When bull dozers came in and cleared out the trees and grasses growing on county land by the canal behind my house, I planted trees and threw seeds.
Sun coming through a mighty slash pine tree.
Old Live Oaks with Resurrection Fern beards in Fort Pierce Burial Mound Park, Fort Pierce, Florida
Rain Lilies flower after rain. These are at my front walkway.
If you go on Craig’s List you can find lots of listings for free manure. You go there with your truck and your fork or shovel and you load up the manure you want from the pile. That can be a very excellent vibe, you can work the part of the pile you want, fresh or older, and you have a load of manure for some driving, and some work. I have done that. Sometimes the manure is great, sometimes it is gross, full of flies and stinking of urine, sometimes it is surrounded by a moat of muddy manure liquid you have to wade into to get on and off the pile, sometimes it is out underneath a stand of Brazilian Pepper trees, and full of dropped seeds, but it is free, and if you have a truck, and a place to put your load of manure to mellow, it will eventually work out for you.
I have also seen listings for manure delivered for $40 or $50, but you don’t know what you are going to get, and I suspect, the driver doesn’t care what you get.
I was called into a local community garden to present the Lasagna Layer Garden workshop. There was a list of materials they would need to acquire ahead of the workshop, and manure was on the list. Several loads of “free manure” were delivered. What they got was a mixed pile of sand and manure. Whomever had loaded the manure onto the truck must have used a mechanical shovel of some sort, and had gone enough beneath or beside the pile to have brought up a bunch of native sand or fill. It was a terrible representation of manure, and we worked extra hard that day to avoid using the sand that came with the manure.
I attended a plant show recently where a local civic group was selling large bags of “manure” for a small donation. I was given several bags that were left over. When I opened the bags I was stunned to find that what I had was a bag of sand. It bothered me to think of how many people got that bag of sand and thought that was manure, put it in their gardens, and got what effect?
It was at that point that I realized that I was severely undervaluing the excellent manure that I offer to my clients, and the ethic that I bring to supplying a product that really is what it should be. Just because it is shit doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, and if you have gotten a lousy bag of sand instead of manure, you might think manuring a garden doesn’t work. Manure does amazing things to our sandy soils.
I offer my clients a load of manure delivered to their yard or garden for $160. I will take it anywhere on the property that my one ton truck can go. The volume is guaranteed to be at least 9 garbage cans full, and the quality of the manure is tops. The stable where I go to shovel manure uses an extremely fine cut kiln dried pine (nearly saw dust) for the stable bedding and that is what absorbs the urine and what the manure mixes with. When they muck the stables they put it outside under the sky where it sits quietly breaking down to make a lovely soil mix. When I go out to that pile for your load of manure I select the part of the pile that has had some time out there to interact with soil organisms and break down, and I fork your load myself. Most of the manure you get from me will have an odor more like soil than manure, you will not get sand in my delivery, and very few weed seeds.
If you don’t have your own truck, and you would like my truck load of excellent partially broken down manure for your gardens, the cost is $160 delivered to your St. Lucie County or southern Indian River County yard. Call 772 240 6695.
“What does The Compost Gardener do?” I was recently asked on my newest Google internet listing. The closest two choices I had were Gardener, and Landscaper. Both are accurate, and neither are spot on. A friend asked me the same question and I had to consider what I do for people in their gardens that makes me a gardener for hire.
I think most gardeners hire themselves out to do the work their clients tell them to do, but I am the gardener you hire to tell you what should be done in your garden. Most of my clients want to incorporate edible crops into their gardens. They want to do this without using pesticides and bags of synthetic fertilizers. So, I come out with some of my favorite tools, some seeds, some plants, and if requested a load of composting manure, or mulch, hay and or straw, and I work side by side with my clients to teach them how to garden in a new and healthier way.
How do I know what to bring with me? Because I have been there once before for a Garden Consult. The Garden Consult is step one in my relationship with my clients, I come to their gardens to take a look. We talk about what is happening currently, how the client hopes the garden will develop, and we talk about how to make that happen. For some clients that is enough. They can go from there and do their own work. In that case step one, the Garden Consult, is the only service I may provide for that customer.
