Please, if you feel there is a better "section" of the forum for this, then please move it. Heck, perhaps there needs to be a "member farms" section or something like that.
Anyway, Been kinda a sporadic member here for a while. My place is in Tangerine, Florida, USA That is in inland central Florida kinda along the Florida ridge. We are in the warmer half of Zone 9 but on the cool edge of that half. It is wet sub tropical here. We can get frosts or freezes but citrus still grows around here even commercially though most large growers moved a bit further south in the 1980's.
I bought a lot to hopefully build a thinshell concrete (Sculpted Concrete Architecture) home but have been kinda stalled financially for several years and haven't gotten started on that project. In the mean time we moved to a house three blocks away from the building site in order to get a way from the moldy apartment that was making us both sick.
So in the little house on 1/3rd of an acre I have proceeded to create as much of a farm as I can. Little block home 2 bed one bath with 1 car garage and a decent shed, two old dog kennels, sandy soil, a good deep well, and an irrigation system.
First thing, built compost bins (we couldn't move in till we had bins for the humanure.) Yes, we had been humanure composting while living in the apartment and I tell you it is not easy to manage in a plastic trash bin with holes on a 9' by 9' concrete patio but it can be done.
Next things, I removed all the sprinkler heads from the irrigation system and retrofitted to do drip irrigation. Then I commenced to building soil and trying to learn about gardening in our climate. I started by getting free compost from the county and dumping it in produce boxes and planting in those with drip irrigation. It is a quick way to get a garden going.
Anyway we are a few years along now. We have worms bins and of course compost bins. I've got a huge Aquaponics system going now (harvested over 80 lbs of tilapia out of it this past month before the water gets too cold for them and still have over 100 lbs of catfish in the system.) If interested in Aquaponics, let me know and I'll send you to a good place to learn all you need to know about it.
We also have back yard chickens that I try to move around the yard as much as possible but they are very quick to tear up huge amounts of garden fast. I just built a new next box cart for them that can also function as trap nests so we can cull the non layers soon.
I am still learning what gardening methods work here and what doesn't. I'm also rather lazy and want to sort out the less work methods of gardening that we can use. I'm drawn to permaculture to build a system that can provide abundance without requiring more energy input than we can get out of it.
I have managed to build up some garden soil that now looks really good, now I just have to figure out what to grow that is reasonable on the care/harvest/storage that we will also eat and keep the soil good as we do it.
Anyway, I'll leave it at that for now but expect that I will post more later along with pictures and questions.
Odd, I just got an e-mail saying there was a reply to this thread and I get on here to see and nothing new, just what I wrote last night?
Maybe it was spam, and has since been removed?
Your place sounds great! You've really stretched out after apartment life. Are you looking forward to doing it all again once your new place is built? I know some people that just love coming into a blank canvas and building from nothing to lushness, building good earth one plot at a time, and love that they're leaving behind something wonderful for another person. I'd probably be a mix of dreading starting from scratch again, but enjoying what the process produces over time...
I am wondering where you get green compost to get temps hot enough to destroy bad microbes in the humanure?
Have a read of the Humanure handbook to learn all about it.
However, urine has plenty of nitrogen (green) to make some really hot compost. (Three people adding urine to a pile of leaves for a few weeks can have the temp in the middle of that pile of leaves up to 160 F.)
Do you use green and dry leaves or just dry leaves?
What materials are you using in yer toilet?
Does your place have zoning that you have to deal with?
The compost pile gets any kitchen scraps that the chickens and worms don't get but you need not add extra greens to a humanure compost pile so long as you pee some in the buckets. We use leaves and weeds as cover materials out in the outdoor bin. In the bucket toilets we use shredded paper and raw sawdust. Hardwood sawdust might be better but most of ours is cypress since that is what is available locally.
Our compost bin is good and hot in the active portion of it. Plenty hot enough to compost many of the normal compost "no-no's" like meat, fish heads, dead sick small livestock, without the smell/pest problems that normally keep people from composting those sorts of things.
If there is ever an odor problem from bucket toilets or the compost pile, it needs more/better cover material.
In the 50's and 60's we recycled humanure anaerobically so this is new to me.
Do the live animals not bother the fish heads and "no-no's" that are in yer pile?
there are links to humanure handbook vol3 complete book free download, posted in alternative builings
Ok thnx Bird...
this is one e-book that caused me to kill a tree and print it
My blood must be getting thin as they say.
The new little catfish fingerlings we got right before Christmas must be freezing their little barbs off. I hope they can survive the cold for a month without starving to death (when it's too cold they don't eat but these guys are so small I fear they don't have the reserves to survive without eating.) Last year the catfish fingerlings we got were much larger and surviving the cold was no issue but these ones are way undersize. Perhaps I'll have to shift the timing of when we get new catfish to March or something in future years.
