I think you make a good point. Plants and trees with big taproots would make great options if you don't want to provide additional irrigation. Fortunately, many of the ones you mention were luckily on my list already, but you also brought some new options to light. I will incorporate these into my list as well. I noticed on your list that you have Malabar spinach. How is it doing? Have you been able to harvest any yet and if so what did you think of it as an edible green? I've been planning on growing some here in SoFlo but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
I've tasted it and the flavor is mild and agreeable, but the texture is slightly slimy. I haven't tried cooking it yet, we'll see how that goes.
There is so much that I read and would love to make comments and suggestions, etc. but not enough time to do it all at once. So, will pick and choose and try to prioritize.
From Nick: "I am seeing that my shallow rooted stuff is needing irrigation - including grapes, apple trees, citrus, avocado, fig, pineapple guava, peach, loquat, blackberries, and blueberries. I do expect the blackberries to become more draught tolerant as they become fully established, but I think they will produce better with some irrigation"
Weather does not always follow an exact timetable so it may or may not happen that Rainy season begins in June. This year it seems to have started early, last year it came a month late. Even when it comes, there can be a week or more without any rain and then anything newly planted (which mostly need extra water temporarily) can need supplementation.
Plants fully established in nature hardly ever die because of lack of water. If they are planted in a desert, then yes. With Permaculture, you are actually changing from a desert (if you're starting with one) and to a whole other type of terrain.
At the end of this thread, on the bottom of the page I saw a link to another thread, which I have not checked out yet and it's about Permaculture in the Desert. And I highly recommend checking into that type of thing to convert a dry space into a "tropical" space. I think this is true: any place on earth that is now a desert was originally NOT a desert and became one as the result of human abuse. If anyone knows otherwise, I would be glad to hear it. geoff lawton oversaw a wonderful project on the border of Israel and Lebanon near the Dead Sea and was able to create a lush oasis in salt-laden soil with something like an inch a year of rain. 10 acres! You can watch a video about this on youtube. Whatever he did could be most useful. Maybe the link to another discussion I mentioned earlier mentions this?
We currently have most of the plants that Nick mentioned in his comment and once established, needing no further irrigation. We may have a water table that is much higher here where we are than where you are, Nick, but most of these plants are shallow rooted and not reaching our water table which has diminished considerably in the almost 10 year old drought we may be pulling out of. Most of our property is a natural forest, wonderful to observe and we have many "edges" on which to create intermediate food forests and are in the process of doing so. Those edges and the "cultivated" spaces between us and the house and another area that has been cleared and cut for many years are being converted back to nature by us, slowly but surely. Even cutting with a lawnmower prevents nature from doing her job, disturbing the soil terribly. Also, I will go back and see where you mentioned 80' as the depth of I think your water table and wondering if it was that or how high you are above sea level? They are two different things. Would be good to know for sure about that. Not sure of any tree or plant that would go down 80' for water if that is the closest water below ground. But, I am not sure about this, just throwing out some food for thought.
It's sure exciting to see the explosion in interest and awareness in Permaculture. We are pioneers in this for sure and it takes time to share, to document with text and pictures and it is much appreciated by all. Even if we're too busy sometimes to express it, to share it as much as we'd like...thanks everyone!
Our place: Barefoot Creek, North of Lakeland, FL and our fairly new Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BarefootCreekFlorida
In areas where fire is suppressed woody shrubs and additional hardwood species can establish and alter the composition and structure of the ecosystem. In the absence of fire sandhill ecosystems will evolve to become upland hardwood stands of dominant oaks and hickories.
In systems where fire has been suppressed turkey oaks and a few other hardwood species can be seen along with some woody shrubs and plants such as deerberry, blackberry, and running oak. Saw palmetto is another familiar feature in less-frequently burned sandhills.
Fire-suppressed sandhills will have more turkey oaks, woody undergrowth, and other hardwood trees. These habitats support several different wildlife species. Many songbirds use the hardwoods and pines in more overgrown sandhill systems. These include ground dove, kingbird, bluebird, nuthatch, and red-bellied woodpecker.
