Understanding Your Eggs

understanding your eggs

The eggs you are purchasing from the grocery store may not actually be as high of quality as you think they are. Unfortunately, marketing gimmicks abound in the produce world, so many times consumers expect their eggs are coming from birds raised in open green spaces…when the reality is likely VERY different. This makes it vital to have an understanding of your eggs and where they are coming from. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, seeing a visual of your egg and poultry scenario could be a real game changer.

Keep in mind, that as consumers, we have a responsibility to know and understand where our food comes from. Yes, those cheep conventional eggs might be convenient, but when consumers purchase these products we are not just feeding our families. Every purchase supports the systems that are producing the food itself. We are what we eat and our purchases entire food production systems. Make sure you are supporting the right farms and production methodologies.

1 – Conventional Eggs

  • Caged their ENTIRE life (usually killed at 9-10 weeks if they are a meat bird, or 1 year if a laying hen)
  • NO access to sunlight
  • NO exercise
  • NO access to grass, soil, or bugs
  • Essentially treated as a machine
  • Low quality feed
  • High use antibiotics and medicine, because the birds are prone to sickness and disease under these conditions

NOTE: Conventional eggs can also be sold as “ORGANIC”. However, that only means their food doesn’t have pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides in it. “Organic chickens” or “No anti-biotic birds” are often raised in the same setting as that pictured above. This is actually MORE dangerous for consumers, because since the living conditions are so bad – the birds are often sick. So in this case, the lack of antibiotics actually makes them even more dangerous to consume.

2 – Cage Free Eggs

  • Raised indoors / barns (often concrete or sand floor)
  • Very little exercise
  • Very little space to move
  • Overcrowded living conditions
  • NO access to grass, soil, or bugs
  • Essentially treated as a machine
  • Low quality feed
  • Little or no human interaction
  • High use antibiotics and medicine, because the birds are prone to sickness and disease under these conditions

3 – Free Range Eggs

  • Raised indoors / barns (often concrete or sand floor) with LIMITED access to sunlight or actual soil. Just because they have “access” to it does NOT mean they get to enjoy it, because an average barn has 10,000 birds in them.
  • Very little exercise
  • Very little space to move
  • Overcrowded living conditions
  • LIMITED access to grass, soil, or bugs
  • Medium quality feed
  • High use antibiotics and medicine, because the birds are prone to sickness and disease under these conditions
  • “Organic” eggs that are in these condition are likely coming from more “diseased” birds, because they are in such over crowded conditions. In these conditions, disease is common, so the antibiotics are actually helping control sickness.

4 – Pasture Raised

This is the phrasing we should be looking for when purchasing our eggs. Even better “organic pasture raised”.

  • Raised outdoors with access to sunlight, soil, insects
  • Lots of exercise
  • Open space to move around
  • Cleaner living conditions
  • FULL access to grass, soil, or bugs
  • HIGH quality feed
  • LITTLE or NO use of antibiotics because birds in these conditions are generally healthier.

Why are Organic Pasture Raised Eggs so Expensive?

  1. Food cost for organic feed is often 3x higher than conventional and medicated feeds. However, the quality ingredients are whole grains and foods instead of a cheaply made corn mush (with synthetic supplements).
  2. There is more human connection (time commitment) involved in pasture raising animals. These animals are often being supervised for predators, checked for disease, and getting social time with their owners. The human connection helps ensure the birds are “happy”, but also HEALTHY! Having humans eyes on them multiple times a day allows farmers to ensure the health of their flocks and in turn – your eggs.
  3. The USDA charges an insane amount of money to be “certified organic”.
  4. Pastures need to be reseeded and maintained so they have enough biodiversity for the birds to eat.
  5. Birds on pasture are often “rotated” to new areas daily, so they have a fresh supply of greens, insects, and soil.
  6. Many farms who are pasture raising their livestock are also using other biodynamic practices (adding probiotics to the water, composting systems, giving birds vegetable overstock to supplement feed). This results in a healthier eggs and meat, but also ensures that the farms ecosystem is healing the land and building soil structure.
  7. Animals raised on pasture are often cared for more attentively during summer heat and winter cold. When the birds are less “stressed” they produce a much higher quality egg / meat.
Organic PASTURE RAISED chickens enjoying a fermented feed treat with whole grains, probiotics, and live mealworms and soldier flies. For a FREE recipe on making this fermented goodness…CLICK HERE

Understanding your eggs

As you head to the grocery store (or better yet… FARMER’S MARKET) next time, consider giving your family the best and get “organic pasture raised eggs”. Yes, they will cost a couple bucks more, but you can be assured you are not only providing quality eggs for your family, but also supporting an ethical food production system. Whenever possible, try to purchase eggs and meats locally at a farmer’s market or co-op and support local farms in your area that are using practices that you believe in.

Remember, many local farms will actually let you visit (and bring kids), so you can see where your food comes from. This can be a priceless, fun, and educational experience for the entire family. Connecting ourselves again with our food helps us not only appreciate what we consume, but also support ethical practices in the food production system.

Our choices as consumers matter.

June Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8

june garden calendar

June Gardening To-Do List

What should I be doing on my property in the month of June if I live in USDA Zones 3-8? Have you ever wondered what other organic urban gardeners are doing right now in their yards or on their properties?   (Looking for USDA Zones 9-11, click here)  Well, here’s a little list to give you a jump-start for what you be doing in your midwest garden in June.  

In the Garden

  • Plant more:  Kale, lettuce, cucumbers, summer/winter squash  Plant another round of them, if you have room in your gardens.  These are also great to plug into open spaced in your flower beds.
  • To Plant:  Corn, cucumbers, beans, squash, pumpkins
  • Tomatoes: Plant another round of them to diversify harvest throughout the season.  In the midwest, where we often have hard clay soil, you can actually increase your root systems for greater water intake by following these easy steps.  First, pinch off the bottom layers of leaves, only leaving 2 – 3 sets on the top of the seedling.  Second, plant the seedling all the way up to the top of the plant leaving only the remaining leaves above the ground.  Because tomatoes will grow roots from the hairs on the stem, the entire stem under the soil will produce roots.  This should only be done with seedlings up to 6-8″ tall.  Lastly, be sure to give it a good watering from your rain barrel when you finish.
  • Plant extra bean seedlings everywhere you can.  Yes, everywhere you can.  The bush beans are excellent right off the plant (raw), can be cooked, and some can be dried.  The best part, in my humble opinion, is that the green beans are nitrogen fixers and help repair the soil.
Plant nasturtiums

TIP

Plant nasturtiums around the garden and in the food forest. They are a two-fold insectary plant. First, they will attract the good insect and pollinators, especially the braconid wasps (which defend against the bad guys). Secondly, they are an insect trap for aphids, so if you see your nasturtiums covered…. consider them a sacrificial crop to protect your veggies.

In the Greenhouse

  • We are essentially finished with the “Greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other later season veggie starts. If using a shade cloth, you can also use the opened greenhouse for your indoor tropical plants to give them a season outdoors. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering!
  • Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring
  • Set mouse traps to control critters
  • Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests
  • Fertilizing: It’s crucial

In the Food Forest

  • Ground Cherry seedlings can go into the ground.  Plant them around the base of trees to provide shade for the root systems, but allow enough light to get through to produce a harvest.  These will often self-seed, so plant in an area where you are ok with them spreading.  However, the taste of these berries is incredible, you will not regret planting them.
  • Herbs around fruit trees:  Woody and smelly herbs are great at two things:  keeping pests away (deer and bad bugs) and attracting native bees for pollination.  Wait, I lied… three things.  They are also a great ground cover under the young fruit trees.  Plant yarrow, bronze fennel, dill, oregano, thyme, chives, or garlic chives in clusters around the base of each fruit tree.  Let them spread and grow wild.
  • Harvest elderberry flowers:  If you are making elderflower tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest!  Make the good stuff when flowers are at their peak.
  • Apply late spring foliar spray, if you have not done so already.
What Can You Plant Between Snows?

Enjoy your spring pollinating bulbs that you planted this winter.

If you forgot… here’s an article of when you could plant this this coming winter.

In the Shed

  • Now that your tools are up and running, give them a check over before the summer months hit. 1 – Check oil levels. 2 – Check air filters. 3 – Add a bit of Seafoam to the gas to help clean things out a bit.
  • Set mouse traps and keep any animal feed sealed and contained.
  • Make a tool cleaning bucket: Fill bucket with sharp play sand. Add oil motor oil, cheep cooking oils, etc until the sand is “damp”. Stab shovels, hoes, pitch forks in and out a few times to clean off dirt and give the metal a nice oiling to keep them from rusting after each use. Garden spades and trowels can be kept in the sand bucket.

In the Chicken Coop

  • Chickens:  Many folks who bought the spring chickens are now free ranging their birds. They are not laying yet, so do NOT give calcium.  Stay on a great grower feed until the first eggs arrive.  My preference is a high protein feed with lots of seed varieties.   Personally, prefer to mix and ferment my own feed. Here’s my recipe.
  • Quail:  It’s starting to get hot, to be sure to keep their water filled at all times.  It helps (once a week) to add a tsp of apple cider vinegar to their waterer.  It will keep them healthy and active.  As you weed the garden, you can also give them an occasional worm for additional protein in their diet.  Their cooing and songs will be as nice of a reward as the healthy eggs they will produce.
  • Deworming: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.

