How green or organic are you?

keiki(10 FL)April 30, 2012

Sometimes I wonder what else can I do to be less dependant or more "green" in my garden.

I compost, keep chickens for eggs and fertilizer, have red wigglers for fertilizer, collect water, bury fish guts, grow approximately 50 fruits as well as veggies and herbs, share extras from my garden with others, prefer trading to buying, visit my local farmers market for things I dont grow, and hang clothes on the line in the garden.

What do you do? What might I be missing?

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You are far greener than I, but thought I'd add plant Florida natives.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:26AM
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ibarbidahl(9 (tampa-ish))

I think that you are right there. You've done a marvelous job at being green. There is no way for me to keep chickens nor collecting water or I would do the same... and am even considering testing the wrath of my HOA to try. LOL. Anyway. In addition to those things I compost, use (almost exclusively) organic fertilizers and bio-organic insect control. Mulching to conserve water, planting Florida natives or edibles that need less sprays and things from us. Using hand tools rather than gas powered and things of those nature are always great ways to increase our 'green factor' and you are doing great.

I'll keep my eye on this thread, too because it's always great to keep increasing our knowledge base!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:42AM
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We mow our own grass and I use the grass clippings in my veggie/herb garden for mulch. After 17 years of doing this my soil is black and full of worms. I also collect rain water, my orchids love it. :o) Wish I could have chicken, but city won't let us.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:38PM
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christit(8 FL)

I have been known to rescue little green lizards in the winter time. A little time on the heating pad and there as good as new. I figure I am saving a native creature and by saving him/her they'll eat more bugs and that equals less bug spray I have to use. Silly huh

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:05PM
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I also keep chickens for eggs and fertilizer and I also compost. I generate almost all of my electricity from solar panels. I just bought eight 250 gallon plastic IBC tote tanks to catch rain water and I now have to set them up. I have an orchard of over 75 different fruit trees. I just put in a grape vineyard of around 20 grapevines. I grow over 50 blueberry plants in 30 gallon half barrel pots. I'm now building 8'wide by 24'long screen greenhouses over my raised garden veggie plots to keep the bugs out. What I don't or can't grow I buy from the local farmers market. I'm planting olive trees so I will be able to make my own biodiesel from the olive oil to run my diesel tractor, car, and farm utility vehicles & emergency generator.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:36PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

We also keep chickens for manure, eggs and bug patrol. Also are keeping other various fowl (or they keep us lol). We free range the chickens and can really see and taste a differnce in the dark orange egg yolks. We vermicompost under the rabbit hutches and have regular compost bins.
If I do spray, I only use NEEM or use other organic measures. We do catch rainwater.
I am working on a fruit orchard, we have lots of citrus, figs, berries, grapes and working on more tropical fruit.
We have a huge garden and herb garden and I have learned to use a pressure canner and food dehydrator, etc. as well as have a commercial freezer. We process extra roosters and some muscovy ducks and make our own sausage. I am planning on getting a few dairy goats to make our own cheese and other dairy products and maybe goat's milk soap.

I am thinking about maybe keeping fish like tilapia or something that I can reproduce for food. I have read that tilapia isn't that healthy for you though, so still researching what I could raise in the south that would be healthier.

I would love to learn more about making bio diesel fuels. We also have a generator and some power inverters.
Dh is planning on making a still.

It would also be good if I grew an acre or so of stuff that I could feed our birds.

I have really grown to love this lifestyle of being more self sufficient and I think we are healthier for it. Even if the economy gets a lot better I will still keep up my growing my own and canning etc. It is really fun and you can really get a lot more variety than you can find at the stores.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:24PM
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keiki(10 FL)

Flgardener I dont grow many natives, probably should but there is only so much room and my edibles and orchids take up most of it.

Barbie there are some really pretty water containers these days just add a couple of stragic plants around they will never know what hit them. I would have been kicked out of any place who tried to tell me what I can grow or what colors I can use or that I wasnt allowed a rain barrel a long time ago ; D

Katkin I leave the mulched up grass clippings right there on the grass. Lazy mans way.

Christi that is sweet not silly!

Lou I live on a quater acre lot so I can only dream of some of the wonderful things you can do. I would love to add solar but it is so expensive and we are not that handy to do it ourselves.

Sultry I read up on keeping fish and was very interested but hubby nixed that idea quickly. If you go ahead with it I would love to hear your experience and maybe see a picture or two. I am also really enjoying being green. I believe it is much healthier way of life.

