Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Russia Warns Obama About Bees, Neonicotinoids and GMOs and in a BIG way!

Last fall I noticed in the gardens of a very secretive Korean gardener a few blocks from me what I could tell from my Denver days was a species of plantain (Plantago species vs. musa). He knows no English and he and his wife are very reclusive, but they finally timidly DID come to the door so I could try to ask about a few of their crops. They had pulled up every plantain from the large container garden and laid them atop a hedge to dry in the sun...but I just could not understand how they intended to use them. The wild plantains in Denver were way too tough and bitter for me, but his looked tender and succulent.....I don't know if that was because it is a different species, or if because he keeps his tiny front yard very damp, relying heavily on MANY buried buckets (I'd LOVE to know if the drainage holes are on the bottom or on the sides near the bottom like my WWCGs!) He gave me a few seed spikes that day and I just now planted some of the tiny dark seeds in a 4 gallon Water Wise Container Garden made from a scavenged decorative pot filled with rich damp compost placed in LIGHT shade cast by my avocado tree. I'll give the soil a high nitrogen, nutrient rich "tea" I brewed 9 gallons of over the last ten days to hopefully insure lush growth. I'm assuming it is the species in this link, looked like it for sure.

Media Silence About The March Against Monsanto

After its container gardens and lemon and lime trees bore a lot of food all winter, by a month ago the back east bed had quickly become a hell zone of bidens and other weeds, so I opened up one end of the anti-chicken fence about two weeks ago. When I closed it back up a few days ago it was stripped down to bare soil. I am sure the sweet potatoes will send up new growth soon. The only weeds left are a few dozen seedlings of balsam apple which pull up easily. Today the container gardens will get deep waterings, then mulched and replanted with summer crops. Two are large Water Wise Container Gardens that were created and buried last year. The old large pale tan rectangular container, which 20/20 hindsight tells me was in fact a very early prototype WWCG, will get planted today with a low-growing cowpea new to me, 'Dixie Lee'. Amazing how in barely 2 weeks the chickens stripped this area completely clean and turned the weeds into eggs and meat! Now to decide what goes along the fence line....Jack Beans? Lima Beans? Maybe a solid row of 'Everglades 41' kenaf to mitigate afternoon sun while providing biomass and food for me and the poultry? Oh how I'd love a truly SOGGY summer after 8-9 years of drought here in "Egypt"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

For the last year I've bartered my organically grown herbs, edible flowers and seasonal produce with south Tampa's Wimauma restaurant for scraps to feed my flocks. Recent changes there are a wake up call as to just how far I've strayed from my original goal of feeding my flocks of chickens and Muscovy ducks primarily from my own gardens and kitchen scraps, to great dependency on input from area restaurants and their dumpsters. I eat very little meat, so there is no reason for me to have thirteen adult chickens, a rooster, two young chickens and eleven Muscovy ducks, mostly aggressive males, especially since the ducks have rendered weed free two big areas that were they not there I could grow summer crops in. So over the last few months I've eaten down the freezer then re-arranged it to create room for prepared carcasses. Plus I feel I may have devised an even quicker, largely fear-free means of dispatching them as an ex-vegan and ex-vegetarian who finds it difficult to kill them. Time to re-visit raising Black Soldier Fly larvae, revisit simple roach farms between pieces of carpet, and increase my production of duck weed plus create an azolla pond once more. While trading for restaurant scraps is cheaper than buying often-GMO commercial poultry food, it still means driving and allocating time for three trips weekly and dependency on outside inputs that can suddenly dry up. This new awareness makes me glad I am trialing new-to-me high protein legumes. But reducing the size of my flocks is a crucial first step.

Last week I was chatting with a vegetarian friend.... she eats a little dairy, an occasional home grown egg, no meat for over 20 years, RARE seafood when visiting her parents in the Keys.....I told her that anyone watching me cook or eat at home would 90% of the time think I was vegan....very little dairy a few times monthly, home grown eggs a couple times weekly....then small portions of meat 2-3 times weekly as I am super sickly when vegan, sickly when vegetarian, vigorously healthy as a light omnivore. But on a weight basis I'd say 95% of my diet is plant based, and not many carbs. That is one reason I am so excited to be growing several new-to-me heat loving crops this summer, most quite high in protein.

