Tightwad Gardening and Landscaping
Times are tough for lots of folks these days, plus many are trying to break their dependence on fiat currency, endless debt, store bought corporate-produced food, and soul-draining jobs. But if one is not careful, starting a food garden to “save money” can quickly result in a tomato that has $47 in hidden costs (just an exaggeration but you get my point). Plus one can spend a fortune on basic landscape and yard care supplies. But a lifetime of pathological frugality has taught me MANY ways to grow organic produce for VERY close to free, and to spruce up a tired landscape for next to nothing with free mulches and soil foods, plus low cost edgings, bird baths and more. I will use my back yard as a classroom to teach these tightwad techniques and ideas, plus I will have a handout listing many freebies to be had from our wasteful culture. My free range chickens may walk in and out of the “classroom”. I have some cool garden-related dumpster treasures to share too. I learned a lot of cool things during the 19 years I ran my organic landscaping business here and in Denver, "THE GARDEN DOCTOR". The class will be held here, 3212 West Paxton Avenue, Tampa FL 33611 (813 839 0881) on May 30th from 11 AM until 1 PM. To get you in the spirit of “tightwad gardening” I will have free seeds and cuttings. You can park on the mulched area hugging the street, behind my white Dodge Caravan, or across the street where the white picket fence is, or the yard east of me on my side of Paxton. The cost is $20 per student. This class should very quickly begin paying for itself many times over so you can pay down debt and save up for a rainy day AND end up with a lush and productive landscape and gardens.Happy Gardening! John Starnes
Basic of Food Self Sufficiency Urban Farmsteading
There is wonderful security and satisfaction in being able to prepare many of our meals from abundant gardens around our homes. Imagine FRESH omelets and meat from a backyard henhouse, or expensive "exotic" crops such as arugula, Barbados Cherry, cassava, chaya, papaya, many herbs and staple crops for Thai and other ethnic cuisines fresh your own yard. But where to start if you have a "normal" yard of high maintenance lawn and ornamental shrubs? Organic landscape consultant and garden writer John Starnes (St. Pete Times, Fine Gardening, Florida Gardening) shows how to make the transition in stages based on your time, temperament, budget and goals, using his jungly south Tampa "urban farm" as the classroom.Learn the ease of "sheet composting" vs. buying an expensive compost bin, using household graywater to nourish your crops and cut your water bill, cheap and easy organic pest control, plus a very effective, low-labor method for killing lawn areas in place and turning them into productive gardens. You will receive a detailed class handout, but be sure to bring a notepad and pen, and, if you wish, a camera, as people tell me that my classes are very information dense.I will be teaching this class twice more in May, on the 2nd and the16th, from 11 AM until 1 PM, from 11 AM until 1 PM followed by a 30 minute Q & A session. The cost is $20 per person. My address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa 33611, which about 6 blocks south of Gandy and 1 1/2 blocks west of MacDill Avenue. I hope to help folks eager to transform their yards into sources of sustenance, personal independence, and spiritual satisfaction.Come see how little the freeze affected my food supply, and enjoy fresh raw nibbles as we walk amongst the free range chickens. John
Water Wise Container Gardening
We have here in central Florida been blessed with a damp cold El Nino winter after easily 20 years of dry winters....so to me, all that moisture compensates for the extensive freeze damage. Hopefully, we are all making wise water use a central focus in our lives as Florida's population continues to boom. But the dry spring heat is back. I've invented an alternative method of making home made container gardens that grows food and flower crops well with much less water, and that can be made for free to just $10. As a result, despite my yard being an urban farm, my June 2009 water use bill was just $1.35! This class teaches you how to make your own from free recycled plastic containers, how to create a great soil mix for it, and easy ways to maintain and sustain yours using cheap and/or dumpster-dived supplies. This simple design avoids the problems that many have experienced with others often described as "self watering containers" and that can cost $100. You'll see several of mine in differing styles and stages of growth to help you decide what works best for you and your