Come see the my first ever clutch of baby Muscovy ducks that hatched yesterday! John
Basics of Frugal Backyard Chicken Raising 4-3-2011
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. I am teaching this well-received class again on April 3, 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 sow next fall 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
BASICS OF URBAN FARMSTEADING AND FOOD SELF SUFFICIENCY FOR BEGINNERS 4-17-2011
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 again on April 17th 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 freezes affected my food supply, and enjoy fresh raw nibbles as we walk amongst the free range chickens. John
Water Wise Container Gardening 4-9-2011 4-24-2011
Hopefully, we are all making wise water use a central focus in our lives as Florida's population continues to boom. 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.
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 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 April 9th and the 24th, 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
GROWING FOOD, CULTIVATING FREEDOM AND HARVESTING JOY 4-16-2011
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 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 April 16, 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
HOT WEATHER CROPS FOR SUMMER BOUNTY FROM YOUR GARDEN 4-2-2011 4-23-2011
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 April 2 and the 23rd. 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
Fermented Foods 101 4-30-2011
Many folks are realizing the wide spectrum of health benefits of eating probiotic fermented foods, but that also they can be very pricey in the health food stores and grocery stores. Garden writer John Starnes (Fine Gardening, St. Pete Times, Florida Gardening) loves to grow and cook and prepare foods for friends and himself, and in this class will show easy very affordable ways to make your own kefir, natto, tempeh, kimchee, and cheese. There will be samples for tasting too. Be sure to bring a note pad and pen to write down the simple steps and ingredients, some of which can come from your own garden. The class will be held on April 30, from 11 AM until 1:30 PM, and the cost is $20 per student. The 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. Come hungry!
Non-toxic "Green" Pest and Disease Control 4-10-2011
Many homeowners and gardeners and pet lovers alike think we MUST use toxic pesticides to control plant-ravaging bugs and diseases, plus swarms of fleas and roaches and mosquitos that can make make life miserable for us and our animal companions, and poultry mites in our henhouses biting us AND the birds. This class will teach you a great many natural, non-or-least toxic methods of controlling and eliminating those scourges, including biological methods that need be purchased just once from mail order or local sources. I shared some of these techniques with my readers for the eight years I had a gardening column in The St. Pete Times. All of these control methods are VERY inexpensive (hey, I’m a lifelong pathologically cheap tightwad!) and easy to acquire or make at home. Food self sufficiency gardeners like me CAN enjoy fresh produce all year long by defeating pests without poisoning those crops or the environment. A detailed handout, complimented by the notes you take (bring a pad and pen please) will let you begin right away winning the “battle against bugs and fungus” all year long. I am teaching this class again on April 10, 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. To RSVP call: 813 839 0881 Happy Gardening! John
"I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag." - General Smedley Darlington Butler
"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." - James Madison