From Cover to Cover in Record Time

mutiny-in-space

Over the last month, I’ve read a half-dozen or so entertaining books and a few which were less entertaining – but I won’t share those. Most the entertaining ones were published by Castalia House, the same publisher which put out three of my books.

Since I’m not a TV watcher, books are my main form of entertainment. That and wandering through the woods hunting for cryptids. Or being hunted by them, as the case may be.

David-the-good-bahfeemus

Here are some I’ve enjoyed:

A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day

1242824025Though darker than his first epic fantasy novel A Throne of Bones, A Sea of Skulls draws the reader deeper into the world of Selenoth.

I particularly enjoyed the way various races employ their own forms of magic and worship their deities. The orcs’ summoning of their vulgar god GorGor is a particular striking example.

Also, I just about cheered when the former elven sorcerer Bessarias was called out of retirement. His character is a personal favorite of mine. He previously appears in the excellent tale Opera Vita Aeterna.

Even better: A Sea of Skulls has a second half coming by the end of the year. I look forward to it – though this title is not for the faint of heart.

The Promethean by Owen Stanley

The PrometheanLike Stanley’s previous book The Missionaries, The Promethean is wickedly funny and marvelously non-PC.

In it we learn why we can no longer have nice things as an American billionaire creates the perfect robot, unable to be distinguished from a human – and then sees his utopian dream turn into a nightmare.

I laughed out loud during this one.

There’s really no way any description can do it justice.

Young Man’s War by Rod Walker

1506877675This book is straight-up adventure sci-fi with excellent characters, a great plot and some seriously cool bad guys.

And zombies.

Sort of.

I read this one then immediately gave it to my 12-year-old son to read.

It reminds me of why I first fell in love with science fiction before the genre was corrupted by stupid utopian preaching and romance-in-space storylines.

For Steam and Country by Jon Del Arroz

This book is a fun steampunk throwback, though I found the main character rather irritating at points. DCJZWvoUIAADclz

Why would you randomly pilot an airship with no previous training? Of COURSE you’re going to screw things up!

Bad Zaira! Bad!

Of course, one must admit the brilliant Baron von Monocle left his daughter in a difficult spot – and it looks like there’s no going back to the farm.

Alien Game by Rod Walker

Alien Game is another excellent romp.

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Imagine Jurassic Park meets The Most Dangerous Game.

In SPAAAAAACE!

Great fun. Bonus points for the exobiological details.

Mutiny in Space by Rod Walker

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Communists and second chances, a dangerous hijacking and irritating bureaucracy you wish to see destroyed, plus more adventure.

And videogame theme music saving the day.

Just read it. It’s good.

At this point, I will read any book that Rod Walker writes.

I signed up for Kindle Unlimited a couple of months ago as it was cheaper than buying individual titles and I’ve likely already gotten my money back for the year. It’s like having a huge library to skim. I don’t know why I waited so long to sign up. If you’re a binge reader, it’s a good deal. If not, piecemeal probably makes more sense.

Enjoy your Sunday rest – I’ll see you Monday.

 

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In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.

He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

For the sake of your name, Lord,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.

They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.

The Lord confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.

Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.

See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.

May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.

Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!

-Psalm 25, NIV

David-the-good-books-revised

Hubbards and then No Hubbards

dang-hubbards

First, fail your way to success:

And then you see the Hubbards, just a few days before the vine borers got them, in my video on harvesting the corn in the Three Sisters garden:

So. Close. Another couple of weeks and I would have had fruit on those Hubbards. They were forming. It was working.

Until it wasn’t. The vine borers are a big problem here. A local farmer told me to water the vines with Sevin dust in water to keep them off, but I just couldn’t do it. If I had, though, I would have Hubbards.

Dang it.

David-the-good-books-revised

YouTube Blues II

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Karla isn’t a fan of the daily YouTubing:

“What are the “few successful videos”? I’d bet they are evergreen feature types that are among your technically best and most broadly appealing videos. If there’s a pattern there, go with it — or at least explore it further.”

