Randie Piscitello

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since Jan 06, 2016
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forest garden food preservation
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Recent posts by Randie Piscitello

firefly larvae are predators of snails and slugs. As far as cabbage worms and the like, I've had them completely disappear since having large colonies of assassin bugs arrive. My biggest rival is the squash vine borer, and I'm hoping application of beneficial nematodes cuts down their larval populations in the soil so I can see how they could help with slugs and snails as well. They are easy to propagate big populations from small seeder colonies.
8 years ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:

Rachel Dee wrote:
I found clothes pins with this guarantee- $20 for 10. Anything happens to it, you get a free replacement for life. I'll probably have to buy 50 of them. I'm looking at $100 of clothes pins, but this is for a lifetime of a sound-quality, no problem, can-hold-my-wet-wool-blankets-up-by-the-edge kind of clothes pins.

I also found lifetime guarantee socks. I must throw out 5-6 pairs of them a year because of holes. This company sells these at around $30 a pair. Anything happens to them, they stretch out too much, you get a replacement. Normally, we buy used military-surplus wool socks at $3-$5 a pair. I throw out $25-$30 worth of socks every year this way.

I found these socks and (I think) clothespins, too. The clothespins are on my birthday list and baby registry, in hopes that someone else will by them for me. But, the Darn Tough socks I bought are AMAZING! I, too, was burning through socks. I would get socks at Grocery Outlet and they'd have holes in a month (or less). I got Costco's wool socks, and they had holes in 3 months. I would try darning them, and they would just make new holes around the darns, and so I gave up darning them. I got Darn Tough socks almost a year ago, and none of them have any holes or thin spots, and I haven't even needed to return any of them! I cannot speak too highly of these socks. Also, it pays to check Amazon for these socks periodically. I got my son two pairs of Darn Tough socks at $7/pair, and paid the same amount for about seven pairs of socks for me. I haven't seen such a deal on Amazon since, and I wish I'd bought more socks for my son as they fit so well. But, I keep checking back in hopes that the prices will drop again!

On the topic of shoes and boots, it really pays to also check reviews on the shoes and remember what type of shoe they are. My husband went to our local Work & More store to buy work shoes. He ended up paying, I think, $150 for a pair of Merrel shoes...that wore out in less than a year because they were for running and were not waterproof and pretty much rotted. I guess people expect to buy a new pair of quality running shoes every few months (boggles my mind!). It really pays to think about what the purpose of the work shoe is, because it's price does not necessarily mean that it will last a long time or work well in your scenario!

camelcamelcamel.com keeps track of the price of items you can buy on amazon over the last year. You can put in your item and see how low the price has gone, and then you can put in an email alert if you are trying to get it under a certain price. I've done it with several big ticket items that I can wait a bit on.
8 years ago

Will Moraes wrote:That's really inspiring, Randie. Is your soil the east side clay or are you on the limestone shelf? Do all of the selected fruit trees tolerate cold? Did you source the trees locally or online? What sort of irrigation are you using for establishment and the brutal summer months?
I look forward to watching this grow.

Thank you, unfortunately on the limestone, so I've put in well over 50 yards of mulch and organic materials over the last couple of years to try to build soil on top. The trees all *should* tolerate our weather, and I've put the boundary pushers in a warmer microclimate closer to the house (mostly the banana trees, although the varieties I selected should technically be ok, but there's always that random super cold ice storm every couple of years). Some (3 of the figs, pears, 3 of the pomegranates, 2 elderberries, the pineapples guavas, 1 plum, the lemon and lime) were bought locally at Green and Growing in Pflugerville, but most of the more atypical were bought online. My favorite online nurseries were Burnt Ridge and Bay Laurel and I actually got random plants from ebay with good results (just made sure to read reviews). I'm hoping the depths of mulch I've put on everything will help with holding water in the landscape, and right now I have several soaker hoses for the times I need to irrigate. I'd like to put in a permanent automatic drip hose system at some point once everything is completely set.
8 years ago

Marco Banks wrote:Wow. You certainly wasted no time. Outstanding work.

Don't plant your trees too close, or you'll be bumming when it gets too crowded (speaking as someone who has had to cut stuff down because it was just too dense). Everything always grows so much bigger than we anticipate that it will.

It will be fun to watch the garden grow, even as your kiddos grow with it.

Thank you! It's hard to see in the sea of stuff, but a lot of the stalky things are actually sunflowers, and probably half the property and trees put in are in other areas (the property is really long). I'm also going to try "backyard orchard pruning" techniques to keep the fruit trees at manageable sizes. Here's a pic of the sunflowers just this morning. Love them for drawing the bees in and just general attractiveness. They also provide some afternoon shade to my annuals from the beating sun.

