2014: The Year In Review
Alrighty! I get to do another "Year in Review" post!
It's a Florida Survival Gardening tradition now... and who am I to break tradition?
As a refresher, here's 2012 and here's 2013.
In 2013 we pulled in 832lbs of produce. This year we didn't quite make that number since we added a cute new addition to the homestead... right when we normally plant our spring gardens. So much for our normal rush of spring harvests. I'd rather have a baby anyhow.
The weather of 2013/2014 was nice and mild which was good for my tropical plants but not as good for my temperate trees. The seedling peaches produced for the first time this year, as did two of my Japanese persimmon trees, a tangerine (which was supposed to be a grapefruit), my Ponderosa lemon, my Meyer lemon and my blood orange. The yields were quite small but we at least got a taste.
The blueberries and blackberries are still failing to jump as I'd like. The figs are doing better but haven't come into their own yet.
Well... just take a look at the numbers and you'll see what did well and what didn't:
Bananas: 22 lbs
Beans (Yard-long): 6 lbs
Blackberries: 1 lb
Blueberries: 1 lb
Broccoli: 18.5 lbs
Cabbage: 15.5 lbs
Calamondins: 2 lbs
Cassava: 25 lbs
Chaya: 5 lbs (estimated)
Chinese Water Chestnuts: 10 lbs (estimated)
Coffee: 1 lb (est.)
Ethiopian Kale: 5 lbs (est.)
Figs: 3 lbs (est.)
Goumi Berries: 1 lb
Grapes: 3 lbs
Greens (Suriname purslane, Okinawa spinach, longevity spinach, hibiscus): 10 lbs (est.)
Hot Peppers: 14.5 lbs
Key Limes: 3 lbs
Kumquats: 1 lb
Lemons: 5 lb
Loofah (Angle gourds): 3 lbs
Malanga: 13.5 lbs
Moringa: 20 lbs (est.)
Mulberries: 28 lbs
Oranges: 3 lbs
Papaya (ripe): 11 lbs (est.)
Papaya (green): 12 lbs
Peaches: 5 lbs
Persimmons: 1 lb
Pineapples: 5 lbs
Potatoes: 28 lbs
Seminole Pumpkins: 196.75 lbs
Sugarcane: 46 lbs
Starfruit: 1.5 lbs
Sweet Potatoes: 103 lbs
Watermelon: 7 lbs
Velvet Beans: 5 lbs (est.)
Yams: 39 lbs
Total: 680.25 lbs
Eggs: 100 (est.)
We got 6 hens and a rooster this summer since I missed the eggs. They're in a simple PVC tractor, happily chewing their way around the food forest and not laying near enough for the family; however, they do pay their way in tillage and manure.
The real star of this year was our compost-pile Seminole pumpkins... which ironically, we didn't even plant! Almost 200 lbs from perhaps 6 plants.
In the realm of tree crops, our mulberries really found their stride this year, producing a rocking 28 lbs of berries. Not bad for 2-3 year old trees.
Consider this: 4 oz of organic berries in the grocery store costs about $4.00. That means those mulberries, if sold as pesticide-free organic berries, should be worth about $450.00.
Mulberry trees cost about $20-$25 each. You do the math. It's a lot better than the stock market!
This spring we lost our field crop test plots due to a string of problems with the landowner. It's nice to be free of that particular relationship but I did truly enjoy growing heirloom corn without irrigation. Fortunately, we have another friend who has volunteered about 5,000 ft2 for our shared use with his family so the corn experiments will resume in the spring. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away... blessed be the Name of the Lord.
The mulch added to our front yard food forest at the end of 2013 really paid off. Though the plums, nectarines, peaches, chestnuts, jujubes, pears, apples and other trees out there didn't produce this year, they did put on big spurts of growth which gives me hope for 2015.
I lost my rare loquat tree out the other side due to a string-trimmer accident but some of the budwood was successfully grafted onto other loquats around the yard so the variety has been saved.
My Pakistan long mulberry keeps failing to produce berries due to a weird dieback it keeps getting in the spring. If it does it again this year, it's gone.
The grapes did rather poorly. The Southern Home variety, which is the main type I planted, seems to have a strange leaf-browning issue.
In better news, my friend Allan found a white mulberry growing in his neighborhood and got me some cuttings. They rooted, so I'm hoping to have some of those added to the food forest this next year.
And speaking of adding things... here are some of the trees and shrubs we added to the property over the course of 2014.
