Monday, June 30, 2014

Grow Your Own Soapmaking Materials


Being able to wash your hair during TEOTWAWKI? Priceless. Photo credit.

Being able to wash your hair during TEOTWAWKI? Priceless. Photo credit.
My wife has been making our soap for over a year. Once you start using homemade, chemical-free, natural soap… it’s hard to go back to the factory-produced stuff.
The only thing I really miss is Sodium laureth sulfate.
Just kidding.
I’ve spent a decent amount of time considering the options in case of a collapse. If everything fell apart and we could no longer hit the local Walmart for a brick of Irish Spring(TM), going without soap would be a real drag. Have you ever tried showering without it? Getting really clean is next to impossible.
I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to go through the Apocalypse squeaky clean and smelling slightly of lavender. Or better, gunpowder. But that’s basically a given.
Soap is one of those products that has been manufactured so long that it’s not all that common to make at home.
Sure, you’ll likely run into a crafty lady at church who makes it, but how much of the population knows how to make soap? Or even what it’s made from?
Probably not many.
However, today’s post isn’t going to be directly about soapmaking. Instead, it’s going to be about producing the raw soapmaking materials that go into soap making. There are plenty of sites that will tell you how to assemble a bar of soap from purchasable ingredients… but when things crash, finding those ingredients may get tough.
That’s why we grow our own.

First Things First: What Is Soap Made From?

Soap is an oil that’s been treated with a strong alkaline solution. This is called “saponifying” the oil. When you scrub with soap, you’re able to break up oils that would be difficult to remove with water alone. It is science!
psychoshowerweb
“Help! I can’t get the oiliness out of my hair!!!”
Basically, soap requires a strong alkaline solution and a fat. Lye (Sodium hydroxide) is the most common alkaline substance used for soap, though it’s not the only thing you can use. As we’ve experimented with soap making, we’ve found that saturated fats make nicer soaps than do unsaturated vegetable oils. Right now it’s easy enough to buy lye and fat. Right now. When this window shatters, we’ll need other options for finding our ingredients. Let’s look at a few.

Fatty Piggies

Before we developed an unhealthy obsession with lean pigs and factory soap, there used to be varieties of pigs raised just for their incredible amount of fat.

Part sheep, part pig, all fat. Photo credit.
Lard was a big part of life less than a hundred years ago. It was used for cooking, lubrication, illumination, sausage-making, and…
Soap. There’s nothing like lard soap.
If you can manage to raise a few pigs or trade for them, you can make lots and lots of soap from the fat.

Chubby Duckies

Ducks are loaded with fat. It’s what makes them able to glide on top of the water, rather than sink into it like I do.
If you raise ducks on the homestead – particularly chunky ones like pekins – you have a source for fat. As a bonus, they breed quickly, grow faster and forage better than chickens do.
Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream & Other Delights
She’s going to need some good soap.

Bulging Beef

Beef tallow is another good fat for soap-making. This gal makes amazing bars from it (among many other things). Cows aren’t as easy to raise on small acreage as pigs are, but perhaps you can trade a local cattleman some soap for some fat. It’s often discarded in butchering, believe it or not. Savages!
Another bonus of beef tallow soap: it makes a great lather.

Other Animal Sources

There are other animal sources of fat but few are as good as cows, ducks and pigs.
Keep feeding your dog cake, though. Once day it may pay off.
(For a look at plant sources of soap, plus making your own lye... keep reading over at The Prepper Project!)

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Blackberry Picking at Taylor Gardens Nursery

I like berries for their taste and health benefits, but I hate buying them from the grocery store.

First of all, they're too expensive... and second of all, they've often been sprayed with who-knows-what.

The pesticide load of berries are among the highest in the produce section.

Expensive... and toxic. Great.

I'd much rather buy locally from people I know. That way I can find out if they've been sprayed or not. Dave Taylor doesn't spray any pesticides on the berries at his U-pick, so I get my blackberries from him.

Here's the latest post over at the new Taylor Gardens Nursery site if you're interested in going picking this weekend. Taylor Gardens also carries a wide range of native and ornamental plants. Many of the pollinator-attracting plants and nitrogen fixers I've added to my food forest have come from their nursery.

