Diego Melians Ii

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since May 06, 2012
Miramar (South Florida Zone 10b) and Lee (North Florida Zone 8b)
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Recent posts by Diego Melians Ii

If it's near St. Augustine then how can it be in Central FL? St. Augustine is in North Florida...
7 years ago
Hi Again Dan,

One other thought. How about growing some food in the front yard if you have more sun there? I now most HOA's (if you are in one) won't allow a true Food Forest in the front yard. However a small growing fruit tree or two with a 6'-8' diameter island of supporting guild plants should look good and have no resistance from neighbors/HOA. Just a thought.
7 years ago
Here is a pic of the Carambola fruit and a couple of pics of Jaboticaba.
7 years ago
Hi Dan,

I also live in South Florida, so I feel your "pain", I am in Miramar (10b). I have a Carambola (aka star fruit) tree growing close to the east side of my home. It gets about 4-5 hours of sun in the summer and about 2-3 hours in the winter. The rest of the day it is in full shade because my two story home's shade completely overtakes it. I can tell you it does GREAT! I get more star fruit then I know what to do with! I end up feeding much of it to my chickens because I have too much! It fruits about three times a year for me. I don't fertilize it (or spray of course) and I have never had any bug or disease issues. In fact, of the 12 fruit trees I grow, it is the easiest and most prolific. If you have never tasted a Carambola fruit, you should try it before you plant it. No sense in growing something you will not eat. Unless of course you plan to feed it to chickens or the like. I like it but my wife doesn't. It is citrus-y in flavor and when you cut it crossways it forms a pretty star pattern. Another fruit you could try of course are bananas. I have three types. Two are in mostly sunny spots and one in part shade. All three fruit for me, although the shady one not quite as much as other two, but it still gives me 2-3 bunches a year. Keep in mind however that you will have to feed them. I use chicken manure. If you don't want to fertilize, bananas are tough. You can also try Jaboticaba. This tree produces grape like fruits which grow directly on the trunk and branches. It is very unusual! But if you try it, be sure to get a grafted variety or it can take 15-20 years to fruit from seed! Richard Lyons Nursery had a good selection when I bought mine a few years ago. However, it does need frequent irrigation to fruit well. As far as pineapple guava, I also grow it. It does well as a pretty tree. However I would not recommend it for South Florida because, although it is pretty, you will NEVER get a fruit you can eat due to fruit flies. They are UNSTOPPABLE! I have tried everything imaginable (except spraying), even physically covering the fruit when small with paper bags and tying it tightly. Nevertheless, every fruit gets maggots in them. It ends up making a big mess when it fruits because you can't eat the fruit and they end up rotting on the ground. Of all the fruit trees I have planted, this is the only one I regret. As for veggies, try Seminole Pumpkin. It does well in semi shade. The Seminoles used to plant them under trees in the everglades and let them vine up the tree. It was a major staple in their diet. In fact, it is rumored the Seminole War began when soldiers began shooting the pumpkins for target practice. Let me know if you would like any more info on any of these and I'll share my experiences with you. Good luck.
7 years ago
Thanks for your feedback gentlemen! When I try it in SoFlo, I'll try it on east side of house since it seems to be doing well for Alan there and I was worried about the intense afternoon sun it will get down here.
7 years ago
Hi Nick,

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.

Take Care,
Diego
7 years ago
Ben,
Thanks for the info. It sounds like something that I want to pursue. Also, thanks for letting me stop by some time. When I have a trip up with a little time to spare I'll let you know. But it might be a while because for now my to do list is so long whenever I go up that I don't have the time to spare, but I really want to stop by so hopefully it won't be to long!
7 years ago
Nick,
I completely agree with your assumption that the shade should help with the weeds. In the pine forest that comprises the other 37 acres of my property, that is indeed the case. The only plants that grow there in abundance in the deep shade are ferns, which I think are quite beautiful! Plus as soon as the weather cools they disappear on their own. I also have gopher tortoises. In fact when I walk around my land I have to be careful not to step into a gopher tortoise hole because they are so prolific. Several times I have moved a tortoise off the dirt road that leads to my property to make sure someone doesn't accidentally run them over! A word of caution though, if you have kids be careful because rattlesnakes love to hang out in those gopher tortoise tunnels also. Kids are very curious about those tunnels and you want them to stay clear just in case! I have a 7 year old daughter who LOVES to explore nature (which I of course encourage) but I taught her to be careful with those tunnels and when walking through the forest because we do have rattlesnakes and coral snakes in the area. I am such a sap that I don't even like to kill a bug. I want to live in harmony with all creatures, even rattlesnakes. We just have to learn how to be safe while respecting life as well. My wife thinks I'm crazy but I won't kill anything unless I absolutely have no choice.

