Alright! This is John Kohler with GrowingYourGreens. Today we have another exciting episode for you. Once again, I’m on a field trip. I love field trips. I always learn so much when I’m on field trips. Once again, I’m in suburbia. As you guys can see, this is a standard residential area here in Houston, Texas. Why I am here today is to share with you guys a really cool garden. It’s not just a backyard garden that I’m going to share with you guys today it’s also a front yard garden. Let me go ahead and pan over and show you.
Guys what we’re looking at here. You can see here just down the block that everybody has a lawn. I don’t encourage you guys to grow a lawn. I think it’s an incredible waste of space. I mean, if you had kids and kids were playing on the lawn, that would be one thing. But most people don’t ever use their lawn. It’s an incredible waste of resources the water, the fertilizer, the pesticides, the herbicides unneeded, when you can be growing something like that I’m going to show you guys today. So let’s.
Check it out. So here’s what I’m going to show you guys today. You guys just saw one corner with a lawn. Here’s the place that I’m going to show you guys today. It’s a residential food forest, permaculturestyle food forest. I just spent maybe like an hour or so with the gardener here that’s doing this who actually wrote a book on gardening. He’s been gardening in this location since the 80s. This is one highly developed systematized and methodized food forest, and he has a solution for everything. One of the amazing things.
Small Space Permaculture Food Forest Garden on 14 Acre Home Lot
That I’m going to point out is that he hasn’t sprayed any pesticides, and, yes, we are in Texas here, hot, humid Texas. He hasn’t sprayed any pesticides to repel any pests since the 80s. John, how are stinkbugs not eating his stuff Well, you might learn that a little bit later on this tutorial, but there are ways to do these things if you do it properly and appropriately, and this guy has an answer for everything, because I’ve asked him lots of questions and I’m quite impressed with his answers. So, in any case,.
Without further ado, let’s go ahead and share with you guys his permaculture suburban household here and show you guys some of the things he’s growing. He has over 130 varieties of different fruit trees, as well as raised bed edible vegetable gardens. He’s stacking functions and has multiple uses for many different things. So I guess first we’ll take you and show you guys around the periphery of the garden and some of the ways you might want to use the area around your property to grow food and maybe even protect your property.
All right, so now we’re standing on the property and walking up to his front door. You’re going to notice a few things. Number one, it looks like a jungle in here. He has all different kinds of plants planted around the border of his house. You could have natives to attract the butterflies. There’s a beautiful native Texas plant that has amazing flowers that smell good that’s attracting butterflies by the droves, actually. Somebody walking their dog stopped and like, Wow! All of those butterflies are really cool! He has.
Edible fruit trees on some edges, and then, up on this edge, he actually has something that he showed me first when I got here. He has a whole bunch of different roses and a cactus. He said, Do you know what function this serves And I’m just like thinking, Well, maybe they’re edible. The cactus produces edible fruit. Actually, he said that this is a really delicious edible fruit the cactus produces. Over here, they have the roses. I’m like, Oh, roses. They’re edible. You could eat the roses and the leaves.
And stuff. They’re not the best tasting, to eat rose leaves, but they’re edible, you know, as a famine food or something. So I’m like, Yeah, OK, yeah, they’re edible. And he’s like, Nope. He’s like, They all got thorns because they protect my grapefruit tree. I’m like, What People come up and pick your grapefruit tree He’s like, Well, they ain’t gonna do it now. You can actually have multiple functions of crops that you’re growing, and he’s thought of many different ways to use crops or plants in a purposeful way to grow food here. I like that a lot. I’ve.
Learned a lot about this. Actually, he’s a permaculture teacher and teaches classes locally. If you do live in Houston, I recommend that you actually check him out and learn from this man. He knows a lot about gardening. So, in any case, let’s actually head to the backyard and show you guys some of the cool, more interesting fruit trees and vegetables that he’s growing, but, more specifically, how is he doing it so you can do it too wherever you live. So the specifics of what I’m showing you guys today is actually particular to Houston.
And the surrounding area and similar climates, but, you know, concepts that you will be learning in this tutorial could be used pretty much wherever you live. So, anyways, let’s go back and give you guys the grand tour. All right, so now what we’re looking at is we’re behind the grapefruit tree, and there’s little pathways. As you guys will notice, I mean this is a heavily wooded area, and growing a lot of these things outside the house, I mean you literally can’t see the street from the house. So it looks like you’re literally in the middle of the woods.
