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Farm Life - April 2022

Moving into Summer Production

Three Little Piggies!

We have some new animals on the farm - pigs! We’re borrowing them from our neighbor, Rebecca Krassnowski to perform a specific ecosystem function which is to massacre our cogon grass. This grass is an exotic invasive which is truly formidable. It spreads faster when burned, dug, and mowed. The matted root layer prevents anything else from growing and soon one will have a field full of cogon grass. Pigs, however, love to dig up the roots and eat them. So we’re sharing our delicious cogon grass with them, and they’re helping us get this plant a bit more under control.
Pigs eating
They’re hard at work!
We plan to plant cover crops where the pigs have been, and after the cogon grass is shaded out, replace it with native wildflowers and grasses. Cogon grass has some interesting uses, including thatch for rooftops in Vietnam. It is unlikely we’ll eliminate it from our site - our neighbors have it and it spreads by both seed and rhizome, so we’ll still have some if we need a roof!

Squash Secrets

We’ve just put several varieties of tropical squash in the ground including Tahitian Melon and Green Cushaw squash which gets impressively huge. And of course Seminole Pumpkin, our very favorite squash.

Seminole Pumpkin
We missed this pumpkin during an earlier harvest. It had been through three hard freezes and was hidden under some pine needles, forgotten. It was still in great shape when we cooked it though!

More pumpkins
This is what we have left from last year. They will last for up to a year if not damaged, and stored in a cool, dark place. Leave the stems on!
Pumpkins growing
These pumpkins just don’t give up. This volunteer vine got started in some wood chips and wound its way all through our banana circle, rooting itself along the way. The original roots died back after a few months, but the plant kept sending down new roots and continuing to produce in multiple directions.
We harvested the balance of these in February after our first hard freeze, and have been eating them since. The plant loved the fertile soil, part shade, and wood chip mulch and put out a few dozen squash. But we’ve also planted many of these in pure sand that did fine with total neglect.

This is our kind of plant - one that can thrive with neglect, provide copious food that stores for months and is both nutritious and delicious. Seminole pumpkin offers vitamins A, C, E, potassium, magnesium and zinc, Omega 3, and fiber. Elements have been found to be anti-fungal, and cooked or mashed pumpkin can be used as a facemask.

The flowers can be stuffed, fried or candied, and the fruit can be prepared in dozens of ways while young or fully mature.

Melon Squash!

Tahitian Melon Squash
Tahitian melon squash is a great conversation piece because of its unusual shape and size. There’s a lot of fruit in one melon! Great squash to make butternut squash soup with which has an interesting lighter, clearer taste. And it stores well, or freezes for squash soup on demand.

Here’s one recipe for it (will work with Seminole, Green Cushaw or Butternut squash as well)

Serves around 25, though you can halve the squash for a smaller batch.

Ingredients
5 pounds Tahitian squash, large dice
1/2 pound unsalted butter
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon peppercorn, ground
1/2 teaspoon cumin or garam masala, ground
Salt to taste
2-4 quarts water

Directions
1. Gently simmer onion, garlic, and spices in butter, about 20 minutes.
2. Add diced squash and cook on medium heat for another 20 minutes.
3. Lightly salt and mix. Add enough water to cover the squash by two inches and bring to a simmer.
4. Cook for 60 to 90 minutes, or until squash is tender and breaks apart easily with a fork.
5. In batches, add cooked squash with liquid in a blender and puree till smooth. After it’s all pureed, salt to taste.

Variations
Roast the squash, onion and garlic for a different flavor
Add veggies like kale, carrots and zucchini.
Add cashews for more richness (or use instead of butter for a vegan dish)
Sprinkle with smoked paprika, or chia, sunflower seeds, parsley or your own choice.

Tropical squash is a staple food we will always have around and don’t get tired of!

Video Series

We are making a series of videos about useful and edible plants in Florida. Subscribe to our channel to get notifications about future videos.

It was fun making a video about one of Koreen's favorite wildflowers the Spiderwort. Watch it and see how many ways it can be used and how to grow it, including some recipies.

Classes

We have some new spring and summer classes coming up!
We’ll soon release a short course focused on permaculture gardening in Florida online. Stay tuned for more info.

Intro to Permaculture

Sat, April 30, 9:30am to noon - Free!

This is a great way to introduce people to the topic. We give a good overview of the topic with lots of practical information people can use.

Spring and Summer Gardening Class

Sat, April 30, 1pm-3:30pm, $25

Learn which easy to care for plants do great in Florida summers that you should start now, how to plant, care for and harvest and see them growing on our farm. Written materials and a plant are included in the course fee. We focus on superfoods and complete nutrition. Feed your family!

Earthskills Event

Sat-Sun, May 21-22, details to be announced.

Learn survival skills and skills that bring you closer to understanding the natural world.

Permaculture Design Courses

Online Courses

“The information is so clear and relevant, yet in depth - it’s a great course. I feel like I can use the information right away. It has both practical information and plenty of creative inspiration as well.”

“I absolutely loved this section of the course. It was inspiring, informative, and covered things I never even dreamed of.”

“I appreciate the live sessions where I can get any of my questions answered and am looking forward to the sessions with other experts.”

We strive to give you the information you need to be successful, whether it’s with your own land or if you wish to become a professional designer. We walk you through each step of the design process with exercises that gradiently build your design over the length of the course.

We feel that it’s becoming increasingly important that people have this information! We want to make it as accessible as possible, because we feel it’s a vital skill set, and we want to make sure as many people as possible master these skills.

In-Person Courses

(Early Bird Pricing still applies until April 30.)

Our next in-person course will start in September of 2022. We so enjoy giving these classes and getting to know the students, creating community all the while, and watching the individual projects unfold. It’s been really exciting to see so many student projects become amazing realities that in turn inspire others!

This course unfolds over six months in St Petersburg and at Our Permaculture Farm. Special early bird rates available through the end of March.
Course rates.
Course listing.
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