Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ceviche Recipe

My gardening and fishing friend Pat catches big fish out in the Gulf and he and his buddies are not fond of amberjack so recently gave me three BIG ones. He offered more today but I declined as the freezers are full (!!!). But I just now looked up this recipe as I DO have room in my fridge....I should have said "YES!". This sounds yummy though I will likely substitute Myer's Lemon juice for the grapefruit juice. Happy New Year!

http://www.2coolfishing.com/ttmbforum/showthread.php?t=77056

Class Today

Today's class: Probiotic Gardening 101: Creating and sustaining cheaply a complex hence stable community of macro and micro organisms in the vegetable or roses garden to control or prevent disease and pest problems. $20 per student, 11 AM until 1 PM. There is a good handout but bring a notepad and pen as this is an information-dense class. 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rain approaching from the Gulf


I hope it is a soaker for both my garden plants and containerized ones, plus it could set me up for new sowings of winter brassicas not currently growing. The south end rain barrel is empty so the dinghy boat cover is back on top, held in place with a heavy brick, to act as a funnel....I've been spoiled by having water way back by the south fence. The dinghy itself is my moveable duck pond, and both were scavenged road side a few years back. The barrels come from my friend Tim and his beverage business. Free is good!

Monday, December 26, 2011

This is such a cool practice!

Since the late 1980s I've been tossing rhizomes of native aquatic irises into retention ponds in Tampa and in the rivers in the Rockies west of Denver, so I applaud BIG time this innovative form of guerilla gardening! Wonderfully innovative yet frugal.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103129515

Love Wasabi As I Do?

Grow these cool season "Face Blaster" mustards in fall through spring in central Florida, spring and summer in colder climates. Cooked they are mild and tender, but shove a whole raw leaf into your mouth and chew and say goodbye to your sinuses! Great for head colds. In Denver the neighborhood kids would ring my doorbell each summer to ask for leaves of "face blaster" so they could play chicken...see who could eat the biggest piece and NOT blow it out of their little red faces!

http://sustainableseedco.com/Green-Wave-Mustard-Seed.html


http://www.evergreenseeds.com/musjapredgia.html

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Today I had six eager-to-learn students attend my class on 'Water Wise Container Gardening' during which we addressed key basics of successful organic gardening in central Florida. They liked it so much they applauded at the end! Thanks for coming folks.  John

The Shift

http://www.theshiftmovie.com/

Down on the farm....

Yesterday I began pressing my second pound of raw cheese made from dairy kefir grains though I salted the curds of this batch before pouring them into the corner of a pillowcase now topped by a gym weight. In the front yard I finally reached the west fence bed LONG consumed by weeds and two MUCH too aggressive flowering vines, Ipomoea acuminata and Pandorea vine. Both are beautiful but put kudzu to shame.....I regret having planted them! But it is a delight to have my two rambling roses there, 'Leontine Gervais' and 'Seagull', largely uncovered as I paint the concrete edgings a fresh bright white. Two days ago I gave that long narrow bed a DEEP watering, its first in easily two years, so I expect to see both roses leap happily into vigorous growth. Next I put more roses into 5 and 7 gallon buckets turned into Water Wise Container Gardens....Mary Jo gave me an electric drill so that will speed up progress vs. borrowing my neighbor's drill now and then. Then each gets buried. I am pretty sure I am going to bury the 'Hansa' bucket on the south side of 'Marechal Niel' for contrast.

My friend :Pat gave me some sand perches he caught plus the carcasses of the large fish he filleted.....this morning I offered them to the Muscovy ducks since they are such omnivores....if they refuse them they go into one of the two new 55 gallon compost barrels now almost full.

 It looks like I have 6 students attending today's class on 'Water Wise Container Gardening' so I need to spruce up the back porch after Cracker dug a hole next to the path and scattered dirt EVERYWHERE!

Slight overcast so I expect my solar shower today might be a bit chilly! So that soon-to-be hot turkey barley soup will be appreciated. After class I must pot up many seedlings include Purple Lemon Mint, allium fistulosum and "Filipino Mexican Tree Pepper", then I'll start seed trays of two types of primrose (Oenethera) I grew in Denver to see if they can adapt to here. I especially hope the Showy Primrose grows.

Pickings at the restaurant have been slim the last few days and the poultry flocks are hungry...here's hoping that I come home today with a full bucket of scraps AND that I get a big haul at the pizza buffet as I've fed them nearly all of the too-strong-to-eat arugula that self sowed in the heat!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Batch Of Cheese From Milk Kefir Grains

As with the first, I am skipping the usual heating to 130 degrees in salted water as I wish to preserve the beneficial microbes, but I AM working in a few spoons of fine sea salt before pressing a day or so. John

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Down on the farm today....

Late yesterday I drained the last of the old duck water from the dinghy boat onto my Persian lime, then moved it into the main center bed where most of the Muscovy ducks live. I filled it with the hose and today BOY did I have some happy ducks, especially the females! I shot a video and plan on posting it soon. Just as I'd read before getting Muscovies, they are very inclined to foul their own water, drinking OR swimming. So I placed the dinghy close to where I can bail the nutrient-laden water onto a new Moringa tree and a Dwarf Cavendish banana from Jon and Debbie Butts I will be planting in a buried 55 gallon Water Wise Container Garden.

After weeks of eggs being laid randomly within the large pen the other ducks are confined in (they won't let me catch them to move them into the semi-free range area), one female has at last made an egg-filled nest of her breast feathers inside the large plastic igloo-style dog house I scavenged years ago and built the duck pen around. I have a high ratio of male ducks and since they are starting to clash AND might kill the ducklings when they hatch in a month I really need to "man up" and do my first of several needed male duck slaughters to roast and freeze. I suspect that they will very likely attack the ducklings.

Today out front I began pulling perennial morning glory (Ipomoea acuminata) from the west bed.....which means I am closing in on the finish line of reclaiming my yard from years of drought, and being CONSUMED by the giant rose 'Mermaid'. Once THOSE concrete edgings are exposed, guess who is painting them white?! I was delighted to see that the Wichuraiana Rambler 'Leontine Gervais' had in fact survived that two year hell and was today sending out a nice basal shoot. I am giving that whole west bed a DEEP watering, its first in easily two years, then a deep feeding of home made fish emulsion and chicken poop tea.  I love the color and form of 'Leontine Gervais' but for some reason it affects my roses allergy very quickly and potently, usually minutes after I foolishly take a hit of its delightful perfume.

Oddly, despite the date, I am getting 3-4 eggs daily from 9 hens vs. the usual winter shut down. Today when I got the kitchen scraps from Artifacts Restaurant a few blocks from here, their bartender Kristen told me she LOVED the eggs I gave her, her first ever fresh, free range eggs. She was amazed by the differences.

Anyone who knows me will confirm that my genes lack the "tidy chromosome" that most gay men seem to have...invariably I'd rather create than clean. And it shows! Pretty scary I gather. So....I am taking the advice of folks who've suggested that I barter my classes/eggs/plants for house cleaning with folks who actually enjoy house cleaning. I tend to live in my mind and the projects I joyfully nurture there, so trading my skills with people who take tidiness for granted seems like a cool solution. I can only imagine what a 2 hour cleaning of my gnarly kitchen traded for one of my two hour classes would result in!

If you like wasabi with your sushi, and live in central or south Florida, now is a great time to sow the seeds of what my friends and I call "face blaster" mustards. Eaten raw, they duplicate that food masochism bliss of wasabi when it feels like your sinuses and nose will just fucking explode...then it shuts off with no lingering heat as with hot peppers. 'Green Wave', 'Osaka Purple' and 'Giant Red' are ones I love. Interestingly they lose ALL heat when cooked and become mild in stir fry or soups.