Around the House

  • Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
  • Open up the windows on cooler nights to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your AC air filters and clean out the vents with a shop vac.
  • Power wash cement, walkways, sides of house, shutters, wood decks, and outdoor furniture.
  • Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this)
  • Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Transplanting:  It’s the chance to move perennials for a few months.  Once the Midwest summers get hot, it’s really a challenge to transplant your perennials without over stressing them too much.  Now is a GREAT time to transplant coneflowers, yarrow, black-eyed Susans, penstemons, etc.
  • Share plants that you are dividing and trade with friends.
  • Cut back mums:  Yeah, go to town. Cut them back quite a bit.  Leave only about 1/3 of the plant.  You do NOT want this to develop buds yet, so if you see them forming again – give it a hair cut.

Comment Below and let us know what YOU are doing this month in your garden.  

Be sure to let us know your city / state so we know your growing region.  Check back soon for items to do next week… bookmark this page for referencing this month and keep checking back.  We’ll keep you updated on a weekly basis.

LOOKING FOR THE JUNE LIST FOR WARMER CLIMATES? CLICK HERE

June Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 9-11

june gardening list

What to do on your property in June?

What should I be doing in my garden in the month of June if I live in a subtropical climate (Zones 9-11)?  This is the list for you! 

Looking for a list for USDA Zones 3-8, click here.

The rainy season has begun, especially in Florida, so it’s time to shift from annual vegetable gardening to a focus on the food forest.  In essence, put your gardens to “bed” by using a cover crop like annual clover OR sunn hemp to help repair nitrogen and add biomass.  Instead, focus now on fruit trees, berry bushes, and nut trees!  This is a fantastic time to add some new tropical spinaches and edible hibiscus to your collection too!

June companion plants
Collards, Red Russian Kale, and Jewel Mix Nasturtiums

In the Garden

  • Summers in Subtropics:  Remember, this is the season that is like winter for most of the country.  Our best growing time for traditional garden veggies is essentially wrapping up.  Although it “can be done”, it’s likely better to focus on the food forest than the annual vegetables during the hot summer months.  Plant your sunn hemp in your annual garden beds and let them grow until August, at which time you can till it under to add nitrogen and biomass to your soil.  Then you’ll be ready for September vegetable season again.
  • Planting:  Summer peas, okra, and sweet potato.  You can also TRY and plant Seminole pumpkins now, but it’s a risk.   It is also still a good time to plant  ginger and turmeric – but I would not wait until the end of the month.   Get them in the ground as fast as you can.
  • Harvesting:  This month, you can harvest the pumpkins and squash from this winter, green beans, and the last bit of the cucumbers.  It’s also prime time for tropical greens!  This last week, I was harvesting the Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry and making jams and syrups to can for later.  I also tried a new pepper this year from “Seed the Stars” called a Dew Drop Pepper, and had wildly great results with them.  Most of those were canned up this week, but they are still yielding like crazy.  In fact, I have also used seeds from Seed the Stars for growing Seminole Pumpkins, Everglade Tomatoes, and butterfly pea as well.  

  • Tropical spinaches:  Some favorites (especially in Florida) are:  longevity spinach, Okinawa spinach, Suriname spinach, and Brazilian spinach.   These are high producers all summer long!

  • Tomatoes:   Most of the larger tomatoes are finishing up for the summer in the hot climates, so if you are wondering why they look so sad… that’s totally normal.  The best (if not the only) tomato that does well in the summer in warmer climates is the Everglade tomato.  It’s a gorgeous little cherry tomato that will fruit most of the summer and is very disease resistant.  It’s excellent on salads, canned in salsa, or eaten fresh.  As for your other tomatoes… let them go and focus on other things.  

  • Plant Cover Crops:  One of the best cover crops in hot climates is called Sunn Hemp.  It’s in the legume family (as opposed to the other hemp) and not only repairs nitrogen in the soil, but is also a massive biomass accumulator.  If you plant it now, it will be 6-9′ tall before August, at which time it can be chopped and dropped or even buried and composted in place in the garden.  For a FREE growing guide on Sunn Hemp, email permaculturefx@gmail.com 
  • Managing powdery mildew:  In warmer tropical climates, this is the time of year when powdery mildew really starts getting wild.  When you see the initial signs, spray immediately with neem spray (buy 100% need on Amazon and then dilute with water and some Basic H to emulsify).  Spray in the early morning well before the heat of the day, preferably on an overcast day.   Follow up in 2-3 days with a probiotic spray like BioAg by SCD Probiotics.  Repeat the following week, if necessary.   If this doesn’t help, it’s actually better to remove and burn the plants so it doesn’t spread.  Remember, the spores will stay active in your soil, so it’s important to catch it early and remove / burn the spent plants.
Plant nasturtiums

GARDEN TIP

Plant nasturtiums around the garden and in the food forest. They are a two-fold insectary plant. First, they will attract the good insect and pollinators, especially the braconid wasps (which defend against the bad guys). Secondly, they are an insect trap for aphids, so if you see your nasturtiums covered…. consider them a sacrificial crop to protect your veggies. In hot climates, they appreciate part shade in summer months and sun in the winter.

In the Greenhouse

  • We are essentially finished with the “Greenhouse” season, but if you have a shade cloth, you can actually open up all the windows now and put the shade cloth over the top. This will allow you to start micro-greens and other tropical plants (like Vanilla beans and orchids). If using a shade cloth, you can also use the opened greenhouse for your indoor plants to give them a season outside. Just be sure to pay attention to your watering schedule.
  • Clean and sterilize the plastic pots used this winter / spring. Stack and store them.
  • Set mouse traps to control critters.
  • Hang fly trap to control aphids, flies, and other pests.
A Natural Farm
Spring 2021 Permaculture Design Course students serving in the food forest at A Natural Farm in Howey-in-the-Hills, FL

In the Food Forest

  • Get a plan: Summer is an ideal time for planting in the food forest, because rainy season will make sure everything is well taken care of for you. Consider getting a private property consultation with us to help you design your yard. We will tell you where to plant, what specific varieties, how to plant them appropriately, and give a guide on how to maintain your food forest. Click here to read about our new property consultation types! We also offer drive thru consultations now, which are ideal for follow-up visits from folks who already have an existing plan in place.
  • Plant fruit trees and berry bushes: This month, think about planting avocados (there are so many great varieties), mangos, strawberry trees, tropical cherries, guava, and other tropical trees. This will allow them to have 7 months to “root in” and establish themselves before it gets cold. Summer is a perfect time to start that food forest… just make sure you have a plan first.
  • Compost and wood chips! In places like Florida, the rule of thumb is to fertilize (especially via compost or manure) every March, (early) June, and September. This month, it’s highly encouraged to refresh your wood chips as well, which helps prevent soil sterilization during the hot sunny months. Some species (like Avocado, Citrus, and Mango) can have some compost this month, but organic fertilizers should wait until September when fruit are NOT on the branches. For a FREE planting guide for new fruit trees or how to layer mulch around existing trees, click here.
  • Important Fertilization Tips: Only fertilize at the beginning of this month using compost, bone meal, kelp, or composted manure (like black kow). Do NOT use chemical or synthetic fertilizers under any circumstances and absolutely STOP fertilizing your yard for the summer. Adding nitrogen heavy and synthetic fertilizers are known to highly increase the risk of toxic algae blooms. So, please do your part and only fertilize this month using whole ingredients, like those listed above. Do NOT fertilize the second half of the month – no exceptions. Though it might be “permissible” for your trees, it has a much more damaging effect on our local ecosystems – so compost ASAP or wait until September.
  • Ground cherry seedlings (or Cape Cod Gooseberry) can go into the ground now.  Plant them around the base of fruit trees to provide shade for the root systems, but allow enough light to get through to produce a harvest.  These will often self-seed, so plant in an area where you are ok with them spreading.  The taste of these berries is incredible, you will not regret planting them! Not to mention, they are packed with vitamin-C.
  • Herbs around fruit trees:  Woody and smelly herbs are great at two things:  keeping pests away (deer and bad bugs) and attracting native bees for pollination.  Wait, I lied… three things.  They are also a great ground cover under the young fruit trees.  Plant yarrow, bronze fennel, dill, oregano, thyme, chives, or garlic chives in clusters around the base of each fruit tree.  Let them spread and grow wild.
  • Harvest elderberry flowers:  If you are making elderflower tinctures, teas, or wine – now is your time to harvest!  Make the good stuff when flowers are at their peak.
  • Apply late spring foliar spray, if you have not done so already. It’s also a good time to try and get some elderberry cuttings for propagation.
  • Do NOT prune fruit trees! Never prune during the warmer months… wait until they go dormant. While the plant is sleeping, the sap slows down and the weather is often drier, which helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
Elderflower blossoms in Central Florida

Enjoy Flowers in bloom

Though this isn’t exactly the best time to plant native perennials, it’s a great time to enjoy the ones you started earlier. If you decide to plant anything this time of year, remember to check their water needs and mulch heavily. Never water until the soil has had the chance to try out for a day. If in doubt, finger check the soil down to your big knuckle.

In the Shed

  • Now that your tools are up and running, give them a check over before the summer months hit. 1 – Check oil levels. 2 – Check air filters. 3 – Add a bit of Seafoam to the gas to help clean things out a bit. Reoil your metal tools to prevent rust.
  • Make sure all outdoor tools and equipment are covered when not in use. In places like the South Eastern US, we are entering the rainy season and moisture is hard on equipment. If you cannot store them in a shed, make sure they are covered with a tarp when not in use.
  • Set mouse traps and keep any animal feed sealed and contained.
  • Make a tool cleaning bucket: Fill bucket with sharp play sand. Add oil motor oil, cheep cooking oils, etc until the sand is “damp”. Stab shovels, hoes, pitch forks in and out a few times to clean off dirt and give the metal a nice oiling to keep them from rusting after each use. Garden spades and trowels can be kept in the sand bucket when not in use. Obviously, do NOT put pruners or tools with gears in the sand.

