.
Being a Southerner myself Alabaman via Florida , my grandmother used to make chess pie all the time…. Love it…. These are a St. Louis Classic…but we call them Gooey Butter Cake. Much easier to eat! Thanks for posting this : : Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather : :. Everyone raves about it! Can not wait to try these this weekend. Thank you for deciding to share! Have you changed something, or is this a user error problem? I LOVE those things! No wonder…they are yummy! You have to try this recipe with lemon cake mix instead of the yellow. I have been making Chess Cake for years and my 12 year old daughter has now started making it.
Very inexpensive and everyone who tries it loves it. More of a rice gooey cake-like desert. We make Chess Pie here in Texas… but chess squares look scrumptious.. I will have to make for our next family gathering! I just made it. I knew when I opened my e-mail this morning I would have to try it. I only had a chocolate cake mix, so I made it with that. Can not wait to make it with yellow cake.
These are awesome!!! I will have to try this recipe because I love anything made using cake mixes that is delish as well as easy. Hugs, Becky. I was hoping to keep them around for at least a few more days. But, it was! My mom and grandmother had a bakery when I was growing up, so these have been around my whole life! The recipe for the cake HAS to be yummy! I grew up in Arizona, and have spent the last 40 years in Hawaii. Never heard of this til today! Thanks for your fun website!! Wow, these look moth watering good. I have never heard of them, but I am going to make some right away!
Cannot wait to make this! My favorite thing to do is make it different flavors and have found that pumpkin is my absolute favorite way! How do you make the pumpkin version? This is like my cheesecake brownie recipe. They are like the cheesecake brownies from the Great American Cookie Company the mall. Thanks for reminding me of them. Will be baking some very soon! Maybe even tonight!! Good bye diet…again! I think I am going to make this for our monthly coworker birthday potluck next Wednesday!
Oooohhh — I grew up in St. Louis where gooey butter cake abounds! Believe it or not, it was always a breakfast treat in our house! Thanks for the inspiration, yum!! This looks like my kind of recipe. Plus I usually have all of these ingredients on hand. These actually look very delish! I really want to try making them! I am sooooo in the mood to bake! I wonder how they would taste with a chocolate cake mix?!
Do you think I should try it?! There are so many folks who have never heard of them, so I have made it a mission of mine to spread the good news. Of Chess Squares. And Jesus. Anyway, I love that you did a blog about them — this will help me get the word out faster! We love Gooey Butter Cake in St. There is even a bakery called Gooey Louies that sells only gooey butter cakes but they come in a variety of flavors.
They are fantastic! I am a HUGE fan of gooey butter cake, yum! I loved Chess Pie too growing up. My very southern mom made it by heart, but perhaps you have a good recipe to share?
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Chess cake and chess pie has been a southern tradition in my family for years too. I use the same top ingredients and pour it in a graham cracker crust already prepared in a pie tin. These are yummy.. My friend has a similar recipe but calls them gooey bars and puts a lemon twist on it..
The middle is the best part Amanda? Oh, we also use golden butter recipe cake mix for our crust…delish! Score one for me! My stepmother is southern and moved from Georgia to Alabama to the panhandle of Florida when she was a child and she always talks about her southern dishes that her grandmother mema used to make! What am I doing wrong??? I need a baked sweet for next week and was playing around in my head with what to take this month. This will be it.
Thanks so much. This reminds me of a dessert a friend of mine makes all the time. I was at her house one day and watched her make it…same thing only for the crust she rolled out crescent rolls and put them in the bottom of the pan. The filling is the same.
I think gooey butter cake is a southern thing too : Have you ever heard of transparent pie? Who knew? I made something just like this years ago but we added chocolate chips to it. Oh, yes! These are delicious!! My grandmother used to make these from scratch and she called them chess bars. Kinda wish these were on the menu instead of the brownies and cupcakes my kids have requested for their birthday!
Well you got me hook, line, and sinker is that the expression Oh well I think I will put a slight tint of pink food coloring in the cream cheese and low and behold Valentines dessert. I know it as Gooey Butter Cake! And sometimes I use Devils Food cake mix!!
Ssooo yummy either way!! I love gooey butter cake but I am from Texas, blueberry dump cake is a staple in our house and I cannot wait to try your recipe. These are an all time favorite in my family as well. We actually call them Chess Bars, so not to far from what you call them. But like you said call it what you may they are absolutely delicious. It tastes just like my old recipe for chess pie! This is a very old southern recipe. Just stir it up , pour in crust and bake! Your email address will not be published.
