Category Archives: Food Foresting

A planned Forest to yield food, be it Roots, Fruits, Greens or Shoots

When the Growing gets Tough

… the Grower gets Going… to keep it Growing!

It all began 5 years ago when I wanted to have a temporary trellis to grow some beans. It was easy. I simply went to Home Depot, got some PVC water pipes, some L and T joints and a string trellis. I measured the pipes, cut them up, hammered 3 pipes vertically 18″ into the soil, connected the top portion with the joints and used some tie-straps to hang and fasten the string trellis. Less than $10 and voila! trellis was done.

The beans progressed to gourds and the gourds progressed to Passionfruit, which grew with such wild passion, I began to foresee a forthcoming calamity. Yes, after 5 years the pipes were no longer standing 90° with the soil and the string trellis were kind of “blowing in the wind”.

My pipe and string contraption.

I’ve had fair, good use of this impromptu trellis so something needed to be done ~ hopefully without cutting off all the fruiting vines and killing those precious Ladybugs and their cocoons nicely tucked in & on that little green wall. I kept asking that question till finally the husband decided to come up with what I call a “slip-and-grip” replacement.

Fastened to pipe; 18″ above the soil.

A carefully measured Made-in-Garage wooden trellis (which is patterned with a space for the kitchen window in case of later preference) that was lugged and slipped behind the pipe & string trellis contraption, to be gripped with metal fasteners drilled through the wood frame and the metal pipes. The metal pipes have been hammered 3ft into the soil and the wood trellis sits 18″ above soil level. It’s definitely more rigid than PVC pipes & strings.  😆

The vines (& some remnant trellis strings) are now tied onto this new brainchild and it is my ardent hope that it will give at least 10 years usage.

I’ve trimmed most of the lower portion of the string trellis and now have more sunny space to insert some forthcoming Spring seedlings.

Wooden trellis fastened to a metal pipe.

Time to thin some herbs and cool season vegetables below and pay close attention to lots of Passionfruit buds now waiting to bloom. To all potential Passionfruit growers, prepare a steady, heavy-duty trellis for that vine because when it takes off during the growing/fruiting season, it needs heavy support OR you will have some weighty work trying to save that monstrous plant.

Can I fool them? Is it Pawsible?

With so much re-planting going on, as in my last post, I’ve decided to see if I can create a micro-climate cool zone, induce germination and (hopefully) the growth of a plant which grows in zone 8 or cooler. I’m in zone 9b/10.

In June, I received a present from a sweet Facebook friend in West Virginia (Zone 5b-6a) ~ yes, she sent me some fresh Pawpaw seeds! (BTW, Pawpaw in the US is Asimina triloba and not Papaya as what Pawpaw is, in Australia). Now that got me thinking … so I decided to stratify them, put them in the fridge, give them a period of cold (40o F/4o C) for 4-5 months, try to “make them comfortable” in hope of breaking their dormancy.

Fresh, clean Pawpaw seeds.

Fresh, clean Pawpaw seeds.

Florida has just experienced her first cold front this week, it means winter is forthcoming and cool weather, ideal for Pawpaw seed germination, calls for some action, right? I had already done some information gathering and know that Pawpaw seedlings will develop long tap roots so I decided I’d do some recycling instead of buying expensive tree seedling cell-pots.

My style of deep cell-pot begins with the cutting of a bottle-cap to allow water drainage but not soil/potting mix loss.

Bottle cap cuts

Bottle cap cuts

Then cutting the base off a small water bottle; screw the cap back on and fill the bottle with seeding/potting mix.

Filled with potting mix up to 1" from top

Filled with potting mix up to 1″ from top

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Microclimate Early Spring Tomatoes

In a simple short description … my Crazy Tomato Wall … yes, this is an update of my post (put up exactly 4 weeks ago) about tomato seeds sowed outdoors in winter by a south-facing concrete wall.

It works! The combination of Vermi-Composting & Bokashi, right by a heavy feeding, fruit-producing plant, does work. See the white lid of the bokashi worm bin below.

The Tomato Wall

The Tomato Wall with a buried Bokashi/Worm Bin

That 1 little red spot in the photo above stands out, doesn’t it? I see it, the birds & insects see it too, but the fruits here are preciously guarded. The birds can have some of my cherry tomatoes, those I’ll share. :mrgreen: With what I call the Protection Bags, the tomatoes on the plant are more noticeable from a distance.  Moving closer, it can be seen that there are bunches of pretty large tomatoes, each, individually bagged.

Fruits in Bag

Fruits in Bag

So here it is …

Almost ready for harvest.

Almost ready for harvest.

The 1st heirloom tomato from that plant which I am leaving to naturally sun-ripen to its fullest. Then it’s devouring and more importantly seed saving time!

Update: 1 day after the above post, it just felt right for some action to be taken.

10 ozs

10 ozs

Not all tomatoes are created equal, I guess.

Not all tomatoes are created equal, I guess.

 

What a chemical free Food Forest brings your way …

I know it looks kind of strange but …

Guest room's window view.

Guest room’s window view.

that’s what my guest(s) will see when looking out of one of the bedside windows. It’s my form of sun-shading and window dressing.

That's a gourd window dressing.

That’s a gourd window dressing, almost ready for harvest.

… and then there’s my kitchen window scene too!

It's my green scene.

That’s food hanging by the window.

My beehive is in the background and some gourds in the foreground. Are you wondering why I’m keep all these green gourd vines in its natural unruly form? This morning, I had a camera in hand ~ at the right place and the right time.