In the Chicken Coop & Barn

  • Chickens:  Many folks who bought/hatched spring chickens are now free ranging their birds. They are not laying yet, so do NOT give them calcium.  Stay on an organic grower feed until the first eggs arrive.  My preference is a high protein feed with lots of seed varieties.   Personally, prefer to mix and ferment my own feed. Here’s my recipe.
  • Quail:  It’s starting to get hot, to be sure to keep their water filled at all times.  It helps (once a week) to add a tsp of apple cider vinegar to their waterer.  It will keep them healthy and active.  As you weed the garden, you can also give them an occasional worms and weeds for additional goodness in their diet.  Their cooing and songs will be as nice of a reward as the healthy eggs they will produce.
  • Deworm: Use 1 tablespoon of Basic H in a 5 gallon waterer (1 tsp per gal) for chickens. Add 1.5 cups to a 100gal waterer basin for cattle and horses. Available in bulk (much cheeper for farm use) This should be their only water source for two days.
  • Disinfect: Use Basic H to clean coops, animal areas, waterers, feeders, etc. This is a great time to power wash the barn, shed, and garage as well.
Feeders and seed in my yard are always from Wild Birds Unlimited, because I believe strongly in their quality and their support of local education and school connections.

Around the House

  • Put out summer bird seed and feeders. This is an excellent way to help with insect control around the garden. For more information on bird seed selections and food forest benefits, watch this IGTV video.
  • Keep South and West facing shades closed during the day time in order to block out the hot sun.
  • Open up the windows (on cooler nights) to help air out the house and let in fresh air.
  • Replace your AC air filters and clean out the vents with a shop vac.
  • Power wash cement, walkways, sides of house, shutters, wood decks, and outdoor furniture.
  • Clean outdoor windows and doors (I use Basic H for this).
  • Apply UV protectant to your recreational vehicles (boats, car interiors, RV’s, decals, etc.)

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Transplanting:  Now is NOT the time to transplant, unless you see rain in the forecast for the next week.
  • Compost! Now is the last chance to compost your perennial wildflowers before fall, so if you want to increase your summer blooms then go ahead and do that now. It’s also a great time to water using an organic fish emulsion / sea kelp blend. Your potted plants will REALLY appreciate this.
  • Cut back mums:  Yeah, go to town. Cut them back quite a bit.  Leave only about 1/3 of the plant.  You do NOT want this to develop buds yet, so if you see them forming again – give it a hair cut.

Ideas for Kids

  1. Take a food forest tour: Visit places like A Natural Farm, Momma G Farms, Bamboo Leaf Tea, or the Reid Farm. Bring the kids for an amazing hands on experience.
  2. Visit a botanical garden: Some of our favorites include Bok Tower and the Harry P. Leu Gardens.
  3. Make Butterfly Pea Flower tea! Google it… because it’s a magical color changing experience that tastes like Kool Aid. Seeds are available on Etsy from a company called “Seed the Stars”.
  4. Plant a sweet almond bush. This is (by far) one of the best smelling pollinating plants in all of Florida. Though it’s not native here, it’s a butterfly hit and performs very well in our climate. The almond smelling flowers produce year round, and the large bush needs NO winter protection.

Comment below and let us know what YOU are doing this month in your garden.  

Be sure to let us know your city / state so we know your growing region. Add any tips that you have learned, additional items that we’ve missed, and any wisdom and experience you can add to the mix. Happy gardening!

NOTE: If you are interested in having an in-person or digital consultation for your property, we are now offering these at discounted prices.

Looking for a list for USDA Zones 3-8, click here.

How to Plant a Food Forest | Part 3 – Selecting Species and Planting

Once the soil has been prepared, you can begin selecting species and planting trees for your site. There are several options for this:

  1. Do online research to see which trees, bushes, and wildflowers are hardy in your area.
  2. Visit a locally owned greenhouse or nursery to see which ones may do well for you. Big box stores are something we recommend avoiding when it comes to fruit trees and berry bushes. They generally sell the same varieties nation wide (which means they may not work in your area) and their quality often suffers. Find a local nursery and build a relationship with one that you respect their growing methods (hopefully organic).
  3. Get a permaculture consultation to help you determine what your site can handle. These can be done in person OR virtually.

There are many things to consider when putting fruit trees and berry bushes in the ground. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as merely deciding what you like to eat and planting it. If you live in Michigan, no matter how much you like avocados, they just won’t survive without a heated greenhouse. Likewise, if you live in Florida, the traditional Haas avocado that you buy in the grocery store hates the humidity. So, there are other varieties that will do better in that region. Learning what does best in your area is an important step and also a lifelong journey. Enjoy that learning process.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when selecting species and planting your new food forest

  1. Understand the cold hardiness zone for where you live. More important than the higher temps, it’s critical to know your minimum temps. Freezing is generally more likely to harm a sensitive plant than higher temperatures. If you want to learn more about your growing zone, click here.
  2. Know your sun exposure. If your yard is mostly shade, you are unlikely to do well planting tree species that prefer full sun. Though a mis-planted tree may “survive”, it may not do well or produce fruit. Keep in mind that there is full sun and full shade in every USDA growing zone, so regardless of where you live – there is something that will grow and thrive on your site. Choose well and work in harmony with your site.
  3. Plant during the right season. Depending on where you live, the ideal time for planting fruit trees may GREATLY vary. Don’t assume that just because a nursery tells you to plant it that it is the ideal time to do so. Remember, their job is to get you the plant – it’s your job to steward it well.
  4. Understand the differences in varieties. Within each type of tree (peach, pear, mango, etc.) there are hundreds and even thousands of different varieties to choose from. A peach is simply NOT a peach. For example, those peaching grown in Georgia are bred for that specific growing zone and will not produce fruit in Central Florida. However, varieties of peaches like Tropic Beauty (our staff favorite), Tropic Snow, and Florida prince are bred to require less “chill hours”, so they will bare fruit much better in zone 9 and 10. Likewise, avocados have a WIDE range in their varieties. Some (like “Fantastic” or “Joey”) are cold hardy down to 15 degrees. Some avocados are better for slicing and dicing (like Winter Mexican or Wurtz), while other avocados are more ideal for guacamole (like Brogdon, Oro Negro, or Mexicola). The benefit of having someone to consult with is that you are more likely to get a variety that meets your preferences in flavor, but also one that will THRIVE on your particular site.
  5. Think in layers. Don’t just plant one height of trees all over the property. Think about creating production at various heights and levels. What can you grow as a root crop? A smaller perennial? A bush layer? A dwarf tree? Top story tree? Vine? By choosing to plant multiple layers in your system, you not only maximize your space, but create a scenario where various plants can work in synergy with one another. One might provide the needed shade for another. Or, better yet, one might actually fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil to fertilize another plant.
New Food Forest Installation

Now, it’s time to get planting

  1. Plant away! Use something to suppress weeds. Apply compost. Layer up 4-6″ of wood chip mulch. For more in-depth planting instructions, CLICK HERE.
  2. Finish a smaller area before moving on to the next. This is one of the most common mistakes that new food foresters make… they want to just put the tree in the ground and walk away. However, one of the worst things you can do for your new tree is leave it to fight with the grass around the base. Cover the soil properly, using the method above and completely finish one area before moving on. This will not only give your tree its best chance at thriving, but it will also give you a sense of completion.
  3. Know when to water. There is no possible way to simply say, “water your plants three times a week.” Differences in heat, sun exposure, wind, and humidity all vary so much that it’s impossible to set a specific watering schedule. So, to know when to water, put your finger in the soil down to your big knuckle. If you feel moisture, do NOT water. Plants actually need to dry out between watering. This not only causes their roots to expand and grow deeper into the soil, but also helps prevent root rot.
  4. Maintain your food forest and garden by checking back on the blog for our free monthly To-Do Lists. We will help remind you when to fertilize, when to plant the next crops, and when to prune.

So, now that you’ve read the theories and have done some research – it’s time to get outside and plant. Remember, you can always find more help, information, and inspiration on our social media account.

See you in the Garden!

May Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 9-11

NOTE: This list is geared toward USDA Growing Zones 9-11. If you are looking for the May Gardening List for Zones 3-8, click here.

We are officially past any dangers of frost and cold, and now the warm part of spring is certainly upon us! In many subtropical regions, this late spring season is often very dry, which can make it challenging in the garden and food forest. The rainy season, in places like Central Florida, is generally from the last week of May to the first week of October. So, for many folks, until rainy season arrives, our time is consumed with harvesting the last of the spring vegetables and daily checking gardens for watering needs.

Remember (especially in Florida), you cannot water gardens and fruit trees very well on a “perfect schedule”. Because of temperature fluctuations, wind, humidity, and other elements the length of time between watering can vary dramatically. Anyone who tells you to just water every day is going to have major issues as the season progresses.

Here is how to water properly

Use the “Finger Test” to see if your plants actually need water. Never just assume that they do. Put your finger in the soil down to the second knuckle. If it’s dry, then go ahead and water. However, if you feel coolness or moisture – then let it be. Generally speaking, most plants (especially fruit trees and berry bushes) actually like to dry out a bit between waterings.

“As a practice, it’s far better to water LESS frequently and MORE deeply.

Doing this will help establish a healthier root system and overall plant.”

-KRIS EDLER | PERMACULTUREFX FOUNDER

So, get ready for an exciting month! May is the time when our region makes the shift from “annual vegetable gardening” being the focus to a primary focus on perennial production from our fruit trees and berry bushes. So here is your May Gardening To-Do List to help you jumpstart your late-spring projects. For some, it may be helpful to print out this list and hang it somewhere to refer to it each week to check progress.

