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Home Garden Incubator [Entrepreneurship
Posted on June 30, 2015 @ 06:51:00 PM by Paul Meagher

I spent an enjoyable evening in our garden working on the fence. I installed a fence last year but the wires around the fence got quite loose so I wanted to tighten them. I tried a number of techniques and, in the end, needed to use them all to get the fence tighter. I installed some braces higher up on the fence posts to keep them from pulling in when the wires are tensioned. I put a stick in the wire, twisted it around, and made a loop to tighten individual strands. I broke the wire quite a few times so it is not a great technique but can work if you are very careful. Finally, I cut some alders growing beside the road and weaved them between the 6 strands of wire. I may add more in the future as I harvest them. The alders help stiffen the fence and adds additional deer protection (maybe I'll sharpen some at the top to impale the leaping deer :-).

I also finished mulching around the rows and edgeing around the back and far left corner of the garden. See yesterday's blog on the importance of defining your edge. The edge will help to clearly demarcate where the garden ends and the grass is allowed to begin.

As I finished working on the fence and garden for the day it occurred to me that I will be able use my home garden as an incubator for skills I can apply on our farm property at a larger scale. I'll be planting out the second half of a main garden at the farm this week. I can apply ideas I learned this evening to edging, mulching, and fencing the larger farm garden seen below (a couple of weeks ago).

A home garden is an excellent incubator for learning the skills you can use on a larger scale if you choose to. You can manage a home garden more intensively and learn what works and what doesn't. You can put up small fences, electrify them if you want, buy a few chickens if your bylaws and situation permits, figure out irrigation systems, figure out fertility management, weeding, pest control, and so on. All useful skills for adding self-reliance and resilience to your home situation and becoming better prepared for growing significantly more food if you have to or want to in the future.

It is better to make mistakes on a smaller scale (suburban lot) before making them on a larger scale in a large garden (e.g, 1/4 acre plot) or field situation. I've gone too big too soon on some plantings of corn, potatoes and barley before I knew whether it would work so I've made this "scaling up too soon" mistake a number of times and hope to make it less often in the future.

We might use this example of home garden as incubator for successful larger scale gardening to think about what a business incubator is or might be. A business incubator should allow you to engage in meaningful activity directly related to a larger scale undertaking but in an environment where mistakes aren't as costly or as likely (e.g., because of mentoring). You can learn how to run a business at a smaller volume so you have a sense of how it should work at a larger volume. Incubators, like gardens, are also where we can experiment with ideas for things to grow, to experiment with ideas for ways to grow stuff faster or more reliably, and to figure out our own personal approach to gardening/business.

Oftentimes an incubator is a place we might have worked until we acquired enough skills to branch out on our own. It could be a place we volunteered at in the hopes of acquiring some skills relevant to a lifestyle we wanted to pursue. It could be a formal business incubator that takes on promising businesses with the hopes of helping them to grow and sharing in their success. It could also be a hobby setup that inspires you enough to keep refining your skills and getting better so you could scale your hobby if you wanted or needed to.

We don't need formal incubators to be successful at starting a business, but we probably need environments where we can learn how to do things at a smaller or less consequential scale before scaling up and trying to managing something we don't have much experience with.

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