Conner Murphy

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since Apr 16, 2018
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forest garden homestead trees urban
Fruit tree fanatic from South Florida.
West Palm Beach, FL
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Recent posts by Conner Murphy

Trace Oswald wrote:My number one go-to would be a small plant nursery.  It's quiet, easy work that you can turn into a business if you would like to for little to no investment, and work as much or as little as you like.  You work at home, and while it takes some time to start generating income, the actual time spent working is minimal.  You have lots of "leisure" time while you are waiting for things to grow, or sprout, or develop roots, so you can work or play at other things.  Marketing is very simple.  A free Craigslist ad or a few signs on the street are as much advertising as you need to get started.  Everything about the business can be expanded if you wish.  You make your own hours, and you can have your dogs around for company while you work :)

You are describing my business!  And fairly accurately, too.  It takes forethought and planning, and understanding the different timelines/schedules for each nursery crop, but once I had that down it became very leisurely, and I can work on an extremely flexible schedule, as long as something is getting done every day.  I do  this in my backyard (which is not large by any means) and I've got hundreds of plants growing and well over 50 varieties, from fruit trees to pollinators to perennial veggies.  All of which I grow in my food forest for my own benefit as well as for propagation material.  The line between "work" and home life has a lot of overlap, but not in a stressful way as some other businesses run from home might be.  I sometimes have visitors come, but I also sell plants from the local farmer's market, and I do installation jobs for people.  I just planted two fig trees at a customer's place this morning and made $150.  I can put as much (or as little) time as I want into this business, and can expand or contract depending on that.  So it definitely fits the definition of agile work- as I drive around town, I might spot a cashew tree, stop and collect some nuts, plant them, and 6 months later sell the trees for $20 each.  Costs me next to nothing in money or time, just a few minutes of attention here and there.  As you said, marketing is very simple.  I make about half my income doing this and I haven't even incorporated or gotten certified yet.  Eventually the momentum will push me to that point, but as a side venture which has no significant possible losses, I can take my time expanding it as I develop the skill more.  I'd recommend it to anyone with the resources, which are extremely minimal at the beginning.

Another example would be if you own a truck with a large bed (I do), and you use it occasionally to help someone move or clean out a house.  It's pretty easy to load up a truck bed and drive a pile of old mattresses to the landfill, and make some quick cash doing it.  I think agile work can be defined as something you can choose to do to make money when you have the time to do it, but you can also choose not to if you have something else going on.  It allows you to control your own schedule, which is probably the biggest benefit of all.
3 hours ago

Judith Browning wrote:Conner, Have you been able to save viable seed from them?  I wonder if I could just stop pruning one and it might flower?

Now that it seems possible to winter over the roots I'm not so concerned with seed although I would like to see the flower and seed pod.

Are you harvesting lots to eat?  We love the fresh leaves chopped in all sorts of things.  I tried some commercial powdered stuff when we didn't have fresh leaves and we did not like the flavor at all.

I have.  You have to wait until the pods turn completely brown and dry out before harvesting the seed though.  You might not have a long enough season for that, but you could probably get them to flower.  I like the taste of the flowers - peppery like the leaves, but with a fruity overtone.

I do harvest leaves to eat fresh, they mostly end up in smoothies for me.  Whenever I have to cut one back a lot, I strip all the leaves, dehydrate them, powder, and store the powder in a jar in the freezer.  Much better than what you can purchase which is typically held at room temp and allowed to become rancid.  If you store it in the freezer, it keeps its fresh green color and flavor.

Mark Brunnr wrote:Being a tropical plant, I doubt the seeds store well but I still have a few in the fridge I can test. I bought them last year but only used half, would be great if the remainder are still viable after 12 months stored at 35-40F.

Let us know if they are viable after cold storage.  I have had no problem keeping dried seeds at room temp or hotter for many months.
2 days ago
Nice!!  They are troopers.