John

I've done this on a very small scale for years but in pits...did not know it had a name.

http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/

Urban Foraging

Wonderfully ripe sea grapes at Picnic Island Beach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li7-8Fn7nR4&list=UUF2ipf7C4MXZdkOild9DOcA&index=1&feature=plcp

Chicken Grit and Beach Fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKqcOpwVMOU&feature=bf_prev&list=UUF2ipf7C4MXZdkOild9DOcA&lf=plcp

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Classes This Weekend

Classes this weekend here: Urban Farmsteading 101 Saturday and Basics of Successful Organic Veggies and Herbs Gardening on Sunday, $20 per person, 11 AM until 1 PM, 2 packs of unusual free seeds, handouts for each but DO bring a notebook and pen. 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611 813 839 0881 with questions or to RSVP.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dairy Kefir Grains

I am using my first ever batch to make cheese vs. drink after doing a 3 day ferment that gave me VERY firm curds. I've saved starter to share with friends...thanks Pat for my starter! I am psyched by the flavor and texture and ESPECIALLY the incredible number of beneficial microbes vs. the 12 in my usual bacterial starter! Special thanks to Dianne for turning me on to the concept.  Phukinay!  John

http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-grains-composition-bacteria-yeast

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I've Been Peeing On My Soil For Twenty Years To Feed It AND Save VAST Amounts Of Water

Why flush?

http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/gardening/605742/urine_the_ultimate_organic_fertiliser.html

Free Nesting Material For My Chickens and Ducks

Here is a fraction of the "wood wool"  I dumpster dived a few weeks ago from shipping crates next to a dumpster. The birds love it and quickly made nests of it....far easier for them to work with the long pine needles I usually give them. Free is good!

A gorgeous hawk in my neighbor's yard


It's been years since I lost a hen to a hawk due to my rebars with blue bottles blocking their dive paths.

Occupy Flash Mob!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXISGHLT0Og

Macro Photos of Plants

 Camellia
 Grapefruit
 Mermaid rose
 Beauty Berry
Wood Violet Louisiana Iris
    "The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion.  He hardly knows which is which.  He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.  To him he is always doing both."       -- James Michener   

Fluoride IS Dangerous To Our Health

I supplement with iodine to in part displace fluoride in my tissues, filter my drinking water, shower with rainwater and will now seek out fluoride-free toothpastes or make my own.

http://www.naturalnews.com/034399_fluoride_brain_damage_water_supply.html

Pickled Fish Recipe

I've smoked mullets, and boiled/salted/dried many hundreds of greenbacks, so would like to try this recipe the next time I get a good haul of cast netted mullets. I suspect it would also make nice pickled eggs, which I have not made in quite a while.

http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0%2c1617%2c153174-227196%2c00.html

Papalo Seeds For Sale

Thrives in summer and considered a hot weather substitute for cilantro though the flavor can be said to have a touch of arugula and oregano. VERY easy from seeds year round in Tampa though grows best in spring and summer. A summer crop in colder climates. One pinch of fluff is approx. 50 seeds: $2 plus a self addressed stamped envelope mailed to: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611 Thanks!


http://www.fireflyforest.com/flowers/3167/porophyllum-ruderale-yerba-porosa/

This is so inspiring!

http://wakeup-world.com/2011/12/14/a-deliciously-resourceful-town-aims-for-total-food-self-sufficiency-within-7-years/

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Avatar trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRdxXPV9GNQ

Universe Wish List

To aid in the evolution and maintenance of my urban farm in south Tampa, I'd love to trade plants, eggs, art or my gardening classes for these items:

1. Rhode Island Red chicks
2. A washing machine
3. A new back wood back door measuring 27.5 X 74 inches or slightly larger to allow for trimming
4. Some potent 420
5. A clump of dwarf yellow canna rhizomes
6. Bulk frozen mullet roe
7. Raw local cow milk
8. A sparkly sequin gown to use to make a throw pillow for my Space Couch
9. Some potent 420.......
10.Glass blocks
11.A lot of red clay house bricks to finish up my driveway
12. Local raw honey

Thank you!  John

Mega-Arugula

Oddly, late this spring a LOT of fallen arugula seeds from the winter crop germinated in a front rose bed and is STILL growing very vigorously. BUT...even though I have a bitter palate and love arugula, this crop is SO in-your-face I can eat only small nibbles before going into bitter-overload. So I am going to begin pulling it to feed to the chickens and ducks so I can train the roses in there it has been competing with. I have not grown lettuce in years so might grow 'Paris Cos' romaine plus winter annual flowers in that bed. John

Simply UNbelievable!

Occupy Your Yard!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3keUTEwev-o&feature=share

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rocket Stove Update

I fired it up a third time today to heat up some turkey soup on this chilly. It was very smoky at first but then I learned that freeze-killed Bolivian Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) stalks from last winter were great tinder and fuel as they helped to ignite wood scraps. I have two OLD pallets out front hidden behind a giant rose...I will move them to the red brick fire pit patio out back and break them up to make LOTS of fuel for future uses of the Rocket Stove. Shower water now heating in the solar dish.... I love my urban farm! Attached is a video of the second run of the stove, and a pic of my solar heating dish making 4 gallons of CHEAP home made laundry soap. Today the top two bricks lay on their sides, and atop them was a steel rack from a small roasting pan to better support the soup pot. John


http://www.youtube.com/user/johnstarnes?feature=mhee#p/u/7/7PYQp74cUP8

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Sunn Hemp' cover crop

Except for my Old Roses, I am usually a food crops man. But I am enamored with the lovely FRAGRANT blooms of this selected form of Crotalaria lutea (?) grown as a soil nitrifier and nematode suppressant. I have just a few plants but anticipate a lot of seeds so I can grow it in masses next year both to improve my soil and for the beauty. A stunning 8 footer out front was snapped in half by winds about 10 days ago. The sweet perfume stuns people! The blooms last for days in a bouquet.  John

Farmers Occupy Wall Street!

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1h10HQ/www.grist.org/food/2011-12-06-farmers-come-to-wall-street

Congrats!

http://suncoastpasco.tbo.com/content/2011/dec/07/PWNEWSO1-backyard-farms/news/

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Blue Pea Vine" Seeds For Sale


Clitoria terneata  ("Blue Pea Vine") is a perennial vine that thrives in summer in Florida. In colder climates it will be a heat-loving summer annual that can be overwintered in a COZY greenhouse. It looks lovely on a mailbox and the blooms, along with yellow and orange nasturtium flowers, are tasty in salads. Three pods (about 6 seeds each) are $3 plus a Self Addressed Stamped  Envelope sent to: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611 About 10% of the seedlings will be the double flowered form.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Due to a family emergency I am cancelling my planned classes this weekend. John

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jesus

My guess is that were he here now he'd be part of OWS, with Fox "News" talking heads making sneering, dismissal, condescending comments about "this Jesus guy". I don't embrace the Christian model of reality due to its long history of large scale violence, and because Hubble has revealed this is a BIG fucking Universe, and I am hardly qualified to claim to know how it works. But if somehow one brand or another of Christianity IS how the Universe works, I suspect that a vast number of self-described Christians, including George Bush, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin and Cain just might be in for a rude awakening after death and meet their "God" since they seem to warmly embrace the Pharisees instead of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Monsters By Monsanto

http://wakeup-world.com/2011/08/28/super-beetle-destroying-entire-monsanto-gm-bt-corn-crops/

Great Presentation On Window Gardening!

http://www.ted.com/talks/britta_riley_a_garden_in_my_apartment.html#.TtY144lr-tQ.facebook
BURT THE BIRD


One morning in early May, 1992, a fierce thunderstorm whipped through my northeast Denver neighborhood as I landscaped a home beside the foothills several miles to the west. That afternoon I returned to see that my yard, the streets, the whole neighborhood, was rain-soaked and littered with wind blown twigs and green leaves torn from trees. Two grackles paced nervously side by side on my roof, squawking hysterically. Moments later I found two dead baby birds (mauled by a cat, likely mine) on the ground below my cedar tree where a week before a friend had pointed out a nestful of cheeping hatchlings near the pinnacle.

