Saturday, May 11, 2013

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.

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