Suppression of fire in these habitats also allows the vegetative fuels to build up and increase the risk of damaging, high-intensity fires. Such wildland fires may burn out of control and threaten homes, farms, and livestock in the vicinity. Managing sandhill habitats with regular, prescribed burns will reduce the risk of destructive fires while preserving the land for native plants and wildlife.
A List of Dominant Plants in Sandhill ecosystem (one that has periodic fires burning through):
Associated Trees and Plants:
Dwarf live oak
Sand live oak
Sand post oak
Southern red oak
Small-fruited paw paw
How high are you above sea level? Also wondering how deep they go in your area before they hit water---a well company in your area would know the answer. Also wondering about deserts of the world which the sandhill seem to be similar to. How deep is it to water in the various deserts? They're doing Permaculture in AZ and the desert by the Dead Sea that I mentioned and wondering if anyone knows the depths of water tables there. And of course, part of Permaculture is creating water cachement systems where there are none already or where they are not working the way we would like them to.
Again, glad you're moving along, as are we, and everyone else's energy flows over this way and out, motivating us to do what we want to do anyway!
I lived in Phoenix for 7 years, and did a lot of gardening there. There are a lot of major differences between that desert and here, but during the spring dry season we are desert-like. If we had soil like you have, with hard pan and ground water near the surface, we would not be desert like in the spring because we still get enough rain to not be a desert even that time of year when rainfall is lower than the rest of the year. What makes us somewhat like a desert, in the spring, is the combination of lower than average rainfall plus the very poor sandy soil here in the sand hills. The top foot of soil dries out quickly after each rain. That's why biologists refer to the sand hill forest as being xeric.
The other 9 months of the year we get lots and lots of rain as you know which makes us very much not like a desert. For our food forest, because of many of the species we have chosen to grow, we will be irrigating substantially in the spring. That's the key difference, among a few other things, that I believe will allow us to grow things that couldn't live here without help. That's also why it is unlikely for anything we're growing to become invasive in the native forest.
Back in Phoenix, the soil is loaded with good levels of minerals. It grows vegetables amazingly well when fertilizer and water are added, and that's why there's so much land devoted to growing vegetables there. They only get 7" of rainfall annually, but the aquifer in southern Arizone is huge and it is estimated to contain enough water to support 20 million people in Phoenix for hundreds of years. The rest of the state, at higher altitudes is very water poor, but not the valley. Every acre in the Phoenix area that is converted from agriculture to residential results in a net surplus of water, because residential areas don't use as much water as the agriculture there. You can bet Phoenix is going to become huge, and at 4 million people, it's well on the way to doing that.
Permaculture has helped me realize that every site has it's own unique set of conditions that must be understood and accounted for.
Thanks for sharing your list! Off the top of my head I would suggest adding moringa oleifera, yard long bean (Vigna unguiculata), and okinawa spinach (Gynura crepioides). These have all performed well for me in Orlando.
Your list seems very good. You probably have more experience than I do, I am just starting a forest garden in zone 9 now.
The thought of Yacon came to my mind, a nice edible root, enormous roots, that taste a bit like pear (no big starch there but a nice taste, perennial and large production). It likes hot and wet climates, but can tolerate a bit dry weather and also frosts.
Maybe the list can contains some more wildlife attracting and soil builders plants, stuff like yarrow and comfrey. There are also many more ground covers available.
You can try roots like oca, mashua, ulluco (never tried these), and moringa (a subtropical tree).
I would also try some date palms and bananas. Just my suggestions
Here is my contribution, not mine but its free none the less. You can find more at ECHOnet.org go to Agriculture tab, select ECHO Downloads and then find the info you need by double clicking the folders until you find a document you like the sound of. All that is required is putting in an email for each downloaded file.
One thing I was wondering -- is there a particular Florida nursery that you folks would recommend?
That is a great list! Very diverse, but I didn't see too many nitrogen fixers. I think that in a food forest these are crucial. I am in zone 8b and two of my favorites are black locust and Sea Buckthorn. Both are thorny, but I think that their benefits outweigh there disadvantages. Black Locust is a great tall tree that provides some of the hardest wood on the planet, great for fence posts. It grows rapidly to create a nitrogen fixing canopy and also flowers, which the bees love. Sea Buckthorn, or Seaberry is a great plant because it can grow up to 30 feet tall, but can also be pruned to a medium sized shrub and the cuttings can be used as nitrogen rich mulch or for propagation. It provides a bountiful amount of berries that ,although small, have the same amount of vitamin C as 10 oranges! The Sea Buckthorn is only 30% true to parent through seed. This can be used to your advantage by starting with seed, selecting for lack of thorniness and sweet berries and then propagating via cuttings. Overall great list, but I thought I would throw in my two cents.
