Friday, October 24, 2014

Kanapaha Plant Show - This Weekend! 9AM - 5PM, Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday I'll joining Dave Taylor from Taylor Gardens Nursery at their plant booth at the annual Kanapaha Plant Show.

Admission to Kanapaha is ususally a few dollars per person... but for this event, it's free!

I love Kanapaha Gardens - it's unbelievable. You'll see plants there that you've only read about in books.

As for the show, here's the write-up from Kanapaha:


Fall Plant Sale, Open House, and Orchid Show: October 25 & 26 (9am - 5pm) 2014*

Each October, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens holds an Open House & Fall Plant Sale, inviting visitors to see the facility ADMISSION FREE. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens formally opened to the public in October of 1987 and the Open House is a means of celebrating our 'birthday.' In addition to viewing the botanical gardens, approximately 40 booths will be set up selling a wide variety of plants. The American Orchid Society's judged orchid show will coincide with the Fall Plant Sale and will take place inside Kanapaha's entrance building. Pets are not allowed at these festivals.


The Taylors have a LOT of good nitrogen-fixing and insectary plants at their booth, and we'll also be bringing fruit and nut trees, plus rare perennial edibles to the show.

It's worth showing up just to meet Dave. As well as being a white African-American, he's one of the most generous guys I know. He's also hilarious and completely NOT politically correct.

If we don't manage to get kicked out for insulting some soy-eating limp-wristed Gainesvillian... I'd be surprised.

I'll be at church on Sunday so I won't be there in the morning, but I will be there all day on Saturday.

Come check out our great plants - look for Taylor Gardens Nursery!

Directions to Kanapaha are here.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Today at the 326 Community Market!


Grow your own pineapples!
This is a great time of year for hitting the Farmer's Market. It's a nice place... there's plenty to see... and I'm there, with plants!

This is also the BEST time of year to plant fruit trees. Forget spring - fall is planting season!

Along with carrying a good collection of perennial vegetables, I've restocked my fruit and nut trees for the fall.

I've also got a few cool rare plants right now, like natal plums, acerola cherries, and a few nitrogen-fixing goumi berries.

Here's what I have, ordered by price:

HOT PEPPERS: $1.50


CELOSIA ARGENTEA: $3.00


CHAYA: $5.00

COMMERCIAL FLORIDA PINEAPPLES: $5.00

ACEROLA CHERRIES (small): $6.00

EDIBLE HIBISCUS (various): $6.00


GOUMI BERRIES (small): $6.00

KATUK: $6.00

NATAL PLUM (small): $6.00

BANANAS (Dwarf Red and Raja Puri): $8.00

LEMONGRASS (large stem type): $8.00

DWARF MULBERRIES: $8.00

WHITE-FRUITED MULBERRIES: $12.00

GAINESVILLE EPIC FIGS: $12.00

BLUEBERRIES: $15.00

PEARS (various)$22.00


NECTARINES (various): $22.00


PEACHES (both gold and white): $22.00

JAPANESE PERSIMMONS (astringent and non-astringent): $33.00


DUNSTAN CHESTNUT TREES: $44.00


PECAN TREES: $44.00



Visit the 326 Market north of Ocala today and go shopping. There's a lot going on in the nursery and I'm finding more rare edibles each week.

The 326 Community Market runs every Thursday from 3 - 7PM and is really easy to find.


Google map is here. Their Facebook page is here (with lots more photos and info):


Beyond what I carry, there are also folks selling homegrown produce, real old-fashioned lye soap, handcrafts, handmade jewelry, signs, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, local raw honey, ornamental plants, homemade birdhouses and more.

The prices are good and my gardening advice is free... come say hi!


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Green papayas: grow! GROW!

It's that time of year where we in frost-prone zones start to get nervous about our papaya trees...


Last year I harvested 87lbs of papaya. Unfortunately, about 70 lbs of that was green papaya.

Though it's popular in Asian cooking and in parts of Latin America - and there are some good recipes out there - I think green papaya is just an alright vegetable... whereas ripe papaya is a marvelous fruit.

Interestingly, there are dwarf types of papaya that will make lots of fruit even though they're shorter than I am. If I could nail some down, I'd grow those. Thus far I've been limited in frost protection because my trees grow to such silly heights.

