Planting Garden Beds and Potting Up Avocados

planting-garden-beds

Over the last week Rachel and I loosened the little garden beds with my broadfork, then dug in some good compost and biochar.

Then it was time to plant. Since I post funny videos on my YouTube channel now and again, and there are always a few people that totally don’t get my sense of humor, I decided to play a bit of a prank on everyone and embody the typical, clueless, Windows Movie Maker-using YouTube gardening host.

I named this version of me… Dave2000.

I had fun and the comments section was hilarious. My favorite comment by far was from Perma Pen:

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 9.08.50 AM

(Thankee, luv – stop on by me allotment anytime, wut wut!)

One of my friends on Gab (that’s the new Twitter killer – it’s an awesome free speech platform) also made a graphic for me after seeing the video.

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!

5PxFuk

Anyhow, in the video, ridiculous as it is, you can see what I planted in the beds: amaranth, sunflowers, black amber cane sorghum and some Seminole pumpkins. I also snuck a perennial cucumber into one corner.

I love those.

Yesterday afternoon, after much outcry, I retired Dave2000 in a rather funny video that contains not just one, but TWO rap segments.

The avocado puts I planted a few months back germinated and grew quicker than I expected. Now I have 17 of them all potted (er, bagged) up and ready to plant whenever I get some land.

Hopefully I won’t have to pot them up again before we get a place but you never know. Live moves slower near the equator… except for the growth rate of trees.

Have a great Friday night and a wonderful weekend. I’ll be back again tomorrow.

Germinating Peach Pits is Easy: Check Out These Pics

sprouting-peach-pits-2

My video on germinating peach pits has garnered almost 30,000 views since I posted it back in July:

Since posting that instructional video, I have received multiple comments and emails from people thanking me for showing them how to grow their own peaches from seeds.

My friend Amanda, who is NOT obsessed with me at all, sent me these two pictures recently of her peach sprouting success:

sprouting-peach-pits-1 sprouting-peach-pits-2

Some years ago I discovered in some dusty corner of the internet that peach pits require cold stratification to germinate.

I put this knowledge to the test with great success, starting about 50 peach pits I found beneath an abandoned and squirrel-ravaged Tropic Beauty peach growing a few miles from my old place in North Florida.

SproutingPeachPits

I did this despite the fact that there are hordes of small-minded gardeners in the world who take great pleasure in lecturing everyone about the utter worthlessness of starting fruit trees from seed.

These people are wrong. And boring. And stupid. And they smell.

Here’s a video I did showing some of my seed-grown peach trees in fruit:

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!

And here are two pictures of some of the delicious fruit I got as a result of germinating peach pits in my very own refrigerator:

lovelypeaches2 lovelypeaches3

In their SECOND year, my two seedling peach trees produced about five gallons of fruit. They continued to massively outproduce the grafted peach trees I planted before them, plus they grew with more vigor.

Growing fruit trees from seed isn’t a dumb thing to do. It’s a great thing to do. It’s a YUGE, high energy thing to do.

Sometimes the “experts” aren’t really experts. They’re just people who say things adamantly because they’ve heard other people say the same things.

Heck with that.

Better Gardening Through Experimentation isn’t just a film I made… it’s my modus operandi.

Thanks for the pictures, Amanda, and may your peaches grow and produce abundantly.

Finally, here’s how you germinate peach pits:

GrowAPeachPit-Update

Have fun!

How to Process Coffee at Home in 7 Steps

how-to-process-coffee-at-home-step-4-drying-coffee

For those of you who want to know how to process coffee at home, I put it into a quick video outlining the seven steps it takes to get from the tree to your mug of choice:

Transcript:

My friend Steven did a “2 Minute Technique” video recently, which was great. However, this video clocks in at 2.5 minutes, meaning I have 25% MORE CONTENT for the same low price.

Okay – after doing some really long coffee processing videos, let’s break it down into seven steps without the extra jokes, raps, failures and witty dialog between a sexy couple.

