Giving Thanks, Bat Attractant, Green Bananas and More

It’s been quite a week.

Hurricane Otto gave us a bunch of rain but no real trouble, my wife left for the states for a week, I wrote thousands of words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), my paintings are getting better and I managed to post multiple new videos despite the rain.

On Saturday I posted a very, very sad video:

It was so sad I got more thumbs down than usual. People felt my deep, deep misery. Actually, I wasn’t really that sad but we did have some difficulties to overcome.

I posted a follow-up on Sunday:

But… here’s the break-down on what’s happening, plus some good news.

The Sad Case of the Busted Car

Our new vehicle is dead at the moment and getting a mechanic to work on it proved to be more difficult than expected.

New-car

It looks great… but looks can be deceiving!

One fellow told me he’d come by and check it out and that we could tow it to his place, then was too tied up to help… so it sat for more than a week… and then my pastor called on Friday and said “Has that guy gotten to your car yet? If not, I have a mechanic and a tow truck guy that will get it done quickly!”

That sounded good to me, so I let the first guy go and it will be taken to the shop sometime today. We are praying it isn’t the whole engine that’s messed up, as that would be expensive.

We shall see.

My Missing Wife

Rachel had to go back to the states unexpectedly for the funeral of her grandmother. Her grandmother was quite a woman and Rachel was close to her, so this wasn’t easy for her or her family.

I am quite glad she got to go, and that we had lots of green bananas on the homestead we could eat. There are about seven stalks in the house right now – it’s ridiculous. The heavy rain has cause multiple trees to fall over before the fruit was fully ripe.

So far I’ve fried them, boiled them and put them into soup.

I even painted some of them.

Day-22-bananas-and-artifacts

When life gives you green bananas, paint their portraits.

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

Bat Attractant

I was written by Charles, the representative of a company that has developed a bat attractant to get bats moving into bat houses. He writes:

“Have you also checked out our new, field-tested bat house attractant, Hello Bat? We collaborated with bat experts and designed it to promote bat conservation efforts. In particular, we’re hoping it competitively displaces the toxic ammonia lures and guano lures that spread bat diseases, such as white-nose syndrome. Unlike other attractants, Hello Bat is research-based and utilizes the primary roost odors (including 2′-Aminoacetophenone) of major North American bat species. It is field-tested and effective.

You should check it out. I think your readers would love it, particularly given the Zika issues in Florida right now.  If you like it, please feel free to link to it.  It’s available on our website, Blue Moon Bell, which is located at https://bluemoonbell.com/products/bathouse-lure, and also sold on Amazon at this link.

So far, we’ve received positive feedback, including from Amazon, which labeled it the #1 new release in bat supplies with 5-star ratings across the board.”

If this works as advertised, it’s a great idea and much needed.

Last week, incidentally, I painted a picture of the abandoned building turned bat house a short walk from our house.

Day-23-old-building

That’s the place where I filmed this:

Giving Thanks

We have a lot to be thankful for this year.

We made the move overseas and have been learning the culture, the children are healthy, my Dad had successful knee surgery and is back on his feet after a long stretch of difficulty walking, my gardening books keep selling, and though some of you may disagree, I’m also glad there will not be a Bush or a Clinton taking control of the US in 2017.

Another cool thing – my YouTube channel blew through 11,000 subscribers last week. That’s pretty cool. I’m hoping we’ll hit 15k by year-end but I don’t know. It’s close!

Your Christmas Shopping Can Help Fund This Site

I got a really nice email from a reader who read in my newsletter that the car was dead. She asked if she could send a donation our way – I was quite touched. Though I turned down the offer, as there are many other people with needs much greater than my own, there is a way you can help us out.

Just shop by clicking through any one of my Amazon links when you do your Christmas shopping and a percentage of all your purchases will head our way.

Amazon-logoYou can use this link to go right to the homepage and start shopping. Bookmark it and just buy as you normally do – it doesn’t cost you a thing but helps us a lot. The Amazon Associates program pays my electric bill most months and I’m quite glad for it.

And Last But Not Least

PermacultureChickens

Don’t miss signing up for Justin Rhodes’ free two-day online viewing of his film Permaculture Chickens. Click that link to get in on seeing it for free. It’s a an excellent film with great ideas.

Thank you all for reading – I’ll be back soon with more gardening inspiration.