I think you could dig a 6' deep pit, enrich the bottom with manure or compost, then plant dwarf papaya in there and put plastic over the top for the winter. Local, North Florida papaya could be a hit at the local farmer's market. Unlike our friends further south, we're not plagued by horrible papaya-destroying flies.

I love this fruit but it's been a lot of work to get ripe ones. I must design a better way or I'll be stuck eating green papaya every fall...

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall planting time!

I've been prepping and planting my fall gardens for the last couple of weeks.

Do a bit every day... and eventually it all gets done.

Rachel shot a few pictures of my planting transplants one fine fall evening this week:


That's a Plasencia Reserva Organica I'm smoking.

Organic garden... organic cigar.


The seeds that we started in the greenhouse failed on us so I was forced to buy transplants this year. I'll also be doing a lot of direct seeding of mustard, beets, carrots and other goodies.

That garden bed is a pretty sweet mix. It's got dirt from the old chicken run, biochar, half-rotten compost, rabbit manure, peat moss (which I don't like), vermiculite, peanut shells, bones, egg shells, chunks of wood, plus worm castings.

Eclectic!

I'm already looking forward to the cauliflower, broccoli, collards and cabbages we'll be harvesting in a couple of months...

If you're need vegetable planting inspiration for your fall garden, check out the list I posted recently.

So - what are you guys planting?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Snakes are natural pest control

I like these guys:

This black racer was hanging out in a swampy scrubland area
It's truly incredible to me that many folks - even country folk that should know better - will kill the snakes in their yard.

Here's why you shouldn't. If you have ever complained about:

1. Rats
2. Mice
3. Cockroaches
4. Squirrels
5. Berry-eating birds
6. Frogs

...then you should hope you have snakes!

Think about it this way: which do you prefer?

1 snake

or

200 rodents

Snakes are natural pest control!

As a top-end predator, snakes are essential balancing agents in your garden, yard or farm. Rather than killing them, we should deliberately create habitat.

Rock, stick and log piles create good places for these vermin destroyers.

Even stacks of flower pots work well. Look at this beautiful ringneck my daughter and I found while potting up plants a few days ago:


I can hear some of you now: NO! Creating snake habitat is... SCARY! I mean, what about rattlesnakes???

C'mon, don't be a wuss. Seriously.

Click for Amazon page.
Unless you have rattlesnakes around your property, you're probably going to be fine. Their favorite place to live is generally gopher tortoise burrows.

What you want is to leave space for good guys like rat snakes, black racers, garter snakes, ring necks, king snakes, etc. They'll manage your pest control, plus add some slithery beauty to your homestead.

I recommend you get familiar with the good guys.

Heck, pick up a good field guide... maybe you'll start thinking snakes aren't so bad after all.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Madness of HOAs

One of my readers contacted me earlier this month.

Apparently, she committed the unforgivable sin of planting perennial peanut in her yard.

Now she's facing an ongoing lawsuit by her Homeowner's Association - check this mess out:

www.SanctuaryAtOakCreek.com

Though I'm not a legal expert by any stretch, this whole lawsuit seems rather silly, particularly since the Florida-Friendly Landscaping law should supersede some of the local neighborhood nonsense.

"In February 2007, we were sent a violation letter from Melrose Management that demanded we remove dead sod in our easement area.  We were under water restrictions at the time and waited until May 2007 to replace the sod withperennial peanut, a Florida-friendly groundcover.  Our HOA documents allow for 90% of our lot to be planted, covered, and maintained in grass or other natural vegetation. The groundcover is/was allowed by our documents; apparently someone on the "board" didn't like it.  The board's selective enforcement continues to this day: they claim certain landscaping changes are "not in keeping with the community aesthetics".  Whose community aesthetics?"

HOAs: Evil... or just horrid?

Good luck, folks.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

From the Inbox: Florida Gardening Failure!


Hi, David-

I haven't been following your blog for long, but I really enjoy it and have found it very encouraging. You grabbed me with the one on two blocks- 17 edibles and I have been a real fan since. I started as a "real food" foodie, but since there is quite a bit of overlap with the prepper/self-sustainable community I have found that I fit into that one as well. 