Step 1: pick some ripe coffee cherries!

how to process coffee at home picking coffee

Our trees need pruning for easier harvest but we still managed to pick close to a gallon of cherries in about 20 minutes.

Step 2: Once you’ve picked your coffee cherries, remove the beans from the fruit.

how to process coffee at home removing fruit from cofee beans

We did this the hard way – me with my teeth and Rachel with a steak knife, but there are much easier ways, such as crushing and grinding the fruit with a thick board on concrete or by soaking overnight to loosen the fruit from the bean.

Step 3: take your beans and throw them into some water for a day or two.

how to process coffee at home fermenting coffee beans

This will ferment away the slimy layer on the beans. When they feel rough between your fingers instead of slick, you’ve got it. Rinse them off and then proceed to step four.

Step 4: Dry the beans.

how to process coffee at home drying coffee beans

If you want to store the green beans for any period of time, it’s important to dry them quite well so they don’t mold. This can take days in the sun. We didn’t bother as we were heading right to roasting. Instead, we dried the beans for a few hours, then went to step 5.

Step 5: remove the parchment layer.

how to process coffee at home removing parchment layer

The parchment layer is a rough, tan layer that surrounds the beans. Peel it off!

Step 6: Roast the beans.

how to process coffee at home roasting coffee beans

We roasted the beans in a stainless steel pot over medium heat, stirring constantly, but there are many other ways to do this. You can bake the beans in the oven or use a popcorn popper. We don’t have a popcorn popper and we wanted to closely monitor the progress so we simply toasted ours in a pot over the burner.

Step 7: Grind the coffee

how to process coffee at home gringing coffee

There are hand-cranked machines but we used a little electric espresso grinder instead which works like a charm.

Now you can brew your coffee however you like and enjoy some homegrown goodness, from tree to cup.

how to process coffee at home delicious homegrown coffee

Thanks for watching – catch me on the web at TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to check out my $2 booklet The Survival Gardener’s Guide to Growing Your Own Caffeine. Until next time, may your thumbs always be green.

How to Process Coffee at Home: The Long Version

Before I edited and released “How to Process Coffee at Home” the short version, I captured a lot more of the process in a series of three videos. If you enjoy rapping, random jokes, long processing scenes and random cuts, well, you’ll enjoy these much more than the short video.

And, if that isn’t enough for you, I also did a 2.5 minute rap version:

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!

Lyrics:

Step one is fun – it’s my favorite, so savor it

Picking cherries from the trees if you please

And dropping them in a sack to bring back to the plantation

In our tropical nation, and it’s a true revelation

How much work needs to be done

Till that percolator runs, son

Step two – time to peel the fruit off the seeds

And this takes a ton of time – it’s a crime

To do it like we did – I won’t kid

Cracking cherries with your teeth? Call the coffee police

Put a board on the concrete and mash ‘em flat

and save time with that

Step three, the fruit is sticky and slick

So soak for a day or two and that does the trick

The power of fermentation from slimy to rough

It ain’t tough just let em sit, then wash a bit and your golden with dreams unfolden

Step 4, it’s time for more, get those beans in the sun to dry

Gotta cap that parchment layer and here’s why

cause it keeps the beans inside a shell

Split it off and you’ll do well

Which is step five where you peel all the seeds because you needs to unleash the inner bean so green with a fine jade sheen I’m lovin it, uncoverin it, now we’re almost done – light the fire and we’ll get to the fun

Step five, now we strive, to toast these beans until we get a fine roast, at most, we want to cook them through and get the room a bit smokey, no jokey, I don’t want ‘em black or green but right in the middle cause the taste is keen

Step six, grind ‘em up, we got a little grinder and my wife is finer than a beauty queen, drinking bowls of coffee till she’s floating on a cloud of caffeine, but first, gotta get to step seven java heaven

Seven, brew the roast. We use a French press that’s the best for flavor, and now we savor, the rich homegrown and we’ve shown you all the steps of coffee, from tree to cup and what’s up with the long process to caffeinated bottoms up. That’s a wrap – or a rap as I tap out the beats as we pick and process the beans that give rise to the inspiration and innovation of a hip-hop conversation about the seven steps to getting some delicious Joe… fo show.

