Friday, February 28, 2014

Talk tonight - come on down and meet me!

I'll be speaking at the Marion County Basegroup tonight and bringing some great plants for sale.

I've gotten some fantastic new stock for my nursery, including Asian pears, everbearing mulberries, Japanese persimmons, figs and more. All stuff that does wonderfully in our climate. Plus, my prices are good.

The meeting starts at 6:30 at Moss Bluff Baptist Church in Oklawaha.

I'll teach you how to establish an easy Florida food forest and there will also be a presentation by the Vertigro folks.

Find out more here. Come on down!

-David The Good

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Survival Plant Profile: Pears

Photo credit born1945. CC license.

If I were to ask you your favorite fruit, what would you answer?

My Dad likes apples. I love mangoes. My kids all love bananas. My wife likes... hey... just a minute... let me go ask her...


...okay, after much discussion, the answer seems to be papaya. Or apples. Or bananas. She would prefer apples if we lived further north... papaya if we lived in the tropics... and also raisins, but only if...


The point is, if you were to ask a bunch of people to name their favorites, I doubt very much you'd have anyone proclaim their undying love for the humble pear.

Personally, I didn't care for pears until I tried them fresh and fully ripe. We bought a house in TN with mature pear trees growing in the yard. They were some variety of dessert pear, pale green and yellow when ripe, and endowed with a wonderful melt-in-your-mouth flavor. My opinion of pears as hard, watered-down apples with unpleasant texture was transformed.

Now I love pears.

When I moved to Florida, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to grow any varieties worth eating. Fortunately, I was wrong. You can grow good pears from about the middle of the state north. Further south than that and you'll have chill hour issues and may have to mess around with forcing dormancy by leaf stripping, etc... and that's a topic for another day.

Unlike Apples, Peaches, Plums and Nectarines, pears are relatively care-free trees. The biggest disease issue they face is "fire blight," a nasty bacterial infection that usually starts at the ends of branches and works its way down towards the trunk. Fortunately, if you're observant, you can often head off the infection with a good pair of pruning shears and a spray-bottle of alcohol.

Sterilize your pruners with alcohol, then cut at least 12" further down each infected branch than the closest patch of infection. The infection is easy to identify since it looks like the name implies: charred brown leaves and wood. Make sure to sterilize your shears between each cut so you don't inadvertently spread the disease.

Once you've removed all the infected wood, burn it. Don't throw it in your compost or let it fall around the base of the tree. You want it gone.

Beyond the occasional brush with fire blight, Florida has some good pear varieties to get excited about. We can grow the classic Kieffer pear, the old-fashioned Pineapple pear (which apparently has a touch of pineapple flavor to the fruit), gourmet Oriental pears and other good varieties like Hood, Spaulding and the low-chill UF cultivar Flordahome.

On my property, I've planted a Hood, a Kieffer and a Flordahome. I'm about to add an Asian and a Pineapple this week.

When you plant pear (or any other) trees, make sure you keep the grass back from around the trunks to a distance of 4-5'. Grass will consume your tree's resources and choke it... don't let it do that. A ring of mulch is always a good idea.

Pears take a few years to get big enough to bear well, so plant them as soon as you can. The wait is worth it. We used to harvest hundreds of pounds off our two trees in Tennessee. That made for a lot of delicious pear butter... salsa... slices in syrup... dried fruit and Perry (pear wine).

Finally... pear trees are also beautiful beyond their functionality. I've come to love their interesting shape, the rough bark, the wild branches and the lovely blooms in spring.

Though they're an easy survival tree for Florida, they don't make my top three (which are mulberries, loquats and persimmons) but they're a very close four at the moment. Plant a few for extra-good pollination and redundancy... and you'll be enjoying fruit before you know it.

(NOTE: I stock multiple varieties for sale in my nursery - drop me an e-mail if you'd like to purchase your very own Florida-adapted pear tree.)


4 Spuds!

Name: Pear
Latin Name: Pyrus (spp.)
Type: Tree
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Medicinal: No
Cold-hardy: Yes
Exposure: Full sun
Part Used: Fruit
Propagation: Grafting, seed
Taste: Good
Method of preparation: Cooking varieties, cooked. Fresh, out of hand. 
Storability: Depends on cultivar; generally good
Ease of growing: Moderate
Nutrition: Good
Recognizability: Moderate
Availability: Moderate

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Come on - give me a boost!