After the Garden Consult some clients who do not have a pick up truck hire me to delivery manure, mulch, hay and straw to their gardens. I do that too.
My long term clients hire me to come with various garden amendments, and I work with them in the garden until they are confident with the methods we employ to build their soils and manage their plants and harvests. One of my favorite clients, a long time gardener long before we met hired me to work beside him for nearly a year. It took him that long to believe he could do the things we were doing together by his lone, but he did, and he does great work in his gardens now without my help. It is one of my greatest successes that my clients don’t generally need me for long. It is the way I know that I am teaching simple and successful methods for long term garden management.
I am the gardener you hire when you need someone to tell you what’s next. Edible, sustainable, regenerative, clean and naturally delicious for Florida!
When I decided I had to write about Full Circle Farm, I realized I needed a new category for this article. I have created the Food Category, and I am thrilled to be starting out with a positive article about food. Given the condition of our national food system and the stuff that passes for food these days I am not surprised I hadn’t created this category until now. But ah yes, staying positive, onward and upward!
I have found a Florida farm that produces food with a nutrient density, cleanliness and humanity that I have faith in. My husband and I have been for decades eschewing grocery meat, dairy, and vegetables because we lack faith in the way that those foods are produced, and we believe that food produced properly is medicine for our bodies.
I had been a member of a raw dairy group for over 5 years, when I heard about a better dairy farmer.
Several months ago I met a friend from Tallahassee who had done a 2 year apprenticeship in the milking barn of Full Circle Farm in Live Oak. He told me about Dennis (the farmer) and how he had undertaken to learn how to farm for the most nutrient dense foods rather than focusing on how to make the biggest profit. Dennis and his wife Alecia and their children have been living, working and eating on the farm for 13 years.
Full Circle Farm is becoming famous in Florida for their raw dairy. It is amazingly rich and creamy. I asked Dennis how he’s doing it, he told me his cows are fed on pasture only with free choice kelp meal, and absolutely no grains, not even during milking. He told me this means his cows only give one or two gallons of milk a day, and that milk is nutrient dense. This also means that his cows are comfortable, they are not giant super udder cows. That makes me feel comfortable too.
Dennis also pays great attention to the condition of his pastures, building and improving their nutrient density as well. I don’t know if he’d like me to say so, but I think that makes him a very good grass farmer. Furthermore, and you can read about this on the farm blog, Dennis is working on a selective breeding program to make sure that his heifers are producing A2 milk proteins which are the more digestible milk proteins. Most American bovine dairy protein has become A1 which is less digestible. This may have happened inadvertently when dairies were breeding for increased udder size and capacity. It is my understanding that this selective breeding for milk protein correction has already been completed throughout Europe.
Some products that I am just over the moon about from Full Circle Farm are the milk, so rich with just a slight hint of yellow from the grass the cows eat, and a cream line that goes at least a third of the way down; Yogurt, so thick and delicious I don’t add any fruit or honey to it; Cream so heavy you don’t have to whip it to serve it on pie; Several different vegetable ferments like kim chee, a variety of cheeses, including a cheese sampler, and for those of us who are omnivorous; Delicious pasture and forest fed meats.
The best thing about all of this is that Full Circle packs a van of coolers with our orders and drives down here to deliver their products. You can go on line and make an order, pay for it there on line, and it will come down to your location. The website is https://fullcirclerealfoods.com/
The next delivery for Fort Pierce is expected in March. We don’t have a date yet. There are fees associated with ordering, so if you are not getting very many items, combine your order with a friend to save a buck or two.
If you are placing an order for the Fort Pierce delivery, we gather at a local farm in the grass under shade trees for the delivery, It winds up being a very nice social opportunity for those of us who are waiting for the van to arrive. We look forward to meeting you there.
This will be a busy weekend. As you know I am giving my well practiced Composting 101 talk at the Make Share Do Summit at Ground Floor Farm Saturday.
On Monday evening there is a free event also at Ground Floor Farm called Green Circles. It is from 6pm to 7:30pm, and I understand Alison from the Vegie Love Truck will be serving some light vegan refreshments there. Definitely a highlight for me.
I will also be presenting at the Green Circles event. I am pretty excited about this. When Melissa Carter contacted Lucie and me about this event she asked us to prepare a Pecha Kucha presentation. We had to look that up.