I know what you mean when you say "This is one of the most enjoyable endeavors I've ever undertaken.". When I am on my property I feel a real sense of peace and harmony! I know it sounds crazy but I get the feeling the land appreciates that I want to be a good tenant and welcomes me. I feel like my resident creatures want to live in harmony with me as well. I've even accidentally stepped on an ant hill and the ants crawled over my feet but didn't bite me...I was astonished! I've had large wasps set up a nest practically above my head where I sit on the porch (a small cabin I set up) and I have never been stung! I believe that we put out a "vibe" that tells animals if we are a threat or not. How else can you explain it? I had a visitor step on an ant pile as well and they got stung all over! I don't care if it's all in my head or not but I choose to believe it and it brings me joy. The time I spend on my land is the happiest time I have. I too find this to be the most enjoyable endeavor I've ever undertaken!

7 years ago
Hi Ben,

I must say that you really got me excited about the possibilities of biochar! I had heard Paul Wheaton mention it in a podcast but I hadn't researched it yet. He specifically recommended it for Florida. I am definitely going to incorporate it into my plan. Does it matter what type of wood I use? The reason I ask is that I am going to clear about 1 1/2 acres of planted pine soon and I can have them spread the burnt wood and bury it for me instead of completely burning it to ash. However I know Pine trees can be allopathic so I want to make sure I am not shooting myself in the foot! If Pine is ok I could ask them to haul in more every time they clear land in the area. Do you know what a fair price is for a truckload of biochar? I think I could get a good deal since he was already paid to clear it and my money is a secondary income on what he was already paid for instead of just burning it on the site. People are clearing land around me all the time. Also, since you have used Sunn Hemp in the past, I would like your opinion. I plan to grow it until it begins to flower and then chop and drop it. I read that right when it begins to flower is when it has the most nutrients in it. Do you think I should till it into the soil or just leave it lying on top?

I'd also love to visit you someday and see your plan in action. You are about 3 hours south of my property in Madison County, but it's a fairly small detour if I stop by on the way up or down. I could learn a lot from you! I'm so appreciative of the new Floridian friends I'm making!

Thanks,
Diego
7 years ago
Hi Nick. I understand your approach. It should work well in a small area. In my case if I didn't stop the "weeds" I would be overrun and not able to manage the land into my desired result. So in my case I envision a true permaculture food forest as the end result, not the beginning process. I guess it will be essentially an orchard at the beginning. I want to plant the trees first because they take the longest to grow. I also have to plant it in stages because I don't have enough money and time to plant everything at once. Therefor I will plant the trees, and just use cover crops to enrich the soil while they get established. Then I will put in the large shrubs as the next phase, etc until I have installed all 7 layers of the food forest. I would love to do it all at once but it's just not possible. In my view of permaculture, I use nature as a model, but I choose the plants and trees I want rather then allow any plants to grow that occur naturally on the property. Of course I will NEVER use any toxins or synthetic fertilizer, but I know I will need to provide natural fertilizer the first couple of years until it the system begins to feed itself. I also plan to use LOTS of comfrey as well. I kind of used the same approach in my small 1/4 acre yard at my home 10 years ago before I ever even heard of Permaculture. I had to frequently fertilize and work to guide the garden. Today, I haven't fertilized or sprayed in years. In fact all I do now is harvest mangoes, bananas, jaboticaba, jack fruit, sapodilla, and star fruit. Not bad for a suburban lot! I have LOTS of diveristy in my planting. I just wish I would have learned about permaculture earlier so I could have selected better guild plants. I had no idea then about dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, predatory insect attractors etc. I draw a lot of strength and confidence in this. If it worked for me before, I know it will work again. It's just the sheer size that is daunting to me. But I really don't think it is hard. I think the main thing is diversity. The more diversity you have the healthier your food forest will be.

Keep in touch Buddy!
Diego
7 years ago