And finally…

Yesterday I managed to get some of the garden beds cleaned up, as promised, and will hopefully finish that soon and get planting again. And I have cocoa to harvest, too. That will be fun.

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

Processing Coffee at Home

Processing-coffee-cherries-1

Processing coffee at home

Processing Coffee at Home

Now we didn’t process our coffee the easy way. I deliberately didn’t look up all the labor-saving ways to process coffee, much to Rachel’s chagrin.

Instead, I decided to do it all be hand. As I posted last week, it started with harvesting the coffee cherries from the  tree we discovered in the cocoa orchard:

After that, there are four distinct phases to processing coffee.

 

  1. Removing the coffee beans from the fruit
  2. Fermenting/cleaning the coffee beans
  3. Drying the coffee beans
  4. Removing the “parchment” layer from the dry beans
  5. Roasting and grinding the beans

 

I’m working on a two-part video right now covering the whole process, which I then hope to edit down into a quick instructional video so you don’t have to listen to all of Rachel’s and my jokes and see all our mistakes.

Part one is already posted and covers removing the coffee beans from the fruit and starting the fermentation process:

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!

Because we did it all by hand it was a rather time-consuming process. Using your teeth is not necessarily recommended but works much better than any implement I’ve found, unless you do it the easy way and smash with a big board, like this:

Next time.

I will add more to this post as I finish the process, eventually creating a definitive “processing coffee at home” article. I’ve already dried the beans in the video and removed the parchment layer, meaning that it’s time to roast! And today is the day. We’ll finally see how these beans taste and if Liberian coffee holds up to closer scrutiny. It’s hard to find any info on the flavor of Liberian coffee beans, so this experiment is a worthy one. I’ll share exactly how it tastes and have a couple of people give their input.

If you can’t wait to see more on growing coffee, there is more good info here. Plus, a few years ago I did a post sharing the entire process as a Hawaiian couple does it.

And don’t forget, if you’re interested in growing your own caffeine, my little booklet has the answers, even if you live up north.

The Coffee Plantation Begins

CoffeeCherries1

Coffee-shoots

Merry Christmas!

I have wanted to grow big piles of delicious coffee for a long time. Back in Florida I grew multiple coffee plants and even sold then in my nursery, but the climate wasn’t the best so I was stuck keeping my big coffee tree in a pot in the greenhouse or bringing it inside during frosts.

The one I planted by the south-facing wall of the house did well, though, and is still alive today so far as I know.

TheSurvivalGuidetoGrowingCaffeineFIXsmI did well enough with coffee, tea and yaupon holly that I wrote a little booklet on growing it, thanks to the additional help of Kona coffee farmer Gary Strawn (owner of Kona Earth coffee, which tastes amazing) who corrected some of my more exuberant ideas.

The plants I grew in Florida were Coffea arabica, which is the most gourmet of coffees; however, we have coffee growing here on the property we rent which is almost certainly Coffea liberica.

Coffea liberica is a courser-looking, lighter green coffee plant that is tall and has beans almost twice the size of the arabica beans I grew in the states.

While checking on them last week in search of ripe fruits, I discovered something wonderful:

I was hoping to harvest fruit and plant the beans, then I found that nature had already done it for me. There must be 50 or more sprouts out there around the trees.

coffee-sprouts-2

CHRISTMAS!!!

Yee-haw! This means I get to start my plantation!

Of course, just potting up some plants isn’t good enough to get my plantation started.

I also need to buy some land. And that leads me to a dilemma.

Buy or Rent?

It took a lot of money to move overseas.

I have enough cash to buy a small piece of property but it won’t leave me much of an emergency cushion and it ties me to one place.

At the same time, I want to own land so I can build a new food forest.

I could buy about an acre here for $50k. That’s rather brutal considering the cost of rural land back in N/C Florida, but that’s the economics of it. Then I’d need to build a house. Building a house here is MUCH cheaper because you don’t have a bunch of codes and inspectors and government losers to pay off before you can build. Heck, you don’t even need indoor plumbing to get approved here in the mountains.