Follow Me on Instagram! Chess Squares. Print Recipe. Mix cake mix, melted butter and one egg to a soft dough. Press into the bottom of the pan. Mix powdered sugar, softened cream cheese and remaining two eggs until smooth, about mins. Pour on top of crust. Bake at for minutes until top is golden brown. Funnel Cake Fries. Jeanette Sassano. Mickey T. Laurie B.
Barbara Taylor. Chadwick mullins. Stephen Grigsby. SDmom x 3. Sue Laumann. Catherine Nicolia. Tammy Vaughn. Martha Gilliam. Cindi Stuart. Why is the middle of my ooey gooey cake wet or see not cooked???
Cheri Nieporte-Murphy. This was just like I remembered as a child! Shannon L. Nancy Alexander. Mary Bragg. Can I add lemon or lime or orange zest to the powdered sdugar filling for extra taste. Absolutely my most favorite dessert hands down! My Mom always made it with a lemon cake mix. Connie Pearson.
Ahhhh, yes. A classic. Did you get the note I sent to your email? Karen Amenson. Becky Land. Benita Branch. Sheila Cross. Hi, made this last night and all I have to say is…….. The gooey butter cake has two sticks of butter, one stick in each step. Dawn Mayo. I just made this yummy dessert using this recipe.
It turned out great! Thank you for posting it! Has anyone tried this with chocolate cake mix? I wish I had cake mix right now : have a nice week. Georgia Moon. Tricia Campbell. Janice Cross. Lyn P. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Hope this helps! Susan Murphy. Has anyone tried it without the pound of conf sugar? The cake mix must be pretty sweet enough.
I make this exact recipe but with a butter fudge cake mix on the bottom and we call it Sin! Kristi Northcutt. Wendy L. I enjoy them so much. What an easy, yet delicious recipe. This was way too sweet. Shirley Sievers. The possibilities are endless!! Olga T. Pam Elkin. I am like you, no matter what it is called, it is delicious!!! I enjoy your recipes! Sharon Garofalow. Leslie Robinson. I was just wondering if this would work with the gluten free cake mix??
Thanks for sharing this recipe…. Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories. I am making them this weekend! Melanie Correll. Tammy Bowman. Jess W. Fi My Mummy Daze. Oh my! This look amazing! Thanks, Fi x. Denise Andrews. D Carroll. Shirley Lane. Lois Ereth. I going to try this good cake Wed am I know its good. Any cake with butter in it is great. Lisa Plants. Turned out beautiful, but a too sweet for me. Bridget Mancuso. Noelene Joy Todd. Do bake the box buttercake before adding the cream cheese part? Do you think this will be ok if I make today thurs to take with us to a weekend trip?
I am going to make this this weekend for my boyfriend to give him a little piece of home : Thanks for sharing! Wow, I really would love to have a piece of this right now with my espesso! If you bake at degrees, bars are done in about minutes. Good luck! Would usingmbutter golden cake mix instead of yellow cake mix yield the same results? Lee Anne. Jenna Freese. Janet Davis. Hope this helps future bakers…if you ever get to read the comments to this point.
Thanks, Angela in Western Arkansas. I made these last night, my family loved them.. So easy to make to! Penny A. Robin Wickman. Made this tonight! All I have to say is it is dangerous!! So good! I just made these and they were called Neiman Marcus Brownies! They are sooo good! We serve them with lightly sweetened raspberries on top. Trixie Lovelace. Stacie Robbins. The strawberry is out of this world. Where has this been all my life?
A new go-to. Pete Vela. Gaela bergloff. Shelby Binns. Martha A. Thanks for the awesome recipe! Natalie Lampert. Made these tonight! OMG the smell is driving me nuts! Im waiting for them to cool now :D. I had never heard of this before. Found it on pinterest. And every lion must have hundreds of antelopes to support him. The true carnivores are right at the apex of the biotic pyramid. Man is somewhere near the top but not at the top because he is an omnivore. He is one of those lucky animals that can subsist on a wide range of food: vegetable and animal. Up and down the chain, or up and down between the layers of the pyramid, there is a vast complexity of interrelationships.
There are, for example, purely carnivorous micro-organisms. There are all kinds of parasitic and saprophitic organisms: the former live on their hosts and sap their strength, the latter live in symbiosis, or in friendly cooperation, with other organisms, animal or vegetable. We have said that the carnivores are at the apex of the food chain. Where in it stands a flea on a lion's back? Or a parasite in a lion's gut? And what about the bacterium that is specialised and you can bet there is one to live inside the body of the lion flea?
A system of such gargantuan complexity can best, perhaps, be understood by the utter simplification of the famous verse: Little bugs have lesser bugs upon their backs to bite 'em, And lesser bugs have lesser bugs and so ad infinitum! This refers to parasitism alone of course, but it is noteworthy that all up and -down the pyramid everything is consumed, eventually, by something else. And that includes us, unless we break the chain of life by the purely destructive process of cremation.