I wish I could find some people to trade fruits and vegies with. I give extras to the neighbors and they do the same but sometime I wish for things I dont grow. I really have to start canning. It seems like such a big undertaking that I haven't jumped in yet.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 8:16AM
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You guys are inspiring! I've just set out gardening as a hobby (after many false starts!), but I would love to become more self-sufficient.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:13PM
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I have a few ducks & geese on the pond that I use for eggs,when I can find them.The wife has finally given me the green light for chickens,So I am going to build a large chicken tractor & move that around the property-I just have way too many predators here to let them free range.

I have a large pond stocked with channel catfish,bass,bluegill & baitfish.Like Sultry,I have also thought about adding tilapia,but not sure they would make it through the cold weather.Sultry,have you considered channel cats?I'm not sure how large your pond is,but they will take some extreme water temperatures.

I grow pretty much all our veggies/herbs.The only thing I buy are potatoes,as I can't grow enough for the year.I have 2 freezers for storing the harvest & make my own pickles & jams(I make the jams from wild blueberries,blackberries or the strawberries I grow)

I only add compost,bloodmeal,bonemeal & potash to the soil.I only use soapy water or BT for bug control & I collect my friends leaves & shred them to use as mulch.

I collect all the excess rain water that falls in an area of about an acre around the house.That flows into a retention area/large swale.I then pump the collected water into my pond as needed.I am also considering setting up another pump & using the pond water to irrigate the veggie garden,as it will be packed with nutrients.I currently use a second well for irrigation.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:33AM
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Talking abt. growing fish for eating, there was a long art. w/pics in the Times a few years back, this guy has set-ups to grow Tilapia in a tank, and has a screen affair suspended over the tank where edibles grow, using the water in the fish-tank for nutrients, the roots hang down into the water... and he is making kits that can be sent around the world to poor countries, so people can raise their own meat and vegetables, all-in-one... I thought it very ingenious and something we here could use, especially in poor neighborhoods,, Consumer's Digest lists Tilapia as one of the best fish....sally

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:23PM
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I am impressed with everyone!! I try and be green but mine is a small scale effort: no pesticides, replaced St. Aug. grass with bahia and less lawn every year, trench compost all non-meat kitchen waste in the garden, blanched and froze lots of organic collards, made the yard more bird friendly by growing bamboo, use bamboo for stakes/trellises as well as pushpoles for the boat.
The cost of water has us using "island style" for flushing toilets :-)

Keiki-about the worms. Can we go away for 2 months and will they survive? I'd really like some worms but we take a long trip in the summer and put the yard on survival mode.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:38PM
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jennijenjen(z9b FL)

I'm such an 'organic' nut, my daughter's friends nicknamed me Mother Nature!

Denise I just started worm composting 2 months ago but from what I've read, they would be fine for a few weeks once you have the bin set up how they like it.

Katkin I wish PSL would allow chickens too. And our grass hasn't been growing enough to cut much. Know of any local sources for free mulch?


    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:12PM
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keiki(10 FL)

Sally the fish set up you described is called aquaponics. It is what I was looking into. Guess I will have to continue to let hubby catch our fish, at least for now.

Denise two months is longer than I have ever just left my worms to fend for themselves. I feed mine at least once a week and they need bedding which they compost after a while. I never paid attention to how often that is but its quicker in warm months.

Ok a few of you mentioned not being allowed to keep chickens so I will fess up. I live in an area where they are not allowed but a few chickens are pretty quite and easy to care for. One neighbor called code enforcement on me two times and I still have my girls. I will email anyone who wants more info. Oh and my other neighbors love the girls and help feed them and reap the benifits.

Jen check with your city and county for free mulch. Also many tree trimmers will give you wood chips free, just ask.

Does antone else bury fish guts? I mentioned it in my original post and not one of you have mentioned it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:12PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I don't view it as being "green" as that is nothing more than a marketing being green is driving an electric car that gets it's energy from burning coal. My "green" is simply being self reliant, a trait that is seriously lacking these days.

I grow about 350 fruiting trees/plants not including the bamboo and have 200 or so of those. I raise rabbits, quail and ducks. The rabbits feed the garden and my soil is jet black because of them with 8 foot tall jungle like tomato plants. If people would concentrate on building good soil they would not have to spray pesticide. My tomatoes have white fly on them now..I just ignore it as the plants are so thick and strong they just shrug it off. The garden scraps also feed the rabbits.

I don't use any pesticide in the vegetable garden at all.....I find it silly to slather plants in poisons. If you have to spray poison so that your plants can survive you are doing something wrong.

I love to fish and I do bury the fish guts in a I said I have the rabbits, 7 does and 2 bucks and probably 100 young at any given time and under each cage is a half blue barrel the manure falls in to. The manure is heavily colonized by black soldier fly larvae (BSF). I simply drop the fish remains in to the barrels and in just hours, long before they can start to rot and smell they are devoured and all that is left is the bones. They can reduce a 30" grouper carcass to just bones in less than 12 hours.

