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Kio Starfield

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since Nov 06, 2018
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Recent posts by Kio Starfield

Tyler Ludens wrote:If you add another short fence inside the existing fence, about four feet away from it, you can exclude deer.  I have two short fences, one about 5 feet tall, the other about 4 feet, and they keep the deer out completely.  You can plant your thicket between the fences, where it will be protected during establishment, then later the inside fence could be moved to another location.

For Florida gardeners (and other gardeners in warm/hot climates) I think David the Good is a tremendous resource:

David the Good is great, I have had some correspondence with him and he has offered some advice. I've also bought most of his books and read through them several times, and I regularly go back to his old North Florida Food Forest videos because I'm modelling my forest after his. In regards to the short fence, if it wasn't added, do you think the deer and wildlife might chew up the  young saplings of the various suggested plants? I have yet to see them chew up all the mulberry saplings and cuttings I have planted and it's been almost a year.
1 year ago
I have spent almost a year observing my landscape and experimenting with planting a few various perennial and annual plants. I'm afraid to say, most of my annual crops, including things such as Tomatoes, Peppers, Cilantro, Seminole Pumpkin, Watermelon and MARIGOLDS, have been decimated by the Deer population in my area. Other wildlife I have observed are foxes, turkeys, rabbits, gopher tortoises, possums, armadillos and the occasional rare peacock that probably escaped from captivity. I am working on building a food forest on my acre or so of land in zone 9A near Jacksonville Florida, and would like to create a system that incorporates wildlife and allows them some food, but certainly not all or most of it. I don't mind sharing my food with wildlife, and I want to take a very natural approach and would like to avoid things that might clash with my wild garden design, such as nets, tall fences, electrical fences, etc. etc. I am focusing on my front yard for now, too wide of an area to practically put deer fencing in, it would be impossible to keep all wildlife out of it and would be ridiculous to try in the sense of a permaculture approach. So I had an idea, that would not only feed the wildlife in my area and provide shelter, but also protect the inner food forest and provide privacy for me. Down below are some pictures, crudely drawn, but should get the point across.

Here's a base picture of my land, this is the front yard area, it is not to scale, I apologize for the crudeness but I whipped it up pretty fast cause I'm excited about it and want to see what you guys think.

As you can see, it's mostly open. The soil towards the top of my property (top of image) is quite poor and I'm working on improving it with nitrogen fixers. There's some pine trees, a nice crapemyrtle in the middle of the yard, a beautiful red cedar, and many different kinds of grasses and weeds, as well as blackberry thickets throughout the yard and muscadine grape vines climbing the pine trees and oaks. To give you an idea of scale, within the fence (the big black line) the space is approximately 27,000 square feet.

From my observations, this is what I've been able to determine about the wildlife pressure.

My fence is quite short for a deer, it's about 4-5 feet on average. There are two holes at the front of the property where there should be gates, so the deer don't even need to jump to enter my property. However, even if there were gates there, as you can see, there are several places they can easily jump the fence to get into my yard. After that it's a buffet for them. My neighbor, to the right of the image, has no front fence at all, so they can walk onto his property and jump the fence from the right side of my property.

So, here's my proposed solution in image form...

My idea is, to surround the area where I want to grow the main food forest with a thicket, thick forest wall, composed of a mixture of native wildlife and privacy plants, including but not limited to the ones listed in the image. Beautyberry and American Persimmon grow quite abundantly both on my property and in my area. Chickasaw plum and gopher apples are native wildlife plants for Turkeys and tortoises, and all the others listed are mostly native, should be easy enough to grow and propagate into a thick wall surrounding the area. Then, I will leave only one small area, large enough that a person can enter with a garden wagon, maybe only 2 or 3 shoulder widths wide perhaps a little wider, positioned in such a way that to enter the main food forest where all the special crops are growing, you either need to get very close to the house where I will place a scarecrow or two for decoration, or go all the way around a winding path through the backyard jungle of my property. I don't expect this will completely eliminate wildlife munching on my crops, but that's okay. Do you think a solution like this could work to greatly alleviate wildlife pressure? Specifically deer pressure? My idea is that the deer that were entering the property from the far right entrance and jumping the fence, won't be able to because the thicket will be so thick they'd be essentially hurting themselves or getting themselves stuck if they tried. They also may not be compelled to jump the fence, because food would be readily available without jumping the fence. And any remaining wildlife that enter the property through the far left entrance, will see the food wall and graze it, and probably get too skiddish to get very close to the house.

Thoughts? Comments? Opinions? Let me know if you guys have any questions!

EDIT: The images appear to be broken... Maybe I did it wrong. Here is a link to the album with the pictures arranged the way they are in this forum post: Picture Album
1 year ago

S Bengi wrote:Growing your own mulch is growing 10ft corn every 60days and then chop drying them and then adding that as mulch even better would be to 'half-burn it' to make biochar. That much corm will make alot of mulch. you can probaly do 5sets per year. In no time your soil could have 20% carbon with that bio-char.

1inch mulch over your site will disappear super quick so you might not be able to hold enough water+mineral+soil life to make it self-sustaining enough. That is why making it around 7inches thick sounds supper.

