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.

At the Florida Permaculture Convergence January 2013. An early morning shot of the adjoining cow pasture.

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.

 

Chickens: Stinky Chicken Yard? I Can Fix That

Chicken Yard

Chicken Yard

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.

Education: The Backyard Ecosystem

The Jungle

The Canal Bank

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.

Education: What Is A Food Forest

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.

 

 

Garden Pests: Pests and Disease In The Permaculture Garden

In The Garden

In The Garden

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.

A Year In The Permaculture Garden

A Year In The Permaculture Garden

Education: Composting 101Friday November 14, 10am

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.

A Year In The Permaculture Garden

A Year In The Permaculture Garden

 

About A Glitch In My Site

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.

 

Okra Flower

Okra Flower

Education: A Year In The Permaculture Garden At Leisure Square Vero Beach

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.

A Year In The Permaculture Garden

A Year In The Permaculture Garden

Education: Food Forest Presentation in Vero Beach, Florida

Understanding the Food Forest, and employing Forest Guilds for Florida: Find out how you can do your part to save our world.

Food Forest Presentation

Food Forest Presentation

Composting: A Composting 101 Class

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.

"Compost"

“Compost”

Permaculture: The Peak/LOVJuice Food Forest

I have posted new pics from our food forest project at Peak/LOVJuice in Vero Beach Florida. If you are interested click on this link to see the newest blog post at FloridaRegenerativeLandscapes.com and those amazing pics from our 8 months old project.

Education: Another Layer Mound Workshop in Sebastian, Florida

Lucie and I are presenting another Layer Mound Workshop. This one will be at the Sebastian/Roseland yard of Joann McGrath. The property is on a sandridge, and this workshop will be the first bit of work we will be doing on this yard, though we expect to be helping Joann to transform her property to better meet her super lush vision for its future as an edible garden. We are excited at this beginning. Joann’s yard has mad potential. See the flyer below for details.

LayerMoundWorkshopFlyerJMcGrathFlatRed

Education: Planting Seeds Workshop

Two weeks ago we built a layer mound in our Layer Mound Workshop at Mark Stanley’s garden in Vero. Saturday we will be having a Planting Seeds Workshop. We will spend some time learning a bit about planting seeds, about different types of companion plantings, and poly-culture, and then we will plant Mark’s seeds in his new layer mound. This workshop costs $10 or $5 for those of you who attended any of the Layer Mound workshops in 2013. See the poster below for details.
SeedPlantingWorkshopFlyerMarkflatLesRed

Education: Another Layer Mound Workshop in Vero Beach

Due to popular demand and because the timing is right we are presenting the Lasagna Layer Mound Workshop again. This class will take place at the garden of Mark Stanley in South Vero, on Sunday November 3, at 9am and will go to approximately noon. The cost of this workshop is $20 to help cover the cost of time and materials. Mark gets a garden, attendees get handouts and hands on experience in this method for setting up an instant fertile garden. Wear clothing and shoes appropriate for garden work, bring your gloves, and prepare to be out in the sun. Mark has very good filtered water, so you can bring your own, or bring an empty and he will fill it up for you. See the flyer below for more details. LayerMoundWorkshopFlyerMarkFlatRed

Education: Layer Mound Workshop in Vero Beach, Florida

Lucie and I will be presenting a Layer Mound Garden class and workshop Saturday August 24, at 10am at the Peak Health and Fitness project location in Vero Beach, Florida. Come take the class, have a live organic vegan juice on us, and learn hands on how to layer up a garden for an instant fertile garden. We are just weeks before planting of fall and winter annuals begins, so the timing of this workshop is perfect for South and East Central Florida gardeners who want to grow this season. See the flyer below for details.

Flyer For Workshop

Flyer For Workshop

Permaculture: Lemons To Lemonade

In April bull dozers came to the canal behind our property and pulled down all of the deep shade that had grown there. The water management district had a project to do back there, and in a few days my west side fence that had been buried in the deep shade of Brazilian pepper trees was 132 feet of bright bare soil, and from my back porch I could see the houses in the development on the other side of the canal. I know Brazilian peppers are a class one invasive, but they were a dense deeply shady class one invasive. I was pretty unhappy about what had just happened, but it wasn’t long before I saw the awesome opportunity that had been laid upon my back door step. Like most gardeners I had many plants and trees in pots that were just waiting for an opportunity to take a place in the earth. Many plants in my landscape had rooted stems in the ground, made pups, or sprouted seedlings nearby, so finding perennial plants to put back there was easy.