-David The Good

Fish Blood Fertilizer

If you’ve read Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, you’re already familiar with how I make my own fish fertilizer in big barrels.

Even if you just have a little fish blood lying around, don’t waste it!

The print edition of Compost Everything was out of stock for a few months due to some sort of issue with the printer and Amazon. I have no idea what happened, but it’s back in paperback now.

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

In other news, my YouTube channel is now just shy of 11,000 subscribers.

Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 8.46.27 AM

I would love to put up some more of Rachel’s cooking in time for Thanksgiving, but she’s headed back to Florida for the week.

Fortunately, she brought a camera with her and will be filming a new tour of The Great South Florida Food Forest Project.I really look forward to seeing that… and seeing her again. She left this morning and I already miss her, especially since I now have to make my own coffee. Sad!

Fish Soup Recipe with Dumplings (Delicious!)

Today’s delicious fish soup recipe is perfect for feeding a crew of hungry children. Or fishermen. Or fishermen’s children.

Delicious-fish-soup-recipe

Rachel was preparing a fish soup recipe recently and I asked her to share it here, as I know many of you are on the hunt for good recipes including tropical vegetables such as yams, green bananas, moringa and katuk. She graciously made a video of the process and wrote up the fish soup recipe here, from stock to ladle! -David The Good

Rachel’s Hearty Fish Soup Recipe

 

 

(Serves 12)

Ingredients

 

For Fish Stock:

A gallon sized bag full of fish heads and/or carcasses

Enough water to cover fish (approximately 2 gallons)

 

For Soup:

1. 3 tablespoons of butter

2. 3-4 onions, chipped

3. 12 cloves of garlic, crushed

4. 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced (I didn’t use this in the youtube video because I was out of carrots at the time. However, I would certainly have used them if I had them on hand. They will sweeten up the soup a bit. I used some leftover, cooked pumpkin in the video. So, if you have that, and not carrots, by all means, use it.)

5. 2 Bay leaves

6. A good handful of paprika peppers, chopped. If you don’t have these, use 3 teaspoons of powdered paprika

7. 8 oz small yam (I used Dioscorea alata, but there are many other varieties which will work just as well), peeled and chopped–or 3 (depending on size) white potatoes if you don’t have yams

8. 9 green bananas, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces—you can use green plantains if you don’t have green bananas, but then only use 3.

9. Fish stock. If you don’t have fish stock, use 2 gallons of chicken stock

10. Salt and pepper to taste

 

For Dumplings:

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

3 cups of all purpose flour

3 teaspoons of baking powder

2 pinches of salt

Water

 

Directions

In the morning, put the fish and water in a large pot and simmer all day. I used fresh tuna but any tasty fish works.

Making-fish-stock for a fish soup recipe

When ready to make the soup, strain through a colander into a bowl and reserve. Compost the remaining fish bits (there’s a recipe for homemade fish emulsion in Compost Everything). This part may be done the day before. If doing that, after straining, refrigerate the stock.

When ready to make the soup, heat a large pot to medium-low. Add the butter. Add ingredients numbered 2 – 8 in their listed order, stirring after each addition. Yams are a lot like a white potato but they can grow a lot bigger and are slimy when raw (but not when cooked!)

rachel-holding-yam-dioscorea-alata for fish soup recipe

The green bananas are easy to manage if you peel them the way I do in the video. Score and split off the skins, then chop them up.chopping-green-bananas-for fish soup recipeIf you’re lucky enough to have a banana tree in your backyard, fantastic! Ours have been a great blessing. They’re a great staple in the tropics.

rachel-harvesting-bananas-for fish soup recipe

At this point, if you would like a deeper, richer flavor, keep sautéing the veggies until they are golden. If you’re in a hurry, proceed to the next part. It will still taste good, just different.

Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer until all the veggies are tender, checking for doneness with a knife every 5-10 minutes or so. (The yams should be soft like a boiled white potato when done. The green bananas will still have a little firmness to them. But if the yams are done, the bananas probably are too—don’t worry about it too much, it will be fine). I added moringa to this fish soup recipe. When cooked it isn’t zippy and you can add a lot if you like. The nutrition is excellent.

cooking with moringa adding to fish soup recipe

Add salt and pepper to taste. Also, at this point, add more of any seasoning you think it is lacking.