Excellent Article By Joel Salatin

Sunday, May 26, 2013

One of the benefits of my spending too much time on FaceBook is networking with varied very skilled gardeners with differing perspectives and skill sets, which in turn has me on a delicious learning curve. As a result, the revamp of my south Tampa urban farm is being shaped heavily by three new-to-me concepts: hugelkultur, Food Forest, and Chop and Drop, the first and third of which I've done for many years unknowingly but on a very minor scale. For over a dozen years I've brought many many hundreds of bags of leaves (a high carbon brown material) onto my lot, plus had many loads of tree mulch (mixed green and brown) and manure from the nearby stable. All involve reliance on vehicles and much labor, plus the use of so much high carbon material necessitates nitrogen supplementation in some form or another. For years I've hated and fought the Paper Mulberries that invade from the east lot....I've killed a few, but the rest I am coppicing and using the recurring new green growth both as duck food and part of my new Chop and Drop effort now being employed in the 95% complete Food Forest in the center of the back yard. In front and back I last year lost control of a few Cassia alata plants that got WAY too big and then dropped a gillion seeds.....this spring I started to eliminate them, but now I just cut off tender green new branches JUST as they flower and add them to my usual sheet composting efforts. Being a legume its new growth is rich in protein/nitrogen.....there is mixed evidence that it is a nitrogen fixer via the roots. This way I get to enjoy the lovely blooms as part of my effort to make my yard tidier and more colorful while allowing me to grow at least some of my mulching and composting materials on site, high nitrogen green ones at that. If all goes well, this year I will also have two kinds of perennial peanut hay, gandule beans, plus Everglades 41 kenaf to use in my now-concerted Chop and Drop program to cover my cursed hot dry south Tampa sugar sand in a deep layer of moisture-retaining , lignin-rich humus formers. In that spirit I today planted three seedlings of Cassia alata (Senna alata) in the center food forest so I can Chop and Drop the tender green branches right within feet of where needed.

Solar Metallurgy!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

For easily 8 years I've happily grown and shared "Iron Clay" cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) due to extreme vigor, tender young protein-rich leaves and virtually zero pest or disease issues, with the pods edible at a few stages of growth, ending with dried seeds for cooking. But for the second year in a row I am pulling up any volunteers I see and feeding them to the chickens so I can test other cowpeas that make larger pods and bigger dried seeds. I bought a packet of "Dixie Lee cowpea" from this company and want to try 'Turkey Craw' that is supposed to make QUITE large pods and seeds. Every kind of cowpea I have ever grown has been super-reliable, though the sub-species that is the basis for the Asian Yard Long Beans seems to result in productive but short lived vines vs. cowpeas thriving all summer and well into early fall.

March Against Monsanto: Good turnout for the Tampa march, one volunteer said they heard the last official count was 504. The police were awesome, I thanked a few, in particular one who was clearly in charge of affairs. Good hand made signs, TONS of public support...peace signs, thumbs up, honks. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein gave a brief but impassioned talk at the park just before the march I brought raw garden goodies to share once we got to shady Gaslight Park....the katuk leaves and thornless opuntia cactus pads were a real hit. I'd brought molokhiya and tamarillo seeds for a friend from Gulfport who thought he might make it but no. Nice to see so many folks care about REAL food, safe food, an intact environment and of course met a few gardeners as we walked.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three reasons to stop taking probiotics...


Cracker and I are going and I am so happy to see that lots of people whose company I thoroughly enjoy have already RSVPd. 

