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any permies in west central Florida?

Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
We're starting a food forest in the sand hills of Hernando county Florida, and looking for other permies near by to share info with. Anybody out there?


Certifiable food forest gardener, free gardening advice offered and accepted. Permaculture is the intersection of environmentalsim and agriculture.
Alan Foster


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
Not exactly next door but relatively close in Pinellas.
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
I'm in Deland also on sand...

I've got a small organic CSA, gulf coast sheep, chickens, pecans, etc.

Lately i've been messing with biochar and a biochar/hugelkultur hybird for planting trees.

Have you been to ECHO in south Florida? I haven't made the trip yet, but they seem to be doing some cool stuff.

Share some more details about your project if you don't mind.
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Don't mind sharing details but before I do can I ask what is a CSA? Haven't been to ECHO but it sounds like we should stop by there perhaps on our way to the Keys next time. Also - where do you recommend we get 2 pecan trees? I read that having 2 different varietes will increase yield. Also read that Curtis, Sumner, Pawnee, and Caddo all do well in Florida. Plant now or wait till this fall? Bare root or container? We've considered chickens, but since we have no one to look after them when we're gone, we're holding off.... Our house sits on a half acre that was completely cleared. All of the surrounding lots are undisturbed sand hill habitat, as are almost all of the lots within a mile of our place. We just moved in a little over a month ago and in that time I've planted muscadine grapes, blueberries, blackberries, fig, orange, mandarin, apple, pineapple guava, loquat, persimmon, avocado, mulberry, pomegranate, annual vegetables, and annual and perennial herbs. We still have room for the pecans, and some pawpaw, jujube, kumquat, and more figs which I also need to source. I've been mulching my you-know-what off, and can't wait for the wet season to get here. I have numerous questions about guild plants, which I have very few of at this time. Please share details of biochar/hugelkultur - I'm not at all familiar with it.
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Alan, can you share a bit about what you've got going in Pinellas county? Pretty near tropical where you're at eh?
Alan Foster


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
Nick Garbarino wrote:Alan, can you share a bit about what you've got going in Pinellas county? Pretty near tropical where you're at eh?


It is very near tropical, except for this years weird patterns. I myself am very new to this and am currently working on growing a few things to start in some raised beds on my small suburban lot. Want to make my lawn over into something more useful than inedible grass but will take some time doing. Also have a one tub(at this time) aquaponics setup going that I have grown tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, basil and right now a nice little crop of habanero peppers. Just starting out some bush beans, eggplant, cranberry hibiscus, a moringa, red sweet peppers, broccoli, bok choi and cauliflower. Put in a small blueberry and a blackberry bush. One small rain barrel for clean water and hand water a lot from the fish tank inside.
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Aquaponics sounds interesting - is that another term for hydroponics, or is it different? Although we maintain a relatively small area as turf grass, at least we catch the clippings and use it for mulch and compost. That fish tank inside - you wouldn't be raising tilapia by any chance? I like using aquarium water or pond water for making aerobic compost tea. We have a garden pond in our long term plan. Where we are there are no creeks or ponds because all the runoff goes to sumps to recharge the groundwater. Once our pond is installed, I'm thinking we're going to be real popular with the local wildlife.
Alan Foster


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
I have a small patio pond with koi. Water is pumped out into a rubbermaid container filled with gravel where the plants reside. When the water reaches a set level a siphon kicks in draining it back to the pond. The nitrate wastes from the fish feed the plants, the plants uptake of nitrogen clean the water for the fish. Plus as a bonus, part of their feed is from the plants that grrow. The tank inside is a 120 with tropicals. I hand water from that and replace with water from the rain barrel. Plans are in the works to expand, but there are always setbacks will have to wait and see.
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
That's a nice system, and one like I'll want to put in the middle of my food forest. I could run electricity out there, but I'd rather use a battery powered pump and a small solar battery charger. I suppose the pump output would depend on how big the pond is, but in my case I'm thinking a 300 gallon pond would suffice. Seems like a pretty small pump would do. Does this sound do-able to you? I may want to use perennials if possible, but not sure if that would work. I'm thinking lemon grass.
Alan Foster


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
A lot will depend on species and stocking densities. As a rule, turning over total volume 1 time an hour is ideal. WIll also depend on type of structure you go with. You can do a flood and drain like I have, a constant flood, floating raft, towers. Best way to go would be on a slope, pump up as high as needed and let gravity do the rest.
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Thanks Alan. You've been very helpful. I will come back to this when we're ready to install the pond. In the mean time, I need to do something about all the bare sandy spots in our future food forest, so I think I'll order some Bocking 14 comfrey and plant some lamb's quarters, pigeon peas, and other legumes.
Alan Foster


Joined: Apr 11, 2012
Posts: 26
Location: St. Pete,FL
You're welcome Nick. Good luck with the projects, hope to hear positive updates.
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. There are many variations, but essentially people pay for a whole season ahead of time and then get a box of produce from the garden each week. I run a 12 week season in spring and a 12 week season in fall. In the winter I sell at farmer's markets because it's hard to maintain the level of production need for a CSA. We get close to Ocala temperatures here and we usually get a 27 degree night or two every winter.