As noted before, I have the new nest box but Haven't started using it as a trap nest yet. Will do it soon though, we have ordered some bands to we can mark the layers as we confirm them and then we can cull the rest of the small flock. Currently there are 11 girlz but we have only been getting about 4 or 5 eggs a day lately. Some of them are definitely molting right now but there are a few that look just fine and I haven't seen them in the nest in ages. There is one that looks really small and sickly which might not even be worth putting in a pot. I'm guessing at the moment that no more than six of our current flock will be around much longer. Then we will need to get some new ones. I've set a limit of no more than 12 hens for our place (originally I thought we shouldn't have more than 6 but that is only if they are all laying really well.)
The catfish here survive through the winter in ponds and rivers even with several inches of ice on the surface. It seems that cold blooded animals have a metabolism that slows or speeds up according to the temp...
My dad used electric light bulbs to get more eggs in the winter... I don't know if it would be more economical to use lighting to increase egg production or increase hens? Now days maybe florescent light could be used?
I know catfish survive under ice in much of the country but I'm pretty sure there are also tolerance variations depending on where the stock has been bread. There is also the fact that an above ground aquaponics system is gonna be colder than lakes or rivers in the area.
Last year we tried having a light in the chicken coup, didn't work so well having the birds start making a racket way before dawn and you can't have the light stay on in the evening and then shut off because the birds could get caught in the dark not on their perches unless you set up a slow dimming to simulate sunset.
I think in our situation, it is probably best to just let them live with natural lighting.
Why is it that water is 70 degrees from the well?
Average near surface soil temps around here are probably about 80 F. Granted this time of year a bit cooler and in the hottest part of summer warmer.
I have another question - How do you get water to come up that distance? Do you have to use an air compressor?
Chickens don't need the extra light in the winter to survive. They survive just fine without extra light, even in Alaska where winter days are very short. The extra light is to keep them laying better. The amount of eggs they lay is closely linked to the amount of light they get. That said, I don't give my chickens extra light, either. Up until a prolonged spell of sub-zero weather, we were getting five to seven eggs a day (from eighteen layers, although the six Easter Eggers quit laying back in October -- haven't seen a green egg since then); now we are getting one or two. But the daily light is slowly increasing, and I'm willing to allow them to have a rest before they start flooding us with eggs again. Some breeds are better winter layers than others (the hens that I have laying right now are Wyandottes, known for being good winter layers), just as some are better broodies than others. This is the best time of year to cull non-layers out of your flock. Even poor layers will usually lay pretty well in the spring and summer; only good layers will keep going through the dark days of winter.
TCLynx, almost you make me wish we lived in your climate, LOL! But I know in the heat of summer I would regret it!
Anyway, I love being able to garden year round but the summer time is too hot to spend much time tending. Much of the year (even the dry season) has oppressive humidity making it hard to do anything without feeling tired (must be too much moisture makes it hard to get enough oxygen and makes me lethargic on those oppressive days.)
So I muddle through in search of appropriate plants to create a food forest here. I'm starting to think that there are not really many resources for permaculture plants in my part of the world since many of the plants I would like to buy, don't seem to be available anywhere. It's easy to get fruit trees and bushes but shrub size nitrogen fixers are few and far between. Only ones I've actually been able to buy are wax myrtle.
There are a few other permaculturists supposedly in the area but they haven't responded to contacts through their web sites so far.
If the pipes were set up right, this might even drive itself via thermosiphon effects (the effluent pipe would have to be lower than the intake pipe, but both still below the water table).
Problem with the flood and drain aquaponics is the water gets pretty chilled in the gravel and then when it drains, cold air is drawn down into the gravel to chill it further. I suppose I could convert the system to continually flooded for the cold season but the plants wouldn't like it as much and the aeration isn't as good. So since we like the catfish better, it is far easier to leave things as they are.
For some one who really does prefer tilapia, they could have the fish tank in a shed or greenhouse or in ground and filter the water through a bio-filter for the winter and do regular water changes as in regular aquaculture or aquarium culture for the cold season but that seems wasteful of water to me.
Nice that you like the hardier fish better. Somehow I had assumed otherwise.
Might a cold frame over the gravel bed help a little? Would magnetite (or a similarly-colored mineral) be appropriate for the top layer of stones, to help warm them all a little better?
My well is not really convenient to run extra pipes down it or anything from the AP system.
As to placing darker media over the other media, that might help on sunny days in winter with beds that have few plants shading them, however, I don't think I would want to be removing all the dark pebbles as weather warms up since it could be likely to get too hot on the other side of the year.
As things are the catfish are doing fine. I've only kept a dozen little tilapia in an indoor aquarium so if the end of civilization happens by next spring, I'll have a stock of fish that I can breed, otherwise the catfish are really nice eating and not difficult to buy from a fish farm currently.
It is a tropical and sub tropical nursery so I will have to do some careful research since they are definitely a zone warmer than my location but between the good info they have and the fact that they are in my state makes it likely that I will visit them and probably buy some from them since their inventory is really extensive.
Anyway here is the link
Again, their plant catalog and search functions are quite good
I've listed like 3 pages of plants from a search through their catalog that I now need to narrow down.