The day that the bulldozers finished their work some excellent friends from Sustainable Kashi in Sebastian came out to Fort Pierce to visit and to lend a hand. Our friend Lucie Burke from Florida Regenerative Landscapes showed up and after lunch 6 of us dug 132 feet of swale and planted some trees. That work was done in just 2 hours. The power of friends with shovels is not to be underestimated. When they left I went to dig up some more plants and worked another 2 hours to get more trees and plants into the ground.

I spent a couple more days installing perennial plants from the yard, and I put some old hay mulch around each one. Next I threw seeds. All kinds of seeds. I threw every seed I had around that might take some heat. I sprinkled straw after I had spread the seeds, and then it rained.

This land is not mine. The county or the water management district could doze it all down. I have done this fully aware of what may happen. So far, only a hog has been in to dig there. The whole length of the canal is now fully covered over in the natural wild plants that start the succession process. The part behind my house has some of those, but I have chosen the plants for that part of the succession, and the experience has been a blast.

A succession begins when soil is disturbed and a place opens up for long buried and dormant annual seeds to grow. Soil was disturbed in a big way on that canal bank. Trees were ripped down and the soil was churned up and moved around. It is this affect that farmers go for when they plow a field, and the first time it is plowed, Wow! There is a huge release of nutrient as soil microbes are destroyed, and the stable nutrients they held are released into the soil. This is also a great opportunity for nutrient to wash away in the first rain event after soil disruption, and the way that wild plant seeds that were buried in the soil are brought to the surface and sprout, so getting plants and seeds into disturbed soil immediately is the way to take advantage of that huge nutrient release and to encourage re-establishment of those oh so important soil microbes.

A natural succession may result in the eventual re-establishmen of a forest, or it may remain in a meadow state if tree seeds do not succeed there. Unless the county sends dozers back to this area, and hogs willing, this soil will not be disturbed again. In that case, the perennial shrubs and trees I planted will grow to overtake the soil with shade and leaf mulch, and once again the annuals will disappear leaving their seeds behind for the day when soil is once again disturbed, and the sun comes through.

The seed list: Buckwheat, Pink eye purple hull cow peas, Pigeon peas, Seminole pumpkin, Shallu (a type of sorghum), Millet, Corn, Phasey bean, Aeschynomene, Okra, Roselle, Amaranth, Rattlesnake beans, Lima beans.

The Transplants List: Red Maple, Red Cedar, Bismarkia Palm, Sweet Acacia, Crepe Myrtle, Firecrackers, Firespikes (red and purple), Variegated Mahoe, White Duranta, Jamaican Poinsettia, Coontie, Scorpion tail, Aster, Plumbago, Everbearing Mulberry, Black Mulberry, Red Pineapple, Jamaican Curry, Fishtail Palm, Papaya, Cassava, Cranberry Hibiscus, Sweet Potato, Tithonia.

I promised my friends from Sustainable Kashi that I would photograph the project as it grew. Here are some of the pics.

Just Perennials on Day One

On Day One

Swale

Swale Visible

Fourth day straw is in

End Of Day Four

Buckwheat in May

May Buckwheat Flowering

Seminole Pumpkin

Seminole Pumpkin

Coontie

Coontie Showing New Growth

Cassava

Cassava, Buckwheat, and Cow Peas

Peas, Buckwheat, Hibiscus

Cow Peas, Buckwheat, Cranberry Hibiscus

Two Shots of The Same

Two Pics A Couple of Weeks Apart

The Jungle

June: The Jungle

Purple Hull Peas

Purple Hull Peas

Florida Regenerative Landscapes

Here is a link for our newest article at Florida Regenerative Landscapes. Florida Regenerative Landscapes is the name of a new partnership fellow Permaculture Designer Lucie Burke and I formed to handle Permaculture Landscaping jobs.

Friends’ & Clients’ Gardens: Mark’s Front Yard

This front yard project started in mid February. I am posting pics from before and from time to time. This is an ongoing project as gardens are constantly changing themselves, but the instant results are stunning even in pictures. Seeing the speedy evolution of this garden project is a thrill. Mark is really excited about how its going, and Mark’s neighbors have gone from speculating on Mark’s sanity (when it appeared that his front yard had been converted to a large golden pile of straw) to really enjoying their walks past his madly growing yard. Mark works 5 days a week. We did this project in just 3 half day segments. The first and most intensive attended by a great host of Mark’s friends whose many hands made light work. Throughout we have been adding in young perennial plants and trees including rose apple, cassava, carambola, miracle fruit, moringa, sweet potatoes, papaya, pineapples, tithonia and cranberry hibiscus.