Directions and the phone number are on their site. Say "hi" to Dave and Guda for me if you make it over there. And don't eat all the blackberries... I want some more for myself!

Unknown Variety of Wild Blueberry - Guesses Welcome!

I paid a visit to the unplanned scrubland Eden the other day and came across something very interesting. Check this out:


Definitely some sort of blueberry, though this one was as tall as me.

Rabbiteye blueberries are ripening right now but these aren't there yet. Anyone have a guess as to what it might be?


Native - or an escapee? My bet is on the former. There are a lot of blueberry relatives in Florida... I've just not come across this one before. It's growing in terrible soil. If the fruit tastes good I might have to take cuttings and see if they'll root in my nursery.

Let me know in the comments if you have a guess on the species. Gotta be some kind of Vaccinum!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Today at the 326 Market: Native Blueberries! Mulberries BACK IN STOCK!

I'll be back again, and I've got 7 6 wild blueberry plants left. These belong to a friend who is phasing them out of their nursery (they're more focused on ornamentals). They're perfect for people who like natives and tasty, albeit tiny, fruit. I'm putting them on sale this week for $12 a plant!


These guys have the most amazing blueberry flavor packed into tiny berries. Take a look again:



Another fruit that's back in stock - mulberries!!!

I got hooked up with a limited amount of dwarf everbearing trees. These guys bear buckets of berries but are much easier to fit into a smaller yard. They can be kept below 6' with some pruning and can be used as an attractive edible hedge plant.

I sold a good number of my Japanese persimmons but I still have some left. Grab them while I have them. They're already at fruiting size.

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

Some of my wonderful selections include:

BLUEBERRIES: $15.00

NATIVE BLUEBERRIES: $12.00 ON SALE!

APPLES (Anna, Dorsett) $20.00 

PEARS $20.00

PAWPAW TREES: $20.00

BABY COFFEE TREES: $6.00

POMEGRANATES (Various) $20.00

FIGS (Various) $20.00

MULBERRIES (Dwarf Everbearing) $20.00

JAPANESE PERSIMMONS (Various non-astringent) $29.00

MUSCADINE GRAPES (Black and Green) $9.00

Coming soon: garlic chives, herbs, native milkweed and chufa!

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 melt-in-your-mouth Florida peaches, goat milk cheese and soap, handcrafts, recycled pallet wood furniture, fresh lemonade, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), dolls and lovely homemade greeting cards, crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies (really good), local raw honey, homemade birdhouses and more.

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

Come on down!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bridge Grafting a Girdled Loquat Tree

What do you do when a friend helping out accidentally girdles one of your rare varieties of loquat tree with a string trimmer?

Other than publicly humiliate the poor soul on your hugely popular gardening blog, that is.

Here's the damage:


Ouch. That isn't going to make it without an intervention. Beneath the thin outer back of a tree are the vessels that bring water and nutrients up and down the trunk from the roots to the crown and back again.

So, not having any options other than surgery or letting the tree die, I chose to try and "bridge graft" across the damaged area. This requires cutting and connecting some strips of healthy living bark from the trunk below to the trunk above.


Here's a piece of healthy bark cut from another loquat tree. In the background, you can see another piece I cut and attached. It takes a sure hand, a razorblade and some kind of grafting tape.

I cut three pieces and attached them to the trunk, cutting another half inch or more above and below the wound and popping in the new pieces of bark.


It still looks "ouch" and I'm not sure this will work, but it's better than doing nothing. After attaching the pieces, I wrapped the entire wound area with nice, thick pieces of electrical tape.


Now all I can do is pray the grafts take.

For more info on bridge grafting, check this out. I probably didn't do it right... but loquats are very resilient.

God... please save this tree!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Can You Grow Figs In Florida? The Gainesville Epic Fig Says YES!

I was asked about growing figs by a friend at church this last Sunday and I mentioned how easy they were to grow... and that there was an amazing specimen in Gainesville.

Backstory: A couple of years ago my cousin Ben (a truly talented artist) and his family moved into a nice condo complex up in Gainesville.

I've taken my family up there for visits now and again... and when there, I noticed an amazingly big fig tree that was planted long ago.

Sadly, my cousin and his family have moved to another state (he got an awesome job with a big design studio), but before he left I took pictures of the fig.