The BSF larvae in turn feed the ducks and the ducks also patrol the garden snatching up bugs without the need to spray poison. The ducks supply meat and eggs though Lou keeps me well supplied in eggs:) I also raise earthworms and the ducks get those as well. Now starting to raise mealworms for the ducks also.

I get probably 10 truckloads of tree company trims a year delivered. Everything gets mulched which conserves the water and makes the ground cooler and richer.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 7:52AM
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I just got my electric bill for April, it is $18.46 (the basic hookup service charge plus tax).

Power used = ZERO Watt Hrs.
$18.00 basic service charge.
$0.46 Florida tax.

My carbon offset so far this year is 3.34 tons (the equivalent of saving 86 trees) Energy produced this year 4.97MWh


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:52PM
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I had BSF larva in my compost last summer and they were awesome! Anyone know how to get some back???? Gross looking, but super composters!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Jen, sorry no I don't.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 7:22PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


The BSF really like coffee grounds. If you put coffee grounds in a bucket in a spot protected from the rain with veggie scraps the flies will show up.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 9:31PM
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Cool post.
And I know this is old hat for many of you posting, but maybe for some reading, I wanted to mention rain barrels. I got mine free from the county and I have eaten tomatoes all winter that were irrigated with nothing more than rain water. Okay, I only had three plants this year - but there are only two of us, so I was still giving away tomatoes, mostly to the birds, but also to neighbors and friends. Had to freeze beans and broccoli too this year because we had too much. All with rain water.

Which brings me to low-till gardening, another thing many of you posting are probably doing, but something folks reading might now know about. I compost in place - it's sometimes called lasagna mulching. It's a great way to conserve resources. When I started my in-ground veggie bed, it had a couple inches of dark dirt and then sand below that. And my veggies were awful. Six years later, I have anywhere from 8 to 18 inches of nice rich dirt in the same bed. Some of that is the compost I've put on it from my composter, but most of it is composting in place, letting the area go fallow during the summer, stacking any yard trimmings there over the summer, dumping the pet hair I sweep out of the house and various other things that won't smell bad there. And then at the end of the summer spreading newspaper and mulch over all that mess of weeds and yard trimmings and leaving it for a few weeks. All that organic matter adds up.

And I don't need pesticides on a veggie bed that was simply beset with bugs five years ago. A previous poster was right - if your dirt is good, your plants are healthy and can survive pests.

For stuff that might smell or attract bugs, I head to the composter. But for anything that won't - like the pet hair I sweep up (because we have a giant dog and two cats) it all goes straight off the side of the deck into what we call the veggie bed.

As for smells, I've got a tumbler composter at the back of the yard (not a big yard - less than a quarter acre) and I've put shrimp heads, crab claws and even lobster remains in there. Sometimes it smells for a day or so, if you're right up next to it, but the bugs clean it up quickly. And when I've used my compost, I've never found a claw in it. But I figure my yard is healthier for that stuff.

For people who are not farming their entire yard, the Envirocyle tumbler composter is a wonderful thing. They take up very little space and compost quickly. I have two, so I can cycle them. I try to never throw away yard trimmings. And coffee grounds are golden in my house. Most of them go straight to the gardenia, but some make it to the composter.

It's taken me six years, but my yard is healthier than when I bought it for the effort. And the food we've eaten was healthy too. We're eating incredibly sweet late broccoli tonight.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 10:47PM
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I can't compost, we are on a canal just off a preserve and I have problems with critters as it is. If I compost that only draws them in all the more. We even get a bobcat. But I do have rain barrels.

I think Lou should get the award for being the greenist. I take my hat off to him. :o)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 6:51AM
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keiki(10 FL)

Bambo rabbit that is ra eally interesting way to compost the fish. You never know what you will learn on this forum!


natives I add my dogs hairs also but usually just when they are trimmed.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 8:17AM
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Lou,that is an amazing set up you have.Can you post a link to any threads you might have on installion.Approx how much is the upfront cost?I have the space to setup the panels,but was only going to use them for heating a pool & never even considered using them for the entire house/workshop.Many thanks,Darcy.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:33AM
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The initial outlay for my 10KW solar ground array was slightly under $46,000 total complete. I checked with Brett Emes at SEM for my neighbor and he can still hold to that pricing for an Enphase 10KW ground mounted system. I think Enphase is top of the line in solar.
The Florida rebate is $20,000
The Federal rebate is $14,500 (it comes off what you owe on your Federal Income tax bill)
Making my adjusted outlay $13,000

My monthly electric bill was approximately $450 in summer and $350 in winter. Using the lowest monthly service charge of $350 adds up to $4,200 per year making the solar system payoff for me around 3 to 4 years time (due to rainy days).

