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Where do I go from here?

 
David Dakota
Posts: 19
Location: Currently eastern coast of Florida/zone 10a
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Hey fellow Permies.

I just cleared out (pushed back the edge) roughly 10-15 feet of overgrowth in the front portion of my urban forest garden. I am in Southern Florida(zone 10) and am looking to get some things started but want to get some ideas from you all.

The ground was very moist (partly due to the rain we've had the past few days and the artisan well that's present) and there were a lot of ferns growing back there which means acidic soil if I'm not mistaken. I was wondering if potatoes and berries would be good to plant in those areas or maybe it's too moist? I know sunchokes are supposed to grow well in acidic soil but I'm in zone 10 so I'm not sure if they would handle the heat.What type of potatoes do well in acidic soil, all or only certain varieties? We would prefer to grow sweet potatoes or yams if we can. I also know blueberries like acidic soil but what else would be good here? In the wetter area I would like to just dig it out and put a pond but the land isn't mine, so I was thinking maybe using it to grow sugar-cane or if I could possibly use it as a rice patty?

I will be posting the video of my progress soon and would love to hear your thoughts on where to go from here. You can see the first video of what it looked like below.



Take Luck

David Dakota
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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How about trying taro for the wet spots? During our very, very wet summer last year, the only thing that was thriving were my taro plants. Last year I just had the small taro plants with a corm the size of a plum, but since they worked so well, this year I am getting some of the grapefruit sized corms to plant out. If it works out, there will be luaus all summer long!

Here's a video of a taro farm:
 
David Dakota
Posts: 19
Location: Currently eastern coast of Florida/zone 10a
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Thanks for the idea John. I might just try some taro out and see what happens.
 
Bert de Weert
Posts: 64
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Just try. I have had succes with potatoes in light, moist acid soil. Blueberries will probalbly grow there to. rucola grows very well on acidic soil. Hemp, flax and sorgum will thrive, but not flourish in my experience. A good breed of peas will do similar. However, i did not use (green) manure or humus. I will try that this year. Most reeds di pretty good on the type of soil you discribe. I would say give potatoes a try and experiment all the way.
Peace.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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John Elliott wrote:How about trying taro for the wet spots?

Taro is awesome, but would it handle Dakota's climate?
Aside from blueberries being an obvious choice, it sounds like a great spot for raspberries, rhubarb, alpine strawberries, and leafy plants like lettuces, Claytonia, cress, French sorrel etc.
 
David Dakota
Posts: 19
Location: Currently eastern coast of Florida/zone 10a
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@ Leila

Sorry the name is confusing. I'm not in North Dakota. I grew up there but live along the treasure coast of Florida now. I'm in zone 9-10 so I think taro might do well here.

If anyone knows a good resource for tropic and sub-tropic perennials please send me a link cause I am not sure what I want to do yet. I am reading through "gaia's garden" right now and it is quite inspiring but since Toby wrote it with more of a temperate climate in mind the tables in the appendix don't give me a lot of options.

Thanks.

David Dakota
 
John Elliott
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Two places to find taro: (1) a hole-in-the-wall Asian grocery store. I got my small plum-size corms there for around $1.50/lb. and put them straight in the garden. (2) Wal-Mart in the bulb aisle of the garden section. Taro is known also known as "elephant ear" and big, >1lb. corms are like $3.

Another tropical to try is canna lilies. They are on sale at most garden centers, I think Lowe's has a bag of 5 roots for $9. This publication from Alabama Cooperative Extension has some information on how to grow (and cook) them. It says they like well drained soil, but also that they thrive under boggy conditions, so maybe they would do well in your wet spots.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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David Dakota wrote:Sorry the name is confusing. I'm not in North Dakota. I grew up there but live along the treasure coast of Florida now. I'm in zone 9-10 so I think taro might do well here.

Dave, did I manage to not see your climate info, or is that new?
Please let it be new
Totally go the taro then!
this thread might be helpful.
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
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Oh goodness, David... you're in paradise. Zone 10 beats the living daylights out of the rest of the country. You go from about 20-30 possible types of fruit... to thousands. I have a tiny food forest system started down in Ft. Lauderdale and a much bigger one up here in N/C Florida.

Forget Jerusalem artichokes... for roots you want cassava, sweet potato (perennial non-stop producer down there), true yams, malanga, taro (as previously mentioned), ginger, boniato... lots and lots of good growers. And as John Eliot said, the Oriental market is a great place to find stuff. Potatoes aren't the best for down south, though you can still grow them in winter.

On the Walmart "elephant ears," however, in my research it seems some of those are not as good for eating. The family is big and poorly named. Some roots are great and require minimal processing... others are borderline inedible. The malanga roots in the market are going to be good ones, so I just generally stick with those. John - did you manage to find Latin names on yours?

Okay: for tasty fruit species, again, forget blueberries and northern stuff. Go for "surinam cherry" (improved cultivars taste better), jabuticaba, Simpson stopper, pineapples, acerola cherry, bananas, papaya, pitaya cactus, grumichama, mulberry, Japanese persimmon, chocolate pudding fruit, tamarind... holy cow, there are so many delicious things to eat...

Here's the collection of posts on my project (with lots of photos):

http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com/p/the-great-south-florida-food-forest.html

If I lived down there I'd have a lot more done, but it's still turned into an amazing system without much intervention from me, thanks to my dad living down there and staying on top of it.

Depending on where you live, I may be able to hook you up with some cuttings and roots. I'm about to post another set of photos from the project.

I can tell you this: if you push onwards like you are now, your setup is going to be amazing in a shorter period of time than most of us can dream of. Even here we get 4 months of potential frosts... without that, tropical stuff will overwhelm you with abundance. Good luck.
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
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A few resources:

http://echonet.org/

That's the website for ECHO... they have perennial tropical systems already in place. Take a day trip!

If you're near Davie, FL, check out Spyke's Grove for tropical fruit trees:

http://spykestropicalnursery.com/

My own website should prove useful as well... I write daily on Florida gardening.

One last thing: geoff lawton's "Establishing a Food Forest the Permaculture Way" is filmed in the tropics of Australia. A must-watch - it fits your zone perfectly.
 
David Dakota
Posts: 19
Location: Currently eastern coast of Florida/zone 10a
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Thanks for all the useful info David. My wife's family lives in the Davie/Hollywood area so next time we head down that way I'll have to check Spyke's out.
 
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