Who needs insecticides & pesticides? Let Mother Nature take care of things.

 

Do Walls Affect Plants?

Absolutely!

It’s still winter, but being at the border of zones 9b & 10a, I decided to plant a little differently this year ~ the Chinese Year of the Fire Monkey.
I found a neighbor’s discarded “extra” fence material & what better way to recycle?! Hubby built it a frame using wood pallets and we let it stand on 2 “bricks” (45¢ each from Walmart!) and thus created a “temporary” trellis, heavy enough to withstand Florida winds, leaning against a south concrete wall.

The frame on bricks leaning on wall.

The frame on bricks leaning on wall.

Then I put 3 tomato seeds into  the soil (end-December) and now I have a tomato forest of sort. Each morning I check to ensure the tomato branches are supported (also sniff at my Curry Leaf Plant right there) and all the other plants there are enjoying each others’ company and the worms* are happy.

My Green Wall

My Green Wall right behind the coppiced Curry Leaf plant (note the buried red bin)

Tomatoes & an accompanying baby Bittergourd

Tomatoes & an accompanying baby Bittergourd (arrowed)

Tomatoes growing all over...

Tomatoes growing all over…

and then there are beans ...

and then there are beans starting up …

Luffas too.

and Luffas too.

I’m not sure what else will show up from the soil but I think come Spring, it will provide me some interesting harvests.

*Worms ~ mentioned earlier in the post ~ they live in that little red bin which has no base. Yes, that is my most recent Vermicompost Bin but I add just a pinch of Bokashi Bran, to hasten food fermentation during winter, so that my worms get their tasty feed & poop their return.

 

Growing Tomatoes? Bag ’em!

For tomato growers (well, maybe other tender-skinned fruits as well) I think I may have found a problem to save your fruits ~ from birds, squirrels, horn worms, flea beetles and other pests which attack the actual fruit(s).

Gift Bags! Those attractive organza gift bags!

This is the size I selected but there are ample sizes & colors.

This is the size I selected but there are ample sizes & colors.

After toying with 1 which I got from a baby’s baptism, holding little trinkets & a card, I ordered some via e-bay.  A size that can fit bunches of cherry tomatoes as well as individual large Beefsteak ones costs USD5 for 50 pieces ~ 10¢ a piece ~ how wrong can that be? (Anti ‘Made-In-China’ buyers can buy them from gift stores and check the label yourselves.)

Cherry tomatoes still young and green.

Cherry tomatoes still young and green.

A newly formed bunch of cherry tomatoes … “Bag em before the pests get em!” is my new motto. Yes, I’ll share some, but AFTER I make sure I get to keep some for my hard work.

Easy to loosen and remove.

Easy to loosen and remove.

It allows air flow, sun, rain and everything as per normal except the direct attack of other tomato-loving creatures. Bagging involves gently slipping in and pulling the cord, removal will be easy as I’m not tying knots. IF the cords disintegrate after 1 use, I will re-cord using burlap strings.

That’s my contribution to lessen fellow tomato growers’ head and heart aches, when fruit of your labor is gobbled up before you get it onto your cutting board. Happy Tomato Growing & Picking & Devouring.

A New Bed Is Born

After we killed Ms Papaya, we decided to re-do her bed but leave that 1 matured Curry Leaf Plant (Murraya Koenigii) growing as is, because she (I call her Ms Murraya) does provide shade to the wall in summer.

Newly prepared bed

Newly prepared bed

I’ve buried some well fermented bokashi in that bed before topping it up with topsoil and manure.  Now it sits peacefully allowing some natural settling.

In the bed I have placed (vertically) 2 water pipes (each 1 ft long) with lots of holes drilled into them, to help with deep watering and a red 5-gal bucket with its bottom cut off. This is going to be a worm resort where those pet worms will be fed with bokashi and vegetable waste from the kitchen. They will live their lives in comfort, indulge in gourmet delicacies and in return, they will reward me with their treasured poop!  Fair exchange, right?

Worm resort without furnishing and food (yet).

Worm resort without furnishing, bedding or food (yet)… with removable roof.

Different level exit & entry doorways.

Different level exit & entry doorways.

So now, as summer comes to a close and the weather begins to cool ~ it’s time to “reforest” this bed with vegetables of the season… perhaps some Carrots, Daikons, Beets and Garlic amongst Tomatoes & Napa Cabbage … BUT  I definitely want a couple of giant Collard Greens there ~ I just love Collards.  :mrgreen:

 

 

Apples on Pineapples? Myth or Fact?

Did you know that Apples produce Ethylene?  That is a Fact.

Did you know that Ethylene is a plant hormone that can accelerate the ripening of fruits close to it or enclosed with it? That is a Fact too. Yes, put apples next to green tomatoes IF you want your tomatoes to ripen faster. But if you leave apples on your fruit tray with pears, grapes, bananas, etc. You had better be a fast fruit consumer or end up with ripened fruit galore.

Farmers use Ethylene in greenhouses to speed up plant growth and that is a Fact

But!  … I’ve been told that IF I put an apple on a Pineapple plant,

Apple on Pineapple plant

Apple on Pineapple plant

and then cover the whole “contraption” with a large garbage bag for 24 hours,

all bagged up

all bagged up

the Ethylene will help the Pineapple plant to produce fruit in about 90 days (like a hormonal treatment to increase fertility).

Will this work?  OK, I feel like an idiot but I’m about to find out. 😳
Thomas Edison once said “If it fails, you have succeeded in finding out it is something that does not work.”

Update: See my Suckers!