NOTE: This list is geared toward USDA Growing Zones 9-11. If you are looking for the May Gardening List for Zones 3-8, click here.

Tropic Beauty Peach
Tropic Beauty Peach | Self-pollinating, hardy to 20 degrees, low chill hours, deliciously sweet and juicy.

May Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 9-11

In the Garden & Greenhouse

  • Fertilizing the vegetable garden: If you have not applied a late spring probiotic to your soil or as a foliar spray, then now is the time to do that! This application will increase the health of your soil microbiome, give plants a better chance at fighting off disease and fungus, and is a proactive way to address garden pests before they do any damage. BioAg is my preferred spray for this.
  • To plant: Okra, potatoes, sweet potatoes, summer beans / peas. Vegetable planting season is now over for sub-tropical zones, so it’s time to plant your cover crop. We recommend sunn hemp as a nitrogen-fixing cover-crop that can be tilled into the soil in August.
  • Tropical Spinaches: It’s time to plant tropical spinaches like longevity spinach, Okinawa, Surinam, Jewels of Opar, Brazilian Sisso, etc!
  • Salad Trees & Hibiscus: In this climate, some of the best edible greens actually grow as trees or bushes during the hot weather months. Some of our favorites include: South Sea Salad, Bele Hibiscus, Roselle (Jamaican Sorrel), Cranberry Hibiscus, and Katuk, and Kenaf.
  • To harvest: Salad greens, kale, tropical spinaches, last of the peas, beets, turnips, etc. Harvest tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. When they start to struggle because of heat and/or powdery mildew – just put the garden to bed and cover crop it until after the rainy season. Focus on fruit trees, berry bushes, and edible tropical plants for the summer.
  • Compost: Turn pile 1x per week.
    • NOTE: For most people an outdoor compost pile doesn’t really generate a lot. However, using a worm bin (like the ones from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm), can provide worm tea which creates way more bang for your buck. For most families, composting worms are going to give you a better result than a mere compost pile.
  • Cover Crops: For garden beds that are being put to rest for the summer, this is a great time to plant a cover crop. Sunn Hemp is in the legume family and does an excellent job with this. Not only will it grow 8-10′ tall by August, but produces gorgeous blooms and actually repairs the soil. Sunn Hemp repairs the soil in two ways. First, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the soil with nodules on the roots, which interact with bacteria in the soil. Secondly, when you till it in (or bury it) in your garden later in August, it will add much needed biomass to your soil. It can be used as animal fodder, but must be fed to livestock before it flowers.
Sunn Hemp Cover Crop

In the Food Forest

  • Consider probiotics for your garden and yard (if you didn’t do it last month) FREE 11-minute talk on probiotics for the yard, click here.
  • Plant new fruit trees and berry bushes. Here is a step-by-step process (with diagram) of how to plant a fruit tree or berry bush. Some of the info may surprise you. This is a great time to plant avocado, mango, strawberry tree and other tropical trees. Planting this time of year gives them 7-8 months to root in and settle before winter. It should be noted that you will need to water more often until rainy season starts.
  • Harvest (and enjoy): peaches, nectarines, plums, mulberries, strawberry tree, moringa leaves / flowers, elderberry, blueberries, jaboticaba, cattleya guava (in some areas). Anyone else in food forest heaven, yet?!
  • Apply mulch (wood chips) to any areas that need it. Fruit trees like to have 4-6″ of wood chips around the base (extending all the way to the drip line). Remember to keep mulch a few inches back from the truck, because you don’t want the decomposing wood touching your tree.
  • Pruning: NO major pruning once trees flower. After they awaken for the spring, there is a lot of sap flowing, so you don’t want to cause a fungal or bacterial issue by pruning this time of year. Pruning should be done during late winter dormancy, so if you haven’t pruned fruit trees yet, it’s best to wait at this point. You can, however, still prune pines, decorative shrubs, and ornamental trees now.
The Strawberry Tree (or Jamaican cherry) is a new favorite! The fruit is low in sugar, high in vitamin-C, and (get this) it tastes like strawberry skittles or cotton candy. Grows best in Zones 9b-12 and produces fruit from April – Decemeber.

In the Shed

  • Put out yellow jacket and fly traps
  • Reset mouse / rat traps (peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball in storage areas will also repel them)
  • Spring cleaning time: Go through a couple storage areas this month and recycle, donate, and reorganize. Steward what you have with excellence.

Livestock

  • Water rotations: In nature, animals don’t drink out of the purified, and chemically treatred tap. Sometimes their water is from a rain puddle, but other times from a stream or pond. To help mimic this and give their immune system a boost, try doing something different every time you refill their water.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 tsp per gallon
    • Honey: 1 TBSP per gallon
    • BioIivestock Probiotic: Dilution rate on bottle depending on species
    • Herbs: Add fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc to their water to make a “tea”
    • Rainwater
  • Spring Chickens: This is a great time to add to the flock by either purchasing heritage breeds or hatching your own. Whatever you do, stay away from Cornish Rock or Cornish Cross “meat birds”… more on that to come. It’s also an ideal time to add rabbits, quail, or other animals into your system.
  • Dogs: It’s time for spring check-ups on the fur babies. Once they are up to date on their appointments, go support a local groomer and send them to the doggie spa for a day. NOTE: I’d give a tip on cats… but the only thing I can think of is how much I don’t like them. Sorry, not sorry.

In the Pasture

  • Plant: Last chance to plant Timothy grass, perennial peanut, wildflower mixes, tobacco, clover mixes, and alfalfa can still be planted in some regions. Due to the usual dry weather this time of year, supplemental watering may be needed.
  • Hay / Straw: Any rotting or wet bales can be used in the garden or food forest as deep mulch. It can be spread 5-7″ thick in areas that are going to be “future” garden beds in order to prep the soil. First, roll out contractor paper (usually found in the paint section of a hardware store) over the grass and then cover with the straw or other mulch. This is a great opportunity to do “layer mulching” if you have other materials available.
New food forest installation example. There are three 100′ long rows of fruit trees, berry bushes, and native pollinators with over 90 plants. These rows have been layered with contractor paper (for weed suppression), 1″ of compost, and 6″ deep of wood chip mulch. The rows are 3′ wide. Between the lanes, the grass has been removed and reseeded with a clover mix (and lightly covered with straw).

Around the House and Perennial Beds

  • Power washing time: Use an organic soap (like Basic H) to power-wash the house, sidewalks, and other recreational vehicles.
  • Cut back last years growth: Remove any dead material left over from last fall and add to the compost pile.
  • Fertilize flower beds: Use kelp, blood meal, and/or fish emulsion. I like to use blood meal in March/April and then in May/June use bone meal. Kelp and fish emulsion can be used anytime during the growing season. Alternatively, apply a 1/2″ layer of compost to flower beds or at the base of each flower. Keep away from the stems, so it doesn’t “burn”.
  • Perennial Flowers: Using native wildflowers is so much easier than annuals, not to mention will save you money because they come back every year. Here are some of our favorites!
  • Air out the house: On a day you are home, open up every window in the house and turn on fans to circulate fresh air into the house. Change the filters in the HVAC system for the spring months. This is also a great time to vacuum out floor vents and air returns.
  • Clean out the freezer and disinfect really well. It’s often best to do this the day before garbage day, so you can take old items directly to the road.
Bele Hibiscus (aka Mahoe Hibiscus Tree): Delicious, edible leaves that are great in soups, stews, salads, or used for dolmas. Flowers are also edible (fresh). Grows in zones 9-12 in part sun to full shade.

Kids & Family Ideas

  • Nature Hike: Create a mini-scavenger hunt before going on your nature hike. Have kids look for things like: a feather, a seed pod, a leaf bigger than their hand, a cool rock, a weird stick, etc.
  • Wild Bird Feeding
    • Set out orange halves and grape jelly for the arriving orioles
    • Put hummingbird feeders out on April 15th (never use the kind with red dye), and be sure to change the water in them every week.
    • Hang a new birdhouse for spring nesting season
    • Add white millet to feeders to attract indigo buntings (bright blue birds)
  • Local Farm Visit: Many local farms offer free tours, kids activities, etc. Look up a local farm to visit in your area and give your kiddos exposure to the animals, crops, and fruit trees.
April gardening list peaches
Tropic Beauty Peach in Central Florida

See you in the garden

As always, thanks for taking time to join on the gardening and permaculture journey. Be sure to check out the continual flow of content available via our social media channels. Remember, PermacultureFX also does virtual consulting (using facetime, zoom, satellite images, etc.). We’d love to help you get a plan for your property and help you create abundance and wonder.

If this article was helpful, consider sharing on social media (or with your garden groups) to help set others up to win on their property. Happy spring, and I’ll see you in the garden!

– Kristofer Edler

May Gardening To-Do List for Zones 3-8

NOTE: This list is geared toward USDA Growing Zones 3-8. If you are looking for the May Gardening List for Zones 9-11, click here.

We are ALMOST THERE… almost past the dangers of frost. In zones 3-5, it could still frost as late as Memorial Day, however in zones 6-7 it’s probably safe by now (fingers crossed). This time of year can be tricky, so I usually try to not put all my eggs in one basket. Stagger your planting by a week or two for each type of crop. Maybe start putting out some of the more cold tolerant plants in batches and even sneak in one or two tomato plants (if you are in zones 6-7), but be patient and don’t plant everything all at once. This will give you a buffer crop in case there is another cold snap, but will also stagger your ripening times.

