Food Forest Possibilities: UNREAL GROWTH in Just a Couple Years! (Part 1)
We invite you on a virtual tour of SandHill Farm just 30 minutes north of Tampa, Florida. This site is the home and personal collection of Pete Kanaris of GreenDreams (web address ).
In this clip – we walk with Pete, as he highlights the NorthWest corner of the farm, where he is growing a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that are well-suited for this microclimate of zone 9B. Although this area of Florida experiences very hot humid conditions during the summertime, it is also exposed to frequent freezing/frost dangers during the winter months. We’ve listed some details of the named species below.
In tomorrow’s segment, we will continue the walking virtual tour into the shaded/protected area of the homestead, the microclimate/oak canopy; which houses a diverse collection of subtropical species like mangoes, bananas, pineapples, turmeric, gingers, jackfruit and much more. Be sure to subscribe & check the notifications bell, so you be the first to know when are videos are posted.
(0:44) Pete highlights the ‘Purple Possum’ passionfruit & shows us a three-year-old vine that is just beginning to drop fruit for the 2nd year. These vines are heavy producers (this vine, in particular, gave us nearly 1000 fruits last year and it’s first season). In one of our recent videos, Pete took a field trip to Possum trot tropical fruit nursery in South Miami Florida, where this fine originated. If you haven’t checked out that video yet, you can find the clip here:
(2:25) A brief overview of our full sun & full exposure area of Sandhill Farm: Pete discusses the original idea for the space & how that has evolved over the 4 years that we have been here. Being that this is the northwest corner of the property, it is the coldest, most wind prone area. For this reason, we plant all of our most cold hardy & low chill needs species, like stone fruits and other deciduous trees (peaches, plums, mulberries, figs, blueberries, persimmons & more.) our original intention for the space was for market gardening of annual vegetables, but we quickly realized the time constraints of growing high intensity crops & have been transitioning these beds into more of a perennial concept. Pete share some of our favorite summertime crops that do very well in the hot humid conditions of Florida summers: okra, eggplant, Basil, peppers, sweet potatoes and some other species that are even better acclimated for the heat: ‘Roselle’ (Hibiscus sabdariffa) & Molokhiya (Egyptian Spinach).
(3:27) highlighting one of the youngest plantings on Sand Hill Farm: A two-year-old food forest, complete with an Olive Tree, Rosemary, sweet potatoes, cassava & much more. Pete offers is the life demonstration of harvesting sweet potato leaves to use as a cooked green. Sweet potato leaves are one of our favorite summertime vegetables & we use them quite often in our meals.
(4:34) Planting the right species to bring in a balance of bugs & birds to offer an intelligent alternative to pesticides, with pollinators being a bonus. On Sandhill Farm, we use plants like ‘Sweet Almond’, Elder & many others to create an ecological replication of what might happen in nature. Some of the species, like Elder, can also serve as a “catch crop”, to provide an alternative food source for the birds, to distract them from our favorite fruits nearby.
(5:25) Pete shows off one of our most recent plantings, A two-year-old Food Forest that has filled in very quickly, since it was planted just before our visit from Eric Toensmeier’s Advanced PDC (Permaculture Design Course) in March of 2015. Not only does this Food Forest system grow without any kind of fertilizers, but it also thrives without irrigation. (we just came out of a 6-month dry spell). Some of the choices for our guild planting are mulberries, persimmons, pomegranate, plums, mangoes, bananas, papayas.
(6:47) We get to see the fast growth on the native fakahatchee grass, only a few weeks after the “chop and drop” that we do on the farm each month to feed all of our fruit trees & build soil. Pete uses this grass as the carbon & silica elements, in combination with Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia) which provides the nitrogen element + other key minerals.
(7:40) Prepare to be amazed by the rapid growth of the infamous, nitrogen fixing groundcover, perennial peanut. This particular variety is called “Ecoturf” & is better suited for sunny or dappled light environments. Not only does this beautiful ground cover fix nitrogen for the surrounding plants, but it also has an edible flower.
(8:00) plants that you don’t have to pay for: Elderberry & Golden Rod can be obtained and your local bioregion, simply by digging up & relocating to your own space. Both of these plants serve many functions, both in the Food Forest’s ecosystem & in your medicine cabinet.
(8:56) Lemongrass, edible leave mulberry, papaya, sugarcane and Chaya.