The pecans on the property have been here for a long time and i'm not sure about the varieties. I do plan on ordering trees from here:Chestnut Hill Tree Farm
I've heard good things about their quality.

I'm experimenting using comfrey as a border to garden plots. It keeps creeping grasses out and I cut and drop it for mulch. I have an acre chicken area that will be divided into three large paddocks. I'm planting loquats, mulberries and other perennials on the south side of each paddock that I can harvest and the rest can fall for chicken feed. I also have 3 type of pigeon peas that I will use as a nursery crop for the trees. I've also started several types of Acacia trees that I will mix in. On the north side of each paddock I will have several circle garden plots ringed with comfrey. I plan on growing feed crops for the chickens that they can scratch for. I hope to develop a Fukuoka-style rotation for these plots. There is a little area with the chicken coop that is adjacent to each of the paddocks. The south side of the coop building will be a greenhouse. The chickens will help keep it warm in the winter and increase the CO2 in the greenhouse.

Biochar is essentially charcoal added to the soil. It increases the CEC and water holding capacity of the soil. It also provides great structure for fungus and other soil life to flourish. There is a lot on this in other forums and you should check out the International Biochar Initiative.

If you're looking for other legumes that do well in sandy soil I highly recommend iron/clay peas or cow peas. They love the heat and grow very rapidly. I also use a lot of buckwheat in the garden for a quick cover crop. In the winter I've had success with austrian winter peas and often mix it with rye or winter wheat. Clover can do well but definitely needs water to establish in the sand.

I've got a small banana/plantain/papaya garden...it's been neglected this spring but I plan to move things around next year and start over. I want to try an understory of sweet potatoes that will keep the soil covered without a lot of mulch. Plus, the sheep love sweet potato greens.

If you're on facebook I have photos up...it's called Hermitage Farms in Deland, FL.

My future plans include a few forest garden plots...one based around citrus, one around olives and one around blueberries. I'm also experimenting with sorghum this year which seems promising. I planted some for sheep forage and some for grain production/chicken feed. That's all I can think of right now...good luck with your gardens!!!

Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Too bad your place is 112 miles from us. If we are ever over that way, I will make a point of stopping by. Yeah, 27 degrees is not too difficult to deal with for a small garden, but for a big operation like yours, I can understand that production decreases in winter. Thanks for the tip on the tree farm. Is there a place you'd recommend for mail ordering comfrey? Good to know cowpeas do well here, as I have already planted a few and was planning to put in some more pinkeyes and purple hulls. I just realized I've been doing hugelkultur-just didn't know that's what it's called! Interesting to know that using biochar is even better. Keep us updated on that. My sweet potato slips will be ready for planting in a week or two. I was delighted to read on this forum that they are perennial in central Florida. Maybe I won't have to make slips any more. I will look into buckwheat and may get back to you if I have any questions. Sounds like it may be the answer for covering up the remaining bare areas. Thanks again for all your help and best of luck with your CSA.
Ben Walter


Joined: Mar 19, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
    
    1
I bought some comfrey from a local herbalist and have spread it around the property. Unfortunately I don't have any recommendations for that.

I don't know the variety I have but it does well...if you are interested I can send you root cuttings. Just email me (benw3179@gmail.com). All I would need is money for postage.
Tony Elswick


Joined: Aug 10, 2011
Posts: 73
Families in Hudson. Likely will be starting my permaculture in Ruskin though... but still starting food forests in Spring Hill too.

Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2092
Location: FL
    
  49
I'm up here just north of Lake City.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
S Bengi


Joined: Nov 29, 2012
Posts: 1013
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
    
    5
I am making the plunge to start a food forest in Florida in feb/march. I am going to need a good amount of help anyone available.
John Harris


Joined: Dec 13, 2011
Posts: 17
John H. here;

I'm northern Pinellas county. west central Florida.
I'm growing a few garden plants, fighting the critters,
germinating lots of seeds, producing a few edibles;
making a lot of notes and improving the fertility
of my soil areas-
I'm full "spade ahead" ready to do 50 acres
not just one****
John H. zone 9b
Tom Wootton


Joined: Mar 07, 2013
Posts: 7
Location: North Florida near Hart Springs zone 8b
Nick,

We're in North FL about 40 miles west of Gainesville, 1/2 mile east of Suwanee river. We're on 15 wooded acres, of which a little under an acre is cleared, just around the cabin. Just getting started, really: half a dozen blueberries, 2 apple trees, one peach, sweet potatoes and a small veggie plot. I have a couple of elevated wicking bins, and am building a larger one for some "no-bend" gardening. We plan to do more, including citrus, pomegranate, guava, strawberries, and guilds for the fruit trees. Also want to cover part of the acre in a low maintenance lawn. I'd like to do perennial peanut, but it's expensive. Second choice is centipede. Currently planted in white dutch clover and winter rye grass. We seeded centipede on part of it last year, but not much came up. Always looking for ideas, and sources for guild plants. Currently trying to locate some comfrey.
 
 
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