I'm guessing it's a good 25' tall and loaded with fruit. I have no idea who originally planted this tree there, but God bless them. What a great fruit tree to tuck into a condo developement. 

It's hard to take a good picture capturing the immensity of this tree, especially on a rainy day at dusk, but I did my best. 

Here's another shot up through the center:


And a shot from the sidewalk nearby:


And here's the trunk:


To whoever planted this tree, good work. You've improved a corner of the world. 

If you live in the Gainesville area and want to see this tree in person, I nicked the map off the Sparrow Condominiums website. Here it is with an X-marks-the-spot.


It's worth seeing this tree if you get a chance. 

Labels:

Monday, June 23, 2014

8 Staple Root Crops You Can Hide In Plain Sight

WaterChestnutPlanting3
A Chinese water chestnut about to be planted.
How many roots do Americans eat on a regular basis?

I can think of a few: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and beets.

Beyond those, you might occasionally use leeks, turnips, rutabagas or parsnips. If you have a yuppie grocery store, you might even find Jerusalem artichokes.

Yet on the grand and glorious palette of edible tubers, rhizomes, corms and bulbs... the grocery store is but a single swatch. Many excellent edibles are off the radar for most of us. We live in a consumer age where mass production and marketing - not to mention increasing urbanization and disconnectedness from the land - have narrowed down our diet to a few shippable and easily produced selections.

Most Americans could wander through my yard (provided I didn't shoot them for trespassing) and never really see the many edible plants and roots around them. It looks like shrubs, trees, weeds, flowers, creepers and ornamentals... yet there's food everywhere. Granted, if you prepare some of these crops wrong you'll get sick or die, but they're food nonetheless.

Today I'm going to focus on roots and take you on a tour through a few species worth adding to your homestead. The variety may surprise you - and you may even have some of these crops growing wild in your neighborhood already.

Let's take a look at 8 staple root crops you can hide in plain sight.

1. Chufa

Chufa is classified as an invasive weed in some states. That's my kind of crop! If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em! Chufa is an ancient staple also known as "tiger nuts." The edible part is a small roughly 1/2" corm that develops in networks of roots around the base of the plant. Overall, since it's a sedge, the chufa plant looks a lot like a weedy clump of grass. The roots are reportedly delicious. (I'm working on growing my first crop of them this summer and I'll let you know how they turn out in the fall.)

2. Winged Yams

An 8lb tuber dug in the wild.
An 8lb winged yam tuber dug in the wild.
I've written an entire post on the winged yam, also known in Latin as Dioscorea alata. Winged yams have a vigorously climbing vines and can develop massive roots up to 100 lbs or more. Plus, they taste great. 

If you live north of USDA growing zone 8, you might not be able to grow winged yams; however, you're likely to have luck with their more cold-hardy relative Dioscorea opposita. That one also has edible bulbils which dangle from the stems in profusion and can be used without digging.

3. Skirret

This is a weird root crop in the carrot and parsley family. I haven't tried them yet here in Florida since they like the cold and we don't have much of that here, however, for northern gardeners this is famed as a delicious and sweet perennial, though it has woody cores inside the roots. 

No one will know what you're growing when they see this 3' tall bush with white flowers - and they certainly won't know what it is if they see its thick cluster of gray-white roots.

4. Duck Potatoes

Do you have a pond or swamp area on your property? Then you may already have this productive North American staple and not know it. Lewis and Clark lived on duck potatoes during much of their famous journey. Also known as wapato and Arrowhead, duck potatoes are a very common aquatic plant across much of the United States. Their many edible tubers are bitter raw but very good when cooked. Indian women used to harvest them with their feet. My wife is part Cherokee and I find this really foxy. 

Whew. 

Where was I? 

Oh yeah... staple roots. Let's move on. Quickly.

5. Ground Nuts

Ground nuts get confused with peanuts but they're not anything like peanuts, other than the fact that they both exist inside the great big Fabaceae family and fix their own nitrogen. 

Ground nuts, in Latin, are known as Apios Americana and like duck potatoes were a staple of Indians back in the day. ("Back in the day" is the technical term for "before they were run off by expansionist Europeans.") They're a vining crop that produces strings of tubers beneath the ground. I've read that they can become invasive but haven't grown them long enough on my homestead to find out. 

I hope they are. I like invasive food...