But from directly below where the parent birds made such a fuss, in a flower garden, came the frantic “cheeps” of a survivor. There, huddled between red poppies and purple iris, was a soaked, shivering, sorry-looking baby grackle. I took him inside, and quickly rigged up an incubator using a clear plastic bulk food bin from a grocery store dumpster, a soft towel, and a 40 watt bulb in a reading lamp. Soon his feathers were dry and fluffy and he no longer shivered, nestled in the towel and basking in the warmth. I named him “Burt, the Bird”.

Since re-arriving in Denver two weeks before, I had been barely functioning, on automatic pilot, nearly paralyzed by shock and grief over the violent suicide of my old friend Renee’ Ashley, which occurred as I migrated back from Tampa and learned of less than an hour after unlocking my dormant house. But Burt was simply too hungry too often for me to slip further into numbing grief as I struggled to devise a diet for him. I’d always heard that feeding orphaned birds a food slurry with an eyedropper can get it into their tiny lungs, leading to fatal pneumonia.

So I soaked little pellets of dry dog food in a weak solution of warm water and liquid baby vitamins until they softened and swelled. When I offered them to this tiny but incredibly loud baby bird he sucked them up like a black hole, making a hilarious gurgling sound as he continued to scream through a throat full of wet nuggets! Each feeding he’d wolf down seven or eight of them till his neck filled up, and wash them down with an eyedropper full of baby vitamin water, then quickly fall asleep in the warm glow of the bulb or in my hands. An hour later his screams for more food would echo through the house once again, and I’d obey. Umpteen times a day Burt screamed and I fed him. It became a Pavlovian response for me, even when dead asleep. I had instantly fallen in love with this infant eating machine. And Sergeant, “The World’s Best Dog”, didn’t seem jealous, only curious.

Burt grew like something in a 50’s sci-fi movie, and soon his fuzzy baby feathers fell out as wave after wave of flight feathers emerged from his translucent grayish-pink skin. All this growth and change was fueled by vast amounts of watermelon, slugs, raw corn-on-the-cob, peeled grapes, cereal, oatmeal (cooked or dry), raw beans, citrus, bananas, cherries, cottage cheese, and his favorite.....some of Sergeant’s ‘Prime Cuts’ canned dog food. Like me, he was a voracious garbage gut!

Burt had bonded to me on day one, always wanting to be with me, perched on my head (and pooping indiscriminately) as I typed, washed dishes or worked in my gardens. We were buddies. If he was elsewhere in the yard or house and I called out his name, he would invariably answer me with a loud singular chirp. One heartbreaking day though, as he sat drying on a tall squash trellis after a dip in the bird bath, he fell about four feet as I gardened beside him and landed skull first on the corner of a pane of glass at the back of the henhouse. Already filled with horror and sadness over Renee’s death, I saw him bounce sickeningly to the ground, legs painfully stiffening, eyes closed then he lay motionless. I felt guilty for putting him up there too wet too glide, certain he was dead.

But he was still breathing! So I put him on the hay on the floor of his little sunning cage atop the hen house, begging him not to die, my eyes filling up, a big lump in my throat, pretty well maxxed-out with negative life events. I stayed with him, softly calling out his name, watching his breathing. Soon he sat up, head waggling dizzily and unable to stand without falling over. But within the hour he was almost back to normal and screaming for food. Whew!

All that summer most mornings began with taking Burt, perched on my index finger, out to my neighbor’s expansive lawn (vs. my token 10 foot oval of it) for daily flying lessons as I sipped my coffee. I’d launch him with a gentle swing of my hand, but he just controlled his descent. As he got better I’d give him a softball-style underhand toss, and he’d “fly” maybe fifteen or twenty feet. By midsummer Burt was still a poor flyer as dozens of young grackles flew over the house daily. His now nearly adult feathers were a gorgeous shiny gray-black with an iridescent overlay of indigo and violet but the tips of his wing and tail feathers had frayed a little due to rubbing against the bars of his bird cage made vital by my and other cats who’d approach him hungrily. I wondered if he would ever be able to leave home to be with other grackles, even though I’d nearly weaned him from hand feeding by showing him how to catch pill bugs, earthworms, crickets and slugs, and by offering him assorted dry grains and seeds.

Tragedy struck Burt once again one morning during a flying lesson, when he landed on the heat-retaining compost berm on the north side of my house where he spotted and gobbled down a wild mushroom. The next morning the inside of his mouth was a sickly gray, his saliva was gummy, his golden eyes very dilated and his movements slow and jerky. So I gave him fresh water continuously from the eyedropper he had outgrown a few weeks prior to flush him out. He would not eat and seemed very spaced out. Was he tripping? If so it was clearly a bad trip. The next morning he was okay but bonded to me even more, downright affectionate, like a tame parrot. I asked him to recall this lesson about mushrooms when he was off in the wilds as a free bird someday.

A few weeks later, during a practice flight, he proudly surprised me by leaping off my finger and flying straight across my yard and the next two neighbors’ yards in a long, strong but very low flight. But panic filled me as he crossed Ruth’s yard when one of her cats leapt off the front porch and nabbed him in mid-flight with its front paws, pulling him screaming to the ground. Like an hysterical parent I shot forward bellowing my lungs out at the damned feline who was so freaked by the sight of a deranged and angry maniac bolting his way that he released Burt before biting him and fled into the bushes. Walking back to my yard with my heart thumping and Burt perched on my index finger, I noticed the cat saliva on his wings, relieved that this poor cursed bird had once again cheated fate.

October came, the leaves changed to gold and rust, silvery frost coating my gardens each morning and still Burt the Bird barely flew, never again having repeated his Wright Brotheresque performance. I wondered if he’d be migrating to Florida soon but in my truck with Sergeant and Lovely (the World’s Fattest Cat) and my chickens. Suddenly though he was decidedly untame, pecking at my offered finger instead of jumping onto it as usual. One sunny autumn morning, as thousands of grackles oddly swarmed into the tall trees in my neighborhood, their voices filling the air, I coaxed Burt onto my finger and took him out of his big back yard sleeping cage (big to reduce the fraying of his feather tips) for yet one more disappointing practice flight, knowing that winter was closing in. Suddenly he shot up at a forty five degree angle and landed in the dead fifteen foot tall pollarded elm beside my raspberry patch. Convinced it was a fluke he had for the first time ever gained altitude, I climbed up to rescue him once more. With my outstretched hand just inches from him, Burt burst away in a beautiful arcing upward flight to the big apple tree half a block away!

Back on the ground I was filled with conflicting emotions.....pride, joy, relief, uncertainty and a touch of sadness that this might at last be the goodbye I’d hoped for and worked towards all summer. I never wanted Burt to be a pet, just a mature and healthy wild grackle. Parental concern drew me to the apple tree filled with grackles feasting on the red ripe fruits, and I spotted him due to his frayed feather tips right where he’d landed. I called out his name, and as usual he answered back. Without warning there was an explosion of grackles from that tree and towards a distant elm. Grinning and misty-eyed, I spotted one grackle flying lower and slower than the rest of the flock, but damn, he was keeping up!