Feel like doing a good turn?

Go make Florida Survival Gardening famous:

(Or at least help me climb the list)

My parents in their food forest

Mom sent me this picture yesterday. That's she and Dad working in their food forest.

To the upper left... cassava. In back of them... a big bunch of bananas. In front... another banana... and in the extreme foreground, a malanga.

It's hard to believe that three years ago this yard was a patch of struggling grass, weeds and sand. In another year, there will be so much food back there it'll be impossible to eat it all.

You can do this too. My parents weren't gardeners until recently. Now mom is growing kale and tomatoes and Dad is tending black sapote and acerola cherry trees.

All it takes is a little push. They encouraged me a long time ago... and I got the chance to encourage them back by planting the food forest with Dad and helping Mom work on her vegetable garden.

Tell you what... this system beats the living daylights out of sand. And it's tastier.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Industrial Era (Passing Like a Kidney Stone)

Herrick Kimball gives us some food for thought:

"Once you understand the Boom Hypothesis (and it’s very easy to understand) you will not only know how the industrial age came to be, you’ll also know that it will surely end. And you’ll probably realize that it is ending before our very eyes. 

Walter Prescott Webb saw this back in the 1950’s. Also, once you grasp the simple reality of the Boom Hypothesis of Modern History, you will have better insight into our current world situation than all of the mainstream economists, politicians, and media talking heads. Those people seem to think that the Great American Consumer Economy is going to rise again. A little adjustment here and there and we’ll get that old perpetual prosperity machine restarted. Just you wait and see. 

Well, maybe, but I really doubt it. Humpty Dumpty has fallen. All the king's men and all the king's horses will not be able to put him back together again. A new economy will emerge. It will be an economy based less on complexity and more on simplicity. It will be based on limitations. It is inevitable. 

Professor Webb's hypothesis is now less of a hypothesis and more of a present-day reality. The sooner you grasp it, the sooner you can adjust your thinking and actions to embrace it. (read the rest)" 

Are you ready for a post-industrial world?

This is why it's important to unplug now and get gardening.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My trick for finding good potato seed for CHEAP

Shared on YouTube:

This trick saves me a lot of money each year.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Now In Stock! Great Fruit Trees - Grown in Florida and Adapted to the Climate!

Come one, come all!

I've got some really cool stuff in the nursery right now... I'm gearing up for spring and and Food Forest Planting season.

We've got:

Large, healthy "Le Conte," "Oriental," "Hood" and "Pineapple" pear trees for $19.00 each.

Beautiful "Brown Turkey," "Jelly," and "Celeste" Figs for $14.00 a tree.

"Fuyu" and "Saigo" Japanese persimmons for $24.00 a tree.

Tall "Everbearing" and black mulberry trees for $19.00 a tree.

I've also got lovely "Raja Puri" banana trees for $14.00 each.

Drop me an e-mail to buy trees. I have a limited amount right now and would love to get them planted all over the state. ;)

Friday, February 21, 2014

No meeting tonight

For those of you that saw the invitation I posted this morning, my apologies - it's NEXT week. I had the dates crossed.

See you then.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why would you buy lettuce?

The salad bed just keeps on kicking.

Months ago we threw a bunch of seeds out there and raked them in... a few weeks later, we started getting some baby greens... and now we have so much we can't eat it all.

This is so easy. Why would you ever buy tasteless pesticide-laced iceberg lettuce from the grocery when you could be growing healthy, organic, nutrient-rich greens for pennies?

I'd say our seed cost on this bed was about $5. For hundreds of salads.

You can't beat that.

UPDATE: For those asking about the varieties, the predominant salad mixture was a sample seed packet I was handed by someone at one of my talks. The company is called High Mowing Seeds, and the variety and germination rate was excellent. The exact packet is here.

The remaining seeds were old packets we found here and there. Brassicas, lettuces, mustards, etc.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Germinating coffee beans

Caffeine is my friend. That's why I grow coffee, tea and yaupon holly.