(CLICK HERE to keep reading over at The Prepper Project)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, June 20, 2014

Saturday from 7AM - 1:00PM: Blueberry U-Pick and Plant Sale at B & G Blueberries!





Last week went wonderfully at B & G Blueberries. It's a true family operation. One generation washing out blueberry buckets for picking... the next generation weighing bags laden with sweet fruit... and the next generation directing traffic. I love seeing family businesses like this and am proud to be a part of this year's fun.

The picking price is just $2.50 a lb, too! And though the berries aren't organic, they also aren't sprayed with any pesticides so you can nibble without fear. I'm going to pick a few gallons for my freezer tomorrow.

And if you haven't tried real Florida rabbiteye blueberries before, you're in for a treat. Bill also has some Southern Highbush blueberry bushes at untouchable prices. $12 for a 3-gallon plant. Crazy.

As for me, I'll have a wide selection of perennial vegetables and fruit trees, including gingers, wild blueberries, dwarf pomegranates, chaya, coffee, Okinawa spinach and more. 

Come on by, pick some berries and buy some plants!

Here's the official announcement:

U-Pick at B & G Blueberries (2014)


Picking times are 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM. NORMAL SEASON (Best crop in years!) – June 21, 27, 28, July 5 and maybe 12.  ($2.50 per lb.). Check our answering machine for any changes to these dates.

We are downsizing our Blueberry Nursery and will be offering great prices on 3 gal Southern High Bush plants. (Call for details). We also sell fertilizer & pine bark. (Pre-picked Blueberries – Call for details.)

From Silver Springs go east on SR40 to CR 315. Go left 5 ½ miles to NE 100 St. Go left and follow the Blueberry signs ¼ miles to B & G Blueberries.
Please call us at 352-236-4410, or Email us at WDH47@embarqnail.com  if you have any questions.

The Halls – Bill, Gail, Danny, Dorothy, Justin, Micah, Rebekah,  Ben, Jason, Robin, Savannah and Emmalee – B & G Blueberries.

READ WHAT'S NEW AT B&G Blueberries 

David Goodman, author, gardening expert and creator of the daily Florida gardening resource www.floridasurvivalgardening.com, will be joining us to answer gardening questions. He'll also be bringing plenty of easy-to-grow Florida fruit trees and perennial vegetables from his edible plant nursery. Sweet persimmons! Abundant pears! Delicious gingers! Great prices and great plants, plus you get to meet David in person. Be sure to say hi and learn how easy Florida gardening can be.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Today at the 326 Market: Japanese Persimmons! Dwarf Pomegranates! Native Blueberries! Goji Berries! Pawpaws! Coffee!

We got rained out last week so I'm hoping this week we have more luck.

I've got a nice assortment of non-astringent Japanese persimmon trees right now, some of which are already bearing fruit. If you don't have one, I highly recommend them. The cold doesn't bother them, they're able to grow even in lousy sand, they look attractive... and the fruit tastes like honey and sunshine. Nothing like one of those nasty under-ripe native persimmons you may have tasted as a kid.

CALLING ALL RARE FRUIT GEEKS

I now have a very limited number of young pawpaw trees for $20.00 each. These aren't the shrubby native types with the small fruit (though I love those); these are Asimina triloba, the large-fruited type with delicious flavor. We're near the bottom of their range here but I've seen a lovely one growing locally and I know they'll thrive. It took me a long time to get these babies going (don't ask me about the germination time... my goodness...) but they're finally ready to follow you home.

In addition to those, I have a limited number of Florida native blueberry plants for just $15.00 each. These guys have the most amazing blueberry flavor packed into tiny berries. Take a look:



Tiny fruit with huge flavor.

Another fruit I'll bring tomorrow: dwarf pomegranates! These attractive little shrubs bloom prolifically and bear tart edible fruit in the summer and fall. I carry them for just $12.00 a pot.

Pictures:




Along with these, I finally have a very limited number of goji berries for $8.00 each, at least one of which is already in bloom:

Goji berries: a superfruit that thrives in Florida.

Another thing that took me a long time to grow but I finally pulled it off: coffee. That's right - I now have some adorable little coffee trees for sale. They can't take the cold but they love living in containers and will even happily live indoors - and set fruit - in a pot next to a sunny window.