Back home I read that grackles migrate south each winter too in large gregarious flocks, ending my fears of his freezing to death in Denver, hungry and alone. And all that winter in Florida, whenever grackles flew over making that oh-so-familiar call, I’d check first (usually) to see if anyone was looking then call out “Burt!”, entertaining the fantasy that one would break away from the flock and descend to land in front of me, screaming for ‘Prime Cuts’ and slugs.

I still occasionally wonder where he is, if he is, thankful for the chance to have first saved him then grown to know him. And while I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic God running a cosmic show, I still can’t help but to see Burt as a gift of light and life at a time I was nearly completely filled with pain and darkness. While I will always miss Renee’, Burt’s golden shining eyes reminded me all that sad summer following her death of Life and Love and Innocence.

If that is not a priceless gift, what is?

Free Hose Guards

My wonderful long time neighbors Jerry and Heather foreclosed on their home, and periodically leave  by the curb piles of stuff for scroungers and the garbage man. They recently tossed out these curtain rods, which I scarfed up and stuck into the soil at the corners of a few gardens to act as attractive, effective, FREE hose guards as my front yard evolves toward tidiness and extremely low water use despite many organically grown roses steadily being planted.

Where there was once a GIANT 'Mermaid' rose and a sea of Bidens and Ipomoea acuminata.....


The revamp of my front yard based on own root roses growing in buried 5-7 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens interplanted with various perennials, papayas, annuals and Louisiana Iris in buried 4 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens is progressing nicely!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My wonderful dog Cracker this morning

When I got him last February he was skin and bones, TERRIFIED of car rides and my stepping outside even  for a second, already having been dumped by three female households....he is now ALMOST over his issue with women. He is incredibly affectionate, giving me easily 300 kisses daily! He likes to CHASE the chickens briefly but never hurts them, and while he was initially very jealous of the cats, meanly so at times, he now accepts them after my yelling at him after a few brutal actions on his part to my 14 year old Angel. He is great with Dad's dogs too and behaves well in hospitals when we visit him. He FINALLY got a permanent home he can trust, and I got ME after a wonderful dog 9 months after Sweety died at 14.  John

An article from my weekly column in The St. Pete Times years ago

POND PEACE
Who can resist the cool allure of a healthy fishpond sparkling in a lush garden? We are drawn to touch the shimmering surface on a hot day and be soothed by the silent movements of golden fish, our hearts stirred by the heady perfumes of water lilies. But so many of us try and end up with nasty green algae, foul smelling water and dead fish despite the expense and hassle of expensive pumps and filters and medications and changing the water over and over...what gives?

Whether your pond is a butyl rubber liner, a vinyl shell or concrete, fill it with fresh water from your garden hose...don’t use softened or recycled water as it is high in salt. Cover the bottom with 2 inches of rinsed pea gravel to harbor plant roots and crucial water purifying microorganisms. Let the water age for 3-5 days to eliminate chlorine and other additives. Sprinkle on the water a couple handfuls of ‘Sunniland Palm 8-6-6' fertilizer to insure ample nutrients for your water plants. Then add a cup or two of the beneficial bacteria and enzymes sold at most aquarium stores, like ‘PondZyme’, as they are remarkably effective at digesting the wastes that foul so many ponds. Skipping this last step to save money is a false economy....trust me!

Then buy a few bundles of the native warm water plant “ Hot Water Cabomba”, also called Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana) and anchor them to the bottom of your pond with chunks of limestone rock.(The limestone helps keep the water non-acidic plus leaches out calcium vital to the water plants, snails and fish). This plant is not only beautiful but an amazingly effective living water filter! Drop some into an existing fouled pond and in a month you will see a big change in water clarity. I know of no other water plant that so effectively oxygenates pond water too.

Treat yourself to native white water lilies, or those lovely fragrant purple tropical water lilies as their roots will also cleanse the water and the pads offer shade. I use a stone to hold the tuber down in the gravel instead of growing them in submerged pots so the roots can meander through the gravel and absorb wastes directly as a living water filter. Native water plants like blue pickerel weed and those teensy floating duckweed plants add diversity and color while purifying the water and offering shade and food for goldfish. I have found over and over in creating and caring for my clients’ ponds that elaborate filters and chemicals (vs. a simple pump for that soothing water sound) keep the ecology unbalanced by continuously filtering out the nutrients that the water plants need, while killing beneficial organisms that create ecological balance. The water in my front pond is now 6 years old and clear thanks to my water plants and snails.

Let this new pond age for 2 weeks so that the water becomes fully alive and oxygenated. Expect an initial algae bloom as the juvenile ecology gets established and coats the sides with an essential carpet of beautiful green algae your fish will later graze on. Now the fun part...adding the snails and fish! I never use koi as they tend to eat all the plants that are the primary “engines” of a healthy pond ecology. I instead buy goldfish, usually the cheap “feeder” goldfish that are fed live to oscars and other carnivorous fish. Or treat yourself to the fancy fantails and tri-colored goldfish. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they grow into sizable fish! Ordinary brown pond snails from a fish store are considered a nuisance by some indoor aquarium folks but are very effective scavengers of excess fish food and algae and fish poop. DON’T buy those huge ‘Apple Snails’ as they will likely eat every single water plant!

People’s own good hearts are often their pond’s worst enemy....it feels so nurturing to feed the fish daily, but that soon overloads the water with uneaten food that decays and sours the water and kills the fish. Better to let them graze on mosquito and other larvae and on the green algae you want to grow on the sides of your pond as a very effective water cleanser and oxygenator. A trick I learned from a commercial tropical fish farmer in the 80’s is to once a week drop in a few nuggets of dry cat or dog food instead of those expensive fish flakes...as they float and soften they give the fish something to strike and since they are a complete animal food, they act as a vitamin and mineral and protein supplement to the fish’s main diet of algae and larvae. Sounds weird but it’s cheap and it works! Plus pet nuggets seem less inclined to cloud the water.

No need to change the pond water, ever. But to prevent the build up of nutrients just use your watering can to now and then treat all your potted plants indoors and out to a deep drench of that vitally rich pond water. A very slow drip from your garden hose overnight now and then will keep your pond filled during the dry season.

As we get bounced about by life’s rough spots it is nice to come home each day and soothe our eyes and our souls with a cool quiet oasis nestled in our gardens. Treat your self to an easy way the Japanese perfected centuries ago...the natural way to pond peace.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monsanto Extinction

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ_WbItUdYw&feature=email

Gift Certificates For My Classes

I am again offering Gift Certificates for my classes as holiday gifts this year, $20 each, six for $100. Just let me know who is to get one and their address so I can mail them the lovely, rose-scented Victorian style coupon good through this month and all of 2012. Send payment and their name and address to me at: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611

"Bamboo" greenhouse

Very cool!

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/readers-solutions/how-make-bamboo-polytunnel

Frugal Holiday Gifts For Cooks And Gardeners

The tyranny of the holiday season is closing in......Occupy Your Budget and put an end to ratcheting up debt due to cultural pressure to give high-end gifts. This class shows you quite a few ways to make VERY affordable gifts FROM THE HEART for friends and family that love to either cook or garden or both. None take a great deal of time and involve easily gotten "ingredients", some of which you might already have on hand, and most involve skill levels that let children participate in too for school projects. Create a new family holiday tradition...no more slamming hundreds of $$$$ onto credit cards, and instead use your native abilities combined with your love of family and friends to create gifts that will make them think of you often for many months after the holidays have passed. The cost is $20, class date is December 3 from 11 AM until 1 PM at my home: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611. Please call to confirm your intention to attend: 813 839 0881 You will receieve 2 packets of cool seeds you can use to create edible living gifts. Thanks! John Starnes

Water Wise Container Gardening

The winter drought is here and the soil is SO dry. Water is scarce and expensive, so 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! Most months my water use bill is below $10 despite all the food and Old Roses I grow here. My March 2011 water bill was $3.84.