space and budget. This class also covers veggie gardening basics in central Florida, and so would be a great choice for northern transplants who feel that Florida gardening is either impossible or difficult at best. My first veggie garden here was in 1967, so I can pass on practical, time-tested techniques.I love how my Water Wise Container Gardens use VERY little water vs. my growing the same crops, including my beloved Old Roses, in my in-ground gardens. Growing food crops in this manner can also allow a gardener to avoid using Tampa's and St. Pete's reclaimed water that has caused severe difficulties for many folks due to the very high levels of salts and chlorides. Plus one is not supposed to eat raw veggies grown with reclaimed water, which rules out growing fresh salads and herbs from one's own garden! Special attention will be paid to the very common problem of nitrogen deficiency often encountered in container gardening whether one makes one's own soil as I do, or purchases it in bulk or bagged. You will get two packs of very hard to get vegetable seeds that will thrive all summer long in your Water Wise Container Gardens. The cost of the class is $20 per person. This class has been very well received, so I am teaching it again on May 8th then again May 15, from 11 AM until 1 PM, with a 30 minute Q & A session following. My address is 3212 West Paxton Avenue, Tampa FL 33611. Phone is 813 839 0881, e-mail is JohnAStarnes@msn.com. RSVP is not required but helpful in my planning each class. Come learn how to grow your own organic produce for a fraction of what you pay in the stores while slashing your water use and bill and avoiding the toxic-to-plants reclaimed water. I've been asked several times to offer classes on weekdays, so I am offering this class also on Wednesday the 5th, from 6 to 8 PM.Happy Gardening! John Starnes
Basic of Cheap and Easy Home Poultry Raising
Many folks these days are considering, or have followed through on, pursuing a long time desire to raise backyard chickens for fresh eggs or even meat they know the origins of. But if one does not know some key basic data, enthusiasm can result in great needless expense, losses to racoons, and a long-imagined "fun" hobby offering frustration instead of omelets and humane lives (and deaths) for the birds. This class covers how to make a predator-proof hen house cheaply or even for free, how to feed chickens cheaply or even for free (chicken scratch from a feedstore surprises people with its cost), preventing disease without using antibiotics, hatching fertile eggs for free chickens, insuring a quality life for your birds, and how children can help easily while learning where food REALLY comes from......children 12 and under can attend this class for free. I have been asked to teach this class again, so I am twice in May, on the 9th and again on the 29th, from 11 AM until 1 PM, with a 30 minute Q & A session after. My address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue, Tampa FL 33611, about 6 blocks south of Gandy and 1 1/2 blocks west of MacDill, jungly yard on the south side. The cost is $20 per student.
Please bring a note pad and pen as we will cover many points. You will receive a pack of winter greens seeds to sow next fall to provide raw green plant matter VITAL to having healthy chickens. 813 839 0881 to RSVP. See you then! John
Hot Weather Loving Crops for the Summer Veggie Garden
There is an unfortunate, widespread myth that summers are too hot, muggy and buggy in Florida to grow a successful organic garden here, but nothing could be further from the truth. Healthy soil and choosing subtropical and tropical crops that LOVE the heat is the key to fresh abundance from your yard for that long hot half of the year when so many folks let their gardens go barren and weedy.
In this class you will receive a handout with a long list of heat-loving crops, plus I will give you seeds of two kinds that utterly thrive each summer here. Be sure to bring a pad and pen as folks tell me my classes are information-dense. Growing these summer crops organically is easy in good soil and full sun, as very few pests attack them, but we will cover those few possible problems and how to deal with them cheaply and without using poisons. The class will be offered twice in May, on the 1st and the 22nd. The cost is $20 per student, and my address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611 813 839 0881 JohnAStarnes @msn.com
RSVP is helpful in my planning how to best teach this class. Just think....as your winter garden fizzles out each spring, you can phase in six more months of productivity with a whole new range of tastes, textures and nutrition! See you then. John