A Pecha Kucha presentation is 20 slides that take 20 seconds each. A lifetime actually unless you are a long story telling, extra details kinda talker, like I might be. My regular one hour presentation time had to be cut down to a concise 6 minutes! And I did it. I made an all new Permaculture presentation for this event, and I found the forced brevity to be refreshing in the making.
Please come out and see this Pecha Kucha event. No speaker will be on for much more than 6 minutes. This could be fun.
Melissa sent me the details, and I have included them below.
Green Circles: a Sustainable Event
Green Circles is a special opportunity to meet your local Green community and learn about various aspects of sustainability.
Enjoy short presentations on sustainability by several prominent speakers including:
•John Szerdi, Principal Architect of the Living Designs Group and IRSC Architecture Professor
•Nichole Anha Rouse, Founder and Operator of the Treasure Coast Reuse Center
•Kyle Abney, Principal of Abney + Abney Green Solutions
•Adina Lehrman of The Compost Gardener and Florida Regenerative Landscapes
•Brian Sale of the Green Veterinarians.
Green Circles will be held at Ground Floor Farm: a suburban farm, experimental kitchen workshop, arts and events venue, and open source community space in Downtown Stuart, FL.
Veggie Love will provide fresh, light fare using ingredients grown right here at Ground Floor Farms.
Green Circles is collaboration of the American Institute of Architects Treasure Coast Chapter and the US Green Building Council of the Treasure Coast.
If you are interested in homesteading, self reliance, and interdependence, you might be interested in the Make Share Do Summit at the Ground Floor Farm in downtown Stuart this weekend December 4,5, and 6, 2015. They have worked to bring in many presenters for Saturday when they will offer 4 different classes for each of 5 sessions throughout the day with an hour long lunch break during which two different talks will be offered. I will be there to present a composting talk at 1:15 to 2:15. Also throughout the day Saturday there will be several diversion stations, including a game deck, library, makers market, and a seed swap.
On Sunday the 6th, they will be offering three 3 hour intensive classes at the Ground Floor Farm and three other 3 hour intensive classes at other locations around town.
Friday night December 4, 2015, the Make Share Do Summit will kick off with a potluck, and viewing of the Pixar film Wall- E.
If your interest is peaked I am including this link for the Ground Floor Farm where you will see links for the Make Share Do Summit schedule which will also take you to ticket sales. You can of course show up on the day of the summit and get your ticket on the way in.
This seems like a really cool summit and an effort worth supporting. I’m going, I hope you make it too.
It is November, and the heat and humidity, after a brief hiatus, are back upon us and we who have been here all summer and who endure these subtropical summers outdoors, do so knowing that by the time November comes we will have our windows open and cool dry breezes will waft through the house to chase us outdoors for our most temperate but shortest days in the garden. So what gives? We have had days so hot that I have had to break out the ice bottles for the bunny bunker. I promised the new rabbits that by now they would have gorgeous days that would better suit their lovely soft fur coats. I think they have been been scrutinizing me with some distrust lately due to my inaccurate weather predictions.
Rabbit scrutiny and hot weather not withstanding, I am writing to let readers know about two indoor class presentations coming up this month.
First up, on Saturday November 14th 2015, 10 to noon, Composting 101. Everything you need to know about composting and soil building for great fertile garden soils. This class takes place in Vero Beach at Mark Stanley’s home. This is a great Permaculture garden to see and a lovely homey setting for an indoor presentation.
Also in November, one of the most impactful presentations I offer. The simple and effective approach to plant pest control offered in Pests and Disease In The Organic Garden can be transformational and liberating for growers of ornamentals as well as edibles. This class happens Saturday November 21, 2015, 11am to 1pm, at Sustainable Kashi in Sebastian. Sustainble Kashi is an amazing Permaculture Farm project to visit, and a great learning environment for this presentation. I attended my Permaculture Design Certification Training there. I would recommend this hosts location for any training. It is vast, welcoming, and the meals they prepare there are excellent.
I look forward to seeing you at these classes.