October 19 at 10:00am until October 20 at 10:00am

  • Bamboo Grove Homestead, 2460 SW Mixon St., Arcadia, FL 34266
  • For those interested in growing, trading, buying, or just plain learning about perennial vegetable culture here in Florida, come on out for this full day of workshops, garden tours, plant swapping and purchasing, etc. Featured speakers, demonstrations, sampling table. Plants discussed and /or shown: True Yams, Yacon, Perennial Onions & Leeks, Oca, Crosnes, Sweet Potatoes, Malanga, Taro, Eddo, Dasheen, Kuwai (Duck Potato), Water Chestnut, Belembe, Boniato, Cassava, Achira, Tigernuts, Earth Pea, Jerusalem Artichokes, Groundnuts (Apios), and more. Show up between 8 am - Noon: $15 / after 1:30 pm: $10 / after 3 pm: $5 / after 4:30: free admission. 6 pm free plant swap. 7 pm free vegetarian and wild pescatarian potluck. 8 pm campfire and free tent camping. LIMITED TO THE FIRST 150 PEOPLE WHO RSVP on Facebook, or by calling me at 863-993-3228.
    8 am: Gates open
    8 am - Noon: $15 admission.
    11 am - Noon: Garden Tour
    12:30 - 1:30: Workshop on...
    After 1:30: $10 admission.
    2 pm - 3 pm: Workshop on...
    After 3 pm: $5 admission.
    After 4:30 pm: Free admission.
    6 pm: Plant Swap and Sale. Give away, trade, and for sale plants in three different sections.
    7 pm: Free Potluck Dinner (Vegetarian & Wild Pescatarian). Please label your ingredients, all utensils, napkins, cups, glasses, bowls & plates will be provided.
    8 pm: Campfire & free tent camping.
    Kids and friendly pets welcome. Kids under 15 are free.
  • After a lot of him-hawing as to how to keep separate the new-to-me Sweet Potatoes I am trialing this year I today decided to plant the rooted cuttings of Andy Firk's green stem form of Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato around the Strawberry Guava in the northwest corner of the food forest, fully opposite the Purple Stem Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato, also from ECHO, that one of his guests gave me a few pieces of vine of, that are in the guava bog garden at the southeast corner. I planted in my FRONT yard west bed by the rambling roses two of Jon and Debbie Butt's super-productive sweet potato. I'm still very likely going to plant normal peanuts as the primary ground cover in the food forest. I've grown 'Puerto Rico Gold' in the round garden fenced off from the chickens fairly close to my bedroom for years now, the southeast bed is planted solely with 'Satsuma Imo', now a definite favorite due to its savory vs. sweet taste (see pic) and in my west bed I grow the "Filipino White" I was given by my Filipino neighbor Margie in is a RAMPANT grower with especially abundant TENDER bright green leaves. I eat many of my sweet potatoes raw but also loved them sliced and fried in coconut oil with a dash of roasted sesame oil and sea salt. I want next to try Tim and Cathy's mashed sweet potatoes with a TON of garlic and butter they brought to one of my potlucks!

    Last fall Michael Spinelli in Lake Wales mailed me cow pea seeds that I find VERY his greenhouse he'd grown both 'Whippoorwill' and a Thai Yard Long vigna that fully consumed the interior of the greenhouse as they intertwined. He harvested 'Whippoorwill' pods that had formed RIGHT next to Yard Long pods and he felt a cross was very likely due to intense ant activity the entire growing season. The seeds look cool, the color of 'Clay' but a little bigger and covered with a lovely network of zebra-like markings. I just now planted several in an 18 gallon Water Wise Container Garden in the kitchen garden with a TALL tomato cage, which I expect they will outgrow. If so I will run a strong line to the nearby avocado tree so they can run up into the branches.

    All of the tops of my "White Potato Onions" from Texas have begun toppling over as expected; when they are fully yellowed I'll pull most up to see if I got bulb formation. I'll leave the rest in the soil in their container gardens to see if they rot in the summer rains, or survive and re-emerge some time this fall. My plants of "Eliska's Bunching Onions" are growing like crazy and continue to remind me of my strain of Allium fistulosum, which functions as a perennial, multiplying scallion.

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    I used to think that cross pollination could not possibly affect fruit flavor, just traits in seedlings from those fruits/crops. But now I have doubts for a few reasons....LOTS of reports of this from reputable farmers and gardeners around the world, plus the remarkable discoveries being made about RNA and plant evolution that I am trying to get my mind around and that REALLY challenge long held views about DNA. I feel like I may have seen it happen here with my Malva sylvestris seeds from my Denver garden. These RNA discoveries not only lend further credence to Punctuated Equilibrium Darwinian Evolution theory, but even the long discredited theory of evolution that preceded it. (I forget his name but a classic example was his proposal that giraffes got their long necks by reaching for leaves and passing that trait on IMMEDIATELY to their offspring). And there is growing evidence that the first forms of life here were based on RNA vs. DNA. I LOVE scientific inquiry when it is not bogged down by dogma or politics. This RNA research is both exciting and humbling to me as a man who sees himself as generally "science literate" !!!