Even though you’re in a nice suburb. Also it dampens the noise from the street, and the other thing is that this provides tons of food. As you guys can see, there are literally fruit trees sometimes every 5 feet. And I asked him, Do you have a specific width or how far apart do you plant your fruit trees He’s like, Well, if you like a fruit tree and they’re planted too close and you don’t like another one, just cut the other one down later. But, on average, it looks like 5 to 6 feet apart between some of the.
Fruit trees. Here’s two trees, and there’s a lot of different kinds of fruit trees represented here. I mean this is a nice fig tree here. He has actually lots of different citrus and even tropical. He has guavas on the protected side of the house, jambakka fruit, lychee fruit, so many different rare varieties. I mean, I think Houston, of all of the places I’ve ever visited, it’s one of the best places to grow not only subtropicals and some tropicals, but also northern climate fruits. He has some really well producing apples and.
What not. Actually, here’s a loquat. This is actually one of my favorite fruits and trees to grow. Evergreen I like it a lot. This area pretty much has understory plants, plants on the bottom as the ground cover, and then the fruit trees growing up on top. One of the cool things he’s doing here is his stakes. When he needs tall stakes, he basically just gets the standard inexpensive Tposts, not the heavy duty ones that are kind of like have a Ugroove on them as you guys can see. And what he does, and I’ve.
Just started actually recently doing this, he actually uses just a bolt and he bolts them together, and then, as you guys can see now, it makes it twice as tall, so these are like 12foot tall. So whether he needs to make four of them and then put mosquito netting to have a big cage over a tree, or whether he’s stringing a trellis up, this is definitely a really good and solid way to get a pretty good solid support to trellis things up if they get really heavy. Here’s a citrus tree that is loaded. It looks like some kind of.
Tangerine tree to me. Super amazing. He has lots of citrus here. There’s some coldtolerant citrus that we might look at it in a little bit. Another cool thing is that he collects all of his rain water. He has over 4,000 gallons of storage potential here, with the big cisterns here that catches all of the water off his roof so that he doesn’t have to use city water to water his garden. I recommend using rain water whenever possible because it doesn’t have added chemicals like chlorine, or, in some places, fluoridates, and it is what would.
Water the plants naturally. In this way, you’re using a resource that’s free, especially when it’s hurricane season here. This is rain storage or rain catchment on a big scale, and he was doing it before it got really popular. It feels so natural here with all of these trees. You wouldn’t know that you’re in the middle of a subdivision here in Houston. There’s just fruit trees and fruit trees abound, all so close planted together. Here’s the vegetable garden. As you guys can see, he’s doing raised bed edible vegetable gardens.
I think this is a really well designed system with mostly fruit trees and shrubs and other crops, including natives in the front yard and in the back yard. They’ve got a number of maybe 8 or so raised beds, and, actually, they are quite long. They run pretty much the distance from the back yard to the back fence, with some fruit trees in the back as well. They’ve got it really well planted out. I guess what I want to do next is maybe sit down and talk with you about some of the different crops that he’s growing here that.
Are doing well at this time here in Houston. It’s November now. They’re planting the winter crops. As you guys can see, they’ve got the daikon radishes. I saw arugula. Here’s some collard greens. There’s some nice big Georgia collards there. Look at the size of those leaves! One of the cool things is that he is building the soil. He grows in natural, organic methods. He’s really keen on building the soil, as am I. These leaves are gigantic and huge. You could use these leaves instead of buying tortillas. You could use it to wrap.
Different things in and eat it and use it instead of bread actually. I mean, it’s free. You’ve got to buy bread and here you’ve got tons of collard leaves you could just pick and eat from the back yard. Over on this side, we’ve got a bunch of basil. It looks like it’s doing really well. Over here, they’re right in the middle of harvesting their sweet potatoes the standard sweet potato vine, which is actually grown for the sweet potato that you guys can see in there. Out here in the middle of the raised bed,.
It looks like they’ve got a big, huge papaya tree coming up, and here’s some really cool okra. This is like an heirloom okra. I mean this stuff is towering like 10 feet. He actually gave me some of the seeds that are available at Baker Creek, he said. These ones actually can get 6 inches long and they’re still tender. I like that a lot. So now, we’re sitting on his little raised bed garden. As I’ve mentioned, he has like 8 different raised beds here, growing a variety of different crops. Here are his winter crops.
One of the things that I like is that he’s growing a diversity. He’s not just growing like Georgia collards. You’ve got Georgia collards, but you’ve got all different kinds of collards and kale and broccoli brassica plants and Brussel sprouts and all kinds of cool stuff. So I want to encourage you guys to grow a diversity. Now, the reason why he’s growing in raised beds because here in Houston they’ve got clay soil. Clay soil is actually great if you treat it properly. It has a lot of nutrition in it, but it’s poor draining.