Since my last post I have learned that they will produce pods on their own, in whatever condition.  But, there's not a specific season, they'll just flower somewhat sporadically. I have some with mature drying pods, smaller green ones, and flowers too.  And then some that are 15 feet tall and havent flowered yet.
Hopefully you get a lot of growth out of them so theyll have a chance to produce.
2 days ago
A mail order nursery has the responsibility of making sure that the plants are packed correctly for shipping.  There are ways to ensure that plants don't move around in the box.  They should have no problem replacing them if you ask, especially with the pictures.
6 days ago
If you are in zone 8 or warmer, perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata) would be worth trying.  It's a super low ground cover, nitrogen fixer, doesn't make peanuts but does have edible yellow flowers.  I would guess that it won't compete too heavily...  I may have to experiment with this in my annual beds.  Just started propagating a bunch of cuttings two days ago.
6 days ago
Not much has died yet, but I've been focusing on perennials.  I planted a bed of swiss chard a little too late in the season and it can't handle the heat.  Not dead yet, but struggling.  All the perennial greens are thriving though.. I just had some longevity spinach on a burger last night.
Thought an air-layered guava I propagated had died because it lost all it's leaves, but it's coming back.  Also I almost killed some carambola seedlings due to overwatering.
I just finished planting a polyculture in one of my raised beds this morning - turmeric, peanuts, and bush beans in alternating rows.  I'm excited to see how it does.
I've never been able to grow peppers very well, hot or sweet.  A couple small plants have died for unknown reasons.  Still trying though.

My gardens are mostly perennial, and more than half of the raised beds are empty right now, but I plan on growing a few summer crops - sweet potatoes, turmeric, eggplant, okra, peppers (with shade cloth), sunflowers, tobacco, tulsi, and cotton, just for fun.  Ok that's more than a few crops.  
I'll report back after more casualties occur
Definitely looks like the leaves of some type of Dioscorea yam to the right of that moringa.  

Looking like a great start.  I suggest removing some of the grass around those trees while they are getting established, and putting some compost and a heavy layer of mulch.  Young fruit trees will grow slower when they have to compete with grass for food and water.
1 week ago

Jenn Bertrand wrote:I think the biggest struggle in breaking away from the main stream is finding your people.  My experience tells me that you just have to trust yourself and follow your desire and the people aligned with what you're after will show up. Same goes for a "job" or land or a partner or anything you feel strongly about

Definitely.  It takes patience.

In south FL there are definitely more younger permies than I'd imagine there are in the temperate regions.  I think being in a tropical climate makes it more obvious or appealing as a lifestyle.  People just love fruit in places where it's really hot.
3 weeks ago
Good thread.  Didn't read every post, but it seems like everyone has something to say on the topic.  Here's mine:

I was born in 1994, I'll be turning 25 this year.  All throughout high school, whenever the topic of college came up, I had deaf ears.  It never appealed to me at all.. If someone mentioned what college they were going to or what loans they were applying for, I just thought "...that sounds icky".  I had no alternative grand plan, yet in hindsight I literally thank myself every day for being stubborn about it and not even considering going to college.  I would in no way be able to do what I'm doing now, if I had accepted the notion that I needed to get a degree to be able to live with financial and personal independence.  In fact, it is clear to me now that it's the opposite:  I have no degree at all, and no debt thereof, which allows me to be completely independent in terms of lifestyle.  If I had invested years of my life racking up debt in college, instead of actually learning how to manage my life, I'd be a slave to whatever degree I would've squeezed out of it.  

I didn't really get my shit together until about 2016, after almost 3 years of goofing off after high school (moved across the state to chase a girlfriend, smoked a bunch of weed, didn't save a dime but also never went into debt).  I then got slapped in the face with reality via a breakup and moving back in with my dad.  After a few too many months of semi-depression, I got a restaurant job making decent money.  Somehow, a seed of the idea of buying a house was planted in my mind, and for about 2 years I saved all the cash I was making.  Literally went straight to the ATM to deposit it every night after work.  At this time I had no idea about or interest in permaculture, farming, horticulture, etc., I just wanted my own space.  I was starting to become educated in the real world, and realized my own conservative values, the importance of personal responsibility, and how to think and plan long term.  College teaches nothing in those realms.