Have you tried alfalfa - its a great plant - very deep roots - 6 feet or so, nitrogen fixer, lives for about 4 - 5 years - drought tolerant etc etc (my favorite ground cover and soil improver)
Ben Walter wrote:Something I've been experimenting with which will go a long way to improving our sandy soil is biochar. I'm growing a half acre of corn and sorghum on the property, half with and half without biochar. It's only been in the ground about 3 weeks but I can already visually see a difference. It is a bitch to make in any significant quantity, but I'm pretty sure that UF is going to come out in the next few years recommending it and that will drive a lot of business. A year ago you could barely find any online, and now there are already several places selling in bulk, it's still pretty expensive though. Biochar shows promise for holding water and soluble nutrients, as well as providing great pores for biology, esp. fungus.
Biochar is easy to make with a 55gal metal drum just find one with a threaded bung and put a pipe with wholes in it so it goes under the drum then fill with wood and light a very small fire under it. the gas from the wood with auto-cook the wood until done aka when there is no more gas in the wood. Biggest time sink is waiting for the drum to cool so make two and change back and forth. PM me if you want more info on how to make this drum. I do not know if 55gal of biochar is alot for you but add it up over a year with just one batch aday is very roughly 9855 gals a year so call it 9000gals to be safe. I use biochar to run a old style Japanese forge aka big hole in sand with a blower aka shop vac on blow setting.
I'm really grateful for your list....I'm zone 9a, but CLAY - not sand...Foothills of CA with some rocks in the soil and some hardpan...I have a hard time distinguishing between them!
I have been reading tons of the topics trying to work out good things to plant for my zone...Your list is a great help......
Nick Garbarino wrote:So, this revised plant list was downloaded 16 times in less than 2 days, yet no feedback. I could use more deep rooted nutrient accumulator/mulch plants in this design. Any suggestions?
How about Buckwheat and Red Clover? That is what I'll be using. I have a partial Pine tree guild with some of what is on your list planted under and near my 60 foot tall pine trees in my back yard.. I'm in 8a though. So it probably isn't warm enough here for everything you have on your list. The soil is nice and rich under where the pine needles have been falling for years though. I hope my black berries and blueberries will like it. My chives like it. I'd like to put a lot more there but am afraid the soil might be too acid. Also there is a bunch of Poison Ivy back there which I tried to pull up and although I had pants and gloves on, I still got a little on my ankles.
Do you have any of that planted yet or is it just a plan at this point?
I was lucky, this property already had 11 established citrus trees when we moved in, along with more than a dozen elderly heritage camellias. The rest of the yard was basically weeds, bermuda grass, and pale gray sugar sand. The citrus bore well this past fall/winter, but now that they've been pruned and fertilized for the first time in a decade I expect them to bear like crazy. In the past year I've planted plums, figs, peaches, strawberry guavas, pineapple guavas, fuyu persimmons, a bunch of pomegranates, rabbiteye blueberries, dozens of native perennials, and probably as many annual food and insectary plants. I'm interested in medicinal herbs as a possible source of income down the road, so I also have an extensive herb garden.
To improve the soil I have added as much mulch and organic material as I could get my hands on. I've probably added 30 cubic yards of organic material already. Every kind of animal manure I can find, free chipped tree trimmings from the power company, purchased compost, spoiled hay, shredded paper from my office, piles and piles of newspaper and cardboard out of dumpsters. Deep, deep sheet mulching. No tilling. The sand just swallows it. But in just one year I can already see an incredible change. I pulled back the hay mulch from one of my zone 1 beds a few weeks ago to plant cantaloupes and saw EARTHWORMS. I had never seen earthworms in the soil before. I danced! Sheet mulching right before each hurricane worked really, really well for me. I have a ton of progress photos on my blog.