    I would like to scavenge/barter for used gates of any kind and sections of 4 foot tall picket fence, wood or PVC, to formalize and make stronger the anti-chicken fence surrounding my now nearly-complete food forest in the center of my back yard. I'll be checking Craig's List plus posting an ad there. They would need to be delivered since I have a Honda Accord. My hope is that someone nearby is upgrading their fence line and needs the old one taken away.

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Allen Boatman and I have been friends for 7 years now I think, he ran a WONDERFUL horticulture rehab program at the Falkenburg Jail for 14 years...brilliant horticulturist, passionately Christian but not in-your-face, fun to hang out and converse with, all around nice guy.. I had the pleasure of a nice long visit from him Monday, got caught up on things, swapped seeds and plants, he saw the BIG changes taking place here, and was pleased that I have resumed breeding roses after a 2 year hiatus during which I considered the many negative changes in the roses world.....drought, bankruptcies of growers, even Weeks Roses and Jackson & Perkins Roses. He gave me OODLES of molokhiya seeds and what looks to easily be 200 seeds of Tamarillo, which I THINK I ate many of in Costa Rica in 1991 and 1994. I tried growing them here several years ago and failed, but that was long before I devised my home made Water Wise Container Gardens. I'm sharing with friends here and Mary Jo's Mom on Key Largo where they might stand a better chance. Based on what the attached article says, I wonder if they could actually cross pollinate with eggplants and ruin BOTH hybrid seedlings could be truly bizarre!

    Benefit of the Mediterranean diet?

    Today my yard helper Paul and I buried that 55 gallon Water Wise Container Garden I drilled the side drainage holes in a few days ago in the northwest corner of my center food forest, filled the barrel hugelkultur style with dead tithonia stalks, old leaves and long dead pulled weeds, horse stall cleanings, cheap white clay cat litter, a few handfuls of trace elements, a few pounds of dolomite to insure a near neutral pH, and a little "Super Poop" from the stable grooming platform, then planted in it one of the Strawberry Guavas I bought from H.E.A.R.T.. Other then some annual veggies and Okinawa Purple Sweet potatoes from Andy Firk and the primary ground cover (likely edible peanuts from Publix) all the planting is done!!! Woo HOO! All this summer I will be adding leaves, chop and drop green branches and dead tithonia stalks to bury that formerly hot sugar sand (enriched by nearly a year of several Muscovy ducks pooping in there!) in a thick layer of sheet compost and humus formers. Paul buried in a fenced off sweet potato patch that 'Christmas' loquat Andy kindly gave me last year that has been thriving in a 7 gallon Water Wise Container Garden. That whole bed gets a deep soaking, then in goes dead tithonia branches, horse stall sweepings etc. all summer for the sweet potatoes to regrow up through. (they were buzzed down to the ground during the two weeks the chickens could get in there to eat the bidens and other weeds).

    One more reason to avoid GMO "foods", demand labeling, grow your own food and shut down Monsanto!

    Sunday, May 19, 2013

    I'll check the freezer for broth as I have enough fresh chipilin leaves to at last give this recipe a try.

    My second ever set of seed pods on my Chipilin plant is almost ripe!

    Despite that west street bed being so very dry, once again a self sown Malva sylvestris thrives there. Edible leaves and blooms, utterly gloried in my Denver yard, took several years but select seedlings have adapted to my south Tampa yard. There should be quite a few seeds to share in 4-6 weeks.

    There are clearly a few monster yams, likely Caribbean White, at the NW corner of my house that grew there when that area was consumed by Cherokee Rose and Pandorea Vine that I do NOT want to grow there again! I am digging them up today, will give one to Mary Jo who loves to eat them but has no room for the vines. These emerging vine tips make me think that the tubers could be quite big. Fried yams for lunch!

    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Josh Jamison I was surprised but pleased to see teensy side shoots emerging all up and down the trunk of that Perennial Edible Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot) you gave me at H.E.A.R.T. Now that it is planted in the west side of my food forest project in an improved planting hole, with chop and drop green Cassia alata branches forming the beginnings of a thick mulch layer to cool that hot sand, and now that the chilly season is over, it should take off. I'll soon give it a bucket of chicken poop tea and fish emulsion. I look forward to sharing a cutting this summer with Tim and his wife Cathy to add to their smoothies. I suspect I'll also use the leaves in salads and various cooked dishes. Thanks for giving me this very desirable form you bought from ECHO.