Making Easy Dumplings

While waiting for the veggies to finish cooking, make the dumplings! Put the flour into a bowl and stir in the baking powder and salt. Add enough water to make a dry dough. You can tell if you’ve got it right when the dough holds together when squeezed into a ball. The first time I did this I accidentally added too much water. I put in a little more flour and mixed it again with my hands. It turned out fine, so this recipe is somewhat forgiving. Make snakes with the dough like you did with clay in kindergarten (approximately 4-6 inches long).

making-dumplings for fish soup recipe

When the vegetables are finished, add the dumplings, one at a time, to the soup. Put the lid on the pot and simmer the dumplings, testing for doneness every 5 minutes or so. You can tell they are done by cutting one in half and tasting it. If it tastes like raw dough, cook it longer.

Finished fish soup recipe

Feel free to play around with this recipe, as I did in the video. Nothing is hard and fast. Enjoy and experiment! If you have a husband to taste test, so much the better!david the good tasting fish soup recipe

If you come up with a different addition, I’d love to hear about it. This is a local fish soup recipe which I’ve just tweaked as I’ve gone along, according to whatever vegetables we have available.

Bon appetit!

Save

Save

Cob Rocket Stove Upgrade

A few months ago we built a little cob rocket stove because our gas ran out.

It worked okay but tended to choke. I was planning to raise the chimney but hadn’t gotten around to it… and then my 8-year-old son took it upon himself to mix up a new batch of cob and raise the chimney.

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

Check it out:

Now it works like a charm. Just needed that extra draw.

Updates from The Great South Florida Food Forest Project: Fall 2016

Updates-south-florida-food-forest

It’s been too long since the last update on The Great South Florida Food Forest Project.

Mom sent me photos from just before Hurricane Matthew limped past the coast. There was no damage after the storm but the clouds in the pictures look amazing.

First, take a look at the tropical almond (background) and the black sapote (foreground, right):

Black-sapote-tropical-almond-florida-food-forest

See that little Senna alata (AKA candlestick cassia) growing to the left of the chocolate pudding fruit tree? We planted some of those when establishing the food forest and they seem to have naturalized… all over the place.

Now take a look at the avocado seedling:

avocado-coconut-palm-florida-food-forest

It’s over 6′ tall now and is a Thai type which makes huge avocados the size of honeydew melons. It just needs to get big so it can start bearing!

Here’s another look at the chocolate pudding fruit tree:

black-sapote-south-florida-food-forest

Definitely getting taller and it looks very happy. Those are passionfruit and yam vines growing in the fence behind it.

Now check out the starfruit tree:cassava-starfruit-florida-food-forest

Mom reports that this tree produces gallons and gallons of fruit twice a year with long harvest seasons. The fruit are very good and sweet. Quite refreshing. Note the cassava on the right side of the image. The fallen sticks all over the ground are chopped-and-dropped Tithonia diversifolia stems. Great food for the soil.

Here’s a good looking chaya growing in front of the neighbor’s fence:

chaya-south-florida-food-forest

That’s the deeply lobed variety as opposed to the maple leaf type. I have both growing in The Great South Florida Food Forest.

Out in the front yard, Dad prepared for Hurricane Matthew by cutting back the acerola cherry:dad-cutting-back-acerola-cherry-florida-food-forest

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

That tree bears year-round and has sweet fruit. It’s been a huge blessing to my nieces and nephews, not to mention the children of the many friends who visit my parents’ place. They all love fresh-picked cherries!

Another big blessing has been the mango tree. It bears large crops of fine-fleshed wonderfully sweet orange-fleshed mangoes.

mango-chaya-southfloridafoodforest

The ferns on the ground beneath it planted themselves. I love those “accidents” of nature.

Here you can see the mango to the left, coconut palms in foreground left, moringa tree in center and the Thai avocado to the right. Yam vines (Dioscorea alata) are draping across the trees through the center.moringa-avocado-yam-mango-florida-food-forest

Now here’s a nice tree to see: the 6th Street Mulberry is flying!mulberry-south-florida-food-forest

That is going to be a lovely, multi-branched tree. It’s already been bearing fruit. Hard to believe it looked like this not long ago:

MulberryJune8-2013

Here’s a view of the profusion from the other side. Isn’t this MUCH more interesting than a lawn?south-florida-food-forest-2016-fall

Moringa, cassava, mango, yams, sunflowers, mother-in-law tongues, ferns, orchids, starfruit, bananas… it’s a lovely mess of great plants!