I started this project before my permaculture design course, and have continued to work on it since then. Also since then I have teamed up with Permaculture Designer Lucie Burke to start the Florida Regenerative Landscapes partnership. We are currently working on a new landscape at the Peak Fitness and LOV Juice juice bar at 801 20th Place in Vero Beach Florida. We are available for hire if you would like a healthy edible landscape for your own property on the Treasure Coast.

Before

Before

Materials Collected At The Job Site

Materials Collected At The Job Site

Many Hands

On Blitz Day

Blitz Day

Blitz Day

In March

March: Fuzz of Young Plants Coming Up.

May 2013

May: View From The House

Corn Patch

Corn Patch In May

Corn Patch

Corn Patch Street View June

Final Section

Last Section Prepared And Seeded

Final Section

Final Section Up In June

Under Construction

Hold onto your hats, I have some work to do on my blog and there may be some disruptions and there are going to be some changes in our look here at ManureDepot.com.

Thanks for your patience.

Permaculture: My Permaculture Design Course

I have been working hard on my education over the last 5 years and now I have just completed my first Permaculture Design Course.

The Permaculture Design course was March 15 − 26, 2013 at the Sustainable Kashi Yoga Retreat in Sebastion, Florida. It was presented by Koreen Brennan of GrowPermaculture.com. With guest presenters Richard Powell of The Orlando Center for Urban Permaculture, and Permaculture Designer/ Woofer Eric Phillips.

I have taken three different introductory permaculture classes and workshops, and one of them twice. It has taken nearly half of those classes and lots of internet time for me to figure out what exactly permaculture is. The permaculture design course is best taken by a student who has been learning a bit about permaculture ahead of time. It is also useful to have spent some time gardening before undertaking a permaculture design course. It is too much to try to learn both at once.

Permaculture looks at everything we attempt to accomplish in our lives and tries to observe and copy the way in which nature would achieve such things. We do this because nature chooses the path of least resistance meaning that for us this will be the simplest way to achieve our goals.

Though permaculture is appropriately applied to education, relationships, economics, building, and many other aspects of human activities it is most simply applied to our agriculture. So while we may observe the way that the army corp of engineers redirects a river, or the way the farmer farms, or how the neighbor gardens, in order to instruct ourselves we observe nature, and then we apply what we see in nature to our design plans. A stream slowly meanders back and forth down a forested hill side soaking in as it goes;  Annuals grow in diverse masses where the soil can hold some water;  Forests grow as complementary layers of plants shrubs, vines, and trees, and are less subject to extremes of temperature, precipitation, and wind than lone standing trees;  A fallen tree creates a rich habitat for soil microbes, invertebrates and fungi as it lays rotting;  Trees’ roots hold the soil on a river bank, or on a hillside; Meadows are diversely populated with many different grasses and flowering plants that are constantly dying down and regenerating to create deep rich soil (the American plains).

What we observe about nature can instruct us in our pursuit of a good permaculture garden design. Noticing the specific ways that these basic natural rules take place on our property gives us hints about how best to proceed with new projects on the land. The main reason to mimic nature’s designs and tendencies in the garden is because nature is regenerative. The forest does not require the gardener to water, fertilize, pull weeds or battle with pests. It is not costly to us or to the environment, and it puts forth abundant yields in the most natural way.

You might ask then why we even need to learn about permaculture if nature knows how to do everything. The permaculture designer is needed because we have so thoroughly changed our home garden environment through rigorous unnatural gardening practices, that the gardens around our homes do not survive without our constant and costly intervention. Through permaculture design applied to these unnatural habitats we can recreate regenerative systems that function effortlessly so that we can actually get a minute to enjoy the garden.

I have completed the permaculture design course, and earned the certificate. What I have learned will help me to apply permaculture design principles more effectively in the garden and to more aspects of my regular pursuits. Having completed the permaculture design course I plan to actively pursue permaculture design jobs. Now I have the right to call what I have been teaching by its name, Permaculture. Boy howdy, I’m glad!

 

Education: Planting The Summer Garden In Florida

 

South Florida Summer Garden

A South Florida Summer Garden

 

Slow Food Gold and Treasure Coast is offering a series of garden classes. On Sunday April 28th at 1pm to 3pm I will be presenting Planting The Summer Garden In Florida. This class will be held at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in the old house at the back of the property. It is a good idea to pre-register with Slow Food Gold and Treasure Coast.

I will be discussing the summer garden choices for Florida gardeners. Whether you chose to go fallow, plant nutrient building cover and mulch crops, or plan to grow edible crops, or some of each choice we will be discussing how that is done and which crops are appropriate for the summer season in Florida growing zones 9 and 10.

 


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