I am hoping that you can offer some advice. I am in the greater Orlando area. I have put in a backyard garden for the last couple of years that I can't really call successful, but this one was a disaster. I started early, some from seeds others from plants. Got a pretty good crop of bush beans, 3 bell peppers, 8 tomatoes (from 6 plants), no cantaloupes (many blooms, no fruit), no watermelons, no garlic (3rd try), a few microscopic potatoes (see pic below- had more seed potatoes than that), carrots? (See below pic), onions- lots of green tops that never did anything (see pic), and I just dug up the sweet potatoes- none from what must have been 200 ft of vine (see first pic below). I really need some direction here- not sure what I'm doing wrong. Any advice? The goal of self-sufficiency has diminished to just a hope that I could get a few veggies. 

Please help!

D. L.



Pictures:




 

We have a conundrum here.

In a follow-up e-mail from D. L., she wrote:


On a whim I kept track all last year of every edible we purchased- just to see what would be the best things to grow that we clearly like. I'm almost embarrassed that between the two of us we went through 35lbs apples, 50 lbs bananas, 37 lbs grapes, 25 lbs peaches, 8 lbs carrots, 20 lbs onions, 30 lbs of various kinds of potatoes and about 45 tomatoes. It's not quite as bad as it sounds since I am a big canner. 

We had my 8 yr old grandson every Friday during the summer and planted some popcorn (on a whim- in college we had a leaky window and when a roommate spilled the popcorn some started growing in the living room- avocado green shag- carpet) just to see what it looked like along with some green peanuts. The corn got about 3 ft high before it gave up the ghost, but the peanuts still appear viable... I'm demoralized enough without thinking about the that. 

Honestly, I used to have a green thumb.


Any time you move to a new growing region, no matter how good you were in your previous location, you're going to face challenges. When I went from gardening in South Florida to gardening in Tennessee, I was lost for a while. Eventually I hit my stride, however.

(Interesting, the natives used to grow their popcorn on shag carpeting before the white man pulled it all up and put down laminate faux-wood tiles. True story.)

Let's attack the crop problems one at a time. D. L. mentions first that she had a "pretty good crop of bush beans."

That's not surprising. Many bush beans do very well in Florida. Now - if you want to go from "pretty good" to "holy moly" bean yields, put up a big trellis and plant snake beans.

Next crop: bell peppers. She writes that she only got three.

I wouldn't worry about that. You're lucky to get any. I've met people that claim they do great with bell peppers here in Florida; however, my experience with them has been the opposite. They're needy, picky, pain-in-the-neck plants. I wouldn't bother. Hot peppers grow like weeds here (in fact, I've had them pop up in my yard and grow without care). If you can't take the heat, try planting some sweet peppers that aren't bell types and see if they do better. Even John from GrowingYourGreens.com doesn't plant bell peppers anymore.

Tomatoes: 8 from 6 plants? There's another tale that surprises me not. Most larger tomato types fail in Florida unless you plant them at just the right time, under the right conditions, when you see a raccoon howling at a perfect supermoon. They can be grown well - I have a friend that does wonderfully - but I would skip all the big types and just plant cherry varieties. They're much better suited to our climate and rainfall. Yellow pears do well also, but the flavor is bland.

I'm not sure what happened with your cantaloupes and their lack of fruit. Sounds like a bee deficiency. Might be the same problem with the watermelons. I'd try watermelons again, but cantaloupes haven't done the best for us here either.

Garlic is another crop that's not well-suited to Florida. We get some yields but they're poor. Finding varieties is the key: some types are better for the south, others for the north. I would research "garlic for hot climates". Also, fall planting works: spring doesn't.

Potatoes aren't the best root crop for Florida, though you will have luck some year. Russet types have done the best for me but between the heat and the fire ants... well...

Carrots and onions have performed much better for me as fall crops than spring crops. The heat knocks them out quickly. They don't like to set roots.

Finally - sweet potatoes. That's a sad tale. Apparently, if you keep pulling up the vines and throwing them back so they don't root as much along their nodes, they'll concentrate on the main root clump at their center. Also, they may have been too well fertilized. Since all of your root crops have done badly, I'd consider adding bone meal to your garden in the future and seeing if that helps.

