Hey everyone! I too am from the pine barrens of NJ, Brick to be exact. I have two friends that live here who are interested as well, one in Brick and one in Toms River. (The one gentleman goes by the name James Prigioni, and has a lot of really cool videos on his efforts on youtube, very inspiring: http://www.youtube.com/user/ThePermaculturGarden
) There's also a decent amount of interest more north, specifically in the red bank area (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/initiatives/monmouth-county-nj
), the east brunswick area (https://www.facebook.com/EBGLC
), and newton (http://transitionnewton.wordpress.com/
). I'm sure there's others as well. Also, there's a statewide meetup site that has regular events: http://www.meetup.com/Permaculture-Network-of-NJ/
It's exciting to see so many people in south jersey interested in permaculture too! I would propose that we form our own informal or formal organization, and start organizing workshops/permablitz's as soon as possible! What do you guys think of calling ourselves the Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens Permaculture Guild, since that seems to be the ecoregion we all reside in, and it is indeed such a unique ecoregion? If you're hazy on what that region is, you can learn about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_coastal_pine_barrens
In terms of what I know for our region, here are some of the most important things I know:
- Add organic matter to the soil every year, if only in the form of chopped leaves. Our soil is so poor, that if you want to grow anything that isn't native here, adding some sort of organics is essential. I've had moderate success with straw bales and compost, as well as hugelkulture. Also, add lime, since our soil is so acidic.
- Either irrigate or do hugelkulture to keep your plants healthy over the hot summer. Again, since our soil is so sandy, unless you've gotten it to the point where organic matter or wood is storing the water for you, the water will just leach right out.
- Despite how poor our soil is, we can grow lots of stuff you might not expect, as long as you treat the soil right.
- Here's a list of edible/useful perennial plants I've found could work well in our area with the proper care. Some are native, some not, but here they are in no particular order: Peach , blueberry, raspberry, elderberry, fig, horseradish, licorice, comfrey, new jersey tea, partridge pea, redbud, saltbush, seakale, beach plum, walnut, hickory, oak, sweet fern, lupine, rose of sharon, bee balm, yarrow, chicory, birch, rugosa rose, sea buckthorn, hardy pomegranate, pineapple guava (with protection), oregano, thyme, welsh onion, strawberry, asparagus, smilax, huckleberry, juneberry, oregon grape holly, grapes, schizandra, passion fruit, duck potato, water lily, lotus, cattails, wild rice, upland rice, yucca, creeping raspberry, hibiscus, prickly pear, paw paw, spikenard, udo, columbine...and the list goes on.
I'm sure there are many more to add, what else has anyone noticed or tried? I'd really like to start collecting wild rice, south jersey is supposed to be prime territory for that. In any case, we have quite a list of plants and techniques available to us to create an abundance for our region.
If you're all interested in getting together to help each other achieve that abundance, I'm totally game. If you'd all like, I could set up a website/communication platform for us, and we can plan our first meetup. When would be a good day for everyone to get together? I'm free any time really, so whenever anyone is free, let it be known and we'll go from there!
Looking forward to meeting and working with everyone,