So he had to actually grow above the clay soil. So he actually built raised beds and got some compost and topsoil, and it’s mainly grown in a mixture like that with a local source of the soil. He’s using these bricks, the blocks. He’s using the blocks. He found the blocks to be the most efficient way to grow in the raised beds. He used wood and pressuretreated wood before he found out it was really bad because it does leach. So now he uses the blocks. While it might be an investment to buy the blocks once, once.
They are here, they’re pretty much not going to go anywhere. You’re going to have a garden forever. Also, he likes the blocks maybe because to harbor beetles and other beneficial insects and give them a nice home. Also, they could act as a heat sink. For the wintertime, they’ll actually absorb the sun and stay a little bit warmer. Beds off the ground are going to heat up better than being in the ground. I definitely like the raised beds a lot, and he’s really all for using the concrete blocks as a raised bed. These have been there I.
Don’t even know how many years now. One of my favorite plants that he’s growing that I learned about on this trip actually are these guys right here. These are actually called green glaze collards. Like the glazed doughnuts you used to eat when you were a kid. These are much healthier. I don’t recommend glazed doughnuts, but I recommend the green glaze collards. They’re available from Southern Exposure Seeds. These collards actually have a nice sheen or shine to them, unlike the standard collard greens that kind of have that dull finish. It’s like the variety.
Of dinosaur kale that I showed once called shiny diny. It’s actually shiny. He said that this doesn’t get the caterpillar damage that the standard collard greens do. That’s one of the tips grow varieties of plants that bugs simply aren’t going to eat. He said that these also taste delicious. Maybe I’m going to sneak a little bite of one of these. Wow! That’s a really good flavor on a collard leaf. I love it! They start to sweeten up in the colder months. Next, let’s take a look at something coming out of one.
Of the other raised beds. It looks like bananas. Don’t go bananas! Grow some bananas! So check it out. Coming out of one of the raised beds, he has a nice huge banana plant. These are not banana trees, although many people call them banana trees. Actually, these bananas are called ice cream bananas. Yes, that’s because they taste like ice cream. These are a very good variety of bananas. You may be surprised. You can grow bananas in more than just the tropics. Here in Houston, they will do fine, as they will in many other.
Places. There are bananas that will even produce into Zone 8. Certain varieties are more cold tolerant than others. Down below here, they just have planted some carrots. They do rotation gardening, so every season, they rotate crops in the different raised beds. It looks like they have drip tape to automatically water their vegetable garden. All the fruit trees are watered as needed, and, with just the rain, they’re a lot less maintenance than growing the vegetables. As you guys can see here, we’re at the fence boundary here. I always encourage you guys.
To grow up your fence boundary and make the best use of your space. What he’s growing up the fence boundary is really cool. He’s making the best of the space because not only is he growing down on the bottom as a groundcover. So instead of using mulch, he’s actually growing a living mulch, which is what I recommend. Actually, this is cool. This is something that I’m actually going to be able to pick up today. These guys here are actually called sweet potato spinach. This is a special variety of sweet potatoes actually not grown for the.
Tuberous roots, because they don’t really produce any, but it’s grown for the leaves. These are nice edible delicious leaves that can be harvested. This plant, provided that it doesn’t get too cold, will live year round. If it does get cold, the top growth might die back and then it will come back next year. Otherwise, you might want to pull some up and put it in a safe place in a greenhouse or indoors over winter and then put it out next spring. So that’s on the bottom story. Next, above the sweet potato spinach, he has blackberries.
Growing. Then even above the blackberries, as you guys can see, it goes up and up and up and up and there it is! It’s the muscadines. So he has muscadines, blackberries, followed by the spinach. So this way he makes the best use of the space. As you guys can see, he’s using once again the intertwined Tposts. That’s a strong, inexpensive way to trellis things up and keep them up off the ground to make maximum use of your air space. So just wandering in the back here, once again, we’ve got fig trees coming out of the ground.
Here. We’ve got all of these different kinds of fruit trees. He gave me a tour of all of these and named off many different varieties that I don’t remember, but there’s a lot of different rare and unique citrus. One of the cool things that if you live in Houston, in January, they have a massive huge fruit tree sale. Actually, it’s in a college stadium, football stadium, and fills it up. They sell lots of fruit trees that are going to do excellent in the Houston area. So if you live in Houston, you definitely want to get to this fruit tree.