Without seeing your soil or how your growing your crops, it's not easy to pinpoint exactly what's going wrong with everything, yet the most obvious failure seems to be in varieties chosen. Raised beds are also not helpful in our fast-draining soils.

Since we're subtropical, not temperate, it's a good idea to look south for vegetables, not north.

You're going to have to get creative in your cooking but it's an adventure!

Here are a few suggestions to replace your failing crops:

ROOTS

Ditch the potatoes and plant cassava, malanga and true yams. They're all tasty and will fill the same niche in your cooking that potatoes fill. They'll also consistently succeed! I'd also try sweet potatoes again. Instead of onions are garlic, think about planting garlic chives and using those for cooking. The flavor is excellent and the plants are perennial.

VEGETABLES

Cherry tomatoes (Everglades cherry tomato is one excellent type), Seminole pumpkin (if you have space), perennial cucumber (Coccinia grandis) if you can find it - ask around at Indian markets if anyone has a plant. In winter: mustard, collards, kale, turnips. Also plant snake beans, edible hibiscus, Surinam purslane and other tropical species.

FRUITS

Florida, for the most part, wants to be forest. Consider adding some tried-and-true trees that will yield happily for you. Mulberries (dwarf, if you can't fit in a big one) are the best berry I've ever grown. Japanese persimmons are rich and delicious. Loquats are a very good fruit for canning and drying. Figs do very well, and Raja Puri bananas should thrive in your area. Pineapples are easy to grow with a little protection.

Good luck.

Finally - does anyone else have some suggestions for D.L.? Leave a comment and let her know.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today at the 326 Community Market! Fruits and Nuts!

Celosia argentea: edible leaves and seeds + beautiful flowers.
We had a great week at the 326 Community Market last week.

Not because I made a lot of money (I didn't), but because I got to hang out with plenty of friends, talk about plants, plus send some trees and plants home with loving gardeners.

My friend Curtiss brought me some nice rooted cuttings as a gift. He's got a Tower Garden system that he uses as a plant-rooting machine. Apparently it works well - the plants he brought looked amazing.

Karen and Valorie stopped by and said hi... Vonnie popped in and picked up a plant... and I bought a nice-looking philodendron from the booth run by my friends at Blacksink Harvest. I also got two quarts of delicious raw honey from Eulee's booth.

Plus, various cute kids stopped in to say hello to my children and point at the blooming Celosia plants (pictured above) we had on our table.

And the weather - perfect!

By the way - this is the BEST time of year to plant fruit trees. Forget spring - fall is planting season!

Along with carrying a good collection of perennial vegetables, I've restocked my fruit and nut trees for the fall.

I've also got a few cool rare plants right now, like natal plums, acerola cherries, and a pair of nitrogen-fixing goumi berries.

Here's what I have, ordered by price:

HOT PEPPERS: $1.50

CELOSIA ARGENTEA: $3.00

CHAYA: $5.00

ACEROLA CHERRIES (small): $6.00

EDIBLE HIBISCUS (various): $6.00

GOUMI BERRIES (small): $6.00

KATUK: $6.00

NATAL PLUM (small): $6.00

BANANAS (Dwarf Red and Raja Puri): $8.00

LEMONGRASS (large stem type): $8.00

DWARF MULBERRIES: $8.00

ILLINOIS EVERBEARING MULBERRIES: $12.00

WHITE-FRUITED MULBERRIES: $12.00

GAINESVILLE EPIC FIGS: $12.00

BLUEBERRIES: $15.00

PEARS (various): $22.00

NECTARINES (various): $22.00

PEACHES (both gold and white): $22.00

JAPANESE PERSIMMONS (astringent and non-astringent): $33.00

DUNSTAN CHESTNUT TREES: $44.00

PECAN TREES: $44.00


Visit the 326 Market north of Ocala today and go shopping. There's a lot going on in the nursery and I'm finding more rare edibles each week.

The 326 Community Market runs every Thursday from 3 - 7PM and is really easy to find.
Google map is here. Their Facebook page is here (with lots more photos and info):


Beyond what I carry, there are also folks selling homegrown produce, real old-fashioned lye soap, handcrafts, handmade jewelry, signs, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, local raw honey, ornamental plants, homemade birdhouses and more.