Now Man, the thinking monkey, has to interfere with this system of which he should never forget that he is a part but he does so at his peril. If we eliminate many carnivores among the larger mammals, the herbivores on which these carnivores preyed become overcrowded, overgraze, and create deserts. If, on the other hand, we eliminate too many herbivores the herbage grows rank and out of control and good pasture goes back to scrub and cannot, unless it is cleared, support many herbivores.
If we eliminate every species of herbivore except one the grazing is less efficiently grazed. Thus sheep graze very close to the ground they bite the grass off with their front teeth while cows, which rip grass up by wrapping their tongues round it, like long grass. The hills produce more and better sheep if cattle graze on them too.
It is up to Man the Husbandman to consider very carefully, and act very wisely, before he uses his powers to interfere with the rest of the biotic pyramid.
Plants, too, exist in great variety in natural environments and for very good reasons. Different plants take different things out of the soil, and put different things back. Members of the pea-bean-and-clover family for example, have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in nodules on their roots.
Thus they can fix their own nitrogen. But you can wipe the clovers out of a pasture by applying artificial nitrogen. It is not that the clovers do not like the artificial nitrogen, but that you remove the "unfair advantage" that they had over the grasses which are not nitrogen-fixing by supplying the latter with plenty of free nitrogen and, being naturally more vigorous than the clovers, they smother them out. It is obvious from observing nature that monoculture is not in the natural order of things.
We can only sustain a one-crop-only system by adding the elements that the crop needs from the fertilizer bag and destroying all the crop's rivals and enemies with chemicals. If we wish to farm more in accordance with the laws and customs of nature we must diversify as much as we can, both with plants and animals. But the soil that we terrestrial animals have to draw our subsistence from is the powdered rock that covers, fortunately for us, much of the land surface of the Earth.
Some of this powder, or earth, was derived from the rock directly below it, some has been carried down by water from rock somewhere above it, some such as the famous loess soil of North America and China has been blown there by wind, and some dragged into its present position by glaciers in one or other of the ice ages. But however the soil got to where it is now, it was originally pulverized from the rock by agencies of weather.
Frost splits rock, so does alternate intense heat and cold, water wears it, wind erodes it, and it is now known that bacteria and certain algae actually eat it; the hardest rock in the world will be ground down and eroded in time if it comes to the surface. Newly-formed soil will have all the plant foods that were in the original rock, but it will completely lack one essential element - humus. It will not contain humus until life itself - that is, things that were living and have died and are in decay-puts it there.
Only then does it become real complete soil, fit to grow the vegetation that sustains all animal life on land. Because soil derives from many kinds of rock there are many varieties of soil. As we cannot always get exactly the kind of soil that we require, the husbandman must learn to make the best of the soil that he has.
Depending on the size of their particles soils are classified as light or heavy, with an infinite range of gradations in between. Light means composed of large particles. Heavy means composed of small particles. Gravel can hardly be called soil but sand can, and pure sand is the lightest soil you can get. The kind of clay which is made of the very smallest particles is the.
The terms "light" and "heavy" in this context have nothing to do with weight but with the ease of working of the soil. You can dig sand, or otherwise work with it, no matter how wet it is, and do it no harm. Heavy clay is very hard to dig or plough, gets very puddingy and sticky, and is easily damaged by working it when it is wet.
What we call soil generally has a thickness to be measured in inches rather than feet. It merges below with the subsoil which is generally pretty humus-free but may be rich in mineral foods needed by plants. Deep-rooting plants such as some trees, lucerne or alfalfa, comfrey, and many herbs, send their roots right down into the subsoil, and extract these nutriments from it. The nature of the subsoil is very important because of its influence on drainage.
If it is heavy clay, for example, then the drainage will be bad and the field will be wet. If it is sand, gravel, decayed chalk or limestone, then the field will probably be dry. Below the subsoil lies rock, and rock goes on down to the centre of the Earth. The rock, too, can affect drainage: chalk, limestone, sandstone and other pervious rocks make for good drainage: clay geologists consider this a rock too , slate, mudstone, some shales, granite and other igneous rocks generally make for poor drainage. Badly-drained soils can always be drained provided enough expenditure of labour and capital is put to doing it.
Let us now consider various types of soil: Heavy clay This, if it can be drained and if it is worked with great care and knowledge, can be very fertile soil, at least for many crops. Wheat, oak trees, field beans, potatoes, and many other crops, do superbly on well-farmed clay.