I used Solar Energy Management out of St Pete.


Here is a link that might be useful: Solar Energy Management

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 10:45AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

The pictures don't do justice to just how massive Lou's solar array is.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:27AM
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I let my dog poop wherever she wants in the yard and I don't pick it up.

I sweet talk the earth worms when I see them and apologize profusely if I maim or kill one when digging.

I drink 2-3 pots of Cuban coffee a day and the grounds go to my roses once a week. I am working up to 4 pots a day against the advice of my cardiologist.

I eat the home grown organic stuff my cool neighbor gives me.

I squash the crunchy little aphids off my roses instead of far...but there aren't that many of them...but I am going to use the spray-the-%$#&-out-of-them-with-the-hose method when they get out of control.

But my REAL claim to organic fame is that I am world's best big sister to Eva Worden of Worden Farm in Punta Gorda ( who would kill me if she knew I was bragging about her so don't tell her but definitely go by and tell her Gina sent you. :-)


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 11:54AM
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Thanks Lou,My power bill is about half of yours,but even if it took me 8 years to break even,I like the idea of being self supplied with power.We loose power here with the lightest of storms,as some of the lines run directly through the forest.You have definately got me thinking,thanks again,Darcy.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Lou, how large is your solar array?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 1:54PM
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Just under 12 feet wide by 60.5 feet long. Due to the tilt angle to the sun of 38 degrees, it stands 7.5 feet tall at the high point.
The array has 44 of the Sharp 240watt solar panels. Each panel has it's own micro inverter under the panel making it 96.5% energy efficient in the conversion of the solar panel DC current to AC house current.
240W x 44 panels = 10,560 watts DC x .965% conversion efficiency = 10.19KW AC power.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 3:33PM
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Thanks, Lou. Impressive.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 7:41PM
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@Gina/wildmutt: I love your little sis's veggies (subscribed to the CSA for several years now) and use the scraps - there are not many - in my compost.
I am still trying how to figure out how to sneak chickens past my local code enforcement (and my husband!)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2012 at 9:38PM
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This is probably a "duh!" for you experienced gardeners, but it was "AHA!" for me:

I was whacking back some boxwood that are years and years old,and the composted stuff under there was amazing! I must have raked out the equivalent of ten bags (2 cubic ft each) of ready-to use compost.

If your plants are healthy (no bugs, funky-looking leaves, etc.) and have been there "forever" like my boxwoods, just get scooping under there and harvest that stuff for your plants that are hungry for compost.

Veteran organic gardeners, please let me know if my logic is flawed! (Let me down easy, huh?)


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 9:34AM
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I have 10 acres here and I also gather up the leaf litter from the wooded part of my property to mix into my compost. You are doing it the right way.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:06AM
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You guys are just amazing. I always learn so much when I get the opportunity to stop by. Thanks for starting this thread Keiki and, btw, I think we're in the same town and I've been thinking about trying to sneak in some chickens. I live on a corner with a 6 ft. wood fence so maybe no one would notice ;-)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 8:06PM
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My son caught a BSF in the garden this morning! You know you are a crazy gardener when you get excited about the potential to have big icky maggots in your compost. :)


    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:50AM
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My concern is compost and compost worms. Until recently after reading this I found most if not all compost and compost worms are not Green. article. Compost and compost worms concern me. I used Horse Manure and bought Black cow from Lowes and Home depot. Found out most Horse farms worm each Horse once a month. Found links in this article describing the dangers of the wormers. Most large dairy farms used Hormones and medications because of the large numbers of cows.For most of the worm Farms that use this and the worms they sell ,which are from Europe. Most Manures are contaminated with all this. For years I composted cardboard,which was a big mistake. I have changed were I get my manure. Found a Farmer that only Lets his cows graze on grass and he does not use wormer. He also uses no Pesticides,herbicides on his pasture. This article was so helpful with all the links. Never again will I buy Compost with out finding out the source of what they start with. Never again will I buy worms from growers that do not care about raising a native worm to our State. Maybe I am on the way to be GREEN

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:01PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I have been thinking about trying the BSF larvae. I read on a chicken forum how some people take a can of cat food and nail holes in it and hang it from a tree. The maggots fall from the can into a pan below and the chickens can feast on them.
Also saw a good thread recently on someone who took a plastic set of drawers and cut the bottom off the top one and hot glued screen onto it. Then they put meal worms in there and the eggs fall out the bottom through the screen. They raise the larvae and feed them to their birds.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 7:46AM
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keiki(10 FL)

Mrs tlc my girls are pretty quite. They do squak occasionally but birds in the trees are louder than they are. They are great pets. I am west of ft Myers.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 8:45AM
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