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.

I love how they 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 winter 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 December 24 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 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.

Happy Gardening! John Starnes

Urban Farmsteading: How To Start

There is no security more reassuring than daily harvesting fresh meals from your front and back yard, just feet from the kitchen, even if just potted arugula or snow peas or cherry tomatoes for starters, or a fresh chicken egg or meat. But don't know where and how to start? Learn easy ways to deeply cut your water use, to insure fresh salads and root crops and fruits year round, a super cheap solar shower, and more. You'll get a lesson sheet of 15 topics to be covered; please be sure to bring a notepad and pen. Feel free to shoot pics and video. You will receive two free packets of cool weather veggie seeds, plus instructions on their culture, harvest and use. I've taught this class many times and folks say it it thorough and intense. It addresses a way of life and a mindset vs. being just a gardening class. I am teaching this class again on December 17 from 11 AM until 1 PM, with a 30 minute Question and Answer 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. Please park on my side of Paxton off of neighbors' lawns. The cost is $20 per student. Happy Gardening! 813 839 0881

BASICS OF ORGANIC WINTER VEGGIE AND HERB GARDENING

Autumn and winter are great times to plant the very wide variety of crops that love cool temps and that laugh at frost. I had my first veggie garden here in 1967 when I was in 9th grade at Madison Junior High, and have learned since then core principals and techniques that make winter food gardening in central Florida both pleasant and productive. You may have read my articles in The St. Pete Times and Florida Gardening. Forget pesticides, forget wasting money on plants and seeds and crops that fail, and forget thinking that you have a brown thumb. Learn how to create a fertile garden site that will bless you with fresh pesticide-free produce for the six cooler months of the year. I am teaching this class again on December 18, from 11 AM until 1 PM. 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. Please park on my side of Paxton off of neighbors' lawns. The cost is $20 per student. You will receive two free packets of winter crops seeds. I will provide a handout, but be sure to bring a notepad and pen. See you then! John Starnes 813 839 0881

PROBIOTIC GARDENING 101

Just as 70% of our bodies' immune system is comprised of trillions of beneficial bacteria residing inside us, a healthy organic garden is one that teems with a vast array and number of micro and macro organisms that prevent and control disease and insect problems FOR us while increasing soil fertility. This approach is all-natural, completely organic and is very lost cost. Learn how to work WITH nature to create and sustain a probiotically vibrant garden ecosystem that blesses you with vibrant, pesticide-free fruits, veggies and herbs, even in the summer months. The cost is $20 per student, and the class is on December 31 from 11 AM until 1 PM. Please bring a notepad and pen. My address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue, Tampa 33611 To ask questions or to confirm your attendance, feel free to call me at: 813 839 0881 Thanks, John

Grow Your Own Salad Bar Class

Many folks want more than anything to simply grow a luscious, crisp, pesticide-free salad to enjoy each day. The winter and spring seasons are stellar for the classic salad crops like arugula, chard, romaine lettuce, broccoli, sugar snap peas, scallions, cherry tomatoes and more, plus our hot muggy summers boast their own unique salad crops. This class covers the basic of creating a successful organic salad garden, crops selection and planting them from seeds to cut costs (most are VERY easy from seeds), pest control, proper watering and organic soil feeding. You will quickly recoup the cost of the class in your first dozen harvests of many many dozens to come this winter season. You will get two free packets of unusual seeds for vigorous, mild flavored leafy greens you will never see in the grocery store, and instructions on their easy culture. One nice thing about winter salad gardening here is that, except for the tomatoes, the crops not only are cold hardy they LIKE frosts.....makes them sweeter.


I am teaching this class on December 4 from 11 AM until 1 PM, with a 30 minute Q & A session after. The cost is $20 per student. My address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa 33611 813 839 0881 Please park along the south side of Paxton to spare the lawns of my neighbors on the north side. Thanks.

Why buy pricey little bags of corporate salads when you can grow fresh salads for just pennies a day?

John

Growing Food, Cultivating Freedom and Harvesting Joy

Growing and raising much of your own food can free you from an unsatisfying job and addiction to the New Serfdom of endless debt as a "consumer". Learn three basics of successful gardening in central Florida, see the ease of a few backyard chickens for fresh eggs, plus get two handouts with 30 key techniques, attitude shifts, and resources that can allow us to discover what we REALLY want out of life, how to live it on purpose,  how to live frugally, and ways to shed old, restrictive habits and replace them with pleasurable, expansive ones to create a self-perpetuating positive feedback loop of habitual joy and gratitude. People say my trippy livingroom exemplifies "thinking outside of the box that the box came in" so most of the class will be held in there after we tour my urban farm. I feel that happiness is a choice we can make daily, and that we can create our lives vs. them just happening to us, with productive gardening as the key. This class will be taught again on December 10, from 11 AM until 1 PM here at 3212 West Paxton Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611 813 839 0881 to RSVP. Please park on the south side of Paxton. The cost is $20 per student. Each student will receive 1 free packet of easy-to-grow seeds with instructions on their culture and harvest and use. See you then! John

Backyard Poultry 101

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. I've had chickens on and off since the mid 90s, and can share how to raise happy, healthy, antibiotic-free chickens and eggs VERY frugally. See also the ease of raising Muscovy ducks. I am teaching this well-received class again on December 11, 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. Please park on my side of Paxton off of neighbors' lawns. 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 provide raw green plant matter VITAL to having healthy backyard chickens. 813 839 0881 or e-mail to RSVP. See you then! John Starnes


http://www.johnstarnesurbanfarm.blogspot.com/

Rain On The Way!

Cold front and rain coming soon so I just harvested yet another crop of ripe 'Fife Creek' okra pods and next will sow broccoli seeds in a Baby Pool garden. In anticipation of the rain I yesterday fed many of my roses some old citrus fertilizer Dad had in his shed vs. the usual horse or chicken or duck manure tea/home made fish emulsion as a little treat. Today I finish cleaning out the big limestone fish pond out front, pour in the 5 gallon bucket of limestone pea gravel a swimming pool construction crew gave me last week, then fill it and add nutrients to the water. Then in a week in goes the hot water cabomba then a week later some feeder goldfish. Once the bed around the pond is finished being tidied up and the edgings painted white, I will just have two narrow beds to complete....my new front yard will be orderly, tidy, cheery looking and boasting many own root roses in buried 5-7 gallon Water Wise Container Gardens, with perennials and annuals and papayas scattered about.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Justice is catching up with these two sociopaths who, sadly, killed over one miilion civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan

Yet they get taxpayer funded "socialist" pensions and stellar health care plans vs. being in orange jump suits facing trial for war crimes and treason. But heaven help the American citizen arrested for enjoying/growing the very same cannabis grown and enjoyed by Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson..

http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/03/05/us-usa-politics-vermont-idUSN0454699420080305

Awesome Dumpster Haul!

Yesterday a local discount store threw at least 150 loaves of bread in their dumpster....when I arrived an elderly man on a bicycle was in the dumpster getting some and he called me over to be sure I saw it. I got maybe 70 to feed to my chickens and ducks and left plenty....years ago I was the only person I knew of who dived there but in this poor economy I've seen it help meet the needs of quite a few people, including a very elderly man driving a lovely Lincoln continental. I'm keeping a few of the high fiber multigrain ones for me!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Class This Sunday

Water Wise Container Gardening


Hopefully, we are all making wise water use a central focus in our lives as Florida's population continues to boom. Since drought and watering restrictions have become the norm, 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 November 27 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. Payment in cash, 420 or raw local milk is gladly accepted!

