Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Dollarweed for Survival Garden, Containers & Green Roofs too!

Both Hydrocotyle and Centella spp. are important survival garden plants

Dollarweed & Gotu kola, Hydrocotyle & Centella spp. are plants every survival garden should have growing in them.  

Efficient with purifying water, full of nutrients, fats, carbs, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins & minerals.  

Most think of dollarweed as noxious.  

#Survivalists know what an important ethnobotanical dollarweed actually is. 

#botany #nativeplants #garden #weeds #dollarweed #gotukola #herbs #medicine #plants #permacuture 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Best Plants for Survival Gardens; Top 120 Patios, Yards and Balcony Permaculture Plants

Best Plants for Survival Gardens in the Southeastern U.S.

My top seventeen survival garden plant types and my top one hundred twenty survival garden plants are included in the following lists.

To be clear these plant selections are my opinion only.  What you end up putting in your survival garden is appropriate for you.  There are no wrong choices other than not planting anything at all.

Please note these plants may be grown across America but they are specifically chosen for the southeastern U.S.  

Most of these plants can be planted in containers and so are appropriate for balconies and patios as well as larger plots of land and could be brought inside shelter during inclement weather.

Benefits received from the plants below include not just those uses listed but also include; visual art, songbird music, sense of place, increase in property value, fresh clean air, commerce and much more.

I started to write a 'why I chose these plants' section however the post started to become very long.  I'll share my reasoning soon.  To summarize selection criteria though, I included plants:
  • from all three photosynthesis pathways (C3, C4 and CAM) as risk management for unexpected climate effects (yes the unexpected can occur for sure),
  • tolerant to a variety of sunlight exposure levels,
  • adapted to both saturation and drought,
  • offering pollinator attraction (a side note here is that over the years I've had so many people tell me they've had no luck growing vegetables or fruit.  When I ask them if they have an abundance of flowers in their growing area they reply,'some'.  We must think in terms of pollinator perspectives if we are to have a successful survival garden.  Without pollinators our garden won't produce.  If I am a pollinator and there are two yards I am considering visiting, one has a nice selection of flowers and the other is crammed with blooms I am heading for the fullest buffet.  Bottom line is the more flowers there are the more produce you will harvest),
  • resilient to allelopathy and plants that do not allelopathicate,
  • including varieties that are wind desiccation adapted for windbreaks (slow steady winds can destroy a garden through desiccation),
  • that are of use to us humans from a number of perspectives,
  • offering nitrogen fixation,
  • providing seed production for use, commerce, food and forage,
  • and are adapted to the Southeastern U.S.
The above are just a few of the selection criteria available for determining what plants are best for the survival garden.  I'll elaborate more in a future post.  Over the decades of us growing plants, running a nursery and creating gardens of all types we encountered many variables that can impact plant selection.

Importantly though, the best plants for your survival garden are those you feel you need.

So here are my lists:

Top Seventeen Survival Garden Plant Types

  1. Aloe vera; medicine for sores, cuts, burns, ulcers & skin

  2. Bamboo, clumping; food & structural material & perimeter protection

  3. Berries, blueberries, blackberries, mulberry; food, perimeter protection

  4. Echinacea spp., Purple coneflower; medicine & pollinators

  5. Garlic chives; food, medicine (sulfur) & pollinators, this plant will always be there for you

  6. Ginger family, Zingiberaceae, turmeric & ginger; food & medicine

  7. Leafy greens; kale, shiso, Okinawan spinach, collards, amaranth, cilantro, arugula, chenopodium. etc.; food & nutrition

  8. Sprouts, all types; food & nutrition

  9. Grain; rice, oats, ancient wheat, barley, rye, sorghum, teff, amaranth; food & nutrition

  10. Root vegetable, sweet potato, yam, cassava; food & medicine

  11. Seeds; chenopodium, sunflowers, cilantro, squashes, amaranth; food & nutrition, oils

  12. Squashes, Cucurbita spp., especially Seminole Pumpkin; food & nutrition

  13. Plantain & bananas; food & medicine

  14. Prickly pear cactus, food & perimeter protection

  15. Sugarcane, food

  16. Asters, Sunflowers, Helianthus annus, sunflower and Bidens alba, Spanish needles; pollinators, food, oils & nutrition

