David wrote to ask about yam bulbils, then shared pictures of his amazing Florida food forest project.
“I have a lot of bulbils hanging from my yam vines right now and I may be getting tropical storm winds in a couple of days. I don’t want them spread around the neighborhood so If I pick the nice sized bulbils while the vines are still lush will they remain viable for a few months in the garage?
By the way, thanks for your books “Create Your Own Florida Food Forest” and “Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening”. They inspired me to create a 5000 sf food forest a few years ago and I now have plenty of food available whatever happens. I have at least 1000 lbs of roots like sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, and malanga along with year round fruit and greens in South zone 9B thanks to you.”
My response on the bulbil question:
“Yes, they will. I’ve overwintered bulbils by just filling up a bucket with them and throwing some damp sawdust on top. They often don’t even need that, though. They are tough. It’s late enough in the season to pick them. Just try not to damage the skin when you pick, as that will allow in rot.”
Then I asked if he would share some pictures of his food forest and let me post his email here.
That’s when things get even cooler.
David’s Florida Food Forest
David writes further – and sends pictures:
“I have planted and grown fruit trees for my entire adult life because I enjoyed the constant return of good fruit year after year so when I heard about perennial gardening several years ago it appealed to me. I began researching on the internet and watched several of your youtube videos before deciding to buy three of your books to learn more.
I bought Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Compost Everything.
I liked them all but it was Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening that grabbed my attention and got me hooked.
The idea of growing crops that like to grow in Florida made perfect sense and your chapter on fixing Florida sand was great. I read the book over and over and started planning.
Our local landfill gave away mulch from hurricane Irma and compost they made from yard waste. I checked the composting process to see if they kept out harmful products and it seemed good to me. I bought some fencing to keep deer out and started hauling compost and mulch on weekends. I chose a strip of land between two ditches to make my food forest so that it would be well drained even in the summer. The dirt was mostly white sand and it was full of weeds. I threw down cardboard, put a couple inches of compost on top and covered that with four to six inches of wood mulch.
I started with about 1000 sf and started searching for the crops you told about in your books. Every time I filled the space up I bought more fence and extended the garden.
Today it is 30′ wide and 170′ long.
It is full of self-seeding everglades tomatoes and sweet potatoes that I let grow wherever they pop up. I counted over 25 tomato plants yesterday and I’ll have tomatoes from now until July next year without doing anything except using Thuricide if I see caterpillars.
Sweet potatoes are in about eight large patches throughout the garden and a few small ones. We started harvesting them a month ago by digging up part of one patch and getting 23 pounds.
In addition to the above the food forest has longevity spinach, 2 peach trees, various lettuces, broccoli, about 30 pineapples, two Ice cream banana bunches, two Namwa banana bunches, two Raja Puri banana bunches, two Goldfinger banana bunches, four Moringa trees, a Tanenashi persimmon tree, five pigeon peas, 18 Hawaiian Solo papaya plants, about ten cassava plants, two mulberry trees, five patches of sugar cane, four Malanga Lila plants, four Malanga Blanca plants, a Surinam Cherry, two Warner’s Own figs, to Green Ischia figs, One Brown Turkey fig, about ten Mexican Sunflowers, 12 fakahatchee grass bunches, about 20 Dioscorea alata, five purple Ube Yams, one Ghana yam, a guava tree, two mango trees, one avocado tree, one Jamaican cherry tree, one Nopale cactus, a Sri Kembangan carambola, a Kari carambola, three kinds of Muscadine grapes, two red dragon fruit, two yellow dragon fruit, three Katuk, four Sissoo spinach, red lime, chaya, yard long beans, and jalapeno peppers.
The sand in the food forest has become black soil over three years. Everything that is pruned from the plants gets chopped and dropped.
Outside the food forest I have a Nam Doc Mai mango tree which produced 300+ mangoes this year, a Fuyugaki persimmon, a jaboticaba, two macadamia trees, a big patch of Mysore raspberries, more pineapples, six citrus trees, a Brogden avocado, and another Oliver loquat.
I have even composted a few enemies along the way (squirrels)
Most of this would not have happened if it hadn’t been for your books and videos so thank you David the Good.”
Food forest gardens work amazingly well in Florida when you use a combination of deep mulching with the plant recommendations in my books. It is exciting to see so much production – and this garden is only a few years old. Wait until those fruit trees hit their full potential in a few more years!
Great work David – I am proud of you. What an inspiration!