    One big benefit of eliminating cherry laurel trees here while containing the paper mulberries and my one giant Perennial Sunflower (Tithionia diversifolia aka "Giant Fuckin' Daisy") is letting the stalks die in the sun for a month or so then laying them down on beds and covering them with leaves, stall cleanings, and green "chop and drop" branches to build up a thick moisture-retaining mulch of humus formers in my front and back gardens.

    Today I laid a loose, foot thick layer of branches over approx. a  6' X 2' area around the newly planted Everbearing Mulberry, then some tree mulch and white clay cat litter, then a slow deep watering. Tomorrow I'll mulch the whole area with green cassia alata branches and more horse stall sweepings and chipped tree mulch, water again.

    I learned last year that the seeds of Jak Fruit have long been eaten as a tropical "nut" after being boiled, baked or fried and so at Andy's last event I enjoyed browning in butter with sea salt some that came from the Jak Fruit that Timothy Lane me they were like a mix of almond and Brazil Nut. I've now eaten two of the white sapotes that I bought last Sunday at the Tampa Rare Fruit Council meeting, was surprised by the size of the four big seeds inside each, and feel it is important to share that sites for this delicious fruit seem to all be in agreement....not only are the seeds toxic, they are deadly poison, have been used to kill people and animals!! Spread the word!

    I'd forgotten the simple beauty of Cracker Jack marigolds and gladiolus and the amarcrinum I originally planted in a client's garden in the late 90s, now here after she sold her condo.

    I've used white PVC downspouts as garden edging since I bought my place in 1998, and I just put in beds for a wonderful neighbor whose west bed has been a bone dry weedy oven for her treasured hibiscus for the years since her now deceased husband planted them, plus her careless lawn mowing guys are always fatally weed eating her plants, plus her insurance company told her that her east wall could not get any splash back ( I planted lavender ruellia there, just cut back when I took the pic). I fed the soil heavily, watered deeply, then applied scavenged cardboard and newpapers she saved then covered that with a thick layer of tree trimming mulch after cutting back the desperately dry hungry hibiscus. Now that the beds are fertile and damp I told her that those hibiscus that she holds so much sentiment for should look stunning by early July. At 84 after multiple heart attacks she really feels the clock ticking so it was a joy to solve this perennial problem for her. I will straighten out the edgings then hold them in place with thin steel rods I scavenged that I will pound into the ground all along the outside edge. She has spoiled me with awesome leftovers since 2000! Best neighbor EVER!!

    The long planned guava garden is now done at the southwest corner of the center food forest out back, with the guava surrounded by Mojito Mint, two Purple Stem Purple sweet potatoes, and several seeds of 'Fife Creek' okra. The pit was almost five feet deep, lined with a scavenged above ground pool liner, punched on the sides about 15 inches from the bottom to make it be a giant subterranean Water Wise Container Garden. I filled it hugelkutur style with logs and branches, oak leaves, stable cleanings, cheap white clay cat litter plus sand from the hole dug to lower the jacuzzi shell into, then DEEP soaked it twice. Yesterday I buried the lip of the liner with mulch then scavenged driveway paver chunks to hide it then hold it down. That corner has ALWAYS been drab, so I'll be tucking behind the gauva garden one plant each of old-fashioned, tall-growing red and lavender pentas for cheery color and to also attract butterflies. Guavas LOVE swampy soil and I lost the one I had in the southwest corner years ago due to perennial drought then a hard freeze vs. their growing like weeds in my Dad's low lying WET property in Okeechobee. The guava cost $10 as I recall, I spent $3 on the cat litter, everything else was free. Fingers crossed I get fruits this year!!!

    Friday, May 17, 2013

    After  considering many options for the placement and manner of planting the Everbearing Mulberry that Andy Firk gave me, I this morning dug a bushel basket-sized hole near the east fence of the nearly complete food forest out back, tossed in two sections of very old log, several heaping handfuls of dried poop from the hen house, a generous handful each of food grade potassium chloride (for water softeners), dolomite, trace elements and dicalcium phosphate, maybe a cup of fish emulsion, a three gallon pot full of horse stall sweepings, and about 10 pounds of cheap unscented Publix white clay cat litter, all covered with about 6 inches of the sand dug out of the hole, then planted the young shrub fairly deeply. Later today I will apply about 6 inches of chipped tree trimmings mulch then give the area a slow DEEP watering. My feeling is that any growth east through the fence can be chicken fodder, and growth that extends far enough west to impede my walking through the food forest, can be chopped and dropped onto the mulch layer. When I think of how much I liked the flavor of the berries on Andy's bush I am psyched to imagine feasting on my own year round!

