Agriculture provides a good long-term source of food and healing herbs, due to the time difference between sowing crops and harvesting them (around 8 weeks). Crops start to become ready in late summer through to late autumn, though exact times differ depending on the species of plant. All crops except for cereals can be simply picked up but some plants will not yield seeds unless harvested using ALT+A (a cutting tool is required). Plants and cereals must be threshed to obtain their products (usually roots, seeds, leaves and sometimes flowers.)
As of v3.19, animals and birds can (and do!) eat your growing crops and this can have a devastating effect, particularly in smaller fields. Tying a dog to a tree nearby may help protect small fields from crow and hare incursions. Deer and elk are known to lust after turnips, a trap-fence will deter them.
However, a character cannot survive solely on plants. Due to their low nutrition value when raw, plants must be processed in order to be useful. Crop yields can be greatly variable, and plant foods must be supplemented with protein from meat or fish to stop starvation.
In order to start farming, land needs to be prepared with a shovel. This land needs to be fertilized with the remains of a fire. Due to the limitations of the game, it is advisable to plant large (20x20 or even bigger) fields two or three tiles away from your main settlement. A fence can be built around large farms to prevent foreign traders from triggering the item overflow bug, though this is a lot of work.
Steps to planting a square:
- Light a fire on a square and let it burn out
- Stand on the square with the burnt-out fire
- ALT-A to open the Agricuture Option and Prepare the Soil (you will need a shovel)
- Wait until the ground cools (Takes a day or so)
- ALT-A to Plant/sow
Note: You can plant multiple seeds on a single tile but some will not sprout.
Steps to harvesting a square:
- Wait until the crop is ready to harvest (using ALT+A - HARVEST will inform you if the crop is ripe)
- Have a cutting tool and use ALT+A to reap what you sowed (this will drop the full-grown plant to the tile)
- Stand over the plants and use ALT+A to THRESH this will give you leaves, roots, seeds and flowers
- Rejoice and praise the spirits
- Remember to conserve some seeds for replanting next Swidden
Notes: Unknown plants can be harvested in the same way and thus be stockpiled until identified. The most efficient tool for harvest as of 3.32 is the masterwork woodsman's axe. (requests cutting tool, tested with various knives sickle and various axes on unknown grass.) Some herbs have an additional flowering stage and can be harvested then to gain flowers. They will say flowering in their description. Berries are harvested by hand and give only berries which cannot be replanted.
This is the schedule for a farmer
See the plants page for more detailed information about individual plants. It's important to make sure plants have enough time to grow from the day they are planted before the start of their withering month. (Months have 30 days, except Hay and Center, which have 32.)
If plants are fully grown before they start withering, they can still be harvested. The withering process ends in the latter half of the withering month making the plants unharvestable. A plants withering condition can be checked by examining withkey. If the plant is still withering, it can be harvested and examining it tells how long until it withers (e.g. a week).
CHANGE: from v3.18 onward months' names are changed but the below still keep both names for ease of use across all versions.
* These won't sprout until the next month starts, but they have a long growing time so its advantageous to plant them early.
Time to prepare new soils if you see there's more seeds than planned.
Priority: Rye, Barley, Hemp, Peas, Turnip
Still can plant: Peas(until last week), Turnips, Broadbeans, Clayweed
Prepare new soils if you feel like more turnips
Still can plant: Broadbeans (first week) Turnip (until last week), the first two weeks: Yarrow, Nettle, Sorrel
Harvest: In the last weeks: Nettle, Sorrel, Yarrow
Harvest: Rye, Barley, Turnip, Peas, Hemp, Broadbeans, Clayweed, Nettle, Sorrel, Yarrow
Planting: Rye*, Barley*, Turnip*
Harvest: Rye, Barley
Starts withering: Rye, Barley, Turnip, Peas, Nettle
* These won't sprout until the next Seedtime (May).