I ended up getting a house in the city with a tiny bit of land (.18 acres), and the mortgage for this house was my first and only major debt.  I have a credit card, which I use for gas and pay in full every month.  I use it as a tool to build credit.  I've never had a car payment- I drive a 2001 Dodge Ram which I bought with cash.  
Anyway, I was the only 23 year old I knew who owned property.  Even worse- at one point, I was the only person my age (who I knew) with more than a couple hundred dollars in their bank account.  I would hear friends talking about how they had to wait til their next paycheck to make a certain purchase, and I would silently think "what the hell is this person doing?  They make the same amount of money as me, but I have twenty grand saved and they have zero."  Intentionally or not, my friend group has certainly shifted.  

So as soon as I moved into my property, I started planting fruit trees.  Just a banana and a papaya to start with, but gradually my interest grew.  Now, the entire property is a food forest.  I started to get really into horticulture because I wanted to grow my own plants... one thing led to another, and now I am running a fruit tree nursery and edible landscaping business from my backyard.  Being entirely self taught and equipped with the same stubbornness that kept me out of college, I ignored all the hoops I was supposed to jump through before starting this venture (become a master gardener! take a horticulture course at the local college! work for someone else first! start small and slow!) and just dove in and started producing.  At least as important as being independent via entrepreneurship, to me, was having social status.  I guess it's the same reason I wanted to buy a house- I wanted to be the only millennial who owns property, I wanted to be the only one running a tropical fruit nursery in their backyard.  I wanted people to come to me to see how these things are done, because I love to share it.

I, like most men, learn by doing.  What fun would it be to learn all about how to do something, before actually trying to do it?  I've realized it's a fantasy, just like the idea that a college degree "gets you somewhere".  YOU get somewhere by going there.  It's why I have such a passion for my nursery, because I get to learn new things all the time by DOING them... not by sitting in a classroom talking theory, or taking adderall to be able to finish that paper you have no interest in.  No, for me, whether that plant I'm growing lives or dies, I am learning something and developing a skill.  

The thing about not having debt, is that you have freedom to fail.  You don't have to settle for an unfulfilling yet guaranteed paycheck- you can actually try to do the things you've wanted to do, and if you fail,  you just have to work harder.  If I was living paycheck to paycheck with debt hanging over my head, I'd sure be afraid to try anything that might not work.  I have incentives to succeed, rather than threats to not fail.

To summarize, I'll say that getting to the kind of place in life where you have a lot of options, comes from saying NO to many things along the way- most of which are presented as necessities.  NO to college, NO to debt, NO to hedonistic spending, NO to friends who drain you, NO to expectations (specifically to this thread, your expectation of what the ideal piece of land is.  Don't be afraid to buy junk and fix it up, that's what I did.) and most importantly NO to the idea that there is only one path to a successful life.  There is a ton of gray area in life for you to experiment, mess up, and try again. Not so in a contract or commitment to a college degree/career.  Those things are black and white, and those numbers are what they are.  So I think the number one thing preventing millennials from having the option to pursue permaculture, is that they are chained to one thing or another which has drained their creativity.  With a college degree, you know exactly what you're going to get, and it's usually a let down.  Forging your own alternative path means you risk success or failure.  The success is much sweeter, and the failures make you learn more, faster.  

I hate to keep bashing college because I do believe it can be useful for some people.  But it wasn't useful for me.  You have to think of it in those terms, as if it's a tool.  Most people think of it as a rite of passage, which it isn't.  You are no less of a person for not doing it, and if you're not getting anything out of it then you're wasting your time.  
I believe I'm at least 8-10 years ahead of most people my age who are just graduating college- not only due to the time actually spent there, but due to the debt they likely have and the years it will take to deprogram the mindset that they are more worthy of something just because they jumped through a hoop.  
I'm so glad I opted out.
3 weeks ago

Gurkan Yeniceri wrote:Money is just another energy that enters into your system like rain, wind etc. How you cycle this money to gain the most yield out of it shows the efficiency and mastery of your design. As a permaculturist, you try to catch and store the energy and we must do the same with money. Catch and store and use it when the time is right.


Such a good analogy.  Money is a yield just like any other crop.  Putting it to a use which has the most potential is the challenge.  To push the analogy, I'll compare it to a seed crop.. if harvested and stored correctly, a few plants (dollars) can produce the seed for thousands more.  
4 weeks ago