(4) Paulownia trees (fuel for rocket stoves/chop-n-drop)
(7) Pyracanthas (berries for wildlife/jam)
(5) St. Christopher lilies (just because)
(5) Rosa rugosas (edible hips)
(5) Autumn Olives (edible nitrogen fixers)
(6) Goji berries
(1) Root beer plant (Piper auritum)
(1) Red honeysuckle (very rare)
(8) Edible hibiscus
(2) Dwarf Poinciana (nitrogen fixers)
(5) Cherry trees
(3) Almonds (two are now deceased)
(3) Dwarf Everbearing mulberries
(1) Saharanpor Mulberry
(5) Dunstan Chestnuts
(2) Flowering almond verbenas (for pollinators)
(Multiple) Various pentas/salvias/other pollinator plants
(1) Kumquat (it was on sale)
(4) Arrowroot plants
(6) Yacon plants
(Multiple) Jerusalem artichokes
(Multiple) Tithonia diversifolia
(Multiple) Rare test varieties of yam
(1) Clumping bamboo found in discarded pile of yard debris
(1) Thousand Finger Banana
(1) Thai black banana
(6) Canna lilies (various types)
Plenty of good plants... and there are plenty that I forgot. I'm always popping them in here and there. Here's what we accomplished on the infrastructure front:
Hoss Wheel Hoe/Hoss Seeder
Three forged digging hoes
Multiple oil lamps
Ruger 10/22 for plinking squirrels
Trailer for hauling plants
New 12' x 16' greenhouse (Thank you, Dave Taylor!)
Multiple garden beds
Large cassava patch (Thank you, Jeff D.!)
Plastic sheeted tree area/wire supports for fruit trees for sale
Small mist house (Thanks again, Jeff D.!)
Carpeted interior of the house
Repaired (sort of) my Grandfather's old table saw and got it running again
Built a solitary bee house and had great success with gaining tenants
Added more bird feeders and houses to the food forest
Added a birdbath to the food forest
Added a small pond to the food forest
Built a rabbit cage and nest boxes
Installed 4 rabbits in the cage
As for this site, here's how I did:
Posts created: 323
Episodes of Crash Gardening Produced (Thanks, Jeff Greene!): 11
Total videos created: 30
YouTube Channel Subscribers: 465
Florida Survival Gardening Newsletter Subscribers: 541
Newsletters Written: 8
The traffic on FloridaSurvivalGardening.com in 2013 generally ranged between 500-1,000 pageviews a day.
In 2014 it generally ranged between 1,000 - 1,500 a day.
That's a pretty good increase, especially considering I SOLD OUT and put ads on the site to try and pay for my hosting and time. It didn't work, but I do manage to make about $30-40 a month in revenue.
If the ads bother you, let me know. I'm on the fence with them.
My Top 5 Posts for 2014:
How To Make Cane Syrup at Home (Without a Cane Press)
Five Plants the Look Like Marijuana
Survival Plant Profile: Cassava, King of Staples
Suggested Reading for Florida Gardeners
2 Blocks: 17 Edibles
People are apparently quite interested in Marijuana.
(Hey - I should see if I can make THIS post a top post! Marijuana, Mary Jane, Reefer, Cannabis Sativa, Pot, Bud, Crippy, Hemp! There! THAT ought to boost hits (snicker) amongst the dreadlocked set!)
At least it's still getting beaten by sugarcane. Though I suppose you could make a pretty good argument that sugar kills a lot more people than marijuana.
By the way, I do get a kick out of some of the search terms that bring people to this site. On December 26th, for instance:
Okay, now some of those are just plain funny. I'm imagining a bum with a malt 40oz sitting in a library typing "does moringa has no nitrogin?"
Google, c'mon dawg... give me a hand...
Beyond this site, I also did a lot of writing for ThePrepperProject.com, plus a decent amount of writing for MotherEarthNews.com (though not as much as I would have liked.)
|In 2014 Mother Earth News gave me two prestigious awards for my blogging: a cool mug and a cool pin. |
They didn't give me the plastic alligator.
I also helped create The Brilliant Homestead as well. That will grow into something great.
I'm greatly expanding my annual garden beds for the spring and Mrs. Survival Gardener and the kids will soon be helping for an hour every morning as a part of the children's studies. It's wonderful to work in the garden as a family - I'm quite looking forward to it. I have a great wife. (And she's haaaaaawt!)
On another personal note, we finally connected with a good church in Gainesville and have found the loving people, commitment to biblical truth, family-integrated worship and the large concentration of homeschoolers a wonderful thing. Pastor Joel is also able to hold his own in a theological debate, plus smokes good cigars and has good bourbon at his house.
Solid Christianity without stupid legalism. Crazy, right?
Florida Food Forests nursery did excellently this last year thanks to the many visitors we got at the 326 Community Market, plus the many sales through the mail. Though there's nothing happening right now since it's cold, we'll be back in the swing of things and providing lots of rare edibles once the weather warms up. Stay tuned.
Though I know I shouldn't laugh at my own jokes... I think my favorite moment of 2014 was my April Fool's redesign of Florida Survival Gardening:
I had multiple people write on April 1st and warn me that Florida Survival Gardening got HACKED!
One thing I do regret this year is not making it down south to work on The Great South Florida Food Forest Project. My parents had a few renters sharing their home so it wasn't possible; however, we should soon be able to visit there again and I'll give you all an update after we do. I've heard good things about the trees and their progress.
As 2014 draws to a close... thank you all for stopping by and sharing your gardening wisdom, asking questions, making snarky comments and keeping me going.
Happy New Year - have a wonderful 2015!
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