Farmers often refer to it as strong land. But great experience is needed to farm it effectively. This is because of the propensity of clay to "flocculate" - that is, the microscopic particles which make up clay gather together in larger particles. When this happens the clay is more easily worked, drains better, allows air to get down into it an essential condition for plant growth , and allows the roots of plants to penetrate it more easily. In other words it becomes good soil. When it does the opposite of flocculate it "puddles" - that is, it forms a sticky mass, such as the potter uses to make his pots, becomes almost impossible to cultivate, and gets as hard as brick when it dries out.
When it is in this condition the land forms big cracks and is useless. Factors which cause clay to flocculate are alkalinity rather than acidity, exposure to air and frost, incorporation of humus, and good drainage. Acidity causes it to puddle, so does working it while wet. Heavy machines tend to puddle it. Clay must be ploughed or dug when in exactly the right condition of humidity, and left strictly alone when wet. Clay can always be improved by the addition of humus compost, "muck" or farmyard manure, leaf-mould, green manuring: any vegetable or animal residue , by drainage, by ploughing it up at the right time and letting the air and frost get to it frost separates the particles by forcing them Clay soil is "late" soil, which means it will not produce crops early in the year.
It is difficult soil. It is not "hungry" soil - t h a t is, if you put humus in it the humus will last a long time. It tends to be rich in potash and is often naturally alkaline in which case it does not need liming. L o a m Loam is intermediate between clay and sand, and has many gradations of heaviness or lightness. You can have a very heavy loam and a very light loam. A medium loam is perhaps the perfect soil for most kinds of farming. Most loam is a mixture of clay and sand, although some loams probably have particles all of the same size. If loam or any other soil lies on a limestone or chalk rock it will probably be alkaline and will not need liming, although this is not always the case: there are limestone soils which, surprisingly, do need liming.
Loam, like every other kind of soil, will always benefit by humus addition. Sand Sandy soil, or the lighter end of the spectrum of heavylight soils, is generally well-drained, often acid in which case it will need liming and often deficient in potash and phosphates.
It is "early" soil - that is, it warms up very quickly after the winter and produces crops early in the year. It is also "hungry" soil; when you put humus into it the humus does not last long. In fact, to make sandy soil productive you must put large quantities of organic manure into it and inorganic manure gets quickly washed away from it. Sandy soils are favoured for market gardening, being early and easy to work and very responsive to heavy dressings of manure.
They are good soils for such techniques as folding sheep or pigs or other animals on the land. They are good for wintering cattle on because they do not "poach" like heavy soils do i. They recover quickly from treading when under grass. But they won't grow as heavy crops of grass or other crops as heavier land.
They dry out very quickly and suffer from drought more than clay soils do. Peat Peat soils are in a class of their own but unfortunately ' are fairly rare. Peat is formed of vegetable matter which has been compressed in unaerobic conditions i. Sour wet peatland is not much good for farming, although such soil, if drained, will grow potatoes, oats, celery and certain other crops.
But naturally drained peatlands are, quite simply, the best soils in the world. They will grow anything, and grow it better than any other soil. They don't need manure, they are manure. Happy is the self-supporter who can get hold of such land for his crops are most unlikely to fail. MANURING Plants require traces of almost all the elements, but the elements that they need in large quantities are: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium.
Nitrogen, as we have seen, can be fixed from the. However, to ensure a really good supply, animal dung should be added to the soil and this will release nitrogen as it decays. Phosphorus is probably present in the soil, but perhaps it is not being released in sufficient quantities.
If analysis shows a serious phosphate deficiency then phosphorus should be added. Phosphorus deficiency may be seen sometimes by a purplish discoloration in seedlings, followed by yellowing as the plant gets older, stunted growth and lateness in coming to maturity. The word "basic" here means alkaline - it helps to correct acidity as lime does. Unfortunately new methods of steel making are reducing the supply. Ground rock phosphate is slower acting than slag, but it is longer lasting, and many organic growers think better.
Superphosphate is rock phosphate or bones that have been dissolved in sulphuric acid; it is quick-acting but expensive and it may harm the soil organisms. Potassium deficiency may show itself by yellowing of leaftips, and by a weakness in the stems of cereals - they fall down in wind or rain. There are huge rock-potash deposits in many parts of the world and until these are exhausted we can correct potassium deficiency by applying this material.
Clay soil is seldom deficient in potassium. Calcium deficiency causes acid soil and can lead to malformation of plants. In any case Time in some form or another will probably be added by the husbandman to soils which are acid, and calcium deficiency will then not occur. Lime can be added as lumps of lime or chalk very slow acting , as ground lime or chalk fairly slow acting , as quick lime or chalk quick acting , and as slaked lime or chalk quick acting. Quick lime, however, will burn plants and soil organisms; slaked lime is benign. There are other elements in which your soil may be deficient.