Get a coffee plant and grow your own caffeine. Bonus: coffee cherries tast like sweet red bell peppers.

Sound like fun? Come on down to the 326 Market in Ocala today and pick up a few plants. There's a lot going on in the nursery and I'm finding more rare edibles each week.

By the way, if you ever want something really weird, like jackfruit, dragonfruit, canistels or other odd tropicals, I do carry a few in my nursery. Let me know in the comments and I can bring them with me. They're just not suited to this climate so I don't usually sell them except to hardcore masochists gardeners.

Also, for those of you that have been asking: I'm sold out of mulberries right now but should have some more in a month or so.

Some of my wonderful selections include:

BLUEBERRIES: $15.00

NATIVE BLUEBERRIES: $15.00

DWARF POMEGRANATES: $12.00

GOJI BERRIES: $8.00

NATIVE ELDERBERRIES: $6.00

APPLES (Anna, Dorsett) $20.00 

PEARS $20.00

PAWPAW TREES: $20.00

BABY COFFEE TREES: $6.00

POMEGRANATES (Various) $20.00

FIGS (Various) $20.00

MULBERRIES (Black and Everbearing) SOLD OUT - BACK SOON

JAPANESE PERSIMMONS (Various non-astringent) $29.00

MUSCADINE GRAPES (Black and Green) $9.00

Coming soon: garlic chives, shell ginger, native milkweed and chufa!

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 melt-in-your-mouth Florida peaches, goat milk cheese and soap, handcrafts, recycled pallet wood furniture, fresh lemonade, delicious ice cream (from actual hand-milked cows), dolls and lovely homemade greeting cards, crafts, vegetables, baked goods, homemade jams and jellies (really good), local raw honey, homemade birdhouses and more.

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

Come on down!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Happy accidents

When you don't mow and you don't do much in the way of weeding, interesting things happen.


Those sunflowers have been popping up in my garden and my backyard for a few years now.

The seeds are tiny and not worth harvesting but the blooms sure attract the butterflies. They actually look quit similar to Jerusalem artichokes but don't set any kind of tubers.

There are probably 50 or so of them here and there around the back. They get to be about 10' tall and have an exceptionally long blooming season. I find sprouts all over the place every February and just leave the ones that aren't completely in the way. The ones that are in the way? I let get as big as I can before they drive me nuts, then I chop them down and compost them.

Anything that makes me free compost additives is welcome in the yard. Heck, I deliberately scatter pokeweed seeds everywhere for the same reason. The sunflowers are prettier, but even pokeweed is a fine-looking plant in my book.

Weeds are a resource. They're gathering minerals from the soil that can be used to feed your other plants. Let 'em grow, then chop them down and toss them around the base of your fruit trees.

Win.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Tougher Breed of Kale

This year we planted multiple beds with a new variety of kale that's more suited to the Florida climate.

Most kales thrive during the cool time of the year, but this baby keeps on kicking:


That's Ethiopian kale, a potentially perennial cousin of the kales we normally grow in the winter and early spring. My friends Rick and Mart both hooked me up with seeds this last year and we've been quite impressed with how well they've done in the garden. It's a great green and grows to a solid 4' tall.

Raw, it has a mustardy kick to it that's a little zingy for my taste but still fits well into a salad. I really like them sauteed in home-rendered lard with scrambled eggs. That's a good breakfast.

It's hard to find seeds for this plant but I hope to have some to share in a month or so. It can handle both cold and heat making it an excellent addition to the Florida garden.


Insects haven't been much of a problem with these. I've also heard from Rick that they're prolific self-seeders. Next year I'm going to plant them all over the food forest and see if they'll naturalize.

Once I've done some more growing tests, I'll create a survival plant profile on Ethiopian kale. Thus far I'm quite pleased. If you can find seeds, grow them.

Labels:

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Milkweed Bug


Photo by Rachel Goodman. I know, she's better at it than I am. Dang it.
I've been growing "butterfly weed" (also known as "tropical milkweed," or, most properly, as Asclepias curassavica) in my yard for a few years after finding one by the side of the road and transplanting it. I'm always amazed by how many insects flock to this toxic plant.

