Author Topic: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas  (Read 787 times)

Tropheus76

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Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« on: November 22, 2022, 02:57:40 PM »
I am in 9B but a fairly cold 9b in east Orange county(makes a difference since west OC is typically warmer with more rain). My soil is light grey sand and with water being anywhere from three to five feet below the surface. The property is 150'x105'. Currently it is covered with very thick palmetto, a few small and a large pine tree, and a couple oaks on the outer edges. As it is adjacent to my neighbor's property I am going to plant various flowering shrubs like azalea, I plan on starting to clear from the north to the south and planting as I go since I am doing the work by hand. Palmetto is actually not hard to remove if you have hedge trimmers and a reciprocating saw with a bush blade plus a shovel. I am going to throw the palmetto stumps deeper into the think woods where they will eventually over the next 15 or so years break down. The fronds I plan on using as palm mulch ground cover. The property does get wet during extremely heavy long rain storms like Ian so many of the trees I will be planting on mounds(I have plenty of dirt). Eventually I hope the added wood chips, palm and such will decay and cause build up and cause the rain to run off into the ditch in the front and the area I will not be clearing between the food forest and the road. I might dig a small swale as well.

My first things I plan on planting that I already mostly have clear are some paw paws(A. tribola(?)) which I have a couple seedlings already growing in tall pots. I think these will be the biggest trees so they are on the most northern edge. Slightly forward and between them I was thinking starfruit with jabo tucked in here and there. I am hoping the nearness of the heavy oak/palmetto stand a few feet away will provide a bit of warmer microclimate during the few cold spells we get. Further down along the neighbor's fence on my side is an old oak tree that I am going to use as a scaffold for passion fruit. I will have some dragon fruit in there too as a third attempt to keep it, every attempt I make tends to result in a nasty yellow bacterial infection in the cactus). Mostly this step is planting stuff I currently already have on hand or can easily get.

My neighbor actually dumps the grass clippings and sticks from his large open 5 acre yard on this property which I told him to please continue doing.

Trees are the easy visible part. I am not sure what to plant in between the trees as the bottom layers. I know my Surinam cherries will survive the winter here without protection as will lemon guava. I am not sure on what other low growing under story bushes and small trees I should get and look into. Figs are a no go, the nematodes here will take out an LSU resistant fig in 3 years no problem. I was thinking marigolds scattered throughout and probably some rosemary since it grows without any effort at all.

The problem is no where else in the US is like 9B scrubland Florida. 9B absolutely sucks for growing as we are too cold for tropicals and too warm for temperates and all the disease and pests of both. I even have heard iguanas are moving northward as the years go by(I have a .22, not worried about them). Its hard to go look online at all these youtube people and find someone nearby. Pete Canaris while interesting is more of a edible landscaper(the land being edible). I have read Jon the Good's stuff and it isnt very specific. Everyone else I can find appear to be Yankees and Canadians growing mostly stone fruit and apples. Their information and ideas are great but the specifics are not. They love comfrey, I have tried comfrey, it doesnt last very long in our sand.  I need lots of wood chips but I havent seen a tree trimming truck in years and chip drop is a waste of time thus my using palm fronds until a better option appears.

So in a nutshell:
What are some trees in addition to what I already mentioned?
What are bushes and shrubs that produce food or herbs I should look into?
Anyone know any good youtube Central Florida youtubers with food forests?
Any other suggestions?

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2022, 07:48:20 PM »
You can't make something what its not--at least not without a lot of work. Instead of looking at other zones and getting discouraged because those plants aren't ideally suited to your location, focus on finding what you can grow. Sometimes, you find that you just need to look at things a little differently or that you need to search a little harder for the right variety. For example, palmetto can be used as heart of palm and is as good as any I have ever tasted. Why not keep it as part of the food forest system by selectively harvesting and eating it?

Also, don't buy into the idea that a food forest is not any work. My perspective on 9b has always been that we can grow anything as long as we are willing to put in the work to grow it. One of the biggest flaws in food forest designs in my opinion (even among big name youtubers) is not providing or maintaining enough light for good fruit production.

Fruits native to your part of the state include, Florida paw paws, persimmon, muscadine grapes, blackberry, blueberry, plum, hickory, maypop passion fruit and mulberry. Many of these can be used as rootstocks for improved varieties. I would encourage you to try Asian persimmon (on american roots), Scarlet Beauty Plum (on native plum roots), Ison, Supreme, and other muscadine grapes, Lake Emerald and Tari's Burgundy are bunch type grapes that make nice juice, Pakistani or other improved mulberry (some may need grafting), Loquat should also do well for you if it gets good drainage, peruvian apple and opuntia cactus are more cold hardy than Dragon fruit and might do better in your location. Some kinds of avocado will also fruit in your zone. Finally, if you have a place that gets full sun, sugarcane would be a great addition. Just make sure to get a cane juicer (see thread on this forum).