I could likely build a decent Cracker house for maybe $15-25k.

This would be awesome, but then again… if I just rented I could live pretty cheaply and keep the savings I have in the bank.

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!

It would also put me in the position in which many of my readers find themselves: a small yard at a rental and maybe some balcony space.

I know it sounds crazy, but food forest gardening is way too easy here. Fruit trees plant themselves all over the woods. Mangoes are a naturalized species for goodness sake! So are papayas. And yams? Everywhere. Just go wander through the woods and you can dig them all over the place.

So… having a small space gives me limitations that might help future writing. It also means I can move easily if I get tired of where I am.

I dunno.

Just thinking out loud… in front of the entire world.

I do want to plant that coffee plantation. If I rent, I’ll have to grow them in big pots (which works, incidentally), but if I can get them in the ground I’ll get a lot more production.

A New Post at The Prepper Project: Grafting Fruit Trees

Here’s my new post over at ThePrepperProject.com.

MulberryGrafting10

I once did a horticultural analysis of a property way out in the scrublands. The owner had good clean water, no real neighbors, a great location… and hot, fast-drying, mineral-poor sand that was really, really bad for gardening.

There was no couching it. I had to tell him: this area just won’t cut it for most of your planned annual gardening projects. It will barely support much in the way of fruit or nut trees.

What it did have was a decent amount of native American persimmon trees. They were dwarfed by drought and stress, but they were strong and alive. That said, I saw very few with fruit.

With antive persimmons you deal with a variety of drawbacks. Unlike their cultivated Japanese persimmon relations, they’re dioecious. That means you have male and female trees – and you need both to get fruit. The male won’t make fruit but it does provide the pollen that allows the females to fruit.

Japanese persimmons are self-fertile, plus they make hefty, sweet fruit that’s very worth growing. They’re also regularly grafted onto American persimmon rootstock.

Seeing the wild trees gave me an idea: why not use the existing trees as rootstock for Japanese persimmons? They’re already established and growing in poor soil, making them a perfect support for a higher-producing and delicious variety of improved persimmon!

Sometimes our first observations aren’t the best. You might see a crabapple with lousy fruit in your yard and think “I hate that thing! I’ll tear it out and plant a good apple in its place!”

Step back and think about it: maybe that tough tree is a resource you can use. With grafting you can go nip some twigs off good apple trees and just graft them onto the tree you don’t like. If it’s a happy and healthy mature tree, use it! If you can graft fruit trees, you can grow more food for less money…

(CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST)

Merry Christmas!

Star

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. 
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
-Luke 2:1-20

As I wrote last year:

Despite political and racial divisions, wars and rumors of wars, disease, loss, pain and misery… this season is a time of hope as we remember there is a God beyond this world who became a man, walked among us, was killed by His people and the corrupt Roman government, then resurrected to reign forevermore – and He invites us to join His family as the children of God.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. All the evil of the world can’t stand against Him, and ultimate peace can only be found through Him. Our own works can never get us to paradise – only His sacrifice can. He has conquered death and hell – glory be to God.

God bless you all and thanks for reading. Have an extra slice of pie and coffee for me.

The Simple Secret to Growing More Food with Less Work

South_FL_Food_Forest_Starfruit1

Jackfruit_Tree_South_Florida

For years I planted almost nothing but annual gardens. As a child and later as a young man, anything other than beans, radishes, lettuce and other crops that produced quickly were usually off my gardening radar.

Fruit and nut trees took FOREVER to produce, or so I told myself. And who wants to wait a few years for a good berry harvest?

Forget that—I’ll plant some sweet corn I can harvest in less than 3 months!

Then I had a change of heart. It wasn’t an overnight change, but it was a change based on a few observations, and the purchase of a home that came with two mature pear trees.

GreenPear

Those pears opened my mind to the incredible possibility of trees.