My top videos are:

How to Make Chewing Tobacco (258k views)

Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Harvesting Rain Water (250k views)

Best Composting Toilet I’ve Seen Yet (209k views)

Cleft Grafting a Fig Tree (195k views)

How to Germinate Peach Pits and Other Stone Fruit (111k views)

An (Almost) Instant Compost Pile (94k views)

How to Change the Transmission Fluid in a Dodge Ram (79k views)

How to Make Paper Fire Bricks / Fire Logs from Recycled Paper (70k views)

Rocket Stove Manufacturers Hate Him! Local Kid Improves Cob Rocket Stove with this One Weird Trick (65k views)

Awesome Homemade Kegerator and Home Brewing Setup (60k views)

Those ten videos represent almost all of my YouTube income. I have over 500 videos.

There are videos I like better than those in my top ten; however, YouTube algorithms are a weird thing. It’s very hard to tell what is going to “go viral” and what will not. “Rocket Stove Manufacturers Hate Him” was a joke title and the video isn’t all that innovative. The “(Almost) Instant Compost Pile” video is mostly Rachel talking while I throw together a bin made of pallets.

The “how-to” videos seem to be the way to go, though. Most of the top ten are that sort.

She continues:

“I love learning from you — you’ve completely changed the way I look at gardening and the natural world. That goes whether I’m consuming a book, blog post or video of yours — except for the daily videos. I’m tired of watching you walk up and down a hill and wing it topically. I don’t get enough out of those videos to sink 7 to 9 minutes of my life into them. From the outside, it appears to me that the only reason to do those dailies is just to be able to say you post on YouTube daily, which isn’t your style. So if daily videos are a poorly paying time sink for you, allocate less time to them and more time to more lucrative manners of spreading your gospel already.”

Actually, the regular YouTube posting isn’t just to say I post on YouTube daily. I shoot for 4-5 videos a week. This is on the advice of Justin Rhodes, though he urged me to post seven days a week. His channel went nuts when he did that. My content, even when I’m winging it, is more entertaining than 99% of the gardening videos on YouTube, but I get the criticism. I am not much of a video watcher myself. I do YouTube to reach a visual audience. I prefer to communicate through writing, but many more people are on YouTube. The views there compared to the views on this blog testify to that. Also, the YouTube videos are targeted at a lower-IQ audience than my writing. It’s deliberate. I’m not going to go full reality TV-show like Justin (I honestly can’t watch most of his videos), though that’s a great way to make much more money. I don’t put my entire family on the net, because it’s full of evil people, plus I find videos about being sick in the car and going to the dentist obnoxious. Yet he is a MAJOR YouTube success! And helped me get to where I am. So it’s a matter of finding the niche, I suppose.

That said, I do make some ridiculous jokes and put up some stupid things just for fun. And yes, I do wander around and wing it in many videos. They’re not for everyone, obviously. My books are what I really am proud of. The YouTube thing is partly for reaching new people and partly as a side income. I was hoping to build it into a serious income over time, but it’s moving slower than I would like.

“There’s nothing wrong with thinking that way. If you want to make a full-time go at this, you have to look at your options that way. It’s not selfish or greedy. If your content doesn’t make you money, your audience will lose out on future content — a lose-lose. Besides, if a particular medium pays more, chances are it’s a medium your audience enjoys more. So, again, mind those patterns.

Just please no podcasts, because I’m so not an auditory learner.

As for the moral quandary of YouTube-ing, you’re on your own. Godspeed.”

The pattern is definitely moving towards video and audio and away from print, unfortunately. I have written and produced thousands of radio programs – no kidding – as that was my life before jumping full-time into garden writing. A podcast would be easy for me to do. Again, I know some people aren’t going to get it. That’s why I write books as well. And I then put my books into audio for those that prefer it.

YouTube is evil but it’s probably a necessary evil at this point. I may cut down my production of videos for a time and see what happens, or re-focus the content. I’ve been very busy writing a novel lately so it’s been good to not have all the videos to produce.

I do need to film Bahfeemus II, though.

As for Patreon, as some have mentioned, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It would be a good way to skip the ads – but on the other hand it feels like ebegging. You guys can let me know what you think about that. Worth doing?