In the springtime, watering is important, especially as new plants are getting established. However, because the day-to-day temps fluctuate so much, it’s important to water properly (and only as needed)

Here is how to water properly

Use the “Finger Test” to see if your plants actually need water. Never just assume that they do. Put your finger in the soil down to the second knuckle. If it’s dry, then go ahead and water. However, if you feel coolness or moisture – then let it be. Generally speaking, most plants (especially fruit trees and berry bushes) actually like to dry out a bit between waterings.

“As a practice, it’s far better to water LESS frequently and MORE deeply.

Doing this will help establish a healthier root system and overall plant.”

-KRIS EDLER | PERMACULTUREFX FOUNDER

So, get ready for an exciting month. Gardening season is officially here. Here is your May Gardening To-Do List to help you jumpstart your spring projects.

NOTE: This list is geared toward USDA Growing Zones 3-8. If you are looking for the May Gardening List for Zones 9-11, click here.

Tropic Beauty Peach
Reminder: Be sure to dormant spray those fruit trees before the flowers get into full swing. At the very least, spray with neem, basic H, and a probiotic.

May Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8

In the Garden & Greenhouse

  • Probiotics for the vegetable garden: If you have not applied a spring probiotic to your soil or as a foliar spray, then now is the time to do that! This application will increase the health of your soil microbiome, give plants a better chance at fighting off disease and fungus, and is a proactive way to address garden pests before they do any damage. BioAg is my preferred spray for this.
  • To plant: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, peas, corn, cucumbers, and other warm season crops.
  • To harvest: Salad greens, kale, radishes, beets, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas. You can also keep harvesting the asparagus until the spear size decreases. Then leave it to grow into a “fern” to feed the plant for next season.
  • Compost: Turn pile 1-2x per week.
    • NOTE: For most people an outdoor compost pile doesn’t really generate a lot. However, using a worm bin (like the ones from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm), can provide worm tea which creates way more bang for your buck. For most families, composting worms are going to give you a better result than a mere compost pile.
  • Cover Crops: For many food forest areas, it is a great time to plant cover crops in the lanes for grass and weed suppression. Here are some of our favorite for the Midwest: CLICK HERE
White Clover as a cover crop for food forests or “grass replacement”

In the Food Forest

  • Consider probiotics for your garden and yard (if you didn’t do it last month) FREE 11-minute talk on probiotics for the yard, click here.
  • Plant new fruit trees and berry bushes. Here is a step-by-step process (with diagram) of how to plant a fruit tree or berry bush. Some of the info may surprise you. This is a great time to plant peach, plum, apple, pear, persimmon, paw paw, etc. Planting this time of year gives them 7-8 months to root in and settle before winter. It should be noted that you will need to water more often until rainy season starts.
  • Harvest (and enjoy): Spring mushrooms (i.e. morels), fiddlehead ferns, wild ramps, lungwort.
  • Apply mulch (wood chips) to any areas that need it. Fruit trees like to have 4-6″ of wood chips around the base (extending all the way to the drip line). Remember to keep mulch a few inches back from the truck, because you don’t want the decomposing wood touching your tree. Garden beds prefer straw as a mulch, because when it decomposes it’s a bacterially based structure.
  • Pruning: NO major pruning once trees flower. So if your trees are still dormant – get that pruning in NOW!
apple orchard care in kansas city
Apple Tree from The Giving Grove in Kansas City, MO

In the Shed

  • Clean off tools, re-oil, and remove rust
  • Reset mouse / rat traps (peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball in storage areas will also repel them)
  • Use leaf blower to clean out corners and dust piles from the winter months
  • Spring cleaning time: Go through a couple storage areas this month and recycle, donate, and reorganize. Steward what you have with excellence.

Livestock

  • Water rotations: In nature, animals don’t drink out of the purified, and chemically treatred tap. Sometimes their water is from a rain puddle, but other times from a stream or pond. To help mimic this and give their immune system a boost, try doing something different every time you refill their water.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 tsp per gallon
    • Honey: 1 TBSP per gallon
    • BioIivestock Probiotic: Dilution rate on bottle depending on species
    • Herbs: Add fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc to their water to make a “tea”
    • Rainwater
  • Spring Chickens: This is a great time to add to the flock by either purchasing heritage breeds or hatching your own. Whatever you do, stay away from Cornish Rock or Cornish Cross “meat birds”… more on that to come. It’s also an ideal time to add rabbits, quail, or other animals into your system.
  • Dogs: It’s time for spring check-ups on the fur babies. Once they are up to date on their appointments, go support a local groomer and send them to the doggie spa for a day. NOTE: I’d give a tip on cats… but the only thing I can think of is how much I don’t like them. Sorry, not sorry.

In the Pasture

  • Plant: Clovers, chicory, rye, turnips, radishes, wheat, oats, etc.
  • Hay / Straw: Any rotting or wet bales can be used in the garden or food forest as deep mulch. It can be spread 5-7″ thick in areas that are going to be “future” garden beds in order to prep the soil. First, roll out contractor paper (usually found in the paint section of a hardware store) over the grass and then cover with the straw or other mulch. This is a great opportunity to do “layer mulching” if you have other materials available.
New food forest installation example. There are three 100′ long rows of fruit trees, berry bushes, and native pollinators with over 90 plants. These rows have been layered with contractor paper (for weed suppression), 1″ of compost, and 6″ deep of wood chip mulch. The rows are 3′ wide. Between the lanes, the grass has been removed and reseeded with a clover mix (and lightly covered with straw).

Around the House and Perennial Beds

  • Power washing time: Use an organic soap (like Basic H) to power-wash the house, sidewalks, and other recreational vehicles.
  • Cut back last years growth: Remove any dead material left over from last fall and add to the compost pile.
  • Fertilize flower beds: Use kelp, blood meal, and/or fish emulsion. I like to use blood meal in March/April and then in May/June use bone meal. Kelp and fish emulsion can be used anytime during the growing season. Alternatively, apply a 1/2″ layer of compost to flower beds or at the base of each flower. Keep away from the stems, so it doesn’t “burn”.
  • Perennial Flowers: Using native wildflowers is so much easier than annuals, not to mention will save you money because they come back every year. Here are some of our favorites!
  • Annual Flowers: Plant annual flowers for pops of color. Limit the number of annuals, because most of them are ‘sterile’ and provide no benefit to native insects and butterflies. Consider doing 80%+ native perennials and wildflowers to better support the local ecosystem.
  • Air out the house: On a day you are home, open up every window in the house and turn on fans to circulate fresh air into the house. Change the filters in the HVAC system for the spring months. This is also a great time to vacuum out floor vents and air returns.
  • House Plants: Move houseplants outdoors once evening temps are above 50 degrees. Start in full shade and then gradually increase the sunlight exposure over a few weeks. Fertilize with fish emulsion and sea kelp once they are outside.
  • Clean out the freezer and disinfect really well. It’s often best to do this the day before garbage day, so you can take old items directly to the road.
Bele Hibiscus (aka Mahoe Hibiscus Tree): Delicious, edible leaves that are great in soups, stews, salads, or used for dolmas. Flowers are also edible (fresh). Grows in zones 9-12 in part sun to full shade as a perennial, but can be grown in zones 3-8 as an annual.

Kids & Family Ideas

  • Nature Hike: Create a mini-scavenger hunt before going on your nature hike. Have kids look for things like: a feather, a seed pod, a leaf bigger than their hand, a cool rock, a weird stick, etc.
  • Wild Bird Feeding
    • Set out orange halves and grape jelly for the arriving orioles
    • Put hummingbird feeders out on April 15th (never use the kind with red dye), and be sure to change the water in them every week.
    • Hang a new birdhouse for spring nesting season
    • Add white millet to feeders to attract indigo buntings (bright blue birds)
  • Local Farm Visit: Many local farms offer free tours, kids activities, etc. Look up a local farm to visit in your area and give your kiddos exposure to the animals, crops, and fruit trees.

See you in the garden

As always, thanks for taking time to join on the gardening and permaculture journey. Be sure to check out the continual flow of content available via our social media channels. Remember, PermacultureFX also does virtual consulting (using Facetime, zoom, satellite images, etc.). We’d love to help you get a plan for your property and help you create abundance and wonder.

If this article was helpful, consider sharing on social media (or with your garden groups) to help set others up to win on their property. Happy spring, and I’ll see you in the garden!

– Kristofer Edler

April Gardening To-Do List (Zones 9-11)

Spring is officially in motion and is showing off with all her glory. The flowers are blooming, the bees & butterflies have awakened from their slumber, and fruit is beginning to ripen in the food forest. Right now, the mango trees are finishing their blooming and have started to set fruit. Avocado trees are blooming and stone fruits are beginning to grow! One of my favorite things to do in the springtime is to visit local garden centers and see what is new for the coming growing season. Even though I usually gravitate toward native wildflowers and perennials, I often splurge on a few annual flowers or herbs to add splashes of color. Not to mention, I always seem to find one more place to hang a bird feeder or bird house. There is something about walking around a local (and independently owned) nursery that makes the gardeners heart come alive. Maybe it’s seeing others with the same plant addiction… I mean passion… yeah… passion. Or maybe it’s the plants themselves that make me feel alive on the inside. This is the season that my inner hobbit comes to life again and I start dreaming of the spring fruiting that is right around the corner.

In the midst of the busyness of the season though, it always helps to stay organized. So here is your April Gardening To-Do List to help you jumpstart your spring projects. For me it’s helpful to print out this list and hang it somewhere so I can refer to it each week to check my progress, but do whatever is best for you.

Be sure to comment below and give this article a share to other gardeners who might be interested.