  17. Elderberry; because anyone can grow this plant & it is full of medicinal, drink & food uses

Top One Hundred Survival Plants

  1. Aloe vera; medicine

  2. Apples; food

  3. Bamboo; clumping, food & structural material

  4. Bananas & plantains; food & medicine

  5. Basil, Sweet; food, tea & medicine

  6. Basil, Thai; food, tea & medicine

  7. Basil, Africa blue; food, tea & medicine

  8. Beans, yard long bean (Red noodle or green); food & nitrogen fixer

  9. Beans, cow pea; food & nitrogen fixer

  10. Beans, pole beans; food & nitrogen fixer

  11. Beans, limas; food & nitrogen fixer

  12. Beans, pigeon peas; food & nitrogen fixer

  13. Beans, cold weather beans; food & nitrogen fixer

  14. Beautyberry, attracts birds for pest control

  15. Bidens alba & B. pilosa; food, pollinators & medicine

  16. Blackberries, raspberries and dewberries; food & perimeter protection

  17. Blackeye Susan’s, Rudbeckia, cut flowers and pollinators

  18. Blackgum, tupelo; pollinators (esp. bees for honey) & structural material

  19. Blazing star, Liatris; pollinators

  20. Blueberries; food

  21. Broomsedges, andropogon grasses; fabrication material

  22. Butterfly  weed, Asclepias tuberosa; pollinators & butterflies

  23. Cannabis; medicinal

  24. Carolina jessamine; early spring pollinators & evergreen screening, medicine

  25. Catbrier, saspirilla, Smilax spp; food, perimeter protection, larval food

  26. Coral honeysuckle; pollinators and evergreen screening

  27. Citrus, Myers lemon; food & medicine

  28. Citrus, ruby red grapefruit; food & nutrition

  29. Citrus, satsuma; food & nutrition

  30. Citrus, kumquat; food & nutrition

  31. Citrus, calamondin; food & nutrition

  32. Comfrey, bone knit; fertilizer and medicine

  33. Corn, grits, cornmeal; food & nutrition

  34. Coreopsis; pollinators & bees

  35. Cucumber, Cucumis sativa; food & medicine

  36. Datura, Jimson weed and Angels trumpet; medicine & night pollinators

  37. Dollarweed, Hydrocotyle; food, medicine & clean water

  38. Duck potato; food, clean water & pollinators

  39. Echinacea, Eastern Purple coneflower, medicine & pollinators

  40. Elderberry; medicine, food & drink, pollinators

  41. Eggplant; food

  42. Fennel; food & medicine

  43. Fig trees; food, heat island moderation

  44. Gaillardia, blanketflower; pollinators

  45. Garlic, Allium; food, medicine & pollinators

  46. Garlic chives; food & persistent border plant with beautiful flowers

  47. Ginger, Zingiber officinale; food and medicine

  48. Grapes, sugars, wines; food and medicine

  49. Gourds, Luffa sponge; commerce

  50. Gourds, birdhouse, dipper; commerce, utensils, wildlife

  51. Grasses for weaving, sweetgrass, muhly grass, juncus; fabric material, nets

  52. Horsemint, Monarda punctata; tea & pollinators

  53. Inland sea oats, Chasmanthium latifolium; food, wildlife

  54. Iris, Louisiana; cordage, water purification

  55. Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus; food, pollinators

  56. Leafy greens, arugula; food, seeds, pollinators

  57. Leafy greens, cilantro; food, seeds & pollinators

  58. Leafy greens, collards; food, seeds & pollinators

  59. Leafy greens, kale; food, seeds & pollinators

  60. Leafy greens, spinach; food, seeds & pollinators

  61. Leafy greens, cabbages; food, seeds & pollinators

  62. Leafy greens, Swiss chard; food, seeds & pollinators;

  63. Leafy greens, lettuces; food, seeds & pollinators

  64. Leafy greens, amaranth; food, seeds & pollinators

  65. Leafy greens, Malabar spinach; food, seeds & pollinators

  66. Leafy greens, Okinawan spinach & shiso; food, seeds & pollinators

  67. Leafy greens, Egyptian spinach; food, seeds & pollinators

  68. Lemonbalm; tea & medicine

  69. Lemongrass; tea, medicine, fabric material

  70. Loquat; food & nutrition

  71. Marjoram/Oregano; tea, medicine & food

  72. Mints; spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint; tea, medicine & food

  73. Moringa; food, medicine, nutrition & water purification

  74. Morning glory, moonflowers; pollinators, heat island mitigation, larval host

  75. Mulberry; food, wildlife, shade

  76. Oak, acorns and tannins; structural materials, tannins, medicine, food

  77. Oats; food

  78. Okra; food

  79. Onions; food, medicine

  80. Parsley; food, medicine

  81. Passionflower, maypop; butterfly larval, pollinators, food, tea, medicine

  82. Peanut; food & nitrogen fixer

  83. Pecans; food & structural material

  84. Peaches & Plums; food

  85. Pears; food

  86. Peas, snow peas; food

  87. Peas, sugar snap peas; food

  88. Peppers; banana, bell, chili, poblano; food & medicine

  89. Persimmon; food

  90. Pickerel weed; pollinators, water purification

  91. Pineapple guava; food, screening

  92. Pine tree; fuel, structural material, nutrition, resin, pine nuts

  93. Poison ivy; perimeter protection

  94. Prickly pear cactus; food & perimeter

  95. Pumpkin, seminole pumpkin, butternut squash; food, seeds

  96. Radishes; food

  97. Rice; food

  98. Rosemary; food & medicine

  99. Roses; tea, perimeter, medicine

  100. Sage; food & medicine

  101. Saw palmetto/cabbage palms; food, medicine, structural material