The prices are good and my gardening advice is free... come say hi!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Herrick Kimball's Four-Day Carrots

I'm getting ready to plant a few large beds of various bits and pieces. After fighting with weeds all summer, I was quite interested to see Herrick Kimball's approach to growing carrots.

One of the problems you face with carrots is their exceptionally long germination time. Weeds run all over them in a heartbeat.

Herrick gets them to germinate in FOUR DAYS.

Check out this great series he did:


I'm impressed. So impressed, in fact, that I just bought my own copy of The Planet Whizbang Idea Book for Gardeners.

If there's one thing I like... it's ideas!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Growing Your Own Herbal Tea


Last year my wife and I shared the magical experience of visiting an organic cocoa farm in the Caribbean. 
We tried bananas we’d never seen before… ate coffee cherries right off the bushes… tasted fruits we didn’t know existed… all while marveling at the incredible productivity possible in a year-round warm climate with great soil.
One thing I found quite interesting was the apparent glowing health of the natives. The men and women had excellent musculature, bright smiles and their skin was consistently good.
If you’ve visited Walmart lately… you know it’s not the same in the US.


Part of the reason folks there were healthy is likely their active lifestyle. Most people walked to work, school and the market. The other reason I believe they looked so healthy was because they were regularly consuming organic foods grown in mineral-rich soils rather than processed and packaged foods. Those were relatively expensive, whereas herbs, fruits and vegetables were cheap. They were so cheap that food was literally falling from the trees by the sides of the road.
How does this relate to growing your own herbal tea? I’m getting there!
At our friends’ house where we stayed, we were introduced to a local custom of making “bush tea.” Bush tea was herbal tea created by gathering a variety of bits and pieces from the yard or local jungle. The amounts varied and the species gathered also varied by season, mood or availability.
You might pluck some lemongrass and toss in some mint… or take some Jamaican sorrel calyxes and add tropical thyme or bay leaves or ginger… the possibilities were limited only by your imagination.
It’s tough to get proper nutrition here in the US. We eat a pretty lousy diet with lots of calories – and very little of high nutrient value. Most of us just don’t have perfect year-round climates with nutrient-dense fruits and nuts falling off the trees into our hands as we stroll to the seashore for a swim.
However, we can help keep ourselves healthy – particularly in the winter – by deliberately growing nutritional and medicinal herbs in our gardens and food forests, then drying and storing them for use as teas we can drink throughout the year.
Your local species will vary according to climate; but rest assured, there’s a delicious tea you can grow almost anywhere in the United States. Even if you’re in the frozen tundra you can grow some good herbs with the help of a growlight.
Here are a few plants I’ve grown and enjoyed as teas.

Rosemary

Spicy and tangy, rosemary is antibacterial and makes a non-conventional tea. Excellent when you’re sick. I toss a few sprigs into most batches of herbal tea I make.

Yaupon Holly

I’ve written on yaupon holly before. My favorite way to prepare it for tea is to trim off small branches and strip the leaves into a cast iron pan. I then toast them for about 10 minutes until they’re nicely browned, then crumble them up and brew tea in a French press. About a tablespoon of crushed leaves per cup of water makes a nice, earthy-smoky caffeinated tea.

Wild Onion/Garlic

When I have a throat cold, I love wild onion and garlic. Cut a fistful of leaves into little pieces and toss in a pot of water with chopped or powdered ginger. You can also add some sliced garlic cloves. I then salt with sea salt, making a very good soup-like broth. Quite soothing and delicious. If you want to get serious, toss in a couple of eggs while stirring and you end up with eggdrop soup!

Mint

Mint is good all the time. Everyone knows that so I don’t really need to write it; however, my sponsorship contract with the Society of Mint Cultivators, Experimenters, Users and Promoters of its Tantalizing Edible Applications (SOMCUPOTEA) requires that I mention mint tea in every article I write about teas. So there. I did it.

Oregano

Like Rosemary, Oregano isn’t commonly thought of as being good for tea. However, it’s very healing and strongly antibacterial, making it worth consuming. It also makes a tea that tastes somewhat Italian. I like Italian culture so this appeals to me.