If you're looking for more drought-tolerant annual legumes, give Jackson Wonder butterbeans a try. I grew them last year and they produced from June to January with zero additional water after they were established. They were munched on by skipper caterpillars, but they only ate the leaves not the beans, and they still produced constantly. I get mine from Southern Exposure seeds last year and this year, but hopefully I'll be able to save some seeds for planting this time around. Last year we ate them all!
Nick, you have really inspired me to make a master list like this for what I've already planted as well as a "wish list" for what I still want to add. It's wonderful to see so many Floridians here!
Nick Garbarino wrote:Diego,
I am seeing that my shallow rooted stuff is needing irrigation - including grapes, apple trees, citrus, avocado, fig, pineapple guava, peach, loquat, blackberries, and blueberries. I do expect the blackberries to become more draught tolerant as they become fully established, but I think they will produce better with some irrigation.
For me, I was somewhat aware of which plants were drought tolerant and which ones weren't, but now that I am growing and tending to the garden here in the sand hills, it is really hitting home. Also, it seems to me that the use of hugelkultur and biochar are more relevant to the shallow rooted plants than to the tap rooted ones.
Hope this helps.
It's interesting that you mention Apple trees. I'm growing plants out in (In nursery pots) Phoenix (9b) to move to my property that is zone 8a. Most of my plants are having problems except for my 3 Apples. 1 tree, a William's Pride is on domestic & the other 2, a King David & Liberty are on Antonovka root stock. I thought they would be the first to struggle do to the heat and/or me over watering them trying to keep them alive. I wasn't able to find anyone here in the desert who has used the Antonovka rootstock, but decided to roll the dice anyway. I've been letting them get very dry between soakings. So far, so good.
Cool thread - Thanks for the info.
Nick Garbarino wrote:
The rest of the state, at higher altitudes is very water poor, but not the valley. Every acre in the Phoenix area that is converted from agriculture to residential results in a net surplus of water, because residential areas don't use as much water as the agriculture there. You can bet Phoenix is going to become huge, and at 4 million people, it's well on the way to doing that.
Permaculture has helped me realize that every site has it's own unique set of conditions that must be understood and accounted for.
My property sits at 4,300' & I hit water of incredible quality at 260'. That's not too deep compared to most wells in the west & the water is so much better than the vast majority.
I'm in Zone 8A in Texas. Here are a few to add.
Southern Live Oak or any Oak Tree for that matter (you have a greater variety than we do)
Honey Mesquite (not sure if you have those in Florida, but here they are everywhere)
Any kind of Nitrogen fixers: we use native Acacias, Guajillo, and Lucaenea.
By the way I see that someone mentioned Comfrey once again. I have had no luck with Comfrey here. Too hot and dry. If it doesn't see water for more than one week it is done.
Hope this helps with the list. Really cool online retail nursery catered to wildlife folks (nativnurseries.com). Have a nice selection and good prices. Ordered over 100 seedlings from them and all are thriving. Highly recommend them.
One change I would make is perhaps doing another list with all the same plants except organized by needs. This might make the list more useful for assembling guilds based on water, sun soil needs etc.
THanks for the list i'm using it for a project right now!
Nick Garbarino wrote:The plant list for our food forest was posted 4 days ago, and so far it has been downloaded 33 times. Since there appears to be some interest, I have posted our newest version, which now includes fields for water, sun, pH, and root structure. The selection of plants has also been improved, with many additions and a few deletions. This list is particularly designed for Zone 9A, where the soil is sandy, dry, and acidic, however many of the plant selections could work in other zones, particularly zones 8 and 10.
There are many other plants that could be grown in our area, but which I left off for various reasons, especially if I suspect those species would need baby sitting in order to flourish here in central Florida. We are willing to use some well water for the critical and highly prized members of the food forest, such as citrus and blueberries for example, but we are trying to design a fairly drought tolerant community overall. So, there are many sub-tropical species that could grow here, but we're leaving them out because they're too thirsty.
I want to encourage any feedback that would improve this list, such as corrections, additional plants, removal of plants, etc. I could use all the help I can get. So, for those of you who downloaded the old list, throw it away and use this one instead. It's a lot better list.
Nick, how goes this project? I'm in zone 9b.