In September we the hardy souls depicted in this Layer Mound Gothic worked together to create this Keyhole Layer Mound Garden at Mark Stanley’s back yard. This Saturday, October 17, 2015, our next offering at the Mark Stanley Permaculture Homestead Garden is the Planting Seeds Workshop.
People who attend will be offered basic information about seeding the garden, depth and spacing for garden seeds and transplants, and several methods for seeding. We will also learn the difference between polycultures and monocultures in the garden, and some companion planting tips and tricks. This will be a hands on workshop, and attendees should come out of it feeling very certain about how to plant seeds and transplants in their own gardens.
If you are interested in attending, See the poster below for the details.
There are those who say that the seasons in South Florida don’t change much, and I understand why, but if you are in the garden the change of season is not so subtle.
I was at a Mark Stanley’s Everyone’s Birthday Celebration Pot Luck two weeks ago. The weather was still wicked hot, and it was a great end of summer reunion for some of us who hadn’t seen each other for a few months, and a good opportunity to share our summer perennial foods. Most of my very wise friends looked great! Rested, tall, clean, cool and calm. I on the other hand have worked myself into a frazzle this summer and I think I prolly looked as ragged out as I felt that day. There have been circumstances that have forced me to press through the worst summer heat outdoors, but enough for excuses.
Yesterday, Oct. 3, 2o15, (Happy Birthday Lucie) I was out in the sun at noon on the mulch pile loading up a truckload of mulch for delivery to a client. For the first time since summer laid itself upon us I felt a chill in the wind that blew in from the west. Half the goose bumps I got were from the pure thrill of it.
This morning it was in the 60’s and the humidity has dropped. Rain just chased me indoors so I take this moment to make sure to express my gratitude for this seasonal change, change to shorter days, to cooler dryer weather, to chill breezes from the northwest cut by a warm tropical sun, and to annual vegetables. Most of us already have sprouts up in the garden now. This is our gorgeous time of year, and the annual food is going to be delicious!
Go dig up a flannel shirt, we’re having a few cool nights.
It’s still hot here in S. Florida, but the day time temps have dropped a few degrees, and I can feel a dry breeze that is new to my days on the ladder at the chicken enclosure. Today is the autumnal equinox, the length of days and nights is nearly equal. We are four days from the full moon, and every bone in my body is aching to throw seeds. It is planting time for our favorite fall/winter annual vegetables so I hope you have your garden soils ready.
If you don’t have your garden soils ready, don’t worry, you are not alone, and all is not lost. We will have a Lasagna Layer Mound Workshop at Mark Stanley’s house in Vero Beach on Saturday morning. The Lasagna Layer Mound is the fastest way to put together an instant fertile garden bed for nearly immediate growing. Mark has fashioned a lovely Key Hole Garden for us to layer onto, so any who want to participate in this workshop will not only learn how to do the Lasagna Layer Mound, they will also get an introduction to the Key Hole Garden, a very space efficient garden shape, as well as an introduction to Hugel Kultur, which is the method used for the base of Mark’s Key Hole Garden.
If you would like to participate in this workshop see the poster below for details. If it is too small to read call Adina @ 772 240 6695 to reserve a space and for questions about this workshop.
I was in the garden the other day, it was drizzling, and I could hear some very loud bird calls. I thought it might be the hawks that have moved into the trees next door, but when I came around to the Circle Garden I realized the call was happening there. I looked up to see baby ducklings start jumping out of the dead palm tree trunk on the south edge of the garden. They each made a 12 to 15 foot leap of faith. I caught video of the last two jumping out, and after those jumps you can see the Duck Hen on the ground on the other side of the garden fence, peering through as she passes into an opening in the brush.
She quickly herded the bunch of ducklings, at least 6 possibly 10 into the shelter of a passive compost pile.
I have seen this breed of duck in this same area and other areas of my yard year after year always with their yellow and brown dotted ducklings. I feel pretty lucky. I hope that hen and her ducklings are lucky this year. We have plenty of predators in our backyard ecosystem.
On Saturday the 13th of June (2015), Lucie and I will be presenting our last class in the Year In The Permaculture Garden series. Planning The Summer Garden is key for Florida gardeners as this is our opportunity to go fallow in the garden, grow summer annual crops or to plant green mulch, and cover crops. This class will help you to decide which to do, and how to go about it. We will also cover some of the many perennial leaf crops we can grow here for our summer table greens.