Gift Certificates For My Classes

I am again offering Gift Certificates for my classes as holiday gifts this year, $20 each, 6 for $100. Just let me know who is to get one and their address so I can mail them the lovely, rose-scented Victorian style coupon. Send payment and their name and address to me at: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So much bounty to be thankful for here...

Harvesting and boiling and freezing big bags of Velvet Beans,  daily enjoying tender pods of Vigna unguiculata, oodles of Molokhiya seeds harvested for next summer, vast numbers of huge yam tubers underground all along my fence lines, fifteen (oops, fourteen)  Muscovy ducks and eleven chickens and thus plenty of eggs to eat and share and sell, thriving Bonar in a Baby Pool Garden, various Brassicas in other versions of Water Wise Container Gardens, winter annuals and Old Roses burgeoning and blooming out front as my revamp of the yard there accelerates, over one gallon of home fermented kefir with twelve species of beneficial bacteria bottled and cold in the fridge, three tanks of kombucha brewing away, freezers and cupboards and pantry stocked with food, was given a smidge of superb 420, my dog Cracker has settled happily in here and is literally THE smartest and most overtly loving dog I've ever had, no debt and no mortgage for years now, great health and vibrant sex drive, and daily gratitude for my many blessings.....Thank You Universe!!

Muscovy Ducks for sale: $20

Eight months old, males and females, perfect age and size for the dinner table or to start a flock. Six available. Please bring a dog carrier cage for their transport home.

My Classes This Weekend

Urban Farming For The Beginner


There is no security more reassuring than daily harvesting fresh meals from your front and back yard, just feet from the kitchen, even if just potted arugula or snow peas or cherry tomatoes for starters, or a fresh chicken egg or meat. But don't know where and how to start? Learn easy ways to deeply cut your water use, to insure fresh salads and root crops and fruits year round, a super cheap solar shower, and more. You'll get a lesson sheet of 15 topics to be covered; please be sure to bring a notepad and pen. Feel free to shoot pics and video. You will receive two free packets of cool weather veggie seeds, plus instructions on their culture, harvest and use. I've taught this class many times and folks say it it thorough and intense. It addresses a way of life and a mindset vs. being just a gardening class. I am teaching this class again on November 26 from 11 AM until 1 PM, with a 30 minute Question and Answer 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. Please park on my side of Paxton. The cost is $20 per student. Happy Gardening! 813 839 0881


Water Wise Container Gardening

Hopefully, we are all making wise water use a central focus in our lives as Florida's population continues to boom. Since drought and watering restrictions have become the norm, 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 November 27 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. .Happy Gardening! John Starnes

Duck Liberation

A call from my neighbor Theresa yesterday revealed that one of my two semi-free range female Muscovy ducks had regrown her flight feathers and was in the foreclosed yard next door! I am sure my failed efforts to catch her looked very Three Stooges-esque, then she fled through a hole in the fence.

So who do I see on my front porch this morning trying to get restaurant scraps from that familiar swimming pool tablet bucket?! By the time I came from the back yard with a stick, my intent to break her neck for my first (wussily long delayed) duck kill she'd reached the street and as I approached she broke into a slow very low level flight about two feet above the pavement, vanishing almost two blocks away. All those months of feeding and no duck meat!

I checked the rest of that flock and it SEEMS they each still have one clipped wing. After the holiday I WILL "man up" and grab the pellet gun and machete and finally do it as I have fourteen ducks and a dozen more eggs in the incubator....and I've read that Muscovy meat is delicious, a gourmet item in high end restaurants. If I rearrange the freezer I think I can make room for three of those very large carcasses.

She is one lucky duck...but if hunger brings her back here again, out comes the pellet gun and machete!

Space Sweet Potatoes

Each summer the leaves are a staple for me both raw and cooked....I can just imagine their being savored by Mars colonists.


http://www.space-travel.com/reports/Thanksgiving_in_space_may_one_day_come_with_all_the_trimmings_999.html

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving My Hybrids This Holiday Season

I've been breeding roses since the early 1990s and a few of the fragrant tough roses I've bred for Florida are available own root and organically grown from the good folks at The Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. They pay me a $1 royalty per rose sold. I've bought many roses from them since 1989 for my two landscape businesses and pleasure and as breeders, and many thousands of the readers in my newspaper columns in The Rocky Mountain News and The St. Pete Times are happy customers of theirs. If you order a rose as a holiday gift they mail the lucky recipient first a nice greeting card letting them know of your purchase. They currently offer my hybrids 'Sarasota Spice', a SUPER fragrant white climber, 'Gold Blush', an apricot, cinnamon-clove scented bushy climber, and 'Gainesville Garnet', a tall flexible caned red climber with a light tea rose and apple perfume. Their number is: 1 800 441 0002











A Poem I Wrote In My Early Thirties To Help Me Heal From Chronic Fearfulness

DICTUM

Live a Big Life.
Stretch the skin of each new day
then fill it with the flesh of your dreams.
Find the frozen stone of your fear
and chip it into sparks
to illumine the wonders that you can do.

Tell a Big Truth so bright
that the light of it flies out from your mouth
into the dark places
beneath every stone
behind every building
inside every mind.

Let your words and deeds be trusted things
that others can hold and treasure
as perennial measures of honor.

And every time you do the right thing
a stain will fade from the hearts of your children
their grandparents
and you.

Ask a Big Question.
Never lose the cool hunger of your youthful eyes....
learn of the mysteries
inside a lover,
a seed,
even you.

Use your Fear to taste the dark sweetness
reserved for heroes
so that when Death does come
you will have really BEEN,
you will have truly SEEN.

And as you leave that frail human shell,
it a faded chrysalis,
feel the quiver of your new, unseen wings.


John Starnes

Grow Your Own Salad Bar Class

Many folks want more than anything to simply grow a luscious, crisp, pesticide-free salad to enjoy each day. The winter and spring seasons are stellar for the classic salad crops like arugula, chard, romaine lettuce, broccoli, sugar snap peas, scallions, cherry tomatoes and more, plus our hot muggy summers boast their own unique salad crops. This class covers the basic of creating a successful organic salad garden, crops selection and planting them from seeds to cut costs (most are VERY easy from seeds), pest control, proper watering and organic soil feeding. You will quickly recoup the cost of the class in your first dozen harvests of many many dozens to come this winter season. You will get two free packets of unusual seeds for vigorous, mild flavored leafy greens you will never see in the grocery store, and instructions on their easy culture. One nice thing about winter salad gardening here is that, except for the tomatoes, the crops not only are cold hardy they LIKE frosts.....makes them sweeter.


I am teaching this class on December 4 from 11 AM until 1 PM, with a 30 minute Q & A session after. The cost is $20 per student. My address is: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa 33611 813 839 0881 Please park along the south side of Paxton to spare the lawns of my neighbors on the north side. Thanks.

Why buy pricey little bags of corporate salads when you can grow fresh salads for just pennies a day?