The thing I find most interesting is the common color scheme in the various predators and prey that pay this perennial a visit. Orange and black appears over and over again. The aphids that congregate on butterfly weed are invariably bright orange. The monarchs that feat on this plant are orange and black. The milkweed leaf beetle: orange and black. The milkweed assassin bug: yep, orange and black.

This plant is decorated for Halloween all year long.

As for the insect in the photo, that's the "milkweed bug," also known as Oncopeltus fasciatus. It's not a directly useful garden insect, since it mostly just eats milkweed, but it does play the role of population control by keeping milkweed plants from taking over the world.

Since my primary focus is on growing food, I don't spend much time growing ornamental plants; however, growing a mix of non-edibles with your edible plants creates a much wider ecosystem. What's that mean? It means free pest control, butterflies, pollinators and lots of moments where you get to say "Hey... look at that cool bug!"

That's got value right there. I mean, you can't spend all your time eating, right?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Living Sanibel

For anyone who loves the ocean, loves gardening or loves Sanibel, check out my friend Susan's newly revamped blog here:

www.livingsanibel.org

My parents took their honeymoon on Sanibel long ago, back before I was born. I remember as a child hearing my mom talk about how she and Dad watched the sandpipers racing along the beach.

Sanibel is a lovely place, particularly if you like collecting shells and sea beans.

At Living Sanibel, Susan discusses food forests, shares gardening links, talks about shelling, compost, cats and life on Sanibel, plus has a list of plants and seeds she's interested in acquiring and trading.

Check it out. I'm going to have to go over there for a visit before too long. I love the west coast.

UPDATE:

Louise remembers what Sanibel was like decades ago:


"Boy, did this bring back memories.  When I was just a kid, my mother took me to Sanibel for a week every Summer.  I know it dates me, but we crossed on the ferry and stayed in a cottage type motel down toward Captiva.  Hurricane House I think.  
Every morning I would walk by myself up to the lighthouse.....a perfectly safe thing to do then, from the time I was about eight.  There was a wonderful old paddlewheeler you could see from the beach.  It had been brought from the Mississippi River, to be something like a restaurant, but I don't think it ever happened.  It looked abandoned when I was a pretty small kid. I loved picking up shells and eating smoked mullet.  I walked in the bay and picked up huge live horse conchs and took them home to Orlando in the back window of the car.  I soaked them in muriatic acid to get the animal out.  No one knew All of that was a Bad thing to do.  Thanks for the reminder of a much simpler time."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Saturday from 7AM - 1:00PM: Blueberry U-Pick and Plant Sale at B & G Blueberries!

Bill Hall, owner of B & G Blueberries in Ft. McCoy, has asked me to come over and sell plants during this year's picking.

If you haven't tried real Florida rabbiteye blueberries before, you're in for a treat. Bill has acres of sweet berries and his prices are amazing. He's also selling some very nice blueberry plants for really cheap.

Just get there early!

Here's the official announcement - hope to see you there:

U-Pick at B & G Blueberries (2014)


Picking times are 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM. NORMAL SEASON (Best crop in years!) – June 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, July 5 and maybe 12.  ($2.50 per lb.). Check our answering machine for any changes to these dates.

We are downsizing our Blueberry Nursery and will be offering great prices on 3 gal Southern High Bush plants. (Call for details). We also sell fertilizer & pine bark. (Pre-picked Blueberries – Call for details.)

From Silver Springs go east on SR40 to CR 315. Go left 5 ½ miles to NE 100 St. Go left and follow the Blueberry signs ¼ miles to B & G Blueberries.
Please call us at 352-236-4410, or Email us at WDH47@embarqnail.com  if you have any questions.

The Halls – Bill, Gail, Danny, Dorothy, Justin, Micah, Rebekah,  Ben, Jason, Robin, Savannah and Emmalee – B & G Blueberries.

READ WHAT'S NEW AT B&G Blueberries 

David Goodman, author, gardening expert and creator of the daily Florida gardening resource www.floridasurvivalgardening.com, will be joining us to answer gardening questions. He'll also be bringing plenty of easy-to-grow Florida fruit trees and perennial vegetables from his edible plant nursery. Sweet persimmons! Abundant pears! Delicious gingers! Great prices and great plants, plus you get to meet David in person. Be sure to say hi and learn how easy Florida gardening can be.