NOTE: This list is geared toward USDA Growing Zones 9-11. If you are looking for the April Gardening List for Zones 3-8, click here.

April gardening list turmeric
curcuma zedoaria (Spicy White)

April Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 9-11

In the Garden & Greenhouse

  • Fertilizing the vegetable garden: Remember, we are what we eat, so stay away from both chemical and synthetic fertilizers. My top choice to fertilize is always to apply compost (regular for veggies and mushroom based for fruit trees and berry bushes). If you do not have access to organic compost, then my second choice is usually a rotation of worm tea, bone meal, blood meal, azomite, fish emulsion, kelp, or other “whole ingredient” fertilizers. Unfortunately, even some name brand organic fertilizers are hiding things like MSG under the name “soy protein hydrolysate”. So, use wisdom when picking out the best fertilizers for you and your family.
  • To plant: Cabbage, sweet potatoes, potatoes, Swiss chard, beans (all kinds), corn, squash, watermelon, okra, tomatoes (up to zone 9a only), herbs (all zones), nasturtiums, edible flowers. You can also plant cosmos, zinnia, sunflowers, etc.
  • To harvest: Salad greens, kale, tropical spinaches, snow peas, daikon, radishes, beets, herbs.
  • Compost: Turn pile 1-2x per week.
    • NOTE: For most people an outdoor compost pile doesn’t really generate a lot. However, using a worm bin (like the ones from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm), can provide worm tea which creates way more bang for your buck. For most families, composting worms are going to give you a better result.
April gardening list raised beds
Raised beds being planted at Empower School and Farm

In the Food Forest

  • Prune back brambles (raspberries and blackberries)
  • Apply a late spring foliar spray.
  • Consider probiotics for your garden and yard. FREE 11-minute talk on probiotics for the yard, click here.
  • Plant new fruit trees and berry bushes. Here is a step-by-step process (with diagram) of how to plant a fruit tree or berry bush. Some of the info may surprise you. This is a great time to plant avocado, mango, strawberry tree and other tropical trees. Planting this time of year gives them 7-8 months to root in and settle before winter.
  • Pinch off “first year fruit”. Never let a fruit tree produce fruit the first year that it is in the ground. Remove any fruit so all the energy goes to establishing a heathy root system. Even leaving a single fruit will cause the nutrient requirements of the tree to change, so make sure to remove all fruit the first year it’s in the ground. This is soooo hard to do, but it will help create a much healthier tree in the long-run.
  • Apply mulch (wood chips) to any areas that need it. Fruit trees like to have 4-6″ of wood chips around the base (extending all the way to the drip line). This helps conserve moisture, but also creates a rich fungal compost at the base of the tree. Remember, keep mulch a few inches back from the truck, because you don’t want the decomposing wood touching your tree.
  • Pruning: NO pruning once trees flower. After they awaken for the spring, there is a lot of sap flowing. You don’t want to cause a fungal or bacterial issue by pruning this time of year. Pruning should be done during late winter dormancy, so if you haven’t pruned fruit trees yet, it’s best to wait. You can, however, still prune pines, decorative shrubs, and ornamental trees now.
April gardening list foliar spray
Spring foliar spray being applied by a permaculture design course participant in 2021 at Empower School and Farm.

In the Shed

  • Use Seafoam in the gas tank of all small engines as you start them for the first time this year. Seafoam will help clean out all the lines and help things run more smoothly as you enter the gardening season.
  • Check hand tools: If you oiled your garden tools before winter, everything should be ready to rock. However, if you forgot, you might need to use sandpaper to clean the rust off. Oil them up when you are finished to protect them. This is a great time to sharpen shovels and other tools with a grinder or dremel tool. Use linseed oil on handles to give everything a fresh look for the season.
  • Check for mold: Winter months and bad airflow can often result in a bit of mold. Look inside totes and stored items in the shed to make sure there is no mold or off-smelling areas. Open up the garage and shed on a day you are there to let things air out.
Cattley Guava – tart strawberry flavor, very hardy.

Livestock

  • Water rotations: In nature, animals don’t drink out of the purified tap. Sometimes their water is from a rain puddle, but other times from a stream or pond. To help mimic this and give their immune system a boost, try doing something different every time you refill their water.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 tsp per gallon
    • Honey: 1 TBSP per gallon
    • BioIivestock Probiotic: Dilution rate on bottle depending on species
    • Herbs: Add fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc to their water to make a “tea”
    • Rainwater
  • Deworming Cattle / Horses: 1-1.5 cups of Basic H per 100 gallon watering container OR 1TBSP per gallon for chickens, goats, lamb.
  • Nesting box boosters: For a little treat in your nesting boxes, consider adding fresh or dried flower petals and herbs. Fennel, cilantro, and parsley are great laying stimulants. Remember, with spring rains, it is important to change bedding frequently and make sure everything remains dry and clean.

In the Pasture

  • Plant: Timothy grass, perennial peanut, wildflower mixes, tobacco, clovers, alfalfa.
  • Hay / Straw: Any rotting or wet bales can be used in the garden or food forest as deep mulch. It can be spread 5-7″ thick in areas that are going to be “future” garden beds in order to prep the soil. First, roll out contractor paper (usually found in the paint section of a hardware store) over the grass and then cover with the straw or other mulch. This is a great opportunity to do “layer mulching” if you have other materials available.
Pond and pasture
Pond and pasture

Around the House and Perennial Beds

  • Flower pots from last year should be emptied and refreshed. Old soil can be put in a wheel barrow and have new compost mixed in. You can also empty old soil directly onto the compost pile to let it refresh over the next month or so. Wash flower pots well with an organic soap to kill any remaining bacteria before adding new soil and planting fresh plants.
  • Cut back last years growth: Remove any dead material left over from last fall and add to the compost pile.
  • Clean up bananas: It’s finally time to cut back the dead leaves and branches from bananas and other fruit trees. Removing dead leaves this time of year will help prevent rot and fungal issues. Not to mention, getting rid of the dead makes everything look a lot better.
  • Fertilize flower beds: Use kelp, bone meal, blood meal, and/or fish emulsion. I like to use blood meal in March/April and then in May/June use bone meal. Kelp and fish emulsion can be used anytime during the growing season. Alternatively, apply a 1/2″ layer of compost to flower beds or at the base of each flower. Keep away from the stems, so it doesn’t “burn”.
  • Annual Flowers: Plant some pops of color around the garden. Use as many native wildflowers and perennials as possible, because the vast majority of annuals do NOT provide nectar for bees and butterflies. However, using them sparingly can still give lasting bursts of color. Some annual flowers (nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula, etc.) are also edible and medicinal and can even be used as vegetable companion plants.
  • Air out the house: On a day you are home, open up every window in the house and turn on fans to circulate fresh air into the house. Change the filters in the HVAC system for the spring months. This is also a great time to vacuum out floor vents and air returns.
  • Check / replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries
  • Clean out the refrigerator and disinfect shelves. It’s often best to do this the day before garbage day, so you can take old items directly to the road.
dill herb
Dill – used for culinary purposes, as a pollinator, and in chicken nesting areas as a laying stimulant.

Kids & Family Ideas

  • Visit a local arboretum or community garden: Often these will have special programs for kids and families.
  • Wild Bird Feeding
    • Set out orange halves and grape jelly for the arriving orioles
    • Put hummingbird feeders out on April 15th (never use the kind with red dye), and be sure to change the water in them every week.
    • Hang a new birdhouse for spring nesting season
    • Add white millet to feeders to attract indigo buntings (bright blue birds)
  • Decorate a garden corner and create a gnome or fairy garden. Personally, I can’t get enough garden gnomes hidden in the flower beds or at the base of fruit trees.
  • Spring flower drawing or painting: Pick a flower or two for each kid and have them draw or paint it. When they finish, frame the artwork and hang for seasonal decorations in the house.
April gardening list peaches
Tropic Beauty Peach in Central Florida

See you in the garden

As always, thanks for taking time to join on the gardening and permaculture journey. Be sure to check out the continual flow of content available via our social media channels. Remember, PermacultureFX also does virtual consulting (using facetime, zoom, satellite images, etc.). We’d love to help you get a plan for your property and help you create abundance and wonder.

If this article was helpful, consider sharing on social media (or with your garden groups) to help set others up to win on their property. Happy spring, and I’ll see you in the garden!

– Kristofer Edler

April Gardening To-Do List (Zones 3-8)

Spring is officially in motion and is showing off with all her glory. The flowers are blooming, the bees have awakened from their slumber, and the gardening season is upon us. It seems like the winter snow was both yesterday and three months ago, all at the same time. One of my favorite things to do in the springtime is to visit local garden centers and see what is new for the coming growing season. Even though I usually gravitate toward native wildflowers and perennials, I often splurge on a few annual flowers or herbs to add splashes of color. Not to mention, I always seem to find one more place to hang a bird feeder or bird house. There is something about walking around a local (and independently owned) nursery that makes the gardeners heart come alive. Maybe it’s seeing others with the same plant addiction… I mean passion… yeah… passion. Or maybe it’s the plants themselves that make me feel alive on the inside. This is the season that my inner hobbit comes to life again after the winter slumber.

In the midst of the busyness of the season though, it always helps to stay organized. So here is your April Gardening To-Do List to help you jumpstart your spring projects. For me it’s helpful to print out this list and hang it somewhere so I can refer to it each week to check my progress, but do whatever is best for you.

Be sure to comment below and give this article a share to other gardeners who might be interested.

NOTE: This list is geared toward USDA Growing Zones 3-8. If you are looking for the April Gardening List for Zones 9-11, click here.