David-the-good-books-revised

Keyhole Gardens vs Row Gardens

keyhole gardens vs row gardens

Elizabeth considers keyhole gardens vs row gardens:

“David,

I enjoy your practical approach to organic/permaculture. I currently garden annual vegetables in rows on borrowed land. I styled the rows with narrow paths across the hill. This works great for me but not for my husband and friends. Anyone else walks on the planting rows. I have permission from the land owners to plant anything in any way I choose. 
Is it practical to transition to keyhole design? The keyhole design reduces the area of paths. I prefer the look of circles instead of rows. I could slightly raise the downhill side of the circle. In your videos you do make mounds on the downhill side of some plantings. 
At this time I mostly use hand tools. The only power tool I use is a string trimmer. I have dreams of using a BCS.”
A BCS tractor, I assume. Yeah, that would be nice. I could use one of those myself.
Let’s take a look at keyhole gardens vs. row gardens.

Keyhole Gardens vs Row Gardens

Keyhole gardens are cool. I’ve mentioned them before, but never built one.

That’s because at heart I am really lazy about digging and building things. I also like to plant large spaces when I can.

This is a pretty typical keyhole garden:

I mean, it’s really cool and all that – but the labor involved! Holy moly. You could plant a quarter acre of row gardens with that amount of labor in the same amount of time. To me, keyhole gardens are what happens when engineers get overly clever.

It would take me a day to build one. I cleared, dug and planted a half-acre in about six hours with the help of a local farmer earlier this year. Row gardens are easy to weed with a hoe, can be built rapidly and don’t need all the digging, piling up and materials. I’m also not sure that a plot of land covered with keyhole gardens would have less path space than one with row gardens, as you lose the space between the circles. Perhaps someone has done the math on that already – let me know in the comments if you have an idea.

Beyond that, don’t get me wrong: there may be a good place for keyhole gardens. Beds close to the house for herbs and salad greens where you can dump your daily kitchen scraps – great! Build ’em!

But your row gardens are already doing well – so why change? Ah! That’s right. We need to face –

The Real Problem

Your husband and your friends are terrible people.

No, I’m just kidding.

The lack of obvious paths in some of my garden beds have led visitors astray. Just because I know how I laid something out it doesn’t mean that my wife, children, neighbors or the police detectives searching for bodies in my compost pile do.

Why not stick some sticks in the ground to mark paths? Or just mulch some paths with straw? Or put down a few stepping stones? You could string strings between sticks to mark areas off in just a few minutes. Sure, it’s less convenient for you – but it would be a lot easier than building keyhole beds.

Even if you made dirt-mound style keyholes without bricks and sticks, it’s still a lot of digging – plus you lose growing space in between those circles.

If you’re really keen on some keyholes, I would go ahead and build a few on part of your land and see how they compare with what you’re doing. You’ll probably be tired after that – but, if you find you love them and they work great, great! Convert the rest. I’ll bet you stick with rows, though. When you look at the keyhole gardens vs row gardens fight in terms of labor, row gardens will win. And labor is big when you’re farming.

Just my two cents. Thanks for writing and good luck. If you do build those keyhole gardens and have luck, drop me a line and send pictures. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

David-the-good-books-revised

8 Ways to Use Fallen Trees after a Hurricane

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I hit the local resort yesterday and took a little time to record a video sharing my ideas on using trees felled by hurricanes – I think you’ll enjoy it:

No, I haven’t given up YouTube yet!

I have been spending a lot of time writing, though, in lieu of making intensively edited videos. Turned Earth: A Jack Broccoli Novel isn’t going to write itself. I should hit the 40,000 word mark today. Jack has just discovered he has powers beyond that of your average gardener – but will he be able to use those powers for good?

David-the-good-books-revised

YouTube Blues

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As much as I’ve enjoyed building up my YouTube channel, it often works out to more trouble than it’s worth.

Yes, I’ve gained reach – but the ad-supported nature of the medium is flawed at best. YouTube is riddled with crummy ads, yet those ads pay me royalties every month. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a few hundred bucks. That few hundred bucks, however, mostly comes from a few successful videos I’ve posted. The almost daily videos I’ve been posting usually only make me a couple of dollars each. I have over 500 videos on YouTube now but the income is still not catching up to how much work I put into the production. And as YouTube has become more politically correct – even censoring the venerable RON PAUL, of all people! – their ad revenue has dropped farther.