Here’s another view of the starfruit with the moringa on its right:starfruit-moringa-florida-food-forest

And back around to the front yard again, on the other side, to see the tamarind and the canistel:tamarind-canistel-south-florida-food-forest

That canistel is now my height (tree in foreground) and the tamarind is almost 4 times my height. I love to see them both growing happily.

If you’re interested in starting your own Florida food forest, you’ll find inspiration and lots of ideas for plant species in my little book Create Your Own Florida Food Forest.

FloridaFoodForestsCoverNewBLweb

It’s also available in audiobook form, read by me.

This is a great way to use your property. As the trees mature, you get more and more fruit… for less and less work. My parents aren’t even “plant people” and they greatly enjoy seeing the trees grow and having all the extra fruit to share with friends and family.

Go for it – you have nothing to lose but your boring grass!

Encore! A Second Chance to Watch for Free!

Corn-in-hand

I found out that my presentation in the Mother Earth News Online Summit was so popular it’s been brought back for another day.

You can see it here.

Also, all of the summit presentations are now available for sale in one package, for half price at the moment.

Sprouting Avocado Pits the Easy Way

Today we’ll cover sprouting avocado pits the EASY way!

sprouting avocado pits easy way image

Though you are probably familiar with the “toothpicks and water” method of sprouting avocado pits, there is an easier way that seems to have a higher success rate.

The short of it? Plant them in pots!

The long of it? Well, watch my video on how to sprout avocado pits, then we’ll meet on the other side for a step-by-step. A couple of important things should happen in order to guarantee your avocado pits sprout.

Avocados, like many tropical trees, have seeds that are designed to hit the ground and grow. The pits are not designed like many cold-climate seeds which have an embryo sitting in suspended animation that can be saved on a shelf for a long time and then spring to life when planted.

No. These guys need to get into the ground fast, so it’s important to plant your avocados quickly or keep them damp until you can plant.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s do a step-by-step picture guide, breaking down the frames from the video.

Step 1: Open an Avocado and Take Out the Pit

how to Sprout Avocado Pit sprouting avocado pits

This avocado grew out back of our current homestead. They are nice and large with rich buttery interiors. An excellent tree and well worth reproducing.

When I took out this pit it already had some small roots growing on it – all ready to go! I took it along with a half-dozen other pits outside to plant, which takes me to step two.

Step 2: Plant Your Avocado Pits in Potting Soil

 Sprout Avocado Pit

HowToSproutAvocadoPits-Step5There is a right side up on avocado pits. It’s the rounded side. Plant the flat side down since that’s where the roots will emerge. You could probably make a mistake and still have the tree come up fine, but I like to give my sprouting avocado pits every advantage.

A nice, loose potting mix is good but you can also easily germinate avocado pits directly planted in the ground – or, what seems to be even more successful, let them “accidentally” come up in your compost pile and transplant them.

Step 3: Water and Wait!

HowToSproutAvocadoPits-Step6

This is the hard part – waiting for the avocado pits to sprout.

They will, though. Keep them watered but not soggy in a nice sunny location. Then, one day…

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

germinating avocado

Beautiful!

When you sprout pits in water indoors, they then need to go through a “hardening off” period of adjustment to the harsher, brighter outdoor conditions or you can kill the young trees. When you instead sprout them in pots in full sun, you don’t have this issue. They’re ready to go.

How Long Does it Take for a Seedling Avocado To Bear Fruit?

The earliest a seedling avocado tree will fruit is at four to five years of age. My friend Eddy, however, scared his tree into fruiting at three years.

I have a beautiful seedling avocado tree growing in The Great South Florida Food Forest Project that is getting close to bearing size.

Rachel took this picture a year ago and it’s even bigger now.

avocado seedling I started by sprouting avocado pitsI wish I could pay that tree a visit again. Maybe when it fruits. The avocado I started it from had fruits as big as honeydew melons. It’s some sort of Thai avocado variety that was being grown passed around the local Thai community in South Florida. I’m excited to see this thing produce!

The California Avocado Commission claims it takes 5-13 years for a seedling tree to bear but you’re much more likely to see it fruit on the earlier end of that spectrum if they are well-tended, watered and grown in full sun.