  102. Sprouts; food, nutrition

  103. Squash; food

  104. Sugarcane; food

  105. Sunflowers; food, pollinators, seeds

  106. Tobacco; medicine, pollinators

  107. Thyme; tea, medicine

  108. Titi; bees, pollinators, screening

  109. Tomatoes; food

  110. Turkey tangled frog fruit; erosion control & pollinators (esp. butterflies)

  111. Turmeric; food & medicine

  112. Turnips; food

  113. Vanilla plant; Carpheporus odorata, incense, tobacco

  114. Virginia creeper; fast growing screening plant, cordage

  115. Walnuts; food, structural material, shade

  116. Waxmyrtle; wax for candles, evergreen screen

  117. Willow; blood thinner & aspirin

  118. Witch hazel; skin tonic

  119. Yarrow; promote blood clotting, stop bleeding

  120. Yaupon holly; wildlife value & caffeine tea, perimeter protection

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Plant Propagation, DIY Natural Rooting Hormones

Plant propagation is easy with garden cuttings and natural plant hormones!

We've found propagating plants from cuttings to be much easier than we first thought years ago when starting out with our nursery.  Importantly, propagating plants with natural rooting hormones avoids exposure to industrial made, potentially toxic chemicals too.

Over the years we can also honestly say there is no significant difference with respect to rooting success between natural rooting methods and synthetic powders.

Our favorite rooting method involves; a clean mason glass jar, clean water and a sunlight filled windowsill.  That's all!

DIY Plant Propagation for survival garden with water, windowsill mason jars and plants

Right now our basil plant cuttings are rooting in two to three days max.

The plant rooting process in nature begins when a stem or small branch is damaged or broken.  Most plants contain a number of different hormones that influence root production, one of the most common being a substance called IBA, or indole-3-butyric acid.

When IBA is present, damaged plant cells begin a process called callusing to seal over the open vascular components of the plant to prevent viral and bacterial invasions.

Once a callus forms then the callused cells begin to form microroots.

With respect to at home rooting projects there are two principals to remember.  The first is the process of keeping the cut area of the stem free from rotting infection.   The second is providing hormones, like IBA, to the cutting to encourage callus and subsequent microroot growth. 

As mentioned, we have found the easiest rooting method is to allow the plant's natural callus formation process to occur in a jar of or under a mist of water.  Ensuring the plant cutting receives adequate hydration while calluses form is essential to cutting survival.  

One of the very best cutting hydration methods is periodic leaf misting.

Our larger greenhouse propagation system worked best with a two minute mist every twenty minutes.

Some propagation experts like to add a variety of 'natural' substances (some of which contain IBA) to enhance callus and root production.  These readily available materials include:
  • Apple cider vinegar, a few drops diluted with lots of water,
  • Cinnamon powder from the kitchen spice rack,
  • Aloe gel straight from the plant,
  • Willow tree bark tea or diluted alcohol extract,
  • Raw honey, and
  • Crushed aspirin tablets.
Frankly I've found all one needs to successfully root just about any plant is water.

Water in a jar works fine for many plants.  The best method as mentioned above though is periodic leaf misting.

If you choose leaf misting, consider placing damp, clean sand in a sterilized seedling tray.  Place your cuttings in the sand and under the misting heads.  Set your misting timer to come on for a minute or so every twenty to thirty minutes.  You will end up with so many plants!

Florida permaculture plant propagation, potting up rooted basil

Rooting your own plants ensures quality growth.  You control what substances are applied to during and after the rooting process.  This can be especially important for food crops.

The beauty of plant propagation is exponential.  Buying plants from the home improvement store can be expensive, and the quality may be questionable at times.

Rooting skills are important to the survival or homestead and permaculture gardener.  I suggest the importance of understanding rooting principals is directly related to the hands on experience with rooting.  Both successes and failures teach us much.

If you think rooting cuttings may be a skill you are interested in acquiring I'd suggest starting with a basil plant from your local Publix.  Take a pair of scissors and cut off (cut the stem at a forty five degree angle) all the six to eight inch branches you can harvest from the plant.  Fill a clean mason jar half to three quarters full of water and place the cut stems (cuttings) into the jar.  Place the jar with water and cuttings into a sunny windowsill and mist the leaves two or three times a day.  
Plant propagation skills are important to the survival gardener.  Plant propagation skills provide resources, commerce, security and so much more.