Coffee is by far my favorite of the caffeine-producers, however, since its flavor is unparalleled and its kick is epic.

The problem is, right now I only have one plant in the greenhouse. That's not near enough to match the production of coffee I need to keep me waking up in the morning.

This fall was the first time it produced coffee cherries, and I decided that instead of roasting and consuming the bounty... I'd use all the cherries for planting purposes. The last few just ripened... and I planted the first few some months ago.

The cherries have a pleasant flavor much like a red bell pepper. My kids and I (and various guests) ate the fruit and spit out the "beans" inside them.

I then planted the beans in little pots of soil on my kitchen windowsill, it being a bit chilly for coffee outside at this time of year.

When we visited the Caribbean, coffee was happy year-round.


As for the seeds I planted... they sat in their little pots for a couple of months until I wondered if anything was going to happen.

Then, one day, a little bean pushed its way out of the ground. Then another, and another, and another.

In a few years, I'll be a coffee baron.

The final destination for most of the plants I'm starting will be South Florida, since they won't grow outdoors here. I'll likely hire a Columbian guy with a donkey to ride around Ft. Lauderdale and check up on them for me, then once a year I'll get a few big crates of fragrant beans sent north via steamboat.

It'll be awesome.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Survival Gardening Tip: Keep It Simple

There’s an endless search on for the easiest way to garden. The fool-proof method. The no-work approach. The incredibly productive strategy.

Here’s a sample of ideas you may have encountered:

Self-watering Earthboxes

Tower gardens

Plastic bottle hydroponics

Gutter gardening

Trash-can potatoes

PVC pipe gardening

Straw bale gardening

Gardening in bags of soil

Olla pot irrigation

4-season greenhouse gardening

Strawberry barrel gardening

Dripline irrigated rows

…and lots and lots more

Now I’m not going to condemn all these methods. Many of them are quite clever and may be perfect for your area, particularly in your in a marginal food-growing area.

My main problem with most of them is that in a grid-down situation, or in a post Peak Oil scenario, or even during a time of runaway inflation or a shipping strike or some sort, you may get stuck.

The ideal survival garden is dead simple, and a lot of these methods purport to be easy short-cuts to growing your own food. The concern is, however, that the methods are too complex or driven by outside inputs to work well in a crisis.

Before I go further, let me say this: if you’re growing your own food, however you’re doing it, you’re better off than the many people who aren’t growing anything at all. If it takes an irrigation system divided into carefully timed sectors and automatic sprinklers to keep you producing edibles, that’s a lot better than doing nothing.

That caveat aside, I have some worries.

Let’s pretend you’re on city water and electricity. Let’s further pretend that you’ve set up the coolest danged tilapia-raising/cabbage-growing/self-filtering aquaponics system this side of Star Trek. What do you do if the power goes off… or your access to easy water dries up?

This isn’t a hypothetical question. I have a friend who raises tilapia and salads in a greenhouse. It’s cool as heck and totally worth seeing. Yet on two separate occasions, he’s lost a bunch of his fish because of minor flaws that weren’t caught until it was too late. At one point his aeration valve locked up while his pump continued to empty water from the system. Overnight, a tank drained and by the time he saw it the next morning, he had a bunch of dead fish.

This is sad but not life-threatening right now. But if those fish were needed to feed the family because there were no other options left, he would have been in big trouble. Sometimes one little problem can really mess up a complicated system.

Part of the reason our nation is in such trouble is because the American banking system – and the international banking system – kept bundling, repackaging, leveraging and building vast castles of wealth on top of a shaky and increasingly incomprehensible system of debt-backed paper money. In gardening terms, they moved far away from the simplicities of dirt, sunlight, digging and seeding… and the resulting crash created an ongoing Depression with no end in sight.

My advice to new gardeners and those who hope to feed themselves through future cataclysms is the same thing I learned when I was a journalist: KISS. That’s short for Keep It Simple, Stupid!

You may be facing tough conditions on your property. Perhaps the soil is too alkaline… or comprised of hard clay… or, heaven forbid, you’re in the city and have a shady lot thanks to your neighbor’s trees.

The temptation is to look for an easier way… but sometimes, you can’t have ease and security at the same time.

