“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.
One 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.
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.