John

Frugal Holiday Gifts For Cooks And Gardeners

The tyranny of the holiday season is closing in......Occupy Your Budget and put an end to ratcheting up debt due to cultural pressure to give high-end gifts. This class shows you quite a few ways to make VERY affordable gifts FROM THE HEART for friends and family that love to either cook or garden or both. None take a great deal of time and involve easily gotten "ingredients", some of which you might already have on hand, and most involve skill levels that let children participate in too for school projects. Create a new family holiday tradition...no more slamming hundreds of $$$$ onto credit cards, and instead use your native abilities combined with your love of family and friends to create gifts that will make them think of you often for many months after the holidays have passed. The cost is $20, class date is December 3 from 11 AM until 1 PM at my home: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611. Please call to confirm your intention to attend: 813 839 0881 You will receieve 2 packets of cool seeds you can use to create edible living gifts right away. Thanks!  John
I've been rescueing these foods from grocery store dumpsters since 1976, saving me many thousands of dollars and helping me to be debt free, including no mortgage, for years now. Sadly, most grocery stores now have dumpsters that are attached to the store wall and fed from the inside, preventing the use of this huge valuable resource that ends up in landfills.

http://www.grist.org/food/2011-11-18-use-by-dates-a-myth-that-needs-busting
 'AEROGAMI' paper sculptures - $8 (south Tampa)


I made and sold many hundreds of various designs of my AEROGAMI flying paper sculptures at the Denver Botanic Gardens and other venues in Colorado in the mid 1990s, and am revisiting that life era for fun and profit once again. One design was inspired by the now-cancelled European Space Shuttle proposal called HOTOL, in which the vertical stabilizer was positioned at the front of the fuselage. I found that when added to a double delta wing AEROGAMI, the result is a greatly reduced tendency to stall when thrown hard for distance flights. Raising and lowering the trailing edge flaps allows one to achieve loop-the-loops, straight level flight, or banked curves. It is made from heavy gauge paper and staples, and the fuselage is reinforced with a drinking straw for greater rigidity while adding very little weight. After each flight it should be picked up by the heavily-reinforced nose vs. the wing to avoid damaging the AEROGAMI. Ridges embossed into the wings add a "cool factor" while adding tensile strength. The vertical stabilizer is painted before being incorporated into the plane. Each is made from differing color paper, and is hand-signed by me, the artist. Unpainted AEROGAMIs are $8 each; those painted in one color on top, and another beneath, are $10. No shipping, just stop by to purchase your AEROGAMI when it is completed. Do NOT let them land on damp grass or soil as that will greatly reduce their lifespan of several years when they are well cared for. This design is 12 inches long and 10 inches wide. I have many other designs available as unique, locally-made holiday gifts.

Call or e-mail to place your order for this design or other of AEROGAMI and to arrange pick up here at 3212 West Paxton Avenue, Tampa FL 33611. 813 839 0881.




Thanks and Happy Flying! John Starnes

Even Though I Am A Happy Healthy Omnivore This Looks and Sounds Yummy!

http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2011/11/recipe_vegan_turkey_roast.html

Sunday, November 20, 2011

so many layers of exuberance!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YU-V2C4ryU&feature=related

Papalo Seeds For Sale

This morning I harvested an envelope of Papalo seeds and their fluff. Thrives in summer and considered a hot weather substitute for cilantro though the flavor can be said to have a touch of arugula and oregano. VERY easy from seeds year round in Tampa though grows best in spring and summer. One pinch of fluff is approx. 30 seeds: $2 plus a self addressed stamped envelope mailed to: John Starnes 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611 Thanks!

http://www.fireflyforest.com/flowers/3167/porophyllum-ruderale-yerba-porosa/

My Class This Morning

Frugal Holiday Gifts For Cooks and Gardeners




The tyranny of the holiday season is closing in......Occupy Your Budget and put an end to ratcheting up debt due to cultural pressure to give high-end gifts. This class shows you quite a few ways to make VERY affordable gifts FROM THE HEART for friends and family that love to either cook or garden or both. None take a great deal of time and involve easily gotten "ingredients", some of which you might already have on hand, and most involve skill levels that let children participate in too for school projects. Create a new family holiday tradition...no more slamming hundreds of $$$$ onto credit cards, and instead use your native abilities combined with your love of family and friends to create gifts that will make them think of you often for many months after the holidays have passed. The cost is $20, class time is November 20 from 11 AM until 1 PM at my home: 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611. Please call to confirm your intention to attend: 813 839 0881 You will receieve 2 packets of cool seeds you can use to create edible living gifts that will be mature when the holidays roll around. Thanks!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Lovely South Florida Wildflower

I'm pretty sure it is not a Coreopsis species, but don't have a clue as to what it might be. I'd appreciate any suggestions and plan on gathering seeds this winter during future visits to Dad. I hope to get it established in my front gardens for color late each autumn. Thanks! John

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMwt7IEbZ_Q

Malva sylvestris


I learned of and started growing this cold hardy edible flower in Denver in 1989 I believe. I was so young then and knew so little about botany...this plant was central to my getting my mind around the wonderfully vast and varied Mallow family. It's relationship to Hollyhocks is readily apparent to northern folks who see it in my gardens. It failed for me here in Tampa my first several winters and springs back home beginning in November 2002, but a few years ago ONE seedling took off and in late spring shed many seeds which now germinate here and there in late autumn....I wonder if that newly discovered aspect of evolution based on environmental influences allowed that one seedling to adapt to Tampa then pass on the genes? I love the flowers nibbled right from the plant or as salad fu-fu, and the tender leaves are tasty raw or cooked. Today I transplanted a seedling into a 1 gallon pot to give to my friend Mary Jo for her girlfriend Robyn who loves to grow flowers in pots. It is a summer annual/weakly perennial in Denver, a VERY cold hardy winter annual here in my south Tampa yard....in my Denver  yard it was THE last thing to succumb to hard freezes and snows, and so I loved it as I loathed Denver winters, trapped there by a VERY upside down mortgage for 15 years. But 20/20 hindsight makes very clear I felt and learned and earned a great deal of personal growth there on many levels.

The form sold as 'Zebrina' has an almost white background color with darker stripes and has appeared here spontaneously in a very small percentage of seedlings.

I'd love to see this native of Europe better known and more widely grown.  John

Two More Reasons To Grow Your Own Food and Occupy!

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/11/47-of-congress-members-millionaires-a-status-shared-by-only-1-of-americans/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29744.htm

This Is wonderful! I will make a 5 gallon Water Wise Container Garden for Occupy Tampa!

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2011/11/17/roman-guerrilla-and-community-gardeners-build-a-movable-edible-garden-for-those-occupying-santa-croce-in-gerusalemme/

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Down on the farm this week

Last evening and today I had the pleasure of hosting Florida rosarian Pam Greenewald of Angel Gardens in Alachua where she raises over 1,200 varieties of roses own root and organically. We ate, yapped, laughed, swapped seeds and cuttings of plants, attended the Tampa Rare Fruit Council meeting, mingled with my poultry, took pics of each other on my Space Couch, then off she headed back home. She is a fun woman and a passionate rosarian.

My delightful egg customer and blog reader Jeannine brought to me from St. Pete three lovely, weatherproof "OCCUPY YOUR YARD" signs Friday! One for sure is going into the new bed west of the mailbox outlined by logs and now teeming with hundreds of baby winter annuals including Bachelor's Buttons, Carpet of Snow white sweet alyssum, Dwarf Jewel Mix nasturtiums and more. Pics soon.

It seems that the momma Muscovy duck has rejected the eggs after I moved them into a cozy nest box when she'd laid them just inches from a poultry fence where a nocturnal racoon could have easily grabbed her or the eggs. Now I wonder....should I have let nature take its course?

The Sunn Hemps (Crotularia lutea) are in full glorious FRAGRANT bloom in Dad's driveway bed, and are coming on now, as is a self sown seedling of Malva sylvestris that I grew profusely in my Denver yard as a self sown very xeric edible annual. Pics soon.

The bulbs of ordinary garlic I planted a few weeks ago are now offering those savory leaves each day for omelets, salads, entrees or as a decadent nibble. At 5 bulbs for $1 for months of those heady leaves, how can I go wrong?