Sale which we’ll talk about at the end of this tutorial today. Just wandering through the back yard. Once again, this is very densely planted. Don’t just think, Oh, I can only plant a fruit tree every 12 feet. Some of these are spaced like 5, 6 feet apart. I mean super close together! He focuses on keeping some of these guys trimmed back so that he can grow more of them. Sometimes, he just like lets certain ones overpower the other ones. Maybe some are more important to him than others. Some of them need more.
Sun. Some of them might actually kind of live in the shade and still kind of produce alright. Of course, as any gardener should have a compost pile, so he just actually stuck his compost pile just in the garden there. There’s a whole pile of decomposing wood which can add good organic matter to your garden. Going through here here’s more of the spinach sweet potato vine on the bottom, looking really healthy as a ground cover. Once again, more citrus. This is Texas, man. It’s citrus country. Here’s one of my favorite fruit.
Trees right here that I’m growing that does exceptionally well in northern California for me. It’s the feijoa. Actually, I was in Texas last March, and I had a few feijoas growing in Texas. I can’t say they were as good as the ones I’m growing, but definitely really good feijoas. Here’s another raised bed with a lot more of the sweet potato spinach. It’s a really easy crop that’s going to vine out and keep growing and producing edible leaves for you. It’s a quite rare crop actually. If you’ve never heard of this one before,.
Then I’m happy today that I’ll actually be able to get some cuttings or something to get this growing for myself. In the back here, we have a banana. He was telling me that this banana was hardy to like 10 degrees or something like that. So even if you live in places, you can grow bananas. The fruit may not taste the best, but at least the plant is hardy. That’s definitely good to know. Once again, we’re on the other fence boundary, and you can see the street. If you look hard,.
You can see the street, but it’s pretty much covered in all different kinds of greenery. This is actually a really cool tree here. As you guys can see, this is a special lemon variety, and it’s crossed with a wild orange and a lemon. So these are super hardy trees down to like, I don’t even know, 10 degrees or something, you could still grow lemons. He gave me one, so I’m going to get to try it. Hopefully, it has a good flavor. I really like the leaves on here. They’re kind of like rounderish leaves for a lemon.
There’s another cool plant that I like a lot. It’s actually called turmeric. So if you live in Houston, you definitely want to grow some turmeric. It’s a very valuable root crop, probably my number one favorite root crop for antioxidant value and health benefit. The turmeric there needs a long season to grow. Another place to grow it well is Hawaii or maybe south Florida. In a short season, it maybe wouldn’t do so well. It needs a nice long season. It looks like the end of his peppers over in these raised beds here. There’s some.
Eggplants that are still producing. Here’s the end of his squash here growing. He’s been actually saving seed and selecting his squash for a variety that is insectresistant and does well here in the Houston area. One of the things that I would totally grow if I lived here in Houston are a bunch of avocado trees. The avocados are a fruit that I love. They’re a fatty fruit, high in calories compared to other fruits, and they’re going to do really well here. Right here, he has three different varieties of coldhardy avocados. If you want to learn more about the different.
Coldhardy avocados, be sure to check out my past tutorials. I did a really good episode talking more about coldhardy avocados in the past, where you could buy them, and the different types. I definitely love the avocado, and it’s great to see that he’s growing some coldhardy ones here in the back yard. So one of the coolest things that I learned today was to basically grow blackberries up Tposts. He uses a doublehigh Tpost that I showed earlier to grow the blackberries up. He also grows some grapes up over the top. In addition, he’s using some kind of.
Coated wire up at the top to basically run between the two different poles to make basically little archways and to grow the grapes up above even his raised beds. Definitely really well thought out here in the back yard. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the things he’s actually vining up trellises to get things off the ground, because, once again, he’s on a limited footprint, maybe 0.28 of an acre. He’s got to make the most use of his space. He’s got a lot of air space up, but not a lot of land space, so he’s.
Growing vertical, and I’m really into growing vertically. I want to share with you guys some ways you guys can do that as well so that you can grow more food for you and your family. So here’s his current tomato season planting, and I like what he’s using as his trellising. These are just standard molding for the concrete. It’s kind of getting rusted here, but they basically support the tomato plants and allow you to put your hands through there to pick them. This kind of stuff is available at any Home Depot or Lowes store. You just basically.
Want to fold them over, tie them up, and make nice big circles. When you’re done with the season, you could actually unfold them and try to store them flat or just keep them rolled up. In the winter season, you could actually grow other vining crops up them, maybe some snow peas or something like that. All right, so this is what I call a trellis. Check it out. This thing has, once again, using the Tpost, the doubletalls. That’s like at least standing 10 feet tall. He’s got the galvanized fencing wire just tied to it. This is a serious trellis for growing.