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Costa Rican Mint Bush planted in the new bog garden, next to use a door hole cutter to make 5-6 drainage holes on the sides of a 55 gallon plastic drum with the top cut out to make it be a giant Water Wise Container Garden and bury it in the sugar sand at the northwest corner of the food forest project to be home to a Strawberry Guava I bought from H.E.A.R.T. The holes will be roughly a foot from the bottom...someday, when the tree is root bound, the roots can exit those holes into the damper soil found at that depth. Over the years, as the sheet compost layer deepens, the entire soil mass of the food forest should be become, then remain, damp. The barrel will be filled hugelkulktur style, including a few 25 pound bags of plain white Publix brand cat litter.

    Today I am setting various large plastic buckets about the front gardens and the new food forest, adding Super Poop, fish emulsion, dolomite, trace elements and water to let steep a few days, then ladle onto various edibles and ornamentals to be watered in for better growth. Excess water hyacinths being pulled from ponds today to be fed to the ducks and chickens. Waste not, want not!

    Don't bogart that joint!

    Great news for the Everglades!

    Excellent article

    Special thanks to Josh Jamison for finding this and sharing it on FaceBook!

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Super Cheap Solar Cooker

    My edible thornless Opuntia cochenillifera cactus needs to be cut back HARD for my food forest project to continue at the north end...even branches 4-5 feet long root easily, just let them air dry in the shade for a few days, then plant deeply. I will daily lay branches in my driveway, feel free to take them for free or slip a donation if you wish in the honor system white plastic vent in my red office door. I could EASILY fill two pick up trucks with them! 3212 West Paxton Avenue Tampa FL 33611

    Great productive day...the guava bog garden is completed with its hugelkultur style filling, planted with Purple Stem Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato, Mojito Mint, Fife Creek okra, with the guava in the got a wonderful deep saturating watering. The Raja Puri banana is now planted in the GIANT bog garden along with the Scarlet Mombin, with kabocha squash in the center. Next go Jack Beans along the east fence, gandule beans along the west fence, an Everbearing Mulberry in the ground at the NW corner of the food forest, and the Strawberry Guava in a buried 55 gallon Water Wise Container Garden about 15 feet east of it. The moringa is coppiced in that hot sand, so next I'll build a hugelkultur mound around it now that I've rigged a LONG hose to my new washing machine (thanks Dad!) then mulch the whole food forest garden obsessively from now on. Lesbos basil gets planted around the base of the moringa tree. I'm thinking of planting a mix of maybe a dozen molokhiya plants and 2 Caribbean Red papaya seedlings in the giant bog garden, with peanuts as the primary ground cover for the whole area. I'll be adding mixed sunflowers and Blue Pea Vine and old fashioned tall-growing red and lavender pentas for color, bees and butterflies. By the end of August this area could well be the crown jewel of my south Tampa urban farm. Lounging in the tarp shaded bio-filtered natural jacuzzi alone or with friends will be a delight, with gold fish keeping the water free of wrigglers.

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    With Paul's help, the jacuzzi shell is now buried, ready to be leveled, the guava bog pit next to it filled hugelkultur style with logs, Super Poop, clay cat litter and sand from the jacuzzi hole. Next to plant the guava in the center, mulch the soil mound, plant 'Fife Creek' okra, Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato and Mojito Mint, apply dilute fish emulsion and other nutrients, trim away the excess pond liner, then water slowly and deeply. Only things remaining to plant in this large food forest project is an Everbearing Mulberry, a Strawberry Guava, and outside border plantings of Gandule Beans and Jack Beans and mixed sunflowers. The the entire area then gets mulched with dead tithonia stalks, tree branches and leaves and chipped tree mulch. By summer's end it should be a cool productive oasis with the jacuzzi set up with plant biofilters and goldfish for lounging with friends. Good chance I'll plant peanuts as the main ground cover crop to help boost vegetable protein production here.