If a squirrel chews through your irrigation hoses, will you be able to replace them? If a hurricane knocks down your greenhouse, can you still grow? If the power goes off, will your well work? If not, learn to trap water on your property.

Some of the methods above are pretty simple. The difficulties arise in doing them on a large enough scale to feed yourself...

(Click here and keep reading over at The Prepper Project)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cassava is back!

Thanks to a mild winter, I've got cassava for sale again!

Buy some here:

More success: seedling peach trees are in bloom!

This is amazing. My seed-grown peaches are less than two years old, taller than me, and have now burst into bloom:


It was a year ago that I wrote my original "grow fruit trees from seed" post. The peaches were only a foot or so tall then. I'm blown away.

Don't let naysayers keep you from experimenting. Thus far, the nematodes don't seem to be giving the trees any trouble. Liberal applications of compost and mustard greens may have helped, but really... I'm now convinced that trees that get their start from seed and get in the ground before sitting in a pot for any period of time are significantly tougher than trees that are potted, grafted, re-potted, grown big, then planted.

Since my peaces are young, I wouldn't be surprised if they drop their blooms without fruiting this year. Even if they do, it's been an impressive showing.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Gardening? Take the Quiz!

For your entertainment and enlightenment, I present "What Type Of Gardener Are You?"


Let me know how you scored in the comments.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


One of my cigar box birdhouses managed to attract about the most useful local bird species to my yard:

The blurry photo (thanks, telephoto lens) isn't the best, but you can see the female on the bottom has a bit of nest-building material in her beak.

Apparently, 2/3 of a bluebird's diet consists of insects. They also hatch multiple broods per year.

I wasn't sure if the size of this box would attract them... I'm very pleasantly surprised. This is, of course, part of my new "make more habitat" plan for the food forest.

I need to hang more boxes.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mystery Bird

Okay... I'm a horticulturalist, not an ornithologist, so forgive me if I look silly... but I can't figure out what type of bird this is:

My guess is some kind of sparrow. Little brown birds all look the same to me.

Anyone know?

How To Prune Grape Vines

It's that time again. Get out there before they break dormancy or you
might miss your window.

Not pruning grapes is a recipe for failure... they need the abuse to grow well. And they WILL grow like weeds if you prune them back.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A daring raid

"Will the cops come and get us?" my son asked, half seriously.

"No, I don't think so," I replied.

"What if the neighbors see," my daughter said, "Will they come over and get mad?"

"I doubt it."

We stood in the backyard of a dark and empty house, armed with trash bags, shovels, buckets and a single LED flashlight. The company included my oldest two children, my friend Allen the Beekeeper and his girlfriend Laura.

Allen had gotten a call earlier that day from a friend.

"Hey... there's some plants and a bed of sugarcane in the back of my house. The landlord doesn't care about it. Dig it up now or I'm gonna mow it all down tomorrow."

After the call, Allen called me.

"Want to get some plants?"

The answer, of course, was yes... the problem was, we weren't both free until well past dark.

When we got to the house, it looked like this:

Dark. Very dark. But there were plants that needed saving so we pressed on. Laura held the flashlight as we cut down cane and dug up what had been a 4' x 8' bed of the stuff. Thanks to a mild winter, the canes were untouched by frost and deliciously sweet.

I may have paused during the daring raid, O reader, to give the children a few choice chunks... but I never lost sight of the mission.

Overall, it took us about an hour of digging to remove all of the sugarcane.

Allen takes charge.
Beyond that, we also nabbed a few rosemary bushes (which I greatly doubt will survive transplanting) and a nice clump of lemon grass.

On the way out, I couldn't help looking through a pile of yard waste by the side of the road... and was greatly pleased to discover (and rescue) a freshly dug clump of Jasmine, unwilted with some good roots remaining.

We can't save every plant... but we can try.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 10, 2014

What does the word "Natural" mean on your food label?

Apparently not much:

If you can't afford organic, GROW YOUR OWN FOOD.

Do it. I will help you. Just do it.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014 Florida Earthskills Gathering, Day 4

What I Learned:

Paper mulberry trees can be easily utilized to make strong cordage.

Protecting your assets in a trust fund makes good sense.