Some high quality food. You guys put up small trellises and your plants barely make it up to the top. That’s because you’re not doing something right. Your soil is not built up with the soil biologics, the trace minerals, the biologic fungi and bacteria that are helping to bring nutrients into the plants. Plus, if you’re not stressing your plants out, like you’re watering them enough and frequently, they’re going to grow to their full potential and get really tall. That’s why he has a nice tall trellis here. It looks like he was.
Growing some beans here, the long beans that he likes to grow, as well as some cool things over there, including the yacon that he has just actually staked up, as well as over on the other side some jicama. So let’s check out that stuff next. So what we’re looking at next are two things. Number one, he’s got his yacon. I’m glad that they’re growing yacon down here in Houston. If you live in Houston, I definitely recommend that you guys grow this one as well. Nice it’s called earth apple, actually.
It has a nice sweet root. I love it a lot. Actually, you could also use the yacon leaves as a tea. They use it medicinally. That’s this guy here in this section. He has them basically just staked up because they have been falling over. And then next door they’ve got these guys. John, what kind of beans are these Don’t eat these beans! They’re poisonous, man! So the upright growth, the leaves and the beans of the jicama are toxic. Don’t eat them, although you can save the seeds actually to grow the jicama for next.
Year. What we’re looking at is the jicama root, which is a tuberous root, one of my favorite roots to use. Not totally sweet, but it has a nice crunchy, really mild texture. I like to skin it, slice it thin, stick it in some guacamole with the avocados that you guys just saw, and, man, it’s super delicious stuff. The jicama does need a longer season. The yacon should actually have a fairly longer season, but you can get by with a shorter season. I grew jicama in kind of a longer season, and if they don’t grow long enough,.
They’re just going to be super small. So you want to be able to start them as early as possible and dig them up as late as possible if you don’t live here in Houston that has mild growing conditions year round. So it’s really fun here. Everything I see, there’s always a reason for it. Some gardens that I walk into, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Here everything is methodical, thought out well, and done for a purpose. This is probably just a few pots, a little.
Thing maybe this is a bird bath. I don’t know exactly what this is for. Maybe it’s catching mosquitos like it is. There’s a purpose to it. This little area behind me basically has high water use crops that like to be in a marsh area that stays wet. Because they’ve got the clay soil here and this is all sloped, the water drains into this area and these plants love the water and use it. That also helps keep some of the other plants drier because it’s actually in raised beds so that the water drains off so that.
The roots are not being flooded with water. Too little water is not a good thing. Too much water is not a good thing. Plants need just the right amount of water, like you guys need the right amount of food. Not too much, because you might get fat. Not too little, because you’ll wither away, but the right amount. So remember that when watering your crops. Don’t give them too much. Don’t give them too little. Give them just the right amount. So one of the cool things that I’ve learned here today walking around with Bob the gardener.
Is that an old gardener can learn new tricks. That’s part of the thing that I like about him. He’s always experimenting. Some of the different plants that he’s growing here are an experiment to see how they’re going to do and how they’re going to perform. He’s tried for many years growing blueberries here in Houston unsuccessfully, but now he has a method to the madness and a specific method to do it. Blueberries are a great crop. You could probably grow them anywhere in the United States if done properly. So basically.
He’s growing the blueberries here. This is probably one of the most healthiest blueberry bushes that I’ve ever seen. It’s totally sprung out, doing really great. His method is basically that he grows in the peat moss with a little bit of sulfur in there for the acidity, some good organic fertilizer with bacteria and fungi and trace minerals. The main thing is to keep them watered. They’ve got to stay wet, so he waters this on an irrigation system automatically so that it stays damp. Something I learned is that blueberries don’t.
Have intricate root systems like trees. They don’t go out and hunt for water. They need to kind of be in a bog or a place that stays moist so that they can absorb the nutrients from the soil. They need to stay wet. That’s definitely really cool that he’s been able to successfully grow some blueberries that will feed him for months. By the size of this tree, it’s going to feed him a lot of delicious blueberries really soon. One of the things that I want to share with you guys today is to how keep pests, be it.
Birds or squirrels or whatever, off your fruit so that you get to eat them instead of them. Here’s a tangerine tree it looks like. A lot of the tangerines have still yet to ripen up, but it looks like this one for some reason got eaten out by bugs or birds or something. Because he doesn’t spray any pesticides and all of this kind of stuff, what he does do is control it manually or excludes the pests. One of the ways he does this is by bird netting, which he actually doesn’t favor too much. It depends on the situation,.