We harvested baskets of sweet fruit summer after summer and spent almost no time tending the trees.

Pear jam, pear sauce, pear butter, dried pears, pear slices in syrup, pear pie, pear wine, pear salsa… we loved the heck out of those trees and based at least one year’s Christmas gifts on the many delicious confections my wife and I created from the massive harvests of the fall.

Two trees. Hundreds of pounds of food.

 

I realized the error of my gardening ways. Annual gardens require replanting every spring and fall—trees don’t. Established trees take care of themselves pretty well without much care—annual gardens don’t!

Here’s another story.

Back when I was 15, I lived in South Florida about a mile from my Grandmom and Grandpop’s house. They had a row of coconut palms growing in their backyard along the canal and my Grandpop would pile the fallen coconuts up under the edge of the hedge. I noticed one of them had sprouted, so I brought it home and asked Dad if I could plant it in the backyard. I had been gardening since I was six and already had a little annual garden spot, but I thought it would be cool to plant a coconut and see what happened. Dad gave me a space and I planted it.

Now over twenty years later, that coconut is has grown into a graceful tree loaded with hundreds of pounds of nuts.

Every. Single. Year.

Coconuts

But my old annual garden back there is long gone. What if I had planted a mango back then? A key lime? A jackfruit? Just imagine the yields my parents would be getting 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!

Further Proof

If you’re not convinced you should plant trees yet, here’s a third and final story for you.

When we moved to Marion County in North Florida, my wife and I looked at quite a few foreclosures for sale before settling on our current homestead. One old house we visited had broken windows, trash around the yard and some ugly additions… yet in the backyard were two towering grapefruit trees that had covered the weedy ground with fallen fruit. Though it looked as if no one had lived there for years, those trees went on happily producing great big piles of delicious fruit regardless, watered only by rainfall and fed with just what their roots could pull from the sand.

Try walking away from a patch of sweet corn and see how long it keeps producing!

After these experiences, I was completely sold on trees being the way to produce more food with less work and I resolved to plant a few trees every spring and fall when I planted my vegetable gardens.

Since then I’ve planted many hundreds of food-bearing trees. I’ve planted trees in my yard, in the yards of my relatives, on friends’ properties and even empty lots in my neighborhood. After the first few years of getting established, fruit trees leap into growth and will begin to bear fruit… which they bear in greater and greater quantities as they reach maturity.

GrapefruitFromSeed-Tree21

Over the last year I’ve harvested figs, plums, mulberries, peaches, loquats, oranges, Key limes, persimmons, bananas, lemons, guavas, calamondins, jujubes, kumquats from my yard and even some tropical almonds and starfruit from trees I planted in South Florida.

Five years ago, all I had on my property were oaks and a single sweet gum.

In another year or two, in addition to the big list of fruits above, my sand pears, apples, chestnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and avocados will start producing.

You can do the same thing.

As you plant your spring garden, pick out a few fruit trees and pop them into your yard. My top three favorite easy-to-grow fruit trees are mulberries, loquats and Japanese persimmons. After that, add more in fall. Then add a few more. With pruning and a little bit of cleverness, you can grow a lot of fruit trees in even a small yard—and as you get older and are less willing to go dig up a patch of soil for a vegetable garden, you’ll be picking more and more sweet fruit from your own yard with a minimum of effort.

Don’t just plant the quick stuff like I used to do.

Think long-term and you’ll harvest a ton of food with less work than you ever thought possible.

-David The Good

 

P.S. A good book to start with is Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway. A good follow-up is Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford.

The Great South Florida Food Forest Project Keeps on Kicking (and More News)

SouthFloridaFF06-08-2013-3

Rachel came safely home from the US and brought me multiple gifts, including new footage from The Great South Florida Food Forest Project.

The Great South Florida Food Forest: Rachel The Good Edition

Here’s Rachel’s footage, edited by me:

The fruit trees are still moving up despite drought earlier this year. One thing I find quite interesting is how a ground cover layer established itself without any planning.