    October 19 at 10:00am until October 20 at 10:00am Bamboo Grove Homestead, 2460 SW Mixon St., Arcadia, FL 34266 For those interested in growing, trading, buying, or just plain learning about perennial vegetable culture here in Florida, come on out for this full day of workshops, garden tours, plant swapping and purchasing, etc. Featured speakers, demonstrations, sampling table. Plants discussed and /or shown: True Yams, Yacon, Perennial Onions & Leeks, Oca, Crosnes, Sweet Potatoes, Malanga, Taro, Eddo, Dasheen, Kuwai (Duck Potato), Water Chestnut, Belembe, Boniato, Cassava, Achira, Tigernuts, Earth Pea, Jerusalem Artichokes, Groundnuts (Apios), and more. Show up between 8 am - Noon: $15 / after 1:30 pm: $10 / after 3 pm: $5 / after 4:30: free admission. 6 pm free plant swap. 7 pm free vegetarian and wild pescatarian potluck. 8 pm campfire and free tent camping. LIMITED TO THE FIRST 150 PEOPLE WHO RSVP on Facebook, or by calling me at 863-993-3228. SCHEDULE: 8 am: Gates open 8 am - Noon: $15 admission. 11 am - Noon: Garden Tour 12:30 - 1:30: Workshop on... After 1:30: $10 admission. 2 pm - 3 pm: Workshop on... After 3 pm: $5 admission. 3:30 - 4:30: BACKYARD PERENNIAL ROOT CROPS FOR FLORIDA GARDENERS, A slideshow by Andy Firk. After 4:30 pm: Free admission. 6 pm: Plant Swap and Sale. Give away, trade, and for sale plants in three different sections. 7 pm: Free Potluck Dinner (Vegetarian & Wild Pescatarian). Please label your ingredients, all utensils, napkins, cups, glasses, bowls & plates will be provided. 8 pm: Campfire & free tent camping. Kids and friendly pets welcome. Kids under 15 are free.

    YAMFEST 2013.....Cracker and I are going, always delightful people, cool plants, awesome potluck, camping, plus Andy is a gracious host.

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Poop Alert! There is a MOUNTAIN of pesticide-free horse poop at Sail Away Farms in south Tampa across the street from my gym Joe Abrahams Fitness Center at Ballast Point Park. Pull up to the gate, ignore the No Trespassing sign, open the gate and use the orange highway cone to keep it open, pull in, GET OUT OF THE CAR AND CLOSE THE GATE, drive back to the barn and enter, drive to the can't miss the pile!! No need to speak to anyone, just fill your containers and leave......CLOSE THE GATE!!!! Elizabeth LOVES it when people take her poop Monday through Friday. She uses all natural methods for fly control unlike many stables. I've been getting free poop from there since 1999 when there was a different owner. Today I got approx. 100 lbs. of the "Super Poop" for tomorrow's hugelkultur filling of the guava pit plus some of the fluffy stuff from the pile. So nice to have the use of my hand back, pain 99% gone after that horrible cat bite infection,went to the gym to tell him I resume my workouts Wednesday. He LOVES the thornless cactus pads, helps him control his diabetes so I am taking him a big bag Wednesday. The stable cleanings are a mix of alfalfa hay, wood shavings, poop and urine, makes wonderful compost and potting soil!

    I don't know why articles say that Chipilin seeds are very difficult to first attempt they came up like crazy and now have true leaves.

    I came home stuffed from the yummy potluck at the Tampa Rare Fruit Council meetingyesterday, bought 4 white sapote fruits to try when ripe, won a young tree of one to grow plus a young tree of this in the raffle. Sounds very interesting!

    If I've ever eaten a white sapote I don't remember...ate a black sapote years ago, did not care for it. Both Sally, who sold me four for $2, and Paul Zmoda, said I will LOVE them when they ripen and get slightly soft. I need to research the tree itself to see where I might plant the one I won in the raffle.

    Attending meetings of the Tampa Rare Fruit Council is always a pleasure.