I’m not sure I want to play this game much longer. I have 26,000+ subscribers but it’s becoming obvious that YouTube isn’t a particularly good source of income. And supporting the Google machine with my work bugs me. I would like to just produce videos for fun but I also need to take care of my family. It might be better for me to back off on video production and write more books. Or maybe go back into full-time audio production work, like I used to do.

I’m not quitting YouTube for now but I am thinking the time I spend on my channel might be better directed into another endeavor.

I really do like making videos, so I would miss it.

What do you guys think?

David-the-good-books-revised

Albizia Saman Wood – AKA Monkeypod Wood

milled-wood

I really scored a few weeks ago. I got this log:

My friend with the sawmill kept it at his place for a few weeks as he was busy, then called me over one day to watch him cut it. Inside, the grain is absolutely gorgeous:

Freshly milled Albizia saman. All mine! #woodworking

A post shared by David Good (@david_t_good) on

It’s wet wood, though, so I got some advice from a carpenter on how to cure it. He told me to stack it under the house with space between boards so the air can circulate. So that’s what I did with the final boards:

Drying wood.

A post shared by David Good (@david_t_good) on

A few of the boards are cut at 2″ thick. Those I’d like to use for making benches. As for the rest of the wood, I really have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It cost me about $120US to have my friend mill the wood and deliver it and it’s a good bit of wood. I can see making some chairs, maybe a desk, maybe a giant wooden Bahfeemus… I dunno. Lots of possibilities. I just knew I couldn’t leave something so beautiful to rot.

For those of you who are in areas hit by Irma, you might want to gather up some of the amazing fallen trees and have a guy with a sawmill cut them for you. Nice wood isn’t cheap, and live oak, black cherry, slash pine and even mango are all nice woods.

David-the-good-books-revised

Delayed Sprouting on Seminole Pumpkins?

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A couple of days ago I posted a tour of some of the pumpkins we have growing:

Lots of good things happening.

A strange thing I didn’t mention in the video, though: I’ve planted quite a few fresh Seminole pumpkin seeds and they’ve failed to germinate. Older seeds from local pumpkins germinate – but fresh seeds, right from the Seminole pumpkin, no. Or at a very poor rate.

Another strange thing: I had a Seminole pumpkin vine come up multiple months after I planted it in my garden. Seriously – I had gone on and planted other things, then in the spot where I had planted a few earlier in the year, up came a Seminole pumpkin. I think it germinated due to the rainy season. Very strange, though. I have ten hills I planted and only a couple of Seminole pumpkins have emerged.

Does anyone know anything about delayed germinating in pumpkin seeds? Perhaps a germination-inhibiting enzyme?

Have a wonderful Sunday. See you tomorrow.

 

*            *            *

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah

-Psalm 24, NKJV

David-the-good-books-revised

South Florida Food Forest Species: Yes or No on These?

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South Florida food forest species are my specie-a-lity!

skandy writes:

I have a few names that you can say yes/no to… (also because I need to know if they can grow in food forests in South Florida)
1. Persimmons

2. Taro

3. Sea Oats

4. Arrowroots

5. Guava

6. Sapodilla

7. Jackfruit

8. Jerusalem Artichoke

9. Cucamelon

10.Strangler Fig

11. Sunflower

Ah, plant lists. I love those. Let’s do it!

Will These Species Work in South Florida Food Forest Projects?

Here’s my take.

Persimmons

Possibly.

American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) probably not.

Japanese persimmons (Diospyros kaki), maybe. Their range stretches deeper into the south. However, they are usually grafted onto American persimmon roots. I can’t find good data on how they’ll fare in the heat and humidity and year-round warmth of South Florida, so this tree would be an experimental addition.

That said, you might consider planting chocolate pudding fruit (Diospyros nigra), persimmon’s delicious relative.

Taro

Most definitely. This is very easy to grow in south Florida.