Because branches could grow through bird netting. He likes to use the mosquito netting instead that has a smaller hole size like over a whole tree. If your tree doesn’t have a whole lot of fruit on it, he’ll make these little bags here. This little bag here is kind of like out of this screen material available at Home Depot for window screens. He basically doubles it over and he just uses some staples to make a little bag or knapsack out of it. He’ll just take this, put it around the fruit, and use a couple of wooden clothespins.
To close this off, and guess what Instantly, your fruit cannot be eaten by birds and other pests in your garden, so that you’ll be eating your fruit instead of them. The other thing that I want to mention is that I asked him about stinkbugs, because that can be an issue for many people that live here in Texas or other areas. Because he does not spray, I’m like, How do you deal with stinkbugs if you don’t spray nothing, man He’s like, Well, the thing is that they’re attracted at certain times of year to my long.
Beans, and, if I go out in the morning early, I’ll pick all of the stinkbugs off the plants and put them in a solution of water and dish soap and basically drown them. As long as you control them right when they come out and you get them all, right, then they can’t reproduce. The problem is that if you just see them and don’t do nothing about them, then they mate, have sex, make babies, and then all of a sudden, you’ve got an overpopulation. If you have an overpopulation now, guess what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to go out.
There or hire some neighborhood kids, pick them off one at a time, drop them in some soapy water until they’re gone, and then do that each and every day until you reduce the population. They don’t breed and multiply that fast, but if you don’t control them, 20 is going to turn into 200, which is going to turn into 4,000, because every mama makes like 20 babies. What if your mama made 20 babies That would be kind of tiring. Anyways, you’ve got to control them manually and be persistent. Manual control is always the.
Method I recommend. It’s the safest and most effective. You don’t have to buy anything, but it will take you some time. That’s definitely a way you can reduce your stinkbug population by manually getting out there each and every day. Once you’ve got them mostly controlled, then maybe go out there every other day and trellis your beans up so that they’re at eye level so that when the stinkbugs come on them, you’ll be out walking your garden because I know you’re checking your garden every day, right and you’ll see.
Them. You’ll stop, Oh, I’ve got to deal with the stinkbugs today, and just pick them off. Make it a habit, a routine to deal with the bugs as you see them. Because if you don’t, they’re going to get out of control and eat your stuff instead of you. So I’ve had a fun time sharing with you guys this permaculturestyle back yard. I couldn’t show you guys totally everything, but I showed you guys a lot to give you guys some concepts. Basically, it’s kind of forested with fruit trees and shrubs and natives and.
Other understories underneath as a primary outside of the yard and the garden. As you come into the back yard, near the back door actually, are all the vegetable beds. I mean this is done very well. The last thing I want to show you guys, actually, right in the back there, you can see that it looks like a big tree, but actually, that’s not a tree. That’s like some giant clumping not spreading bamboo. Bamboo is a great crop to grow. Some varieties of bamboo can be edible and actually quite tasty. Even so, just growing.
The bamboo there, guess what, that’s an incredible resource. It grows relatively fast. He has bamboo stakes for free because they can definitely add up, and he’s using actually a lot of the bamboo around the garden to support things up when steel is not necessary. So many of the different gardens and things that I visit are offlimits to just the general public. But guess what He is a gardening teacher, a permaculture teacher. He actually gives tours and will teach you guys how to garden and grow in this fashion. If you come.
To Houston, if you live in Houston, you want to definitely come here and check it out. He also wrote a book, so wherever you live, you can buy his book. His book is specific to Houston. I think that is the direction that gardening needs to take. There needs to be a certain gardening book for every different area that pretty much lays it out, like how to do it in this climate, because every climate is a little bit different and you need to make adjustments. A lot of the concepts and things that I’m showing in this tutorial will.
Work totally good in Houston and may work to some extent in other areas, but YMMV your mileage may vary. So next what we’re going to get to do is we’re going to get a chance to talk to Bob and he’ll be able to tell you more about his book, and also some of the classes and how to get a hold of him to learn more about what he’s doing here and educating people in the local Houston area since the 80s about organic gardening. This is a longterm gardener that’s been learning new tricks all along.
All right. So now we’re here with Dr. Bob Randall. Him and his wife have created all of what you guys saw in this tutorial. I mean, he literally wrote the book. You can yearround garden in Houston and actually in many other places. If you live in specifically Houston or the surrounding area, you definitely want to buy this book. This is literally an encyclopedia of how specifically to garden. Besides just the book, he also gives local classes. I’m going to ask him a few questions today. It’s apparent that by walking through his garden,.