    I've had hundreds of vivid flying dreams over the years, but last night's was uniquely fun. I was in the driver's seat of my previous car, a white 1998 Dodge Caravan, it was moving forward in a very high orbit above the earth, higher than the space station. I wondered why I could breathe okay and was not freezing, saw it as a predicament but had very little fear...concern was more like it. For some reason, a 5 inch length of an aluminum ruler was essential to my safe return, but one end has been cut jaggedly and at an off angle. So I picked up a mini electric saw about the size of a barber's razor, opened up the right sliding door and hung half out in space half in so as to recut the ruler......I think I did not want the metal shavings in the cabin. At first I was afraid to look down (in real life I get nervous on 6 foot ladders!) but did and liked the view...the van and I were EASILY 200 miles up, likely more due to the curvature of the Earth. When I spun the saw blades against the rough end of the aluminum ruler the momentum slowly pushed me out of the van into space but I nervously grabbed the door frame, noticing the metal filings quickly trailing behind the van, realizing just how FAST I was orbiting. I finished, went back inside, closed the door and crawled back into the driver's seat. I don't know what I did with the ruler but it worked and I felt I had control of the van. I laid on the horn once, which somehow broke orbit and I started to descend. I oddly, calmly realized that I would soon be facing a fiery re-entry and crash landing, but again saw it as a predicament but I was not afraid. But within maybe 20 seconds I saw below me a big mown field with a bustling crowd around a baroque looking red airplane the size of an airliner that had just landed. I came to a very gentle landing and some of the reporters and crowd around the plane came over and once out of my van I told them what had just happened. Then the celebrity in the plane who was the reason for the press and crowd came over and I told him what had happened and that how odd it was I could breathe okay and not freeze while in orbit. Dream ended. I almost always wake up in a good mood, but ESPECIALLY so after a flying dream, and did once again after this very special flying dream. A grand day was assured!

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Turns out that half a tender pad of thornless opuntia cactus, a fistful of Giant Green Callalloo leaves, a ripe plantain, frozen papaya, dry oatmeal, coconut oil, soy flour plus various vitamins and minerals, water and a tad sugar make for a very fine smoothie in my Ninja blender.

    I wish to GREATLY reduce the size of my delicious, nutritious but MONSTROUS thornless opuntia cactus at the north end of my rapidly evolving food forest project out back.....branches 4-6 feet long root EASILY when planted directly into a landscape. Please feel free to contact me and come over for free BIG cuttings to help feed your family, goats, cows or pigs! 813 839 0881

    Now that the center food forest project area at last SEEMS to be chicken proof I yesterday dug a 5 gallon size hole atop the mound of logs, sand and leaves now filling what was for years a Golden Apple Snail pond since the sides have been punched down near the bottom on the sides to make it a gigantic Water Wise Container Garden. Into that hole went dolomite, several nutrients and about half a gallon of dried chicken poop, all buried with sand then mulched with bagged grass clippings from a neighbor; then enjoying a deep trickle watering. In the center went about a dozen seeds of kabocha squash I got from the poultry food scraps that I barter garden produce with Wimauma restaurant here in south Tampa on MacDill Avenue. Years back, before the drought settled in, I used to get spectacular harvests of kabocha squash....fingers crossed that this huge hugelkultur bog garden gives me that again. Next, at the west end of this bog garden goes the Purple Mombin that Tanja Vidovic kindly got for me at ECHO, and the east end gets the Raja Puri banana that Mary Jo gave me. At the southeast corner of the food forest area is a smaller bog garden, also a pit lined with an above ground pool liner, punched on the sides about a foot from the bottom (the pit is 5 feet deep), which soon gets filled hugelkultur style to become home to my long suffering potted guava tree. Mojito Mint will go around the guava so I can make large amounts of mint chutney. I am thinking of planting the Everbearing Mulberry that Andy gave me in the NW corner of this center garden. Some years down the road I will rely on hard pruning of the trees to insure enough sunlight to grow annual food crops in between them. The nearby moringa tree has been coppiced...not sure if I want to coppice the young neem tree or let it become a true tree. Next I DRASTICALLY reduce the size of my thornless Opuntia cactus....folks are welcome to come by for free very large cuttings to root in their landscapes as a wonderful staple food. My intent is to grow African Jack Beans along the east side chicken barrier fence, and gandules along the west side. For cheer and bee food I'll add to that border 'SkyScraper' sunflower and mixed ornamental types. Am thinking of planting the Perennial Edible Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot) that Josh gave me near the center of this whole food forest area as it faces south, since his got hammered last winter there in Lake Wales. I am approaching my goal of turning that oven-like area that used to be very productive, pre-drought, into a cooler oasis to be enjoyed by visitors and me (there will be a natural sitting pool made from a scavenged jacuzzi shell) and Cracker year after year as it adds greatly to the food production here.