Why Sprout Avocado Pits?

Common objections to growing avocado trees from seed are:

  1. Trees don’t always come true from seed 
  2. It takes a long time for them to bear
  3. Purchasing grafted trees will give you exactly the type you want

All of these objections are easy to answer.

  1. Who cares? Maybe you’ll get something better!
  2. So? Are you planning on dying soon?
  3. What if you don’t want to spend money? And like experiments?

I really find the arguments against growing fruit trees from seed tiresome. The “common wisdom” on the subject is lame. Man has grown trees from seed, including avocados, for thousands of years. We have the varieties we have today because of gardeners like you and me who love to experiment and take joy in raising up good things from tiny seeds.

If you get a variety that just isn’t great, graft it! It’s easy to graft, as I demonstrate in my “Get Grafting!” film which is available for a donation of any amount.

Get_Grafting_Preview

Seedling trees make great root stocks. Heck, even if they don’t fruit for you fast enough you can graft on a piece from an already fruiting tree and speed up the process.

Start your own avocado pits the easy way and eventually you’ll be bringing in baskets of fruit. It’s great fun, especially when you can plant seeds with children, and totally worth the time.

Trees you grow from seed cost nothing and will give you a sense of accomplishment like nothing else. I still remember how excited I was when my seedling peach trees fruited for the first time. It’s a great feeling.

So go – start sprouting avocado pits. I’m rooting for you… and so will they!

Cutworm Battle Rap, Summit Day 5, plus Art!

I’ve had a remarkably productive week. Painted 3 paintings so far in my personal “30 paintings in 30 days” challenge, plus managed to produce three videos, answer questions at the Mother Earth News Online Summit, feed the pumpkin vines and plant some more, pot up fruit trees… whew!

Day-2-painting-seaside-close

My little painting for day 2

And did I tell you all I’ve decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month competition this year?

Yep, I’m writing a novel over the month of November and the goal is 50k words in 30 days. I started on Tuesday and have passed 11,000 words already.

It’s been a great week.

Video Roundup

In case you missed it, Rachel demonstrated how to roast a pumpkin and shares some of her favorite ways to prepare one for the table:

And today I posted a video on a tin can cutworm canceller I hope will preserve my young pumpkin sprouts:

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

I am sick of the cutworms killing all the young plants. I’m trying this first and we’ll see how it goes. This video also has a vicious anti-cutworm battle rap at the end after the credits.

Mother Earth News Online Summit Day 5

Day five is live and running. Baking bread, caring for chickens, solar cooking… plenty of good material airing today – sign up here.

unnamed(3)

Posting Paintings

Since I’m sure a lot of you aren’t particularly interested in my outdoor landscape painting challenge, I won’t be posting those paintings here as I go.

Instead, I’m putting them over at my on-again-off-again art blog here.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

Justin Rhodes’ Presentation Runs Today! Go Sign Up!

unnamed(2)My friend Justin is on today at the Mother Earth News Online Summit.

In his presentation he promises to share how to grow most of your food in under 10 hours per week!

I’ll be watching and you can too. Click here and sign up.

There was a lot of good feedback on my video yesterday. What a lot of fun – it was nice to see a lot of you regulars show up in the comments.

It’s great to have friends everywhere. We Good Gardeners are taking over the internet.

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

In related news, I picked up another 600 or so subscribers during the Summit yesterday, taking my YouTube total up and through 10,000!

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 9.24.45 AM

The goal for the year is 15k. Close, close!

You can subscribe here if you haven’t already. I post a lot of videos and try to keep them entertaining. Here’s my latest:

My Presentation is TODAY at the Mother Earth News Homesteading Summit!

I’ve got a fun presentation running today that you won’t want to miss: Better Gardening Through Experimentation!

Go sign up here to watch.

It will only be playing today, then it’s gone.

Stretch_And_Grow_Your_Compost_Cover+sm

Never have enough of the good stuff?

CLICK HERE to get David The Good's free booklet Stretch & Grow Your Compost!

You'll transform your garden forever!

unnamed(1)

By the way… I’m playing the same day as John Kohler… and he still hasn’t accepted my challenge to a rap battle.

C’mon, John – you chicken? Bawk bawk.

1 2 3 120