Anyone have some good advise about how best to narrow down my choices? Remembering I only have so much space and even less money. I suppose I could list plants and info about them if anyone thinks that would be of use. There is only a hand full of nitrogen fixers in the group of plants that might work in my location and several of them would be only marginal for my zone (especially with the freezes we have already been having this winter.)
I have already ordered from a different place,
Elaeagnus multiflora (gumi, edible fruit and nitrogen fixing shrub)
Castanea pumila (Chinquipin, small nut tree)
Carissa grandiflora (dwarf natal plum 'Nana'
Pithecellobium flexicaule (Texas Ebony, thorny nitrogen fixing tree with thorns and sweet edible pods)
Tublagnia violacea (Society Garlic, regular garlic doesn't grow well here so this can substitute)
I suppose it would be good to at some point also list the plant resources already on site. These I'll just list by common name since I don't know most of the exact varieties
Blueberries (3 varieties newly planted from a local farm nursery that grows blueberries commercially)
Grapefruit (Ruby Red, bearing heavily now very good, filling freezer with juice.)
Tangerine (Dancy, thin skin easy pealing bearing heavily to the point of a major branch breaking during harvest this year. Good for juicing and drying as well.)
Meyer lemon cuttings already flowering.
Sour Orange (Very sour but perhaps we could graft some better varieties onto this tree?)
Loquat (great fruit but doesn't keep long fresh. Will have to try dehydrating some this year)
Banana (one did bear fruit this past year but freeze damage sets them back)
Papaya (Have only gotten a few good fruits so far, freeze damage sets them back)
Wax Myrtle (nitrogen fixing shrub, only a few and they are still really small)
Pomegranate (two trees in pots are bearing small fruit, two in ground are bigger but no flowers yet.)
Scarlet runner beans
Orchid Tree Bauhina variegata nitrogen fixing tree (invasive) that was already here so I am utilizing.
Sea grape (probably won't ever do anything as a lone specimen in a cooler climate.)
And then there are the threes and other things that are just here but of marginal use but I will only remove if they are in the way or causing some problem.
Many large and small oak trees
Lots of crepe myrtle
Some sort of ornamental ginger
Bougainvillea (bright pink flowers harsh thorns frost damaged)
Cut-leaf philodendron (chickens love hanging out under these plants)
Some shrubs along in front of the house (don't really know what they are, came with house)
one small rubber tree
One thing that looks a little like an Avocado but has not flowered or anything
Some other random shrubs out near the road
Lots of random rain trees (volunteers from the neighbors trees)
Wow, it seems like a much longer list when I type it all out!!!
You are lucky that you can grow those citrus trees, I wish i could here.
Hope you don't freeze up too bad tonight,....heard that FL is getting cold tonight.
I fear we are actually a bit too far south for the Day lillies to really do well but the plants are still alive and we get a few flowers in the summer.
There are some fruits I would love to grow but they just don't like the heat or they won't do well for long without a true dormant winter period. But I do like having the citrus even if it just means a freezer full of juice to enjoy for the rest of the year.
We are looking at adding some Muscovy ducks to our collection though.
Wow they are quiet. I had read that they didn't quack and were relatively quiet but did make some sounds. I didn't realize that the sounds they do make are so quiet.
The so called Hiss sounds that the males we got have been making are really more like what I imagine a duck with laryngitis might sound like. A whispered quack. Almost a quiet dry cough type sound.
The females actually have a tone to the sound they make but it is also very quiet.
We collected a total of 5 birds from a pen with 7 adults and at least as many juviniles in it. Small space and the only sounds as we were chasing and trying to catch the birds we wanted was us, some flapping and the dogs outside barking at all the entertainment. I can just imagine the raquet it would have been had we been catching chickens.
I think they will make nice additions to the farm.
Also it mentioned that the egg yolks were sometimes gritty. I would be interest to know how you experiences are with raising these quiet ducks.
Our neighbors from Brazil have talked up Jaboticaba fruit for years. It's too tender for our zone 7 climate, but I've seen reports that they can take temps down to 22F. Very cool looking trees.
Supposedly fruits up to 10 months of the year once established.
I have not been reading this I have been reading old stuff on the aquaponics forum...great stuff. I have not joined yet.
I wanted to thank you for sharing their site. I had some questions and have already gotten the answers. Now to collect up some more stuff as I am building the old "use what you have or can find to grow as you go" system.
I am lucky enough to live close to a creek where I can harvest gravel and all that lives in it. Lots of neat little fishfoodies...I am thinking of raising some in a little tank...maybe in addition to producing fish I will produce fish food.
Anyway I just wanted to thank you for all the help.
ronie McCoy wrote:Ok thnx, I knew that underground temps varied some, but i didnt think it was that much.
I have another question - How do you get water to come up that distance? Do you have to use an air compressor?
The underground temp doesn't vary that much from summer to winter but it does vary alot at north pole vs equator