Wild Violets

Though I don’t know anything about their medicinal value, violet flowers make a wonderfully blue tea with a delicate floral aroma. My daughter adores it.

Moringa

MoringaSilohette
Moringa is a beautiful and incredibly healthful plant.
Moringa is one of the very healthiest things you can consume.
It makes a rich-flavored non-traditional tea. I mix the leaves, dry or fresh, in with many of my teas for both the medicinal and the nutritional benefits.

Note: you can buy moringa seeds here:

Moringa Oleifera Organic Seeds (100)

Sage

Sage is much like oregano and rosemary. Very good for you. Just don’t drink sage tea if you’re a nursing mother – it’ll dry your milk up.

Wormwood

Wormwood, as you would expect, makes a very bitter tea. That bitter tea is super-good for dealing with digestion issues. It’s also powerfully anti-parasitic. Grow a little wormwood and drink some once in a while. I’ve come to enjoy the bitterness. Bonus: wormwood can stand in for hops in beer brewing.

Ginger

Ginger is excellent for upset stomachs. In northern climates you can grow it in a pot. The roots and the leaves are both good for tea. I think they taste better fresh than dried. Learn more on growing ginger in this post.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass makes a healthy citrusy tea that’s very refreshing when iced and consumed on a hot day. It’s also well-suited to pot culture.

Other Ideas

The list above is just a start. You can also make tea from Lion’s Ear, Florida cranberry, true tea (Camellia sinensis), bay leaves, goji berries, a wide variety of mushrooms, elderberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and many other ingredients. Many herbs are very easy to dry on a countertop or hanging in bunches. Once dry, pack them away in jars and store them in a dark cabinet for the very best quality long-term.
Mix, match and figure out what you like. Now is the time to start drying what you can find. Plan ahead and you’ll be sitting by a toasty fire in January with a nice steaming cup of your own delicious herbal tea.
It might not be a tropical island… but it sure feels close.
Article originally published at ThePrepperProject.com. Add them to your short list of sites to visit - there's always a stream of good info coming through over there.
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Taro: A Root Crop Worth Testing in Florida

I've been fiddling around for the last few years with various root crops for Florida.

Thus far, we've tested the following:


Jerusalem Artichokes: Generally not worth growing. Roots tend to rot.

Yacon: Worth growing. Easy but roots are not calorie-rich.

Malanga: Yields low except in greywater basin. More testing needed.

Cassava: Definitely worth growing. Easy and moderately productive.

Sweet Potatoes: Definitely worth growing. Very productive.

Boniato: Failed to set many useable roots.

White Potatoes: Generally poor yields. Succumbs to fire ants.

Ginger: Easy to grow. Yields moderate.

Turnips: Easy to grow. Very good yields.

Water chestnuts: Easy to grow. Moderate yields.


Now, thanks to my friend Mart, I also have some taro plants I'm testing out.

Taro, like malanga, is a type of edible "elephant ear." They like moist or swampy conditions and have few if any pest problems.

Along with giving me plants, Mart has also hooked me up with a stream of information regarding the cultivation of this potential staple for Florida - like this informative video:


Anyone here have any luck growing taro? What have been your experiences?

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Friday, October 10, 2014

A Friday PSA: How to Make Your Smoke Alarm Stop Beeping

...because I can't garden all the time:


You know, maybe part of the angst I felt over that smoke alarm relates to the fact that my brother is a real honest-to-goodness firefighter.

Chicks totally dig firefighters.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today at the 326 Community Market: FRUIT AND NUT TREES ARE BACK!

It's fall... and that means it's planting season.

I've just restocked with chestnuts, persimmons (including some of the amazing astringent types... I couldn't help myself), peaches, nectarines and pears.

Along with those, I have white mulberries, dwarf mulberries, and a few Illinois Everbearing mulberries.

And figs! Don't forget the Gainesville Epic Figs I started!

Anyhow - this is going to be a great week. Lots and lots of new stuff, plus my regular selection of perennial vegetables, bananas, peppers and other fun plants.

Plant your own chestnut orchard. Did you know chestnut trees can bear within a year or two of being planted?

Visit the 326 Market in Ocala today and go shopping. There's a lot going on in the nursery and I'm finding more rare edibles each week.

