Permaculture in the Sub-tropics: Urban Food Forest in Gulfport, FL

This is the second video about the urban homesteading community Hummingbird Hideout in Gulfport, FL near Tampa Bay. In just a few years they have established a food forest of tropical fruit trees and other useful and native plants on an urban lot. Things grow so fast in the sub-tropics that it only to takes a few years to have bountifully producing fruit trees and a lush forest. Malory gives us a tour of the food forest and all the many different kinds of plants they are growing, and Stefan tells us about native plants.

Even if you live in a city you can produce a lot of food on an urban lot. And you don’t have to live in the tropics, although it takes a lot less time in the tropics and there are a lot more useful plant choices. I personally find a productive food forest to be much more aesthetically pleasing than your typical urban yard, with a lawn monoculture and maybe some ornamental shrubs. And just imagine how much more beautiful and productive our neighborhoods would be if everyone turned their yard into a food forest.

Check out Stefan Babyak’s Youtube channel at:

Urban Homesteading Community: Self-Sufficient in the City

On Hardcore Sustainable this week we travel to Gulfport, FL to visit Hummingbird Hideout, an urban homesteading community. It’s not easy to homestead out in the country without close neighbors and usually a family depends on a lot of technology to make their lives easier. Lots of stuff, like your own car, your own truck, your own tractor can cost a lot of money and make dependent on outside sources of income. With neighbors so distant, there is far less opportunity to share technology and resources. As well, a lot of people living in the city don’t how good they have it in terms of access to resources and the efficiencies that sharing with neighbors can bring. It might seem less likely, but there is a lot you can do in a city on a small piece of land to make your life more sustainable and self sufficient.

Folks at Hummingbird Hideout have set up systems to make even life in the city much more self sufficient by sharing with their neighbors and using permaculture systems to get more of their resources on site from the earth and the sky.

In this first of two videos, we get a tour of the systems they have set up at Hummingbird, and in the second video we’ll get a tour of their food forest and native plantings.

Rebuilding and Improving a Rocket Mass Heater

The rocket mass heater in Skyhouse at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage was in need of some repairs and improvements. It was at least 15 years old and had always had some issues with efficiency in heating the space it was supposed to. Mark Mazziotti, of nearby Red Earth Farms, was hired to do a total rebuild of the stove because of his experience in building rocket stoves and mass heaters. I happened to find out he was doing the rebuild and asked him if he would help me make a video about the project. It’s a little longer than some of my usual videos, but it’s interesting to hear the thought and planning Mark put into the rebuild.

Mark wants me to add that he miscalculated his estimate of his experience in natural building. It’s more like 15, not 20 years of experience he has.

My 25 Year Old Seed Collection: So Many Seeds, So Many Stories

Now is the time when in the dead of winter everyone is ordering seeds or just looking through their seed collection and deciding what to grow next season. Everyone’s champing at the bit for the cold to go away and the ground to green up so they can start a new season in the garden.

This video is really for the avid gardener and seed saver. I go through my 25 year old seed collection and tell the stories of how I can to be saving certain varieties.

I’d love to hear your seed stories too, so leave a comment in the comments section if you have a good one.

Post-season Permaculture: Volunteer Asparagus and Hardy Greens from Saved Seed

There’s always something to do after the garden is mostly put to bed for the season. I love having a reason to go out and work in the garden long after those first hard frosts. If you have a hoop house, you can work in the ground almost all winter long.

In this video I set up my warren for more perennial production in the future by transplanting asparagus crowns from a nursery bed in my vegetable garden. I’m looking forward to being able to harvest much more asparagus from the nooks of my warren that are currently not producing anything. I also take a trip out to the hoop house to see how my beds of winter greens are doing. Everything I’m growing in the hoop house came from saved seed.

How to Know When to Harvest ORGANIC Grapes for Wine

It was time to test the grapes and decide if I needed to start harvesting yet. I got out my trusty refractometer to see what the sugar levels were at.

There are a number of factors involved in deciding if it’s time to harvest grapes. It’s a balance between grape quality and suitability and readiness for winemaking. And it also all depends on the season–whether you got a lot of rain or very little. This was a great season for my grapes because we didn’t get any rain for the first three months of grape development, so the fruit got really sweet and the acid levels had the chance to lower somewhat.