If, despite the addition of the elements listed above, you find that plants or animals are still sickly then you may suspect such things as boron deficiency, or deficiencies of other of these so-called "trace elements',' and you should call in expert advice. But if your land has had proper additions of compost, or farmyard manure or the dung of animals added direct, or seaweed which has in it every element , it is most unlikely to be deficient in anything.
By getting your soil analysed when you take it over, and adding once and for all whatever clement the analysis shows the soil to be deficient in, and thereafter farming in a sound organic way, the "heart" fertility of your land should increase continually until it is at a very high level. There should be no need to spend any further money at all on "fertilizers".
And, very often, if land is virgin, or if it has been properly farmed in the past, you may not even need to get it analysed. The grass-and-clover was grazed off by stock and the purpose of it was to increase the fertility of the land by the nitrogen fixed in the root nodules o the clover, by the dung of the grazing animals, and ultimately by the mass of vegetation ploughed into the land when the Ley was ploughed up.
The effect of the Root Break was to increase the fertility of the soil, because nearly all the farmyard manure produced on the farm was applied to the root crop, and to "clean" make weed-free the land. Root crops are "cleaning-crops" because, by being planted in rows, they have to be hoed several times. The third effect of the Root Break was to produce crops which stored the summer's growth for winter feeding. It "cashed" the fertility put into the land by the Ley and the Roots, benefited from the cleanlines's of the land after Roots, and was the farmer's chief "cash crop" - the crop from which he made his money.
The beans, however, were for feeding to horses and cattle. After the barley had been drilled, grass-and-clover seed was undersown - that is, broadcast on the ground along with the cereal seed. As the barley grew, the grass-and-clover grew and when the barley was harvested a good growth of grass-and-clover was left to be grazed off next spring and summer, or to be cut for hay and grazed the following winter too.
The barley went principally to feed stock but the best of it went to be malted for beer. The oats and barley straw was fed to the cattle, the wheat straw went under their feet to provide all that vast tonnage of farmyard manure the best compost that ever was invented , rye straw was used for thatching, the roots were mostly fed to the cattle or to the sheep, and wheat, malting barley, beef, and wool went off to be sold to the city man.
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, land properly managed in this way often grew two tons of wheat to the acre and this with no input of oil-derived chemicals whatever. There weren't any. Now we can emulate this ecologically sound system, changing it to suit our different needs. We may not wish to live primarily on the bread, beef and beer of the eighteenth The Seasons Early spring Plough your land when the winter's frosts have broken up the soil.
Prepare the fields to be sown with spring crops by harrowing with discs and spikes, and add lime or phosphate if your soil needs it. Make the most of shooting game before the close seasons begin. Be ready for lambing to begin; early spring is the ideal time for then the lambs can grow with the grass.
Late spring Broadcast your seed or drill it into the earth, and be ready to combat the weeds that will race the young shoots to meet the sun. Plant your early potatoes under glass to force them- on, and use cloches to protect melons and other squashes from late frosts. This is a good time for brewing beer in preparation for such thirsty jobs as shearing and haymaking later on.
Mill some grain every month of the year so that you always have fresh flour. Early summer In early summer you have the delightful job of shearing your sheep. Wool from five of them will clothe a large family. With the summer flush of grass your cows will pour out milk and you should make butter nearly every day. Store some of your milk for the winter by making plenty of cheese.
In midsummer comes the back-breaking, but satisfying, business of haymaking. You will need help from your friends and neighbours and you will all need plenty of home brew. Late summer The wheat harvest in late summer is the crown of the year. Again you will need help from your friends, and again you will deserve to celebrate for you should have earned yourself a year's supply of bread. Orchard fruit, soft fruit, nuts, mushrooms and wild berries are gathered, and go into pots or pickle jars to be stored against winter scarcity.
Wine-making continues through this time, and the last of the green tomatoes go for chutney. Autumn Autumn is the time to harvest root crops, and clamp them or store them in root cellars. Plant winter wheat, broad and field beans. The sap is down in the trees which makes this an ideal time to fell those which have reached maturity.
At the same time haul out wood which has fallen before it gets wet and use it for firewood. In the late autumn your barley is ready for malting, and you should have time to spin wool and the year's harvest of flax as well. Winter In midwinter, when the leaves are off the trees, you can build newhedges and rebuild old ones, make and repair fences, gates and hurdles, sharpen and restore the implements on your holding.
The weather will be cold enough for killing and hanging beef and mutton, and early in the New Year is the best time for slaughtering your baconers. Bacon and ham can be salt-pickled in brine, sweet-pickled, or dry salted and carried to the smokehouse. Above all, this is the time of year for you to enjoy the fruits of your labours. We may need more dairy products: butter, cheese and milk, more vegetables, a greater variety of food altogether.