Three thriving tanks of brewing kombucha provide a big cup a day of that delightfully brisk, vinegary,  fizzy liver cleansing beverage I enjoy both at room temperature or over ice. Brewed for 6 weeks it closely duplicates apple cider vinegar taste-wise....blended with extra virgin olive oil, garlic (of course!), a fat pinch each of sea salt, black pepper and oregano, and a bit of honey it becomes a delicious healthy Italian dressing for home grown salads. I'm now drying out old "SCOBIES" in my Victorian workout and reading room to see what happens...Pat says he's read some people use thoroughly dried ones as dog chewies. I will be curious to see what Cracker does the first time I offer him one. I've offered the ducks chopped up fresh SCOBIES and they scarfed down that protein-rich mat of beneficial bacteria and fungi.

Late-emerging plants of self-sown Vigna unguiculata "Clay" cowpeas all along the chicken paths are yielding tons of those protein-rich pods in all stages, from tender young stringless pods to ones that need to be shucked for the beans inside that I love raw or cooked. Pam Greenewald, like me, loved the young pods raw so I gave her dried seeds from last fall for her to grow nest summer. What a wonderful bonus of food from a very effortless, soil-enriching heirloom crop as winter approaches.

Chicken stew seems likely quite soon of a VERY mischievous chicken that Jeannine gave me back from eggs of mine she hatched for being an "escape artist" that for me is a "breaking and entering artist" who a week ago somehow got into my east bed and ravaged container gardens of purslane, Minovase daikon and more. Today as Pam and I toured my back yard I caught this errant dinosaur-bird damaging my SOUTH bed.....again.  I caught her, clipped her wings EVEN shorter, then put her back in the free range chicken path. If she keeps it up, stew it is after months of her crop damage. But I reluctantly admire her tenacity and ingenuity....the bitch!

I've now done three loads of laundry using that mega-cheap home made laundry soap I made using my solar shower heating dish vs. my electric stove and it seems to work just fine. No toxic chemicals. So now I wish to route that water outside somehow as all these years I've wasted it down the sewer....I am thinking of routing to my east property fence line and planting a true plantain there...a Rhino Horn type is my preference.

Occupy your garden, occupy your heart, occupy your life.

John

Hemp Chair

http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20111018/certified-organic

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Classes This Weekend

Check my November Classes listings to see the description for Saturday's class 'Cultivating Creativity' and Sunday's class 'Frugal Holistic Pet Care'.  John

Grow Your Own!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Today on the farm

"Mr. Duck" is now a regal adult male Muscovy duck who paces and hisses threateningly, seemingly 24 hours a day, every day.  His skull is draped in red fleshy apendages that I feel certain some male dinosaurs also boasted. Before getting his wings clipped and being rendered semi-free range in 2010, he attacked me like a freakin' raptor in 'Jurassic Park' as I picked Vigna beans one day that summer. The gashes on my forearms were long and deep. Nonetheless, I needed today to somehow confine him so I could move a clutch of eggs one of his wives had laid in a very poor place where racoons could easily reach them OR her, and where hatched ducklings would be easy prey for cats. So the fun began.....

First I shooed her away from the eggs by reaching over the fence and petting her. I placed the lovely warm eggs in a plastic flower pot, plus the few fistfuls of the breast fluff and dried grass she'd used to fashion a very minimalist nest. Then I opened the gate to their spacious area in the center of my backyard, clutching a plastic boat oar about four feet long, keeping a wary eye on "Mr. Duck", and placed the eggs in the hatching house I made a few days ago from a scavenged dog carrier cage filled with wood wool packing material, nicely shielded from the elements. It looked cozy enough to me but she would not approach it and I could not herd her to it with the boat oar.

So I used the oar to steer the Duck From Hell to an opening and quickly lowered over him a black plastic garbage can, laid a heavy log on top to insure my safety, then entered the duck pasture...even then I could not herd her to even close to the new location of her eggs. So I cornered her with the oar, a 5 gallon bucket and cardboard box barrier, near to where she'd the laid the eggs, and picked her up, clipped her wings, and put her in the nesting cage atop her still warm eggs, then closed the  dog cage door. I will likely leave her there until the morning in hopes she bonds to this new and MUCH safer nest site.

I gave a talk on roses for Florida this morning in St. Petersburg, but before I left I had the pleasure of painting the remainder of the concrete edgings of the revamped rose bed out front that same nice bright white...so very nice to see a whole new area of my front yard reclaimed from years of drought and weeds and the monster rose 'Mermaid', replaced by roses in buried Water Wise Container Gardens, plus fresh mulch and a new air of tidiness. There's hope for me yet!

Many thanks to the folks ordering seeds from me....I hope they thrive for you in your gardens.

I found the linked article below to be both encouraging and inspiring. Enjoy, John

http://www.motherearthnews.com/the-farmyard/living-homegrown-what-we-learned-from-our-year-without-groceries.aspx?newsletter=1&utm_content=11.07.11+HE&utm_campaign=HE&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email

Sunday, November 6, 2011

There's Hope For Me Yet!

Much progress here in my renewed effort to be neater and less of a packrat....even though my foreclosed neighbors Jerry and Heather set out on the curb yesterday a LOT of indoor and outdoor furniture and other stuff.....I DID NOT BRING HOME ONE SINGLE THING! Plus I weekly set out stuff for a woman who patrols the neighborhood in her old white Toyota pickup to scavenge for items she can use or sell. The front yard is nearly opened up from the summer scourge of Spanish Needle (bidens) and today I paint more of the now-exposed concrete edgings with white latex that Mary Jo gave me, more pathways get mulched,  I mulch the big center garden I finished weeding yesterday, with another rose (haven't decided if it will be "Maggie" or 'Graham Thomas' or 'Abraham Darby') in a 7 gallon Water Wise Container Garden getting buried. Surplus water hyacinths in the pond come out to be fed to the ducks and chickens, and three young trash tree seedlings come down. Nice to see SO many previously planted perennials and roses in bloom as the nasturtium and other winter annuals come up. The view from the street is nice indeed....so much color, so many birds and butterflies.

I am stuffing the  fresh green bidens and Momordica into 55 gallon drums a friend gives me (I drill many holes in them for airflow) along with citrus rinds and poultry poop and mulch to become compost for use next spring and summer. I use kitchen graywater to keep the contents damp. Each summer I spread myself too thin with my fun form of ADDHD and the bidens takes over! Thankfully, the Muscovy ducks and chickens this year, via Joel Salatin-style selected grazing intervals, wiped out 99% of that super-invasive grass I got here 2 years ago  out back (Starre grass?). Nice to see weeds I loathe turned into eggs and meat.

MANY seedlings of veggies and flowers MUST be set into 4 inch and 1 gallon pots SOON for further growth to sell, share with friends, and plant here thanks to excellent germination in home made compost from previous seasons. I am most excited about the seedlings of Allium fistulosum as it seems to be, at last, the perennial onion for Florida I've long sought.

I'm looking forward to taking fresh greens from the gardens, fresh hard boiled eggs from my flocks, and fresh citrus to the Occupy Tampa potluck today to help revitalize the dedicated sleep over folks who've been eating a lot of processed foods. Their resiliency and positivism and dedication is inspiring and uplifting.

Yesterday I set a very large scavenged plastic dog carrier cage in the center garden that is now home to I think eight semi-free range Muscovy ducks after puuting  in a nice  fluffy layer of "wood wool" I scavenged a few days ago, then set atop it a rain shield of a large corrugated plastic sign that Mary Jo gave me, laid a log atop it to hold it down in winds....the ducks have been mating frenzily, daily, so I felt certain they needed a place that would offer a very obvious, cozy dry place to make nests and lay eggs. It can easily hold three nesting females. The sound of ducks fucking can be quite comical!

I love to be busy,  and am relishing seeing positive changes on my urban farm, especially in these delightful cool temps. I WILL be a tidier man!