The 326 Community Market runs every Thursday from 3 - 7PM and is really easy to find.

Google map is here. Their Facebook page is here (with lots more photos and info):


My prices are good and my gardening advice is free.


Beyond what I carry, there are also folks selling homegrown produce, real old-fashioned lye soap, handcrafts, handmade jewelry, signs, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, local raw honey, ornamental plants, homemade birdhouses and more.

It's a great group of people and very friendly... the way a local market should be.


Come on down!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Edible Mushroom: The Old Man of the Woods

Since I've started branching out into fungi identification, I think it's good idea to start cataloging some of my experiences with wild foraging for edible mushrooms.

Hopefully what I write will be helpful. And hopefully no one dies.

Perhaps in the future, once I've become significantly more experienced at hunting down tasty fungal bounty, I'll be able to do a series of "Survival Mushroom Profiles" similar to my Survival Plant Profiles.

For now, I'll just tell you where I found edible mushrooms, how I identified them, and how they tasted.

(FYI: If for some reason this blog ceases unexpectedly, it means I screwed up on an ID.)

A couple of weeks ago I was foraging in the same empty lot where I discovered chanterelles and Lactarius indigo mushrooms. While there I came across an edible mushroom I only knew from photos - the "Old Man of the Woods:"


The Latin name on this bolete is Strobilomyces floccopus, though Michael Kuo notes in his article on the "Old Man" over at MushroomExpert.com that the classification is rather shaky.

It's a pretty easy mushroom to spot for beginners. It's flaky and fluffy and has pores beneath the cap - NOT gills. If it has gills, you have something else and it may be poisonous.

The Old Man of the Woods lacks gills. My thumb looks ugly.
Slice or damage the flesh of an Old Man of the Woods and it will turn pink and eventually fade to black.

As for flavor, it's decent. It tastes pretty much like a typical store-bought button mushroom to my unpolished palate. Sauteed in butter it's definitely good.


I found this mushroom growing in mixed pine-oak woods near the base of an oak tree. It was all alone, though there were chanterelles and other varieties of boletes growing in the same patch of open woods.

As edible Florida mushrooms go, this isn't at the top of the list - but it certainly isn't as blah as some authors report.

For more photos of the Old Man of the Woods, check out this link.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

FALL SALE: Cassava cuttings for sale with FREE shipping!


FULL DISCLOSURE: 

The terrible dirty secret behind www.floridasurvivalgardening.com is that it's funded by a smattering of plant sales and a little bit of income from Amazon Associates. I don't like adding trashy ads to an informational site, so I stick to these two outlets to fund my research and writing. I pay for hosting, domain name registration and all that stuff with whatever comes in from you, O dear reader. Buy a cutting... support a garden writer. Buy a gardening book or a machete from an Amazon link on this site... and I happily keep on posting survival plant profiles and weird stuff about fungi. Capitalism! 

Right now, it's getting closer to frosty weather up here in North Florida... and that means I need to start clearing out my nursery stock for the winter.


I have a large amount of healthy cassava that would LOVE to make its way into your gardens.

Cassava is a perfect survival plant as well as being great for edible landscaping. Since it's perennial you don't have to harvest it at a particular time. That means once you have an established patch you can basically pull roots s you need them over a couple of years, and replant as you go.

Once you have a few plants, you can also make as many more as you'd like by planting cuttings of the woody growth.

Since the frosts will soon take down the plants I have (they come back from the ground in spring),  it's time to send them off to greener pastures.

If you live in a climate that frosts in winter (I wouldn't try this north of zone 8, though), you can simply plant cassava cuttings on their sides about 2-3" deep and they'll come up in the spring. It's also easy to plant cuttings in pots then protect them through the winter.

For more on this plant, check out this cartoon I created for an unreleased seed-saving book:

An order of 10 cuttings will get you started with a nice cassava patch. If you order 25 cuttings, you'll be in great shape for the apocalypse (and the price goes down to just $2.00 each).

Get in on the sale now - I'll only have these until frost comes!


Buy 10 Cuttings for $25.00



Buy 25 Cuttings for $50.00



For more on cassava, check out this cartoon I drew for an unreleased seed-saving book:

how to plant cassava

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