I am sure that other people will have great suggestions. I have tried to stick with things that won't require zone pushing. I would encourage you to checkout the Florida Fruit Geek--Craig Hepworth. He has a lot of stuf that would be relavent to your location.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2022, 07:51:34 PM by Galatians522 »

drymifolia

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2022, 08:03:43 PM »
I would encourage you to checkout the Florida Fruit Geek--Craig Hepworth. He has a lot of stuf that would be relavent to your location.

I opened this thread just to suggest that same thing! Here's his blog:

https://floridafruitgeek.com/

I think he sells some plants from his nursery in Citra, too.

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2022, 09:23:36 PM »
Cattley (strawberry or lemon) guava and White sappote might do ok, too.

Jagmanjoe

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2022, 08:31:09 AM »
While it may be a reach relative to the work involved, you should check out FB Mango Growers sites to check on one FB person, Audrey Asbey.  She is living in Ocala and has been successfully growing mangoes and other tropicals in significant amounts for several years.

Additionally, I believe that bovine421 here was experimenting with spraying with misters relative to frosts for mangoes similar to strawberries.  I believe this is one link for here.  https://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=46338.msg450909#msg450909

Just a couple of options to consider that might be helpful to increase the variety of what you are wanting to plant provided you are in a position to put in the extra effort.

Flgarden

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2022, 09:39:53 AM »
I live in your area.
Persimmons, pineapples, sweet potatoes, mulberries, star fruit grow pest free without much care.
Guavas are tough too.
Ana

Tropheus76

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2022, 10:14:08 AM »
Sometimes, you find that you just need to look at things a little differently or that you need to search a little harder for the right variety. For example, palmetto can be used as heart of palm and is as good as any I have ever tasted. Why not keep it as part of the food forest system by selectively harvesting and eating it?

Also, don't buy into the idea that a food forest is not any work. My perspective on 9b has always been that we can grow anything as long as we are willing to put in the work to grow it. One of the biggest flaws in food forest designs in my opinion (even among big name youtubers) is not providing or maintaining enough light for good fruit production.

Fruits native to your part of the state include, Florida paw paws, persimmon, muscadine grapes, blackberry, blueberry, plum, hickory, maypop passion fruit and mulberry. Many of these can be used as rootstocks for improved varieties. I would encourage you to try Asian persimmon (on american roots), Scarlet Beauty Plum (on native plum roots), Ison, Supreme, and other muscadine grapes, Lake Emerald and Tari's Burgundy are bunch type grapes that make nice juice, Pakistani or other improved mulberry (some may need grafting), Loquat should also do well for you if it gets good drainage, peruvian apple and opuntia cactus are more cold hardy than Dragon fruit and might do better in your location. Some kinds of avocado will also fruit in your zone. Finally, if you have a place that gets full sun, sugarcane would be a great addition. Just make sure to get a cane juicer (see thread on this forum).

I have tons of palmetto scrub, quite literally. Even clearing this area will barely make a dent. Unfortunately palmetto strips the hell out of the soil leaving almost white grey sand compared to the darker grey sand out of the palmetto stands. So there is a lot of work to do to improve the soil which will take years. After walking around yesterday in the light drizzle I will be clearing an area of about 3000 square feet this year to get that going.

Many of your suggested trees are already on the menu. I'll look into the two cacti-types you mentioned. I have about 4 or 5 loquats already on property, they take forever to grow and fruit, even the grafted varieties. Really anxious to try the persimmons again. I havent had much luck in the past with them but I know the late Bob from Green Jungle had several really nice ones in ground at his nursery.

 
Cattley (strawberry or lemon) guava and White sappote might do ok, too.
I have lemon already and I keep it but am not a big fan. I think the texture is kind of gross. My white sapote is about 7 years old and wasnt growing for years until I started removing those snakehead caterpillars that kept destroying all the leaves. Its grown quite a bit since but no fruit as of yet.


I am not new at fruit trees. I have an existing 2 acre yard with around 80ish trees of everything from mango, pecan and olive to star fruit, 9 pound lemon, and banana. This is more set up widely spaced orchard style instead of the more close knit style of a food forest which I am trying to do on the new property. Mostly to see if I can get better productivity at a higher density out of the same crap soil. I was also planning on trying quite a few flowering trees for looks and attracting pollinators.

I'll have a look at the mango person and the fruit geek guy.

Gulfgardener

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2022, 11:53:43 AM »
Tropheus76 -  What kind of olive trees did you plant? Have they produced a good crop of fruit?

I second white sapote and persimmon for your area. I have different varieties planted all over and they love the soil as long as it drains fast. With white sapote, start planting seedlings and then graft once established. My seedlings have grown much faster than my grafted varieties despite comparable conditions.

For bushes, what about feijoa? Chop and drop moringa for soil improvement? For prickly pear, Fruitwood nursery has an interesting selection. 

RS

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2022, 12:51:43 PM »
Since wood chips are hard to get, are there local lawn services nearby that could drop bagged leaves? Leaf mulch is great for building soil and easier to handle than wood chips.

Perennial spinach (e.g. longevity, okinawa, sissoo) and passion flower might also work for groundcover and/or chop n drop. Perennial herbs