8 years ago
And an inventory of what perennials are out there right now

Front Yard
Sambucus canadensis elderberry
-2 unknown Elderberry Sambucus canadensis varieties from a nursery
-1 Johns elderberry

2 pineapple guava unknown nursery variety

1 Texas Blue Giant Fig

1 Parfianka Pomegranate

1 loquat unknown nursery variety


Sambucus canadensis elderberry
-1 Nova
-1 York

7 Banana trees
-Ice Cream / Blue java
-California Gold

1 cool hardy mandarin orange tree unknown nursery variety

2 Bay Laurel trees

-1 Honeyjar
-1 contorted
-1 Sugar Cane
-1 GA 866

Plum trees
- 1 Methley
- 1 Japanese Burgundy

Pluot trees
- 1 Dapple Supreme
- 1 Flavor King Supreme

- Thornless Prime-Ark Freedom
- 3 in 1 Thornless
- Thorny Prime-Ark 45

Passion Fruit vines
- 2 Passiflora edulis - purple
- 2 Passiflora actinia - purple and white
- 2 Passiflora sanguinolenta - pink

Goji Berry
- 2 Black
- 2 Phoenix Tears
- 1 Big Lifeberry
- 1 Sweet Lifeberry

Goumi bushes
-2 unknown nursery variety
-1 Red Gem
-1 Sweet Scarlet
-1 Carmine

Aronia bushes
-2 Viking
-2 Nero

- 1 Puciumol

2 Asian Pear
- 1 Kikusui
- 1 Shinko

Garden Prince Almond

Unknown Pecan

Honeyberry bushes

- 1 Texas Pink
- 1 Eversweet
- 1 Austin
- 1 Kandahar

- 1 Alma
- 1 Celeste
- 1 Janice Seedless Kadota
- 1 Panache Tiger
- 1 LSU Purple

Moringa trees - 4 established, many more planned

- 1 Kieffer
- 1 Bartlett

- 1 Anna
- 1 Dorsett

2 Cherry of the Rio Grande trees

2 Japanese Raisin trees

Melon trees
- 1 male and 1 female trees

4 everbearing mulberry bushes

1 Ha’o mulberry tree

1 Sumac tree

1 clumping Himalayan Blue bamboo

Black elderberry
- 2 black beauty
- 1 black lace

- 1 Glod Nugget
- 1 Vista White
- 1 Early Red




3 Tree Collards
8 years ago
Lots of progress before the heat hit! I have everything ordered planted, 16 more yards of cedar mulch were used on all the paths, and thousands of seeds of annuals have been used this year. I also created a stock tank pond and will be trying to propagate dragonflies in it to naturally combat mosquitoes and other flying bugs (maybe help with my archenemy, the squash vine borers).

8 years ago
I'm in a North suburb of Austin, creating a food forest on my .4 acre HOA typical suburban lot. So far planted out over 50 trees and probably a similar amount of shrubs/bushes with large annual and herb areas.
8 years ago
Does anyone have more tried and true tomato varieties that produce further into the Texas heat? I know the cherries tend to do better in general and am testing out quite a bit of different types myself, but my soil is only on year 1-3 on improving from caliche crud depending on the garden's area so I know there will be general improvement as the years go on.
8 years ago
1. finish initial food forest plantings that have already been planned and bought
2. mulch out everything
3. create dragonfly breeding pond
4. learn more about storing excess - dehydrating, canning, etc.
5. hopefully sell some excess to friends to recoup some of the initial costs
8 years ago
Hi there! Delurking here so I can start participating. I decided last year to start growing more on our property (1/2 acre in the Austin suburbs) and then stumbled on permaculture and it all clicked! I've been knee deep in absorbing everything permaculture since then and my yard is already significantly different. My current goal has been to get all things fruit trees, bushes and other perennials going in my food forest before the summer hits here.
I do have 2 plums, 3 pomegranates, 2 pears, 2 pluots, 3 figs, 2 japanese raisins, a pecan, several elderberries, honey berries, goji berries, pineapple guavas, blackberries, a mulberry, and a loquat already planted in the last few years (most aren't producing much or anything yet).
I recently did a large (for the suburbs) garden expansion. We had cut down some old peach trees early last year that just lay in a pile and I used those to both edge my new paths (with the big logs) and put all the small branches under a deep layer of mulch in new garden beds. Currently I have a bunch of buckwheat, peas and fava beans in all the new beds to try to get them ready for spring.
I have several large orders of trees and bushes coming in the next couple of months - 2 more figs, 2 more poms, 2 cherry of the rio grandes, several cool hardy bananas, 2 asian pears, 2 apples, 3 more loquats, guomi and aronia bushes, 1 medlar, 4 jujubes, several mulberries, 1 almond, probably more I'm forgetting. Almost all fruit trees with multiples are different types. Lots of comfrey and perennial sunflowers everywhere and I've been busy trying to create microclimates and water catchment and more plants to plants for chop n drop.
Also running after my 1,3 and 5 year old kids, but they love being outside so it helps when I'm trying to get stuff done

8 years ago