326 Community Market - CANCELED!

Oh well. After I posted this morning's announcement, I got another notice on the Market:

"Sorry to have to make the decision, BUT we have decided NOT to have the market today, the storms have been hitting hard here this past week and since we had a huge limb just come down in the middle of the market, we thought it best to be safe than sorry! Thanks for your understanding and we will see you next week!!"

I'll be back next week, weather permitting.

-David

Labels:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Make A Solitary Bee House (That Also Attracts GOOD Wasps!)

BeeHouseSo you’ve planted an orchard.

Or a food forest.

Or a garden.
You may have added irrigation, planned in some nice cover crops or perhaps picked up a metric donkeyload of mulch along the way.
Things are getting ready to grow. But are you ready for the next steps? Fertilization, water, pruning, weeding are hard to “outsource,” but two other areas of gardening are easier to manage than you might think.
Which two areas? Pollination and pest control.
Let’s take a look… and then I’ll share how to make a solitary bee house that will staff your garden with lots of free laborers.

Pollination

Pollination is BIG business. Did you realize that many millions of dollars are spent moving honeybee hives around the country from field to field every year? Sometimes, the bees are imported from Australia, sent to the fields in boxes, then left to die off after their pollination work is through. That kind of extravagance (and sheer cruel wastefulness) requires big bucks.
Unfortunately, the honey bee populations across the US are in decline, hence the importing from Australia. Whether it be a build-up in toxins, the genetic modification of plants to include substances harmful to bees, the shrouding of the ancient ley lines by cellular towers or perhaps the “beeginning” of the Apocalypse, honeybees are in trouble. For years they’ve been a primary pollinator of many of our favorite crops. Without bees we wouldn’t have almonds. Or zucchini. Though I could handle losing the latter.
Thanks to the drop-off in honeybee populations, farmers and gardeners have started looking to alternate sources for pollinators.
Sometimes we tend to think of bees as basically falling into two categories: honeybees and bumblebees (people with wooden houses may also chime in “carpenter bees” at this point); however, there are many thousands of varieties of bee, many of which are excellent pollinators.
Unfortunately, we often inadvertently exclude these hard workers from our yards. Old lumber, dead trees, even stick piles and stands of weed canes left from the previous year… these are where they raise their young. Mason bees are one of the best pollinators you can attract with a bee house. (Don’t worry – I’m getting to the part where I tell you how to make a solitary bee house. Patience!)

Pest Control

Did you realize that many wasps and some bees are avid hunters of pests?
Just yesterday my wife pointed out a wasp crawling into the side of one of my hot tub ponds in the backyard. There’s a space there that used to contain piping. Now it contains a wasp nest. The reason my wife pointed out our stinging friend? It was carrying a gooey green chunk of caterpillar into its nest. All day long, wasps hunt their prey, killing untold thousands of pests. How do we thank them?
Yeah, I know. It’s not fun to be stung. And there are times where it’s prudent to remove a wasp nest. However, nesting wasps with large colonies aren’t the only caterpillar hunters in your yard. There are also solitary wasps which rarely if ever sting people. Some, like mud daubers and potter wasps, build muddy little nests under eaves and in barns, chicken coops and other outbuildings. Others will nest in holes, much like mason bees. The thing is: they stuff those holes with the insects they kill, then lay their eggs on the insect corpses. Their larva feast, then grow up, then go kill insects and lay eggs of their own. Oh yeah.

How To Make a Solitary Bee House

This isn’t rocket science, fortunately, or I wouldn’t be able to do it.
My grandfather was an amazing carpenter and boatbuilder. I am not, yet I can make a house that will attract solitary bees and wasps.
Here’s what you need to make a solitary bee house (which also attracts some solitary wasps):


1. Pieces of dry wood that are at least 6-8″ deep. Chunks of trunk, old, non-pressure treated lumber, even pieces of thick branches can be used. Pieces of bamboo are also good.
2. A selection of long drill bits and a drill. I used bits ranging from 1/4″ to 5/8″.
3. A somewhat dry/sunny place to hang it up.

(CLICK HERE to read the rest over at The Prepper Project. And don't forget to check out my new survival gardening audio course!)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

From the inbox: advice for transplanted Yankees


I received this e-mail over the weekend and asked if I could respond here:


Good morning!  