Also we have new techniques: new crops such as Jerusalem artichokes, fodder radish, fodder beet, maize in nothern climates, and devices such as the electric fence, which widen our possible courses of action. Now whether our would-be self-supporter has nothing more than a back garden, or perhaps a city allotment, or whether he has say a hundred acre farm, or whether he is part of a community owning a thousand acres, the principles he should follow are the same. He should try to work with Nature, not against her, and he should, as far as he can while still serving his own ends, emulate Nature in his methods.
Thus if he is to improve and maintain the heart of his land he should remember: 1 Monoculture, or the growing of the same crop on land year after year should be avoided. Disease organisms which attack any particular crop always build up in land on which that crop is grown year after year. Also each crop has different requirements from the soil and its residues return different materials to the soil.
The old High Farming practitioners in England used to say:"A full bullock yard makes a full stack yard. Mixed stocking is always better than mono-stocking, and rotational grazing is the best of all: the penning or folding of a species of animal over the land so that the animals leave their droppings and the inevitable eggs of parasites behind and so break the lifecycle of the parasites. Following one species with another in such a rotation should be practised wherever possible.
To bury the topsoil and bring the subsoil to the surface is not good. On the other hand, chisel ploughing-the cutting offurrows in the soil by dragging knives through it - does not invert the soil, helps drainage, breaks "pans" hard layers under the surface and can only do good. When it is covered with vegetation, even with "weeds," it will not erode or deteriorate. If left bare, it will. A growing crop will take up and store the nitrogen and other elements of the soil and release them when it rots down. In bare soil many soluble plant-foods are "leached-out," or washed away. Waterlogged soil is no-good soil and will deteriorate unless, of course, you are growing rice, or keeping water-buffalo.
All crop and animal residues should be returned to the soil. If you sell anything off the holding then you should import something of equal manurial value back on to it. The Law of Return should apply to human excrement too. Now if the Law of Return is properly observed it is theoretically possible to maintain, if not increase, the fertility of a piece of land without animals at all. Careful composting of vegetable residue is necessary, but it is noteworthy that on holdings where no animals are kept, but a high standard of fertility is maintained, almost always vegetable matter is brought in from outside the holding, and very often other high-energy substances, such as compost-activator, too.
Seaweed, leaf-mould from woods, dead leaves from city street cleaning services, waste vegetables from greengrocers, straw or spoiled hay, nettles or bracken mown on common ground or waste ground or neighbours' land: all such inputs of vegetable residues are possible, and will keep up the fertility of land which has no animals. It is difficult to see why putting vegetable matter into animals and then returning it to the land as shit should be better than putting it direct on to the land, but it is demonstrably so.
There is no doubt about it, as any husbandman with any experience knows, but there is some potent magic that transmutes vegetable residues into manure of extraordinary value by putting it through the guts of an animal. But when it is realized that animals and plants have evolved together on this planet perhaps this is not surprising. Nature does not seem to show any examples of an animal-free vegetable environment.
Even the gases inhaled and exhaled by these two different orders of life seem to be complementary: plants inhale carbon-dioxide and exhale oxygen, animals do the opposite. Now there is not the slightest reason why vegetarians and nonvegetarians should not live perfectly happily side by side. The vegetarians say, on their side, that it takes so many units of vegetable protein fed to an animal to produce one unit of protein in the form of meat. Therefore it would be better for humans to eliminate animals and eat the vegetable protein direct.
The non-vegetarians point out that the units of protein that are not directly turned into meat are not wasted: they are returned to the soil again in a transmuted form to improve its fertility and grow more crops. The vegetarians point out that it is cruel to kill animals. The non-vegetarians point out that some factor has got to control the population-increase rate of every species: either predators such as non-vegetarians! Vegetarianism seems to be almost wholly an urban, or bigcity, phenomenon, and is possibly due to people having.
The humane non-vegetarian says and I am one that animals should be kept in the conditions most nearly approaching those for which they were evolved as possible, treated humanely and subjected to no cruelties and indignities, and, when their time comes, killed instantly and with no long journeys to far-away markets or abattoirs. This is perfectly possible on the self-supporting holding, and the animal need have no inkling that anything is going to happen to it. Having said all this I will now say that it is perfectly possible to live a self-sufficient existence on an animalfree holding, and that it is perfectly possible to live healthily on a meat-free diet.
It is also possible to do the opposite. Some people like cows, other people are afraid of them. Some people like goats, other people cannot keep them out of the garden I never could and I don't know many people who can. Some people will not kill animals and have to sell their surplus stock off to people who will kill them, others will not sell surplus stock off at all because they know that the animals will be killed. Some people are happy to keep more stock than their land can support and to buy in fodder from outside, while other people regard this as contrary to the principles of self-sufficiency.