Guys and gals who don't shave seem to be cooler than people who do.

There is a real hunger for Florida-specific gardening information.

Oyster mushrooms can colonize mulch piles if you simply bury chunks of them.

Bokashi can be used to rapidly break down humanure.

What I Taught:

Gardening in a grid-down situation.

Composting meat and human "waste" to feed your plants.

Using human-powered tools.

The importance of caring for root systems.

Easy crops for Florida.

And Finally:

If I can make it, I'll definitely go back next year. Emily, Willy and the other organizers are great folks and quite welcoming... it was wonderful to be a part of this event. Lots of learning, friendship and community. Good stuff.

How Dumpster Diving Turned Me Into a Spud Freak

Long ago, before I saw the light, I didn’t grow potatoes.

Potatoes come from the store in big, cheap bags. Why would I bother growing something so inexpensive and plebeian when I could grow delicious foods like tomatoes, peppers, herbs and garlic?

So for years, I didn’t plant potatoes.

Until the year I met my friend The Professor. He was a respected teacher at a venerable private college, married to a professional woman and living in a nice house in the suburbs.

He was also a secret dumpster-diving addict. And we’re not talking hitting the trash for furniture and pallet wood: no, he was after big game. Just-expired expensive cheeses, flats of frozen beef, organic berries and whole-grain breads from the boutique grocery. Frankly, the profusion – and sheer dollar value – of what he retrieved blew my mind.

What does that have to do with potatoes? Well, one time, after making me swear not to reveal his secret identity, he took me along. We careened through back alleys in his car, lights off, gloves on, tipping the lids of dumpsters and keeping our eyes open for both unsavory lurkers and local sheriffs. It was a rush, yet the thing that really struck me about the evening was how much food we waste as a nation. One of the foods we found scattered about in profusion were potatoes. He told me he didn’t even bother picking them up most of the time; but me, being a gardener and seeing many bags of potatoes covered in eyes and young roots, couldn’t resist saving some to plant in the backyard.

So I did. I dug a long bed, buried the dumpster potatoes haphazardly in the early spring and waited. A few months later, I pulled up baskets of spuds in all different shapes and colors – and discovered something unexpected.

Homegrown potatoes taste amazing.

Imagine the best French fries you’ve ever had… then double their rich, crunchy flavor. Picture a bowl of steaming mashed potatoes… and imagine that they have as much (or more) sheer deliciousity as the savory gravy ladled over the top.

Since that year, I’ve grown potatoes every chance I get. Down here in Florida I don’t find them to be remarkably productive, but they’re more than worth having in the garden. Dinner guests are consistently amazed by the velvety richness of our homegrown spuds. They’re so good, we sometimes serve them as the main course.

So – how do YOU grow YOUR own deliciously incredible spudtastic potatoes?

It’s easy.

First, find yourself some seed potatoes. This is easier than you might think. People will tell you emphatically, “Don’t plant store-bought potatoes!”

They then mumble strange phrases like “viral contamination” and “sprout inhibitors.”

Though it’s true that some potatoes for sale in the grocery store have been coated in chemicals to keep eyes from forming, I’m 99.7% certain not all of them have...

(CLICK HERE to read the rest over at The Prepper Project)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

2014 Florida Earthskills Gathering, Day 3

It's pouring rain. Poured all night and all morning.

That said... I'm not going to the Gathering today. I really feel for the folks out there, though. It's been cold and miserable all weekend.

Hope tomorrow is better. I'll be teaching my final class from 9:15 to noon.

Until then, check out this video I received from a reader this morning:

That woven device is explained here:

"Tipiti is a sort of standing press or braided straw squeezer used to drain and dry grated cassava. The object is used by brazilian indians and riverains in the making of cassava flour. Mr Francisco Trovão is one of the rare craftsmen that can still make Tipiti. In this documentary he talks about learning the process and shows how to make Tipiti."

I'm sure someone at the Earthskills Gathering could totally pull that off. Maybe we need a cassava processing class next time around.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Florida Earthskills Gathering, Day 2

What I Learned:

Chayote squash can be productive even in North Florida.

How to graft loquat trees. (Thank you, Oliver!)

That "stinkhorns" are edible when small.

Oyster mushrooms grow wild in Florida.