Before you know it your jar will be filled with roots and the plants ready for transplanting.

Friday, June 19, 2020

A DIY, Low Cost $300 House with Plant, Water, Food & Commerce Integration

DIY Low Cost Housing Integrated with Plants, Water Collection and Chickens
We were asked to create a DIY, low cost residence that would cost less than $300.  My final design for the $300 home is based on years of work in developing a low cost, lightweight and affordable living roof and wall system to feed the Urban Core, clean stormwater and restore biodiversity to the cities.

800 SF DIY Low Cost Plant/Water/Food/Commerce Integrated Home

The end result is a place one can be proud of, 75 square meters overall in total, about 800 SF.  

Cost Breakdown

The front living area is approximately 500 sf, the greenhouse/shower area is 200 sf and the poultry house is 100sf.

Overhead Three Room View

The frame contains 4 sections of 2 fencing pipe placed 12 in the ground with a small amount of concrete. 1 electrical conduit is placed in the top open end of the pipe and bent in an arch until the opposite end slides into the opposing anchor pipe.  

Integration of Food Production Into the Home

Once the arches are up, galvanized fencing is attached to the frame creating a skin covering.  

Energy Efficiency of the $300 House
The roof is covered with a heavy duty tarp that can be rolled up for ventilation. 

Water Reuse Component of the $300 House

The living area, greenhouse and poultry house are separated by walls with a fencing skin also.

Front View of $300 House

Rainwater is collected in a gutter that runs along a knee-wall and stored in an underground cistern.  Water is pumped via hand pump to a solar shower bag that feeds the sink also. 

Greenhouse, Bath & Coop Placement

Drain water flows to irrigate the plants in the greenhouse and then water the poultry.

$300 House Integrated with Plants, Water & Food for Shelter, Commerce and Community

Living roofs and living permaculture walls line both sides of the home, creating privacy and delivering much needed food.  The green roofs are soilless and based on an extreme lightweight design (see photos).

Note:  My email is now  The old address kevin@metroverde no longer exists.

Florida Survival Garden Haberno, Banana Pepper and Basil Jelly

Florida Permaculture Garden is full of ripe habanero peppers.
Florida Permaculture Garden's habanero, chili, jalape?o & banana pepper's & spicy globe basil

Wondering what to do with the hot, hot, hot produce we made hot and banana pepper jelly with the bountiful harvest.

Spicy globe basil leaves were added for a touch of summer taste.

The jelly batch turned out to be one of the tastiest, most delicious permaculture garden foods we've yet ended up with.

The hot and spicy globe basil - banana pepper jelly will go well with fish, turkey and any meat dish, be tasty on a bagel or with whole wheat crackers and cream cheese and as a salad accompaniment. 
Spicy globe basil adds summer taste to permaculture jelly!

And I thought the way too hot peppers would make the jelly inedible.  Instead, the spice level was just right, even for Judy who is ultra sensitive to hot foods.

Last night's first batch of the summer will definitely not be the last.

Here is the permaculture hot banana pepper & habanero jelly recipe:

Pick a colander full of bot hot and banana peppers - be sure to use gloves as these may be HOT!
Florida Permaculture Jelly:  Step One: Slice Open Hot Peppers


Florida Permaculture Jelly:  Step Two: Deseed hot peppers

Rinse three times in colander.

Florida Permaculture Jelly:  Step Three: Rinse hot peppers

Chop in food processor into small chunks.  Do not over process.  The pepper chunks should be about the size of a large grain of rice.
Florida Permaculture Jelly:  Step Four: Boil vinegar, peppers and sugar

Rinse chopped peppers again.

Place chopped peppers into a large sauce pan.  Add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar for every 3 half pint jars of the jelly you wish to make.

Bring slowly to a boil.

Just before the pepper and vinegar mixture reach boil, add 3 cups sugar for each 3 half pint jars of the jelly you wish to make.

Gently boil for three minutes, stirring constantly.

Turn heat off and immediately add one pouch pectin or Sure-Jell for each 3 half pint jars of the jelly you are making.

Stir until the pectin is dissolved.

Add several small basil leaves to each half pint jelly jar.

Spoon several large spoonfuls of the chopped peppers into each half pint jelly jar.
Florida Permaculture Jelly:  Step Five: Pour into Jelly Jars

Ladle the hot jelly liquid into cleaned and warm jelly jars.  Cap and let cool and seal.

Enjoy some of the best hot pepper and basil jelly you've ever put into your mouth!

Florida Permaculture Jelly:  Step Five: Pour into Jelly Jars

Note:  The combination of cider vinegar and hot peppers may cause a burning sensation in your eyes!  be sure to open your windows, provide adequate ventilation or wear a dust mask while cooking!