The classroom portion of this presentation will be at Leisure Square 3705 16th St. in Vero Beach at 10:00 AM.
For the practicum, at 11:30 immediately following the classroom presentation, we will adjourn to Fort Pierce to view some of the summer gardens at Adina’s homestead gardens in Fort Pierce. Expect to be there for an hour.
For your comfort and safety, closed toe footwear w/ little or no heel, is mandatory, and it is recommended that you wear adequate protection from the sun, from mosquitoes, and bring your drinking water.
For more information on this class offering, or to inquire about having this presentation at your garden club or garden party call Adina 772 240 6695, or Lucie 772 473 7230.
When I began to consider keeping chickens in the yard I spoke to my neighbors about it. Because my neighbors had grow up on farms, I seriously reconsidered when they told me that chickens stink.
I had visited small farms and homesteads with coops that did smell very bad, and I didn’t want to bring that kind of funk onto my land, so I hatched out a plan to move my chickens around on the property so that they would never be in one area for long enough to stink it up.
With my plan firmly set in my mind I acquired my first flock of chicks, and built my rolling coop/nesting boxes. When the rolling coop was built I put a moveable fence around it as I moved it around the yard. It wasn’t long before a feral cat and our pet hunting dog had destroyed my entire first flock.
Back to the drawing board.
I realized the rolling coop model was not going to keep my chickens safe enough from predators on my heavily wooded property. So before I got the next flock I closed in a corner of my fenced in yard, and created a hawk proof bamboo and netting top for it. I rolled the coop/nesting box into the enclosure and began again.
For four years I have been keeping chickens on a 20’x 18′ piece of land, and I am proud to say that it has never smelled bad.
I am not working particularly hard to do this. I am just using knowledge of composting systems to tie up the smelly nitrogen wastes that chickens create. I am happy, my chickens are healthier living in a perpetually clean (not sterile) enclosure, and my friends and neighbors are not offended by my chicken yard.
As more towns and cities are permitting backyard chickens, more of my neighbors are acquiring their own flocks. It is important that as we start these new yard stock endeavors, we learn how to keep our pet hens healthy, clean and inoffensive. To that end I am adding No Stink Chicken Yard consults to my lists of services.
If you want to come to my homestead and see how my No Stink Chicken Yard works I would be glad to spend up to an hour of show and tell for a $30 fee. If you already have a smelly chicken yard and you would like a consult at your place and you live in St. Lucie County the fee for that consult is $60. If you would like me to bring the materials necessary to begin the neutralizing of odors in your chicken yard in St. Lucie County the fee for that consult w/ materials is $100. This fee will cover yards up to 20′ by 20′ w/ 20 or fewer hens.
Another way for you to save the world from the comfort of your own back yard, The Backyard Ecosystem builds on the idea that a balanced ecosystem requires less work for the gardener, fewer inputs and entirely negates any need for synthetic fertilizers and interventions against pests infestations.
This classroom presentation is the second to last in our Year In The Permaculture Garden Series, Saturday May 16, 2015, 10 am, at Leisure Square. 3705 16th St., Vero Beach.
The field trip will be at noon to Adina’s Fort Pierce property to see the backyard ecosystem principals at work. It is likely to be a hot day. We recommend you bring your hat, water, and dress appropriately for a walk in a wild forest garden.
Please scroll down to a lower post to see the poster for the class series with more details.
If you have missed this class or can not attend this time please note this class room presentation is available for your garden club or garden party. Please call for more information 772 240 6695.
Yesterday I called my neighborhood nursery to check on fruit tree availability for a client and I found out that their usual fruit tree stock was extremely depleted. Everyone has been buying fruit trees and not only is the nursery out of trees, their suppliers are having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.
Find out what is going on and how best to arrange your fruit tree plantings. Join Florida Regenerative Landscapes for the next class in our Year In The Permaculture Garden series: What Is A Food Forest?
This is a fun classroom Prezie presentation by Lucie Burke. Focusing on extensive rather than intensive food production systems. Find out how you can create a food forest in your yard, have lots of easy food and nurture the ecology of your yard all at once.