I like partially sunken hugelculture because it buries the carbon deeper in the soil, and if you don't have enough water during the dry season, the root can access that stored water. But it it also above soil level so during the wet season the roots have have dry feet

Interesting. So with the corn, the corn could be harvested and just the stalks could be thrown down as mulch? And how exactly would one "half-burn" the stalks? If I grew a large enough area of my yard, could I effectively cover the particularly bad parts and get the soil improved enough to start planting some fruit trees and perennials?

2 years ago

S Bengi wrote:Biochar works well for tropical/sandy soils.

That said I would concentrate the 'mulch' vs spreading it too thin.
Partially Sunken hugelculture sounds wonderful.

But more than anything else I like the idea of planting alot of super tall corn and sunflower plants, to grow your own mulch.

How would that work?

And yes, I would be taking the logs and burying many of them throughout the yard sporadically.
2 years ago
Here's a question for you guys.

I have quite a few hardwood trees, some old rotting trees and dead trees I plan on cutting down. What about spreading the branches and leaves, and some of the larger logs across my yard, particularly over the super sandy areas? Ofcourse I would allow all of this to break down for a long time, I would imagine since the larger pieces will break down over a longer period of time, this would allow the soil to hold more nutrients and not suck them up as much. I imagine this would be better than no mulch but I question its efficacy, could something like this work if given enough time?
2 years ago
I appreciate all the replies this thread has gotten so far, thanks guys!

I'll give you guys some information on what i'm planning to do. I've got a few Turkey Oaks, some dead trees, and some large branches to prune and that will give me lots of logs and dead wood. I was planning to use those to build small hugelkultur mounds throughout the forest for annual gardening and maybe some perennials too.

I have a spot that I think would be nice to build a pond near the back of the house, it appears to be the lowest point in my yard so it would naturally catch rainfall. I would like to build a pond and grow a ton of water loving plants in there, but I dont want to put any fish in there. Do you guys have any suggestions for that as well?
2 years ago
I'm planning on doing this with a fairly large area of my yard. Is the clay I want going to come in grains like sand or dirt? And what about areas that already have grass and weeds growing thick, should I worry about adding clay to these areas?
2 years ago
Thank you both for your replies! I see some good ideas in here. I will definitely try getting some clay. I do see lots of yard waste, so perhaps it's time to start collecting it and adding it to my yard.

So, do 8-12 inches of woodchip mulch prevent this nutrient leaching through sandy soils?
2 years ago
Good afternoon Permies!

So, I live on an acre plot of land in zone 9A North Florida, just a few miles south of the beginning of zone 8b. Unfortunately, I live out in the country, and am having difficulty finding Tree Services that will deliver boatloads of free mulch to my property. I'm hoping to convert my entire yard into a forest garden with all sorts of plants going, but my yard is kinda... Well, some areas are lush and have wild edibles and trees sprouting up, others are... Sandy and lacking. I know sheet mulching is a great option to get started for improving your soil to plant edibles, but I definitely don't want to pay for mulch. I'm hoping to take the most budget friendly and laziest route to build a food forest. I have a few ideas on what I can do to improve soil, and I was hoping for some input from you guys on here that have experience with forest gardening.

My current plan is to buy a bunch of Perennial Peanut Seeds, Moringa Tree Seeds, Sunshine Mimosa Seeds, Sunn Hemp Seeds and Dandelion Seeds, as well as some bare root Black Locust and Mimosa Trees. Perennial Peanut, Sunshine Mimosa, Mimosa Trees and Black Locust would act as my nitrogen fixers and chop and drop biomass, Sunn Hemp and Dandelion would be my dynamic mineral accumulators, and also more chop and drop biomass (And delicious Dandelion root tea!). The Moringa, (which I'm not sure is a legume or a nitrogen fixer?) would be another food source and chop and drop biomass. So, instead of sheet mulching, what if I just mixed up a bunch of seeds, threw them haphazardly throughout the yard, cut up the already growing grass and weeds and throw them on the ground to cover the seeds. I'm hoping to kind of emulate nature here to some extent, and I don't mind if not 100 percent of the seeds germinate, as long as they can grow and start out-competing the grass and weeds. And of course I would also plant the nitrogen fixing trees throughout the yard. And I would do this in early spring, right after the last frost, and just let everything grow rampant for most of the year, then chop and drop it back into the soil. Would this be acceptable alternative route to improve my soil before I start REALLY planting fruit trees and perennial food plants?
2 years ago

Mart Hale wrote:I just moved to Summerfield Florida about 6 years ago on 1/2 acre now 1 acre of land.

I suggest the following ->

David the Good, a good friend of mine has written books about doing permaculture in Florida along the line of survival.

I also am a lazy gardener and I have been in search of plants that take the least amount of energy to give me the most results.

So far the best plants for me are:

Figs,    persimmon,    white yams,   moringa,    cassava,   I have found to grow with little effort.      Now the next thing to do is to take these and feed animals with them or sell them for advantage.

I have been working on propagating foodder tree crops that I can use to either feed livestock or worms.


David is pretty awesome. I have bought most of his books and him and I are currently corresponding through email, he has a lot of great advice.
2 years ago