There are a surprising number of small government libertarians and conservatives attending.

There are really a lot of sharp and well-spoken children at the Earthskills gathering.

Tanning deer hide can be done using brains.

Humans do not have an innate sense of direction - they only have keen or dull senses of observation.

Soursop can apparently fetch $10 - $20 per lb locally.

You can power a truck on used motor oil.

What I Taught:

Easy gardening for Florida.

How to work with nature rather than against it.

Picking crops that grow in comparable climates.

Virtual Friends I Finally Met In Person:

Shon Law. He's as cool in person as he was on video.

I also finally met Mycol Stevens thanks to his adorable girlfriend Cricket. She gave me one of her lovely handmade potholders.

I also got to hang out with Green Deane again. Love that guy.

Last but not least, I got some serious plant geek brain food and input from the brilliant Micheal Adler of the Edible Plant Project.

And Finally:

I'll be back there again on Sunday morning to teach my final class. I'll cover gardening for the apocalypse and growing food in a grid-down situation.This one will be packed with tool demos and ideas on composting stuff you normally would avoid. It'll be EPIC!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 Florida Earthskills Gathering, Day 1

What I Learned:

Good thoughts and singing can help light a fire.

You can call someone "they" if that person doesn't identify as male or female.

The "counterculture" is friendlier than the mainstream culture.

Hippies don't really wear tie-dye anymore.

Rain and cold can't stop a good time if folks are dedicated enough.

What I Taught:

Creating food forests in Florida.

The importance of a diverse ecosystem.

Growing trees from seed is worthwhile.

How weeds heal the ground.

Virtual Friends I Finally Met In Person:

Andi, of I gave her some organic homegrown tobacco for her hookah, she gave me a Mysore raspberry. Win-win.

And Finally:

I'll be back there again tomorrow morning to teach on annual gardening in Florida... ought to be fun... I'll try to post again after that.

Homework: Watch This Video

If you haven't seen Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way, you need to watch it.

Somebody posted the whole thing to YouTube. It's sure to get yanked soon, so watch it while you can. Totally inspiring.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Open-pollinated non-GMO seed sources in Florida

Michael at Gardening in Central Florida has started a list of open-pollinated seed sources for Florida.

If anyone has any other local outlets, let me know. Glad to see my friend Grower Jim is already on the list.

One of these days I may get around to offering seed myself. I tend to trade or give away what I have most of the time, plus I'm not the most organized fellow in the world.

My personal favorite seed company - though they're not local - is the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Some of my purchases for spring's garden.

I'm also a member of the venerable Seed Saver's Exchange and get seeds from them as well.

One of the best things you can do as a gardener is to avoid fancy hybrids and GM crops. Grow dependable heirlooms, save the seeds from the best performers and you'll build new lines of plants that thrive in your garden conditions.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Suggested reading for Florida gardeners

Elizabeth asked in the comment section of yesterday's post if I had any recommended reading for Florida gardeners.

Unfortunately, I haven't come across many great books that are for Florida alone. There is, of course, Florida Gardening by Stan DeFreitas, which is the book that first got me going many years ago - but I don't necessarily recommend that as a great resource for food growers.

A good place to start looking up Florida plants and how to grow them is, of course, the UF/IFAS/EDIS/HIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, otherwise known simply as the Electronic Data Information Source of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

There's a search bar there, which you'll need since the site is not at all intuitive. In fact, it's often easier to just type in something like "invasive giant snake-like weedy vine thingy with stinky flowers IFAS" into Google and hope for the best.

One of these days I'm going to write a book on survival gardening in Florida. Until then, there are some books I recommend you read and glean bits and pieces from. If you get stuck on something specific to our region, you can always ask me your questions or just experiment. That's where real learning often takes place.

Here are a few of my go-to books:

How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition by John Jeavons

This is a great jump into biointensive gardening. It relies on little to no external inputs and gives you excellent results, even in sand.

Gardening Without Irrigation

On the other side of the spectrum from Jeavons' intensive beds is Steve Solomon's approach to wide row gardening in low rain conditions. This is how I grow my corn and other field crops without having to water. The link above takes you to the free download page of Project Gutenberg. Don't bother buying this book - it's public domain.