Planting: Rye*, Barley*, Turnip*
Starts withering: Hemp, Sorrel, Yarrow, Clayweed
* These won't sprout until the next Seedtime (May). See Autumn planting below for more details.
Starts withering: Broadbeans
As you can see, Turnips, with great effort and care, can give two crops a year.
It's possible to plant crops in autumn so that they'll sprout in spring as soon as their sprouting month begins (even if there's still snow on the ground). More experimentation is required to figure out how exactly autumn planting works. The following notes are copied from a forum post by the user PALU, who's done some research on the subject.
- Crops planted that do not have time to mature, but wither instead, sprout afresh the next spring, with the first Hemp and Broad beans appearing on the first of April with the rest following during the next week or so. Other normal plants instead start the first of May. Yarrow and Nettles presumably would sprout in the middle of May. There may be losses (i.e. withered plants that do not respawn) but I haven't seen any of that.
- Seeds can be planted up until a cutoff time individual to each crop. This cutoff is probably the withering time, the time withering warnings show up, or something similar; I don't know which. I've managed to fill out additional Broad beans in November when animals raided my patch, though.
- You have no indication of returning plants in spring before they show up. This means you can plant normally in the fields and replace the original plant with the newly sown one (intentionally or accidentally).
- Harvesting all of a crop and then replanting may cut it close to the edge for plants that mature slowly, so you may consider threshing the first of the harvest and plant the seeds elsewhere if going for Autumn planting.
- There are benefits and disadvantages to Autumn planting. A benefit is that the plants show up in Spring regardless of whether the snow is gone (i.e. regardless of whether you would have been able to plant them normally). A disadvantage is that late and early crops are vulnerable to vandalism by animals for an extended period that frequently includes frozen water (and thus access from the water front, which would normally protect your patch).
- The plants with the most benefit from Autumn planting ought to be Hemp and Broad beans, as they're April plants. On the other hand, those can be harvested very late. Barley and Rye have short harvesting windows and can thus be knocked out by a thawing that drags on into May. Note that you'd have to take care with those so you don't unintentionally plant April crops on top of them before they show up.
Previously, a popular method for preparing fields was to use firewood, but it needs a lot of work to acquire, so currently (v3.40) it's better to use branches/twigs. Branches can be cut from any tree and they are a side product of carving tree trunks into logs, so there should be plenty lying around after building a cabin.
In version 3.40, probably the fastest way to get the field ready is to arrange branches in piles of 3 in the tiles of the intended field and light all the piles individually using thekey. Fires are much easier to light when there's already a fire in the neighboring tile. Because the soil must be prepared before the remains of the fire disappears, the soil should be prepared in batches of around 40 tiles each time. (If you don't wish to light all the fires yourself, you can pile the branches in 4s instead of 3s and light only two tiles in a corner. The fire will then spread to the other tiles but only once the previous fires burn out.)
Once the fires have burned out, the soil can be prepared through the agriculture menu Plants page have the sprout and withering months, and growing times for all plants.with a shovel. Seeds can be planted after a day or so, when the embers have disappeared. The tables in the
Be careful when lighting the fires though, as the fire will spread to other nearby flammable objects and buildings (e.g. fences and trees).
To keep wild animals (or humans) from eating or trampling the plants, you may want to build a fence around your fields. Also a dog tied to the fence, or fenced in around the fence around the field, should scare hares away. A dog inside the fence would possibly trample the plants.
The method using firewood requires the player to arrange them in a rectangle like the diagram below:
3 3 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 etc.
where the numbers represent how much firewood is on the tile. Light the tiles with 3 firewood on them, and the fire will spread as the igniting fires burn out.
Sowing fields grants the largest skill gain. The rate of plant growth is affected by rain and sunshine, and the earliest time a plant can be harvested is around 8 weeks (v3.13). In winter, no plants can grow, and when snow falls all plants are automatically destroyed.
v3.18 instituted hard and lengthy agricultural actions, so it's now not as easy to prepare a big field at once. To prepare at suitable pace, a small field of about 50 tiles should done each time, or the burnt grounds will be lost.