Originally we dropped a bunch of mulch, then at points I threw seeds around and planted some herbs and sweet potatoes… yet they have been replaced with wandering Jew, ferns, mother-in-law tongue and other ornamental species that have happily naturalized in South Florida. Many of them doubtless arrived with the loads of yard waste Dad and I scavenged from the neighborhood.

If I lived in the area, I would probably clean out patches of the volunteers and plant perennial peanut, sweet potatoes and malanga, but hey – it’s better to have a nice mess of ground cover you can’t eat than just patches of sandy grass. It cools the ground and increases organic matter.

Food Forests Can Be Confusing

Another thing I’ve realized about planning food forests in other people’s yards: if they’re not familiar with the species you add or are not particularly interested in plants, a lot of your work and planning will be for naught. This food forest has edible yams, katuk, chaya and cassava in it, none of which are ever eaten (so far as I know). Instead, the main plants consumed are the more familiar ones: pineapple, papaya, mango, etc.

I created a scrub land food forest in Central Florida for a prepper once and after a few months I had to go back and take him on a tour through his own yard in order to re-acquaint him with all the trees we’d planted. Having a food forest tossed into your yard can be overwhelming if you don’t start it yourself!

More Gifts from Florida

Rachel was able to bring some of my paints and brushes as well as my French Easel from the states.

This is what the easel looks like:

art-alternatives-french-easelIt folds up into a briefcase sized box.

This has been nice to have as my rednecked easel was less than satisfactory. Here’s a little 5″ x 7″ painting I did a couple of days ago:Day-31-Sunset-Clouds-Over-Mountains

I’m getting better but need to keep painting every day. I have done so for 34 days straight thus far.

Beyond art supplies, Rachel also brought clothing for the children plus some awesome T-shirts from Cryptofashion I will be wearing in upcoming videos.

Hunting for Land

There are a few unused lots in our neighborhood, overgrown with rainforest. A friend is asking around for us trying to track down various owners and see if they’ll sell.

The property we’re in is up for sale so we need to be ready to jump. My goal is to buy a piece of rough land, build a simple cracker house, and start a new food forest from scratch.

I’ve been starting lots of trees in pots (and in the compost pile):

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!

Getting land here is interesting, as a lot of the transactions are person to person and not listed by agents.

Helping Out Via Christmas Shopping

If you shop with this link on Amazon, I get a small percentage of each sale.

If you enjoy my writing and videos, use this link and you can go to sleep at night knowing you’re funding a poor family in the third world.

Ha!

My New Book

I finished the first draft of my latest book in October and it’s currently being proof-read by my main gal Jeanne. It still needs illustrations and a bit of tweaking, along with a cover, but it’s really a solid book with lots of idea for growing tropical edible plants outside their “normal” range. As you know, this is a personal hobby of mine.

KeyLimeEspalier

I think you’re really going to dig some of the ideas. Soon, soon!

Why the Delay?

Part of the delay in the book getting out was… November. The month of November is “National Novel Writing Month” and both Rachel and I decided to participate in the contest and each wrote a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month.

Fifty. Thousand. Words.

That took some time. I like the way my novel came out and I will be reading Rachel’s soon – I’m sure it’s great. Here’s a little painting I did of her on the 30th, knocking out the last 500 words on her book:

Day-30-2-Rachel-Finishes-NaNoWriMo

Speaking of painting, I also added the extra challenge of painting a new painting every day for 30 days, and that went nicely. Most of the paintings are rubbish but it definitely upped my skill level. I’m feeling it now and am really enjoying painting again. Soon I hope to offer some of them for sale as a little extra source of income and some tropical joy for my readers.

November was a crazy month – and that’s why the book isn’t out yet.

Coming Soon

I just finished writing a solid post on rainwater harvesting for ThePrepperProject.com and I recorded a good video to go with it. When they both go live I’ll link to them here.

Have a great week, everyone – and until next time, may your thumbs always be green.

Giving Thanks, Bat Attractant, Green Bananas and More

UFBathouse

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

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

SouthFLFoodForest2015-4

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!

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!

1 2 3 19