This Saturday, April 11th at 10 AM
Leisure Square Tuff Room
3705 16th Street
Vero Beach FL 32960
Immediately following the classroom presentation there will be a walk through a local Vero Beach Food Forest yard. Wear clothing appropriate for a garden walk and bring your water bottle.
For more information scroll down to an earlier post to see our class schedule poster.
I recently received a comment from a reader Marco in response to my article Garden Pests: Nematodes . In his comment he wrote:
“Great list of things to try but do any of them actually work effectively? I suspect most of it is good in theory or just plain myth and does not work in practice for the home gardener.”
I had to go back and read what I had written in that article and was relieved to see that although written in 2009 the article still accurately reflects a very basic truth about gardening. That truth is that you do not have to do battle with nature in order to grow and eat food. Furthermore, the truth is that in doing battle with nature to produce crops you put yourself on a treadmill that is expensive, toxic, time consuming, and will ultimately fail because it is unsustainable.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that there are no pests and disease in my garden, or that I do absolutely nothing to mitigate the impact of pests. I still use some of the practices I wrote about in my Garden Pests: Nematodes article, but I don’t do battle, and I don’t lose my mind, or jump into action when I see pests in the garden.
I don’t get 100% of the crops I grow, but there is plenty for my family, some surplus for friends, a little for the garden pests (the worst of which are squirrels), and plenty for the soil. If I consider what Eden might have been, I imagine a place buzzing with life. Certainly that wouldn’t have exclude aphids any more than it excluded snakes.
Coincidentally, on Saturday March 7th at 10 am Lucie and I will be presenting Pests and Disease In The Permaculture Garden at the Leisure Square Community Center at 3705 16th St. in Vero Beach. Attendees will learn about the strategies we use in our gardens and in our clients gardens for successful natural gardening without having to do battle with pests and disease. At 11:30 we will be visiting a local garden where the principles and practices we will go over in the classroom are being employed to produce lots of food naturally.
Pests and Disease In The Permaculture Garden is the 5th class in A Year In The Permaculture Garden series. It is I think one of the most impactful classes we offer. For a doubtful gardener it could be the pivotal point in simplifying and improving the garden culture practiced. Please see the poster below if you are interested in registering for this class.
In continuation of A Year In The Permaculture Garden series, Lucie and I will be presenting Composting 101 at Leisure Square Community Center 3705 16th St. Vero Beach Florida 32960 on Friday morning at 10am in the Tuff Room. This class is designed to enrich your understanding of composting whether you are a first time composting novice or an experienced compost concoctor. This classroom presentation is just $12.50, and there is no test at the end.
Friday’s presentation is the classroom presentation only with the workshop for Composting taking place a week and a day later on Saturday November 22nd at 10am also at Leisure Square.
I posted an article about A Year In The Permaculture Garden, but the link wouldn’t open the page, so I deleted the article and remade it, did some other hocus pocus and now it works. Unfortunately everyone who is signed up for email will get one broken email link to an article that goes to an empty page and subsequent identical email that will open the published post. Please forgive the first link to emptiness, and do open the subsequent identical one that will take you to the information I posted.
Lucie and I will be presenting a series of 8 classes at Leisure Square in Vero Beach starting October 25 and running through June 2015. Each class will have two parts, classroom and practicum which can be taken separately or together though some practicum units will be less impactful without the classroom understanding.
As a gentle introduction to Permaculture we will be featuring Permaculture Ethics, and one or two permaculture principles in each class as it relates to what we will be presenting. We will also integrate The Permaculture Garden Zones into this series.
Understanding the Food Forest, and employing Forest Guilds for Florida: Find out how you can do your part to save our world.
Composting 101 offers everything you need to know about composting to successfully create your own compost pile, passive compost, or sheet composts. It is instructive for the first time compost concoctors as well as compost connoisseurs, offering information about the many different ways to make compost happen in your yard, as well as the basic and fascinating science behind composting. Learn why a balanced compost has no unpleasant smells and what it means if your compost pile smells yucky, and how to fix it immediately. This class is available for your garden club, or classroom and is appropriate for all age gardeners from ten years to golden years. Call to book this presentation 772 240 6695.