Myself, if I had an acre of good well-drained land I think I would keep a cow and a goat, a few pigs and maybe a dozen hens. The goat would provide me with milk when the cow was dry. I might keep two or more goats in fact. For if I was to derive any sort of living from that one acre, without the application of a lot of artificial fertilizer, it would have to be heavily manured. Now the acre would only just support the cow and do nothing else, so I would, quite shamelessly buy in most of my food for the cow from outside. I would buy all my hay, plenty of straw unless I could cut bracken on a nearby common , all my barley meal and some wheat meal, and maybe some high protein in the form of bean meal or fish meal although I would aim to grow beans.
It will be argued that it is ridiculous to say you are selfsupporting when you have to buy in all this food. True, you would grow much of the food for cows, pigs, and poultry: fodder beet, mangolds, kale, "chat" small potatoes, comfrey, lucerne or alfalfa, and all garden produce not actually eaten by people. But you would still have to buy say a ton or a ton and a half of hay a year and say a ton a year of grain of different sorts including your own bread.
For I would not envisage growing wheat or barley on such a small area as an acre, preferring to concentrate on dearer things than cereals, and things that it was more important to have fresh. The big question here is - a cow or no cow? The pros and cons are many and various. In favour of having a cow is the fact that nothing keeps the health of a family - and a holding - at a high level better than a cow. If you and your children have ample good, fresh, unpasteurized, unadulterated milk, butter, butter-milk, soft cheese, hard cheese, yoghourt, sour milk and whey, you will simply be a healthy family and that is an end to it.
A cow will give you the complete basis of good health. If your pigs and poultry, also, get their share of the milk by-products, they too will be healthy and will thrive. If your garden gets plenty of cow manure, that too will be healthy and thrive. This cow will be the mainspring of all your health and well-being. On the other hand, the food that you buy in for this cow will cost you perhaps two hundred pounds a year.
Against this you can set whatever money you would pay for dairy produce in that year for yourself and your family and if you work that out you will find it to be quite substantial , plus the increased value of the eggs, poultry-meat and pigmeat that you will get you can probably say that, in value, a quarter of your pig meat will be creditable to the cow , plus the ever-growing fertility of your land. But a serious contra consideration is that you will have to milk the cow. Twice a day for at least ten months of the year you will have to milk the cow.
It doesn't take very long to milk a cow perhaps eight minutes , it is very pleasant when you really know how7 to do it and if she is a quiet nice cow, but you will have to do it. So the buying of a cow is a very important step, and you shouldn't do it unless you do not intend to go away very much, or you can make arrangements for somebody else to relieve you with milking.
Of course, if you only have a budgerigar somebody has got to feed it. So let us plan our one acre holding on the assumption that we are going to keep a cow. O n e acre holding w i t h a c o w Half the land will be put down to grass, leaving half an acre arable I am not allowing for the land on which the house and buildings stand. Now the grass half could remain permanent pasture and never be ploughed up at all, or it could be rotated by ploughing it up say every four years. If the latter is done it were better done in strips of a quarter of the half acre each, so each year you grass down an eighth ot an acre of your land.
Thus there is some freshly-sown pasture every year, some two year-old ley, some three-yearold ley and some four-year-old ley. The holding will be more productive if you rotate your pasture thus every four years. The One Acre Holding If you had one acre of good well-drained land, you might choose to use all of it to grow fruit and vegetables. Myself, 1 would divide it in half and put half an acre down to grass on which I would graze a cow, and perhaps a goat to give milk during the short periods when the cow would be dry, a sow for breeding and a dozen chickens.
I would admittedly have to buy in food from outside to feed these animals through the winter, but this is preferable to buying in dairy products and meat, which would be the alternative. Mj remaining half-acre I would divide into four plots for intensive vegetable production, devoting a plot each to potatoes, pulses peas and beans , brassica cabbage family and roots. This means I would be planting a grass plot every year and it would stay grass until I ploughed it up four years later.
I would build a cowshed for the cow, because I would not have enough grass to keep her outdoors all year. I would have a greenhouse for tomatoes and hives for bees and 1 would plant a vegetable patch with extra household vegetables, herbs and soft fruit. Peas and beans Grow at least three kinds of beans, say, French, runners and broad, and plenty of peas. Plant brassica on this plot next year. Brassica On your brassica plot grow a variety of cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli and sprouts for yourself. Grow kale, and turnips and swedes which are roots but also brassica, to feed to your animals.
Next year this plot should be planted with roots. The holding may break naturally into half: for example, an easily-worked half acre of garden, and a half acre of roughish pasture. You will begin then by ploughing up or pigging allowing pigs to root it up behind an electric fence or rotovating half of your holding.