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

Another Steve Solomon epic. Contains a lot of good information and thoughts on feeding yourself under adverse conditions. Must-have.

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Fruitcake name but killer information. This will transform the way you look at food growing, gardening and the ecosystem around your house.

Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener's Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles

Toensmeier's classic look at veggies you ONLY HAVE TO PLANT ONCE. Many of the selections are perfect for Florida; in fact, reading this book is likely to make temperate gardeners cry.

I recommend any gardener read these. I look at buying physical copies of great gardening books as part of my insurance plan for the future. If things collapse, I'll still have my books and the knowledge therein. What may seem like a big purchase now may look dirt cheap in the future when you really need to get some food on the table.

Load up your Amazon cart and buy them when you get a chance, then spend a month reading. It's worth it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

How To Succeed At Gardening (And Almost Anything Else)

I came across a great post recently:

Earl Nightingale researched and taught about success for decades, and he took his job seriously. 

His work is often forgotten now, but if you can find it, it is definitely worth your time. It was very helpful to me.

One of Earl’s more interesting lessons was this:
If you spend 30 minutes – every day – learning about one specific subject, you’ll become a legitimate expert in six months.

This is true. And I know it’s true because I took Earl’s advice and became an expert.

Perhaps it will take longer than six months for a difficult subject, but 30 minutes per day – if you actually use the time for serious study every day – is a LOT of focused time.

How to Do It

This is far easier than you might think, as long as you can make hard decisions and run your own life… and refuse to live by the expectations of others.

That means that you have to be able to say “no.” That means that you can accept the fact that others will be disappointed in you. You must be able to do what you think is right, regardless of their repeated objections.

When I first did this, it involved NOT having lunch with the people I worked with. I went off on my own and read while eating. Some of my colleagues thought I was being rude or weird, but I did it anyway.

Then, when my co-workers went out after work, I went home. I smiled, explained that I didn’t like drinking and that I had too much to do at home. And then I went home and read. They shook their heads but soon stopped asking.

So, when the other guys go out to lunch, sit by yourself and read. When they go out after work, go home and study. If friends or family don’t like it, do it anyway. Be different. Assure them that there is no insult intended, but take whatever heat is required and do what’s best for you...

(Read the rest here)

I didn't start out a gardening expert or a good writer. And I didn't pick up the guitar or a paintbrush one day and play ripping solos or paint a great landscape.

I learned what skills I have through lots... and lots... and lots of research and practice. Right now, 13 years after I graduated from art school with a lot of crummy postmodern philosophy in my head and very little in the way of solid art skills, I'm working at my craft of painting again in a systematic way... the way I should have done it to begin with.

One day, back when I worked a "real" job, I remember showing a piece of ridiculous art I'd created to one of my colleagues. His response was "You've got too much time on your hands."

We don't, though. We really don't get that much time. And what time we do have is often wasted watching TV and surfing the 'net in search of mindless entertainment. Even making something ridiculous gives you some practice.

If you want to get good at something, you need to stay at it. You need to make it a part of you.

If you do that in the garden... you'll eventually become a master. Do that with your painting and you'll rise above the pack. Do it with a martial art and you'll become graceful and deadly.

Just don't sit around.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Announcement: Teaching Workshops at the Florida Earthskills Gathering

I'll be teaching three survival gardening workshops at the Florida Earthskills Gathering, this weekend, starting Thursday.

Even if you don't come for my talks, there are a lot of good reasons to attend. Some of the primitive skills being taught may come in very handy if we ever face an EMP strike... or a continuation and deepening of the current Depression.

It'll be primitive camping and lots of counter-culture folks of all stripes.

My class times will be as follows:

Thurs. Afternoon Workshop (12-4pm)

Friday Morning Workshop (9:15am-12:00)

Sunday Morning Workshop (9:15am-12:00)

(It will be strange not going to church that weekend. Maybe I'll just go ahead and preach a sermon for Sunday morning's workshop. Something on the glory of creation and the need for good stewards, perhaps...)

Directions, fees and all that stuff can be found at the Florida Earthskills website (linked above).

I hope to meet some of you there.

Labels: ,


This Page

has moved to a new address:

Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service