April gardening list spring flowers
Hyacinth, hosta, lungwort, bleeding heart

April Gardening To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8

In the Garden & Greenhouse

  • Fertilizing the vegetable garden: Remember, we are what we eat, so stay away from both chemical and synthetic fertilizers. My top choice to fertilize is always to apply compost (regular for veggies and mushroom based for fruit trees and berry bushes). If you do not have access to organic compost, then my second choice is usually a rotation of worm tea, bone meal, blood meal, azomite, fish emulsion, kelp, or other “whole ingredient” fertilizers. Unfortunately, even some name brand organic fertilizers are hiding things like MSG under the name “soy protein hydrolysate”. So, use wisdom when picking out the best fertilizers for you and your family.
  • To plant: carrots, radishes, beets, onions, asparagus, rhubarb, a few nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants). Wait to plant the majority of nightshades until after the last frost date in your region, but sometimes you can get a buffer crop if you stagger planting and the weather stays warm.
  • To harvest: Salad greens, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, mustards, peas, asparagus, and rhubarb
  • Compost: Turn pile 1-2x per week.
    • NOTE: For most people an outdoor compost pile doesn’t really generate a lot. However, using a worm bin (like the ones from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm), can provide worm tea which creates way more bang for your buck. For most families, composting worms are going to give you a better result.
April gardening list raised beds
Raised beds being planted at Empower School and Farm

In the Food Forest

  • Prune back brambles (raspberries and blackberries)
  • Apply a late spring foliar spray.
  • Consider probiotics for your garden and yard. FREE 11-minute talk on probiotics for the yard, click here.
  • Plant new fruit trees and berry bushes. Here is a step-by-step process (with diagram) of how to plant a fruit tree or berry bush. Some of the info may surprise you.
  • Pinch off “first year fruit”. Never let a fruit tree produce fruit the first year that it is in the ground. Remove any fruit so all the energy goes to establishing a heathy root system. Even leaving a single fruit will cause the nutrient requirements of the tree to change, so make sure to remove all fruit the first year it’s in the ground. This is soooo hard to do, but it will help create a much healthier tree in the long-run.
  • Apply mulch (wood chips) to any areas that need it. Fruit trees like to have 4-6″ of wood chips around the base (extending all the way to the drip line). This helps conserve moisture, but also creates a rich fungal compost at the base of the tree. Remember, keep mulch a few inches back from the truck, because you don’t want the decomposing wood touching your tree.
  • Pruning: NO pruning once trees flower. After they awaken for the spring, there is a lot of sap flowing. You don’t want to cause a fungal or bacterial issue by pruning this time of year. Pruning should be done during late winter dormancy, so if you haven’t pruned fruit trees yet, it’s best to wait. You can, however, still prune pines, decorative shrubs, and ornamental trees now.
April gardening list foliar spray
Spring foliar spray being applied by a permaculture design course participant in 2021 at Empower School and Farm.

In the Shed

  • Use Seafoam in the gas tank of all small engines as you start them for the first time this year. Seafoam will help clean out all the lines and help things run more smoothly as you enter the gardening season.
  • Check hand tools: If you oiled your garden tools before winter, everything should be ready to rock. However, if you forgot, you might need to use sandpaper to clean the rust off. Oil them up when you are finished to protect them. This is a great time to sharpen shovels and other tools with a grinder or dremel tool. Use linseed oil on handles to give everything a fresh look for the season.
  • Check for mold: Winter months and bad airflow can often result in a bit of mold. Look inside totes and stored items in the shed to make sure there is no mold or off-smelling areas. Open up the garage and shed on a day you are there to let things air out.
April gardening list lungwort
Lungwort – this spring flower has leaves that can be used fresh as a tea to break up congestion and help lung health.

Livestock

  • Water rotations: In nature, animals don’t drink out of the purified tap. Sometimes their water is from a rain puddle, but other times from a stream or pond. To help mimic this and give their immune system a boost, try doing something different every time you refill their water.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar: 1 tsp per gallon
    • Honey: 1 TBSP per gallon
    • BioIivestock Probiotic: Dilution rate on bottle depending on species
    • Herbs: Add fresh oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc to their water to make a “tea”
    • Rainwater
  • Deworming Cattle / Horses: 1-1.5 cups of Basic H per 100 gallon watering container OR 1TBSP per gallon for chickens, goats, lamb.
  • Nesting box boosters: For a little treat in your nesting boxes, consider adding fresh or dried flower petals and herbs. Fennel, cilantro, and parsley are great laying stimulants. Remember, with spring rains, it is important to change bedding frequently and make sure everything remains dry and clean.
April gardening list currant flowers
Red Currant flowers in Kansas City, MO

In the Pasture

  • Plant: Timothy grass, perennial peanut, wildflower mixes, tobacco, clovers, alfalfa.
  • Hay / Straw: Any rotting or wet bales can be used in the garden or food forest as deep mulch. It can be spread 5-7″ thick in areas that are going to be “future” garden beds in order to prep the soil. First, roll out contractor paper (usually found in the paint section of a hardware store) over the grass and then cover with the straw or other mulch. This is a great opportunity to do “layer mulching” if you have other materials available.
April gardening list mushrooms
Morel mushrooms found in April in Kansas City, MO

Around the House and Perennial Beds

  • Flower pots from last year should be emptied and refreshed. Old soil can be put in a wheel barrow and have new compost mixed in. You can also empty old soil directly onto the compost pile to let it refresh over the next month or so. Wash flower pots well with an organic soap to kill any remaining bacteria before adding new soil and planting fresh plants.
  • Cut back last years growth: Remove any dead material left over from last fall and add to the compost pile.
  • Fertilize flower beds: Use kelp, bone meal, blood meal, and/or fish emulsion. I like to use blood meal in April and then in May or June use bone meal. Kelp and fish emulsion can be used anytime during the growing season. Alternatively, apply a 1/2″ layer of compost to flower beds or at the base of each flower. Keep away from the stems, so it doesn’t “burn”.
  • Spring bulb care: Remove flower / seed heads, but leave the green growth until they naturally die back. This green will help feed the bulb for next year.
  • Annual Flowers: Plant some pops of color around the garden. Use as many native wildflowers and perennials as possible, because the vast majority of annuals do NOT provide nectar for bees and butterflies. However, using them sparingly can still give lasting bursts of color. Some annual flowers (nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula, etc.) are also edible and medicinal and can even be used as vegetable companion plants.
  • Air out the house: On a day you are home, open up every window in the house and turn on fans to circulate fresh air into the house. Change the filters in the HVAC system for the spring months. This is also a great time to vacuum out floor vents and air returns.
  • Check / replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries
  • Clean out the refrigerator and disinfect shelves. It’s often best to do this the day before garbage day, so you can take old items directly to the road.
April gardening list spring flowers
Edible spring flowers: Violas, pansies, and snapdragons.

Kids & Family Ideas

  • Visit a local arboretum or community garden: Often these will have special programs for kids and families.
  • Wild Bird Feeding
    • Set out orange halves and grape jelly for the arriving orioles
    • Put hummingbird feeders out on April 15th (never use the kind with red dye), and be sure to change the water in them every week.
    • Hang a new birdhouse for spring nesting season
    • Add white millet to feeders to attract indigo buntings (bright blue birds)
  • Decorate a garden corner and create a gnome or fairy garden. Personally, I can’t get enough garden gnomes hidden in the flower beds or at the base of fruit trees.
  • Spring flower drawing or painting: Pick a flower or two for each kid and have them draw or paint it. When they finish, frame the artwork and hang for seasonal decorations in the house.
April gardening list turmeric
curcuma zedoaria (Spicy White)

See you in the garden

As always, thanks for taking time to join on the gardening and permaculture journey. Be sure to check out the continual flow of content available via our social media channels. Remember, PermacultureFX also does virtual consulting (using facetime, zoom, satellite images, etc.). We’d love to help you get a plan for your property and help you create abundance and wonder.

If this article was helpful, consider sharing on social media (or with your garden groups) to help set others up to win on their property. Happy spring, and I’ll see you in the garden!

– Kristofer Edler

March Gardening To-Do List (zones 3-8)

Here’s a list of what you should do in your garden in March, if you live in the Midwest (specifically in USDA zones 3-8). Granted, weather isn’t exactly a science… well it is… it’s just not an exact science. Just keep a close watch on your weather and plan your planting accordingly. If you are not sure what your growing zone is (or how to use it), watch this tutorial video. If you are in a warmer climate, don’t worry, you can CLICK HERE for the Zone 9-11 March To-Do List.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, here is your completely arbitrary March Gardening To-Do List!

crocus bulbs in bloom
Crocus in the spring garden

In the Garden

  • Take soil tests and send to your local extension office. Take samples from each area of your yard and make sure to get the detailed report. The most important part for me is not the NPK… it’s the amount of organic matter! Generally speaking if you have a higher percentage of organic material in your soil, the rest of the soil health will follow suit.
  • Make minor amendments before the spring rains (add bone meal, blood meal, etc.).
  • Spread chicken poop and hay from the nesting boxes on the compost pile and get it working before it’s warm.
  • Start planting some frost friendly veggies (radish, Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, some lettuces, etc.)  We recommend direct sowing a little every week, so that way your harvest is staggered.  It also helps to insure a diversified crop and give extra insurance that if one round dies… another one will do just fine!

In the Greenhouse

  • Plant seed trays: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Start perennial seeds for food forest planting: goji berries, gooseberries, trees from seed, etc.
  • Add black 5-gallon buckets of water (with lids) for radiant heat source, if you do not have a heated greenhouse.
  • TIP: Always plants more than what you think you’ll need. The worst case scenario is that you have some to share with neighbors, friends, or gorilla plant in a local park.