This land you will put down to a grass-and-clover-and-herb mixture. If you sow the seed in the autumn you can winter your cow indoors on bought hay and hope for grazing next spring. If your timetable favours your sowing in the spring, and if you live in a moist enough climate to do so, then you will be able to do a little light grazing that summer.
It is better not to cut hay the first summer after spring-sowing of grass, so just graze it lightly with your little cow; at the first sign of "poaching" destruction of grass by treading take her away. Better still, tether your cow, or strip-graze behind an electric fence. Just allow the cow to have, say, a sixth part of the grass at one time, leave her on that for perhaps a week, then move her to the next strip.
The length of time she stays on one strip must be left to your common sense which you must develop if you are to become a self-supporter. The point about strip-grazing is that grass grows better and produces more if it is allowed to grow for as long as possible before being grazed or cut, then grazed or cut right down, then rested again.
If it is grazed down all the time it never really has a chance to develop its root system. In such superintensive husbandry as we are envisaging now it is essential to graze as carefully as possible. Tether-grazing, on such a small area, might well be better than electric fencing. A little Jersey quickly gets used to being tethered and this was, indeed, the system that they were developed for on the island of Jersey, where they were first bred. I so unequivocably recommend a Jersey to the one acre man, incidentally, because I am convinced that for this sort of purpose she is without any peer.
I have tried Dexters, with complete lack of success, but if you really know of a Dexter that gives anything like a decent amount of milk my two gave less than a goat , is quiet and amenable, then go ahead and get a Dexter and good luck to you. But remember, a well-bred-Jersey gives plenty of milk which is quite simply the richest in butter-fat of any milk in the world, she is small, so docile that you will have trouble resisting taking her into the house with you, moderate in her eating demands, pretty, lovable, healthy, and very hardy.
Now your half acre of grass, once established, should provide your cow with nearly all the food she needs for the summer months. You are unlikely to get any hay off it as well, but if you did find that the grass grew away from the cow then you could cut some of it for hay. The remaining half of your holding- the arable half-will then be farmed as a highly intensive garden. It will be divided, ideally, into four plots, around which all the annual crops that you want to grow, will follow each other in strict rotation. I will discuss this rotation in detail in the section Food from the Garden, pp The only difference I suggest that your potatoes come after the newly-ploughed bit.
The rotation will thus be: grass for four years - potatoes - pea-and-bean family - brassica cabbage family - roots - grass again for four years. To sow autumn-sown grass after your roots, you will have to lift them early. In a temperate climate it would be quite practicable to do this; in countries with more severe winters it might be necessary to wait until the following spring. In areas with dry summers, unless you have irrigation, it would probably be better to sow in the autumn. In some climates dry summers and cold winters it might be found best to sow your grass in the late summer after the pea- andbean break instead of after the root break, for the peas-andbeans are off the ground earlier than the roots.
It might then pay you to follow the grass with potatoes, and your succession could be like this: grass for four years -potatoes - brassica cabbage family -roots-pea-and-bean family grass for four years. A disadvantage of this might be that the brassica, following main-crop potatoes, might have to wait until the summer following the autumn in which the potatoes were lifted before they could be planted.
When brassica are planted after pea-and-bean family they can go in immediately, because the brassica plants have been reared in a nurserybed and it is not too late in the summer to transplant them after the peas and beans have been cleared. But potatoes cannot be lifted main crop can't anyway until the autumn, when it is too late to plant brassica. Actually, with this regime you will be able to plant some of your brassica that first summer, after early potatoes.
Or if you grow only earlies, you may get the lot in. One possibility would be to follow the potatoes immediately with brassica thus saving a year by lifting some earlies very early and planting immediately with the earliest brassica, then following each lifting of potatoes with more brassica, ending with spring cabbages after the main crop have come out. This would only be possible in fairly temperate climates though. All this sounds complicated, but it is easier to understand when you do it than when you talk about it. And consider the advantages of this sort of rotation.
It means that a quarter of your arable land is newly-ploughed-up four-year-ley every year: intensely fertile because of the stored-up fertility of all that grass, clover, and herbs that have just been ploughed in to rot, plus the dung of your cow for four summers.
It means that because your cow is inwintered, on bought-in hay, and treading and dunging on bought-in straw, you will have an enormous quantity of marvellous muck to put on your arable land. It means that all the crop residues that you cannot consume go to help feed the cow, or the pigs or poultry, and I would be very surprised if, after following this regime for a few years, you did not find that your acre. The remaining half of your holding - the arable half-will then be farmed as a highly intensive garden. I will discuss this rotation in detail in the section Food from the Garden, pp - The only difference Actually with this regime you will be able to plant some of your brassica that first summer, after early potatoes.