TaroAndDuckweed

Consider planting it in kiddie pools filled with muck or in swampy areas as it loves lots of water.

Sea Oats

Yes, no problem. Just make sure you get them from a nursery, not by stealing seeds from protected dune areas.

Arrowroot

Arrowroot is very easy to grow in South Florida and will grow in some shade.

It also makes a good addition to edible landscapes, as the plant is quite attractive.

Guava

Guava is another winner for South Florida. I grew them in a pot in North Florida:

Guavas

In South Florida, they’ll easily grow right in the ground. You may have to bag the fruits, though, as fruit fly infestations are common.

Sapodilla

No problem! South Florida is warm enough to grow this delicious tropical delight.

Jackfruit

Jackfruit grows well in South Florida, as my friends Chuck and Sarah can attest:

It’s a highly productive tree as well, with valuable fruit.

Jerusalem Artichoke

No. Though there are apparently varieties that set tubers in the tropics, I’ve had bad luck all around with Jerusalem artichokes in Florida. With so many other better root crops, such as yams, sweet potatoes, taro, malanga and cassava… why bother with this gastrointestinal destroyer?

Cucamelon

Yes, these will grow. I grew their cousin the West Indian Gherkin.

WestIndianGherkins2

However, Coccinea grandis is much easier and more productive. Here’s one growing in Ft. Lauderdale:

That there is an easy-to-grow cucumber.

Strangler Fig

Yes, these will grow. They’re native to South Florida and can be found all over the place. I’m not sure why you’d want to grow them, though.

Sunflower

Yes, they’ll grow – however, they are quite subject to insect attack in Florida and the heads often are filled with worms. Probably better for chicken feed than human feed.

Conclusion

There’s my two cents on the list. I share a lot more plant species for South Florida food forests in my booklet Create Your Own Florida Food Forest and my larger Florida gardening book Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening. Both are available in kindle, paperback and audio versions.

David-the-good-books-revised

Slithering Death Monsters

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Carol writes:

“I found your site after purchasing your book ‘Create Your Own Florida Food Forest’. I’m not in Florida, but thought your book would be helpful for my climate. It has been and has given me many ideas to adapt to my garden. I’m in the wet tropics of northern Australia.

FloridaFoodForestsCoverNewBLwebOne line in your book really resounded with me, it was where you referred to “slithering death monsters”. I love that line, and I take it to heart. My garden is full of ‘slithering death monsters’. Some of the most venomous snakes known to humanity, live in my area and regularly visit my garden. Coastal Taipan, Eastern Brown Snake, King Brown Snake, Red-bellied Black Snake, to name a few.

As you can imagine safely establishing a food forest under these circumstances can be challenging. Piled up branches or prunings could conceal slithering death monsters at my toes. So positioning such mulch must be carefully thought through. Being older I can no longer get to my feet quickly, so no kneeling, all gardening must be done from a standing position for a quick get away when needed (and there have been a few). Harvesting amid lush leafy growth requires its own strategies. I was once chased from a garden bed by a snake that did not appreciate my seed harvesting activities. I also do not recommend setting foot outside after sunset.

Oh yes, ‘slithering death monsters’ resonates within my being.”

While researching Costa Rica one day a few years back, I soon came to realize that my food forest designs for Florida didn’t necessarily carry over to the more exciting ecology of the tropics.

When deadly creatures lurk in brush and brush piles, trees and rock piles, well, creating a wild jungle of food isn’t the best idea, as it can get you killed. Going for an orchard with lots of shorn grass is safer.

The snakes of Florida aren’t a big deal, with the exception of water moccasins and diamondback rattlers, both of which are only common in certain ecosystems. Even the very venomous coral snake is an inoffensive creature with few deaths to its credit.

FloridaCoralSnake1

That one was wandering between my garden beds back in North Florida.

But when you have a list of snakes like “Coastal Taipan, Eastern Brown Snake, King Brown Snake, Red-bellied Black Snake” – yeah, a food forest design needs to take these creatures into account.

As much as you might love nature, nature doesn’t always love you. Actually, nature is a total jerk sometimes.

Plan accordingly.

David-the-good-books-revised
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