In the Food Forest

This hori hori tool, from Barebones Living is one of my new favorite gardening tools.
  • Break up any large sticks and twigs. They will decompose much faster if they are in direct contact with the soil.
  • Remove leaf cover from the soil and use as a mulch around the base of trees / bushes (cover the sticks). You can chop it up a bit with the mower if the leaves are still crispy.
  • Plant alley crops between rows and plantings. In our area I often use a blend of red clover, white dutch, yellow closer, and crimson clover. I plant this between the rows.
  • Plant living mulches around the base of the trees (turnips, bocking 14 comfrey root, berries, herb roots, etc.).
  • Feed native wild birds before nesting season starts in order to encourage them to live in your area. They are fantastic bug control and leave behind little bits of birdie poo.
  • Hang wild bird houses and bat houses before nesting season begins.
  • Set out orange halves and grape jelly to attract early migrating orioles.
  • Last chance to prune apple trees (before buds open)!
  • Spray your spring foliar spray on every perennial in the food forest! Get our recipe here.
  • Add fresh mulch to trees and shrubs (up to 5″ thick). Remember to always keep the mulch away from the trunks of the trees.
  • Get a permaculture consultation to help you come up with a game plan for your overall property, garden, and food forest. PermacultureFX now offers both in-person and digital consultations (at a reduced rate).

In the Shed

  • Sharpen mower blades and all cutting tools.
  • Oil any metal that rusted over the winter. Remove tarnish with steel wool. Ax heads should be treated with bees wax.
  • Check for broken pots from winter cold.
  • Set a few extra mouse traps in the shed, greenhouse, and garage.
  • Start up the mower, weed whipper, and other tools for the first time. If you have difficulty starting them, you can always use a bit of Sea Foam to get things moving. Use two ounces per gallon of gas. It will work wonders!

In the Chicken Coop

  • Remove winter bedding, if you used the deep bedding method.
  • Deep clean…deep clean…deep clean! We use Shaklee’s Basic H2, because it’s organic and will also take care of mites, lice, etc.
  • Lower fat content (corn) and increase protein sources. If you are doing a mealworm farm, it’s a great time to give the girls an extra boost!
  • Feed extra omega-3’s. Get some feeder fish (minnows) from a local pet store and put them in a shallow pan. Watch your chooks go nuts for them!
  • Use honey, garlic, and ACV in their water once per week to give them an extra immune boost before the springtime. I also add a product for livestock by SCD Probiotics based out of KCMO.

Around the House

  • Clean out the gutters from any winter debris.
  • Remove winter window treatments and wash windows (inside and out).
  • Power-wash the sides of the house, cement, and garage doors. We use Basic H2 for this as well, because it organically takes care of mold and mildew easily.
  • Oil doors (interior and exterior).
  • Prune any trees around the yard before leaf buds begin to open.
  • Get hoses ready to bring outside.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Finish cutting back any dead growth from last year.
  • Trim back winter ferns and greens (holly, lenten roses, etc.)
  • Remove leaves or debris from the top of bulb areas, leaving only compost or wood chips. The debris should be composted and added back to the beds later.
  • Start planning mulch and compost deliveries now. Look for sales or companies to bring it to you in bulk.
  • You can also plant cold season annual flowers at this time as well. Snap dragons, violas, pansies, and calendulas do great this time of year.
  • Spring sow any native wildflowers. One of my favorite Midwest companies for this is Prairie Moon Nursery (online), because they do seed mixes geared toward your specific sun exposure and soil type.

  • TIP: Never use mulch that has been colored or dyed (red or black). Let’s just use our heads on why that’s a bad idea.

March Garden and Property To-Do List (Zones 9-12)

Here’s a list of what you should be doing in you garden and food forest in March, if you live in warmer, tropical climates (USDA Zones 9-12). Granted, weather isn’t exactly a science… well, it is… it’s just not a predictable one. Keep a close eye on your weather this month and adjust your planting accordingly. If you are unsure what growing zone you are in, watch this video tutorial. If you are in a colder climate and want info for zones 3-8, CLICK HERE.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, here is March Gardening To-Do List!

Cover crop with daikon radish, winter wheat, and field peas

In the Garden

  • Take soil tests and send to your local extension office. Take samples from each area of your yard and make sure to get the detailed report. The most important part for me is not the NPK… it’s the amount of organic matter! Generally speaking if you have a higher percentage of organic material in your soil, the rest of the soil health will follow suit.
  • Make minor amendments before the spring rains (add bone meal, blood meal, compost, etc.). Many people settle with a short-term “solution” of applying an NPK fertilizer, but a better longterm solution would be to focus on soil building through organic matter, manure, and compost.
  • TIP – Spread chicken poop and hay from the nesting boxes on the compost pile and get it working before the weather gets insanely hot.
  • Annuals to plant indoors: Okra, peppers, eggplant, more nasturtiums and marigolds (to deter garden pests), pumpkins and gourds.
  • Annuals to plant outdoors (or direct sow): arugula, beans, borage, carrots, corn, cucumbers, okra, another round of onions, seminole pumpkins (Florida), squash, sweet potato slips, tomatoes (especially Everglade tomatoes), and watermelon.
  • Plant some tender annuals like longevity spinach, Okinawa spinach, Surinam spinach, etc. Don’t plant all you have yet, in case we still get another frost, but start putting some out in your more protected areas.
Calendula – used for tea, ointments, creams, etc.

In the Greenhouse

  • Plant seed trays: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, roselle (Jamaican Sorrel), Cranberry hibiscus, etc. Start perennial seeds for food forest planting: goji berries, trees from seed (like Moringa), etc. Also start food forest items like Roselle, cranberry hibiscus, elderberry cuttings, sugar cane, bananas.
  • Fertilize orchids well this month
  • TIP: Always plants more than what you think you’ll need. The worst case scenario is that you have some to share with neighbors, friends, or gorilla plant in a local park.
Nasturiums planted under trees and near tomatoes.

In the Food Forest

  • Break up any large sticks and twigs. They will decompose much faster if they are in direct contact with the soil.
  • Remove leaf cover from the soil and use as a mulch around the base of trees / bushes (cover the sticks). You can chop it up a bit with the mower if the leaves are still crispy.
  • Plant alley crops between rows and plantings. In zone 9, personally love planting durana clover, red clover, sun hemp (legume), and winter wheat. Sun hemp should be purchased now and planted the first of April.
  • Plant living mulches around the base of the trees (turnips, Bocking 14 comfrey root, borage, nasturtiums, etc.)
  • Feed native wild birds before nesting season starts in order to encourage them to live in your area. They are fantastic bug control and leave behind little bits of birdie poo.
  • Hang wild bird houses and bat houses before nesting season begins.
  • Set out orange halves and grape jelly to attract early migrating orioles.
  • Spray your spring foliar spray on every perennial in the food forest! Get the recipe here.
  • Add fresh mulch to trees and shrubs (up to 5″ thick). Remember to always keep the mulch away from the trunks of the trees.
  • Get a permaculture consultation to help you come up with a game plan for your overall property, garden, and food forest. PermacultureFX now offers both in-person and digital consultations (at a reduced rate).
  • March 1-15th: Plant cold tolerant trees: peach, plum, nectarine, blueberries, elderberries, pear, apple, etc.
  • March 15-30th: Plant tropical trees (if the 30-day forecast looks warm): avocado, mango, strawberry tree, tropical cherries, etc.
Simple birdhouses using old license plates

In the Shed

  • Sharpen mower blades and all cutting tools.
  • Oil any metal that rusted over the winter. Remove tarnish with steel wool. Ax heads should be treated with bees wax.
  • Check for broken pots from winter cold.
  • Set a few extra mouse traps in the shed, greenhouse, and garage.
  • Start up the mower, weed whipper, and other tools for the first time. If you have difficulty starting them, you can always use a bit of Sea Foam to get things moving. Use two ounces per gallon of gas. It will work wonders!

In the Chicken Coop

  • Remove winter bedding, if you used the deep bedding method.
  • Deep clean…deep clean…deep clean! We use Shaklee’s Basic H2, because it’s organic and will also take care of mites, lice, etc.
  • Lower fat content (corn) and increase protein sources. If you are doing a mealworm farm, it’s a great time to give the girls an extra boost!
  • Feed extra omega-3’s. Get some feeder fish (minnows) from a local pet store and put them in a shallow pan. Watch your chooks go nuts for them!
  • Use honey, garlic, and ACV in their water once per week to give them an extra immune boost before the springtime. I also add a product for livestock by SCD Probiotics based out of KCMO.
Basic H for deworming livestock and cleaning the barn / coop

Around the House

  • Clean out the gutters from any winter debris, especially oak leaves.
  • Remove winter window treatments and wash windows (inside and out).
  • Power-wash the sides of the house, cement, and garage doors. We use Basic H2 for this as well, because it organically takes care of mold and mildew easily.
  • Oil doors and hinges (interior and exterior).
  • Prune any trees around the yard before leaf buds begin to open.

In the Perennial Flower Beds

  • Finish cutting back any dead growth from last year.
  • Remove leaves or debris from the top of bulb areas, leaving only compost or wood chips. The debris should be composted and added back to the beds later.
  • Start planning mulch and compost deliveries now. Look for sales or companies to bring it to you in bulk.
  • You can also plant cold season annual flowers at this time as well. Snap dragons, violas, pansies, begonias, and calendulas do great this time of year.
  • Spring sow any native wildflowers.

  • TIP: Never use mulch that has been colored or dyed (red or black). Let’s just use our heads on why that’s a bad idea.