Rhys' tips for large fields
Firstly, it essential to have fertilized land for your field. This can be obtained easily, especially if the player's settlement is in a wooded area. Here is a simple guide to get quick and good results:
- Clear the area. If there are any grown bushes, then harvest them. If there are any trees, fell them. Do not worry about large rocks, they will not have an impact on the field itself.
- The field you are preparing will be 8 tiles wide, so make sure there is some clear space either side of the field (fences and buildings can be set alight very easily).
- Line a single column of tree trunks down one side of your field.
- Chop all of these into blocks.
- Run down the line from top to bottom, moving 7 of 8 blocks to one side.
- Continue in this way until all tiles of the field only have a single block upon them
- Set fire to the top row as shown above, with the ones at each side also set alight
- Have a nap or do some cooking, but stay in the same area and don't leave for more than 3 or 4 hours
- Start preparing the soil in rows, remembering to keep at least 1 row away from fire
- Every time you take a 3-4 hour break, you will be able to complete a couple of rows. You will notice that as you keep on top of this, the burnt soil behind you will start to revert to normal tiles. This is why the short breaks are essential, rather than long ones.
Using this guideline, you can easily create and 8 tile wide, but very long field. I have previously created field that are as long as the 100m wilderness tile with little effort. This process will, however, take you a few days depending on the size of the field - so do make sure to have plenty of food before you attempt it. I am not implying that this is the most time efficient method of creating a big field, but it is definetly one of the easiest and has never let me down. Plus, you will use a lot of tree trunks but if you are in a wooded area, you will also chop a lot of trees down for firewood over winter, so you may find you manage to complete several tasks at once!
Comments: This method depended on lots of trees in the area. However, if you choose to plow up some slaver's camp, or cleared areas, there wont be enough trees for that to work. Also, in that case, moving blocks from maps to maps is time consuming. Another alternative is cutting down small trees into slender trunks, then make them into stakes. 1 young tree = at least 3 slender trunks = at least 3*8 stakes. You can carry at least 70 stakes at once. At each tile just need one stake, and the major lines to create fire can have 2 each if you feel the need. Imagine a field of 8*X with one stake per tile, with two bold lines intersect each other, with 3 stakes each on that line. Last alternative is using firewood. Choose method to suit your gameplan.
You can pick the crop by hand. Still, if you have cutting weapons in inventory or nearby, just press Alt A then choose Harvest to do it properly. Harvested crop will fall to the ground, and need to be picked up.
Even withered plants like heather, for example, still can be harvested using this command. (Not sure. In 318stable can not harvest withered turnips).
After dropping harvested crops onto one tile, stand on that and Alt A, choose Thresh. The grainflail nearby will be used to separate the grains from the seeds and leaves.
Note: as of v3.18, flail can be increased during threshing.
Now enjoy your fruit of medium term investment and hardwork.
- As of v315p1, a bug will appear if your field contains more than 1600 growing plant tiles and a few piles of items. It is recommended that you shouldn't go beyond 1000 planted tiles each sector to prevent it happening. The trap-pit and fence does not prevent foreign traders invading your sector since they can climb fences.
- As of v318 the bug is ameliorated in two ways. When you get near the item limit, there will be warnings. The warnings are provided way before the actual limit is reached so you have some leeway. There is no hard number about the limit, but after warning, it's hard to transform items in the map (eg fire-> burnt out fire) so it can be inconvenient in some ways. So it's a strongly recommend to do your farming far away from your storages of loot and food-making area. Good news is, a hardworking farmer wont get this bug even if you farm half that sector.
- Grainflail - A valuable type of agricultural tool and impovised weapon.
- Shovel - A particularly valuable type of agricultural tool and construction tool.
- Sickle - A valuable type of agricultural tool and impovised weapon.
- Wooden shovel - A particularly valuable type of agricultural tool and construction tool.