I’ve learned a lot of things and just by talking with him. This man is a wealth of knowledge, besides just gardening. I know many of you guys are learning gardening. He really focuses on permaculture and creating systems. I mean I talked about this earlier in the tutorial, creating systems, and an absolute method to the madness. There’s not just a reason to do this. There’s specific and many reasons to garden and grow things in certain ways. Today, I’m going to ask him what’s the one most important thing you.
Want to share with my viewers out there as with gardening and how they can start incorporating permaculture Dr. Randall The one thing I guess I would say is that every single thing you put in a landscape you can get many uses out of. Many uses. Every time you add a use to something, you are reducing your work, you’re getting more out of it, you are saving materials and energy. You can get more uses out of space, more uses out of the relationship between two things. More uses some of them can be decorative, but you can get all kinds of.
Uses out of them. You can shade walls. I often give as an example the tangerines that we grow here. The tangerine of course produces good fruit and an excellent juice, way better than orange juice in the stores. But it does other things. It has fragrant blooms in the springtime. It’s an evergreen plant so it looks good in the landscape. But it also can shade a wall, and, in this climate with our 90 degree summers, keeping the sun off the walls is a big deal. They have somewhat thorny trunks and the leaves make things dark. So.
Birds like to nest in them. It’s a very safe place for a bird to nest. The leaves are a larval plant for the giant swallowtail butterfly, the largest butterfly in North America. Then they’re trees. Trees absorb carbon. Trees stop soil erosion. Trees keep water on the property. Trees create mulch. How many uses did I come up with Do you know John Wow! At least a half dozen. Dr. Randall At least. Maybe a dozen. I mean, something. I was talking a little bit about the relationship between say tree and a house wall, and tree and your health, and tree and.
Habitat. Those are connections, relationships. But we probably could think other things, like maybe something likes to grow under a citrus tree. Citrus is an understory plant in nature, so it grows with a little bit of shade. It’s a fruit tree that will produce with some shade. John Let me tell you. This guy loves his tangerine trees. That’s a lot of the trees here are the tangerine trees. Dr. Randall Well, the ones with the fruit on them right now are mostly tangerines and other citrus. Come in the spring, and we’re doing berries. That’s the key thing here.
Is not being satisfied with getting only one use out of something. I would say that permaculture is more than just gardening. It’s about how you live your life. If I’m going to go use the car to go some place, how many uses can I get out of that trip John Right. Like stopping in multiple places, visiting a friend at the same time that you’re going to stop by the store on the way back, instead of just going to see your friend and then coming home. Dr. Randall If you’re building an organization, if you have school gardens and you have farmers’.
Markets, can you somehow connect the schools to the farmers’ markets Can you get a use out of the connection I mean, it’s permaculture. John Wow. So permaculture is much more about relationships and how, I mean, literally creating interconnected systems. I want to encourage you guys to think about relationships. When planting beans in your gardens, besides just having the food, if they’re also going to nitrogen fix for you. Create a habitat for animals and maybe even pests to congregate on and so you can pick them off. Along with the permaculture concepts, what’s one of.
The favorite plants that you like to grow here that’s edible that has many uses besides just the citrus you’ve talked about Dr. Randall There are so many. My book is Year Round Gardening. I love the seasons here. Everything keeps changing. I love the new things as they come in. I have some fantastic pomegranates. I love pomegranates. The blueberry season is outstanding here. We have wonderful blueberries. Blackberries. Peaches that are in season, maybe they’re my favorite. John My favorite fruit is the ripe fruit at the time! Dr. Randall Right, exactly! Good heavens! It’s very, very difficult. We have some.
Fantastic summer salads here. When the sweet corn comes in, who can And then the cantaloupe season. Maybe I like cantaloupes the most. Or the pomelos that we’re doing right now can run the tangerines. And the Moro blood oranges Blood orange juice is better even than tangerine juice. John I know. I love them. Dr. Randall I don’t know. What is my favorite I never can answer that. John All right. That’s fair. How about some good vegetables, like the top three vegetables to grow in the climate here that do well maybe as a perennial, more perennial use.
Dr. Randall Well, perennials gradually, I’ve been getting better with perennials. I was never able to grow good globe artichokes until recently. I’ve finally figured out to how to do them here. The ones we have here in the yard I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s probably not more than three gardens in the whole area that have them. Even my book says that they’re ridiculously hard to grow here. I used to live in a place in California that was a huge marketing center for the things. I finally learned what to.