We’ve been following your blog for a few months, since we decided to move to Florida.  We closed on a home 2 wks ago & will be moving down to (the central Florida coastline) in October from (a really cold state in the Northeast - USDA zone 4).


We are avid gardeners, but because the climate is so different, we are trying to learn what we can plant in the fall (both edible landscape and vegetables). 

We have one grapefruit tree in our front yard.  We have 2 acres & are interested in planting fruit & nut trees. 

We plan to travel up to Ocala for the Thursday farmers market once we settle in & look forward to meeting & talking to you in person; but until then any suggestions would be most welcome.

Thanks very much for your help.

C. & L.


First of all, welcome to Florida - this is a great place to garden. 

When looking at a new property, the first thing I like to do is figure out where my trees will go. Fruit and nut trees are long-term food-producing scaffolding for a homestead.

In the center of the state, I've found that the three easiest trees to grow are mulberries, loquats and Japanese persimmons. After planting those, I'd add in some "sand pears" (Pineapple pear is my favorite variety, though Hood and Flordahome are also good), along with figs. If you want to fiddle around more, add peaches, nectarines and apples. Jujubes are also easy, as are bananas. Another great (and often overlooked) fruit is borne by the pindo palm. It makes the best jelly in the world. Plant multiples of each tree and you'll have redundancy and good pollination for the trees that need it.

Citrus used to be easy but isn't any longer, thanks to the many diseases now in the state, of which citrus greening is the worst. It's good you have a grapefruit but I wouldn't add any more citrus until they figure out how to get the trainwreck-in-progress under control.

I'm not sure if you can pull off chestnuts or pecans in your new location, since it might be too warm in the winter. Call your local agricultural extension and ask them. If you can, I'd add both.

If you're right on the coast, you can add some plants that would be impossible further inland. Starfruit, macadamia nuts, mangoes, jabuticaba and sea grape are all good choices, though they may or may not fly. None of those will do well if temperatures fall below 32F for more than a couple of hours. A south-facing wall could probably support smaller trees, however. I'd try growing a starfruit like I grow my Key Lime tree here.

For root crops, forget about some of the more Northern staples. You can grow some of them in the winter and spring, but they'll be nothing like you'd get back home. Instead, think about growing exciting new crops like cassava, true yams, malanga, boniato, arrowroot (Grower Jim carries it), yacon, ginger and sweet potatoes.

Trust me - you'll barely miss the old roots once you try real yams or a rich, nutty malanga.

For berries and small fruit there are some great options. Improved varieties of Surinam cherries (I carry them in my nursery) are easy to grow. Cattley guava is wonderful. Southern highbush blueberries are pretty easy if you get the pH right at the beginning. You can also grow the interesting (and tasty) Simpson Stopper bush. It's a native with good fruit. Mulberries are also really easy, though they're a tree. Strawberries are possible but will disappoint you here. I don't think they're worth the effort. Mysore raspberries are a very good tropical cane fruit that's quite productive, though rather spiny. Passionfruit is another great crop and will cover a fence nicely.

As for other crops, consider growing some muscadine grapes. The grapes you find at your local Home Depot/Lowe's are not likely to thrive in the middle of the state... even though they sell them anyways. The diseases wipe them out - but muscadines can take all kinds of abuse, plus they make nice large grapes.

For greens and vegetables, consider growing malabar spinach, Okinawa spinach, snake beans, edible-leafed hibiscus, katuk, moringa, Florida cranberry, ivy gourd, Ethiopian kale, collards, longevity spinach, oxalis (spp), chaya and amaranth. They'll take the heat and keep on cooking and the perennials will grow for for years. You can also grow some pretty decent broccoli in the winter. Mustard also does well.

It's nice to have mild winters.

If you add a pond, you can also grow some very good plants like water celery, Chinese water chestnuts, duck potatoes, kang kong, water mimosa and taro. Highly productive, plus you don't have to water them!

Finally, take pictures before you start planting - it would be great to see some before-and-after shots. You're going to have an amazing time gardening down here. It will be frustrating, exciting, rewarding and delicious all at the same time. 

I hope to meet you in person soon.

All the best,

David 

Labels: ,

<data:blog.pageTitle/>

This Page

has moved to a new address:

http://www.thesurvivalgardener.com

Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service