I have been reading Coppice Agroforestry all this week - half-way through.
Great information, Mark. I gave you a plug in my latest video:
I like the idea of infinite firewood and building materials. We have about two acres of woods on our new homestead, much of which is re-growth. Perfect for experimentation, plus coppicing/pollarding is going to open up lots of light for all the rabbiteye blueberry bushes we discovered in the understory. Thanks for the inspiration.
I haven't been as active here as I should as I've been locked away, writing and producing videos.
But I am pleased to announce that after two years of work, the massively expanded, revised and illustrated second edition of Create Your Own Florida Food Forest is finally done.
It now has 200 illustrations from over fifty artists, over 150 plant profiles, and all you need to know to turn a Florida yard into a beautiful forest of wonderful food. Species are recommended by cold hardiness as well, so this book is great for both North and South Floridians.
The original book was just a short booklet, but this is a 330-page resource with lots of data about various species and where they fit into the layers of a food forest. We've grown food forest projects in both North and South Florida for over a decade now, as well as farmed in the Caribbean, and these experiences have greatly enhanced the new edition.
If you're in Florida, this book is for you. Thank you all for the encouragement over the years. Paul in particular has been very kind in sharing my books with the community, despite our very different growing zones. (Sorry you can't grow mangos, Paul!)
I am testing a few varieties here in Lower Alabama, zone 8b. One type is over 8' tall now. I did some exploratory digging a couple of days ago and was pleasantly surprised to find one already making roots that were 1" in diameter. By fall they should be at a harvestable size. I have no variety name, however. The type was sent to me by a reader. We'll see how they taste. I've had some that are watery and slightly bitter, and others that are sweet, starchy and nutty with a great flavor when roasted.
I give Paul props in it, as well as Stefan, Toby, Bill, Eric, Geoff and many other great permaculture teachers. Over the last few years I've been working to integrate my vegetable gardening and food forestry in a containable backyard system normal people can implement. This has worked really well for us, and it's a lovely system. Lots and lots of edge!
We had a "book bomb" and a great launch this week. Amazon was a little early on releasing the paperback - so much the better. Thanks to those of you that took part. I cannot wait to see how others implement the system in varying climates.
"I personally think from my reading that it's important to build the "Terra Preta Clone" in the environment it will be supporting. There is no reason to believe that micro-organisms are the same over the world, so I think that encouraging and supporting the locals is important."
Yes. I added rotten wood from the forest for that reason. No telling what the differences are, but I want to encourage the fungi from my area to move in.
I like the SEA-90 idea, too. And yes - not all pottery is created equal. I have had a hard time finding data on traditional methods. A local pottery studio is saving me shards now, though, and it's bisque-fired unglazed stuff. Hoping it's close.
For a long time I have been fascinated with terra preta - the endlessly fertile anthropogenic soil of the Amazon. I have been collecting data on it for a long time and am now attempting to recreate it in my own garden.
If this kind of land-hacking appeals to you, you will love my new video showing the creation of a terra preta bed:
Will it work? The centuries will tell!
I added everything I knew about that was in the original terra preta, including yellow clay, food scraps, bones, seaweed, biochar and even pottery shards... what a lot of work! But I'll bet it's worth it.
It seems to be a variety getting passed around the Caribbean, not the states. We need an islander to send some in. Trying to get cassava inside the US is really a pain. I wish I could get some of the fast-growing red-leafed type I had, as they would give us roots in only 4-6 months, meaning you could grow them in zone 7.
Yes, John! The transformation in flavor is very exciting. I really love to grow tree crops, but having just moved most of my experiments right now have been with annual vegetables. The radishes we ate from the biochar bed tasted amazing.
I am planting some Mysore raspberries this spring. In my old garden, they had a bland flavor. I am wondering if they will be transformed when they get into the biochar beds I'm making.
I did a test with charged biochar in our fall gardens and it made a big difference. I'm not sure how much was the char and how much was related to the release of minerals from it, but I think it's a combination of both.
This is what we're doing right now with the char:
It's a combination of many things together - getting the micros in there, plus encouraging fungally dominated soil.
And John - thank you for the link to your results!
I was just in Indonesia and had the chance to interview a farmer on how he dried and cured his tobacco:
Really simple. 4-days and it's done.
As healthy and natural as it's possible for tobacco to be, I guess.
I've grown my own tobacco off and on over the years. It's hard to find good info on sun-drying methods so I was happy to meet this guy and get a full demonstration. Previously I've pinned whole leaves on strings and hung them out for months and months to dry and cure. I'm going to try this sun-drying method next time I have some growing.
You guys should appreciate the method I share in my latest video:
I have pictures of piles built this way on my website. Just set it up, then ignore it for a few months, then pull it apart and sift out the compost. Works great, especially when you're farming on land away from home.
They do make for amazing trees, great for shade, except during the fruiting season when they drop hundreds of pounds of fruit, only some of which survives the fall.
I love the way they look large, and I would love to get some mango lumber to do woodworking with at some point. My slice of the tropics is only a half-acre, though, so I'm sticking with heavy pruning for now.
I think it would be possible to get a wide range of tropical fruit year round if you have irrigation. The dry season shuts a lot of things down.
As Paul and Shawn rock the world with their successful kickstarter campaign, I am pleased to announce the upcoming release of book 4 in the Good Gardening Series, "Free Plants for Everyone: The Good Guide to Plant Propagation."
"Do you want to grow apples from seed? Or learn to graft? Or germinate seeds from that awesome old honey locust tree in your Grandpa's backyard?
In Free Plants for Everyone, you will learn tried and true methods of plant propagation that will allow you to grow pretty much anything you like without giving your hard-earned money to plant nurseries. Gardening expert David The Good takes the mystery out of plant propagation and shares propagation secrets from the nursery business as well from his many years of experience.
Whether you're interested in starting a plant nursery, saving money on gardening, saving old fruit tree varieties or simply want lots of plants to give away, this book is for you. Start plants from cuttings, seeds, division and more. Includes information on propagating and saving seeds from 101 different species, as well as pen and ink illustrations by the author."
A lot of books take the ease and fun out of growing plants by making things too complicated. If you're tired of being told it's not worth it to start trees from seed or that this or that is "too hard" to grow, this book is for you.
This is the ebook version available for pre-order, with a release date next week. The paperback version is still in progress - I will share an update when it's out. Getting pre-orders will help the book fly up the rankings when it's officially released on Amazon.
I am a big fan of ginger and turmeric, but you are too cold for those. Under my hackberries in Tennessee I had a profusion of wild violets which were very nice for eating and making tea. Wild garlic also grew there, and I also planted Jerusalem artichokes at the edge of the canopy. They didn't grow as big in half shade but they still bore roots.
I would get a guy with a sawmill lined up and have him cut them into boards. Seriously - that could be a lot of good lumber. You could turn around and sell the boards if you didn't need them all, but I've found having some wood around is always a good thing.
I made friends with a local sawmill guy and have literally found logs by the side of the road, had him cut them up, then used the wood to make furniture.
I started on a sea grape wood spoon last night. I sawed off a nice limb at the beach, then got it home and found that it definitely does not want to split in straight splits, instead, choosing to crack in fractal twists all over the place, so I gave up and chopped out a spoon blank on the miter saw before I ruined the whole piece. The rest of the carving is all by hand, though.
And yes, the wood is actually pink. It's really pretty stuff - looks like it belongs on a beach.