Do with the artichoke. Our collards we usually get three, four, five years out of collards if we just water them in the summer. Watering them in the summer is a key thing when it’s very hot here, to make sure that they don’t dry out. Perennial vegetables those are probably the two key things, but many, many plants selfseed. Cilantro selfseeds here. Cilantro is a fantastic plant as an insectiary plant. It attracts beneficial wasps, lots of them, and probably more so than any other plant we grow. Seeds of course.
Are coriander and a decent spice, but coriander leaves themselves they’re wonderful in our bean tacos that we eat all the time here. There’s a lot of benefit there. Cilantro and the southern peas we grow is a fantastic vegetable. We grow one here called zipper cream peas, which is a relative of the blackeyed pea, but a much better flavored one for fresh eating. John Wow! I’ve got to try that one. Dr. Randall You should. Zipper cream peas, and there’s many versions of southern peas or cowpeas, as they’re called, that are really outstanding. We grow many kinds. I.
Like the cream pea the best. I have trouble picking out the favorites. There are many. Ginger grows here perennially. Edible ginger and turmeric and mint. The parsley selfseeds. Cutting celery selfseeds here. There’s several kinds of chili peppers that are perennial here. John The manzanos Dr. Randall Well, I’m sure they would be. The cayenne types, the serranos, and something we call chili pequin here. John The small ones. Dr. Randall The Texas native wild chili. Those will typically last three, four, five, six years, depending on when we get the next cold spell. So I’ve seen sometimes a cayenne.
Pepper maybe be 8 feet tall, 9 feet tall. John Wow! That’s amazing! Dr. Randall Hundreds of chilis on it, more than a whole neighborhood could eat probably. John You should definitely grow one of those if you live in Houston. Dr. Randall Then there’s the sweet potato spinach that’s a perennial. John Yeah, that was good! Yeah. Dr. Randall Sweet potato spinach is a relatively hard to find plant. It’s a variety of sweet potato. It’s genetically the same as a sweet potato, but it has been developed because it will grow in tight clay soils and produce sweet potato leaves that are quite edible,.
Without needing the kinds of drainage and high quality soil that sweet potatoes require. In a tight soil place like Houston, they’ll grow in any soil that we have here as long as it’s reasonably drained. John Wow! Definitely a good list of perennials for you guys to research and start growing in Houston. The cool thing is that Bob gives classes. So if you want to learn more from Bob and permaculture and gardening, which I definitely encourage you guys, how can somebody get ahold of the classes and your book actually from you.
Dr. Randall The classes are on the urbanharvest website the ones that I teach and other people that know a lot about this stuff. I’m a coteacher in a 25hour Growing Organic Vegetables class. I teach four fruit tree pruning classes in this yard. John Wow! Dr. Randall Then there’s the permaculture sequence which goes on. There’s five modules, and one of them happens three times a year. It repeats. And then the others one is in the fall, one is in the winter, and one is in the spring. We do Bountiful Gardens.
In the fall, we do Growing Our Green Homes and Communities in the winter, and we do Restoring Nature in the spring. We’re rehabbing creeks and things like that. We cover the whole permaculture international curriculum in about 9 months, almost essentially entirely on Sundays, almost all Sunday afternoons. John Wow! So it’s spread out a permaculture class like every weekend, instead of going for two weeks straight. That’s really smart. Dr. Randall We have a two month break around December and a short break in midspring also. It’s not absolutely every Sunday, but nearly so. You can take it in pieces. We call it.
Permaculture for Working People. John Everybody should know permaculture. If you live in Houston, I’d highly recommend it. Dr. Randall And if you don’t live in Houston, permaculture classes are taught all over the planet Earth. In the United States, the Permaculture Activists’ website, permacultureactivist, has that. As for where you can find my book, my website yearroundgardening.me, and that’s year round gardening, which means there’s two r’s in it. Yearroundgardening.me has got a list of where you can find the book. John Awesome! All right. Bob, thank you for allowing me to show your garden and talk to.
You at the end of this tutorial. I definitely want to encourage you guys, whether you live in Houston or wherever you live, start a garden today. Get your feet wet. That’s the first step. Start with one plant and slowly grow bigger over time until you have your whole place like this. I’m glad that Bob was able to share this with me today so I was able to bring this to you. He’s a wealth of knowledge. I admire this man a lot. In my little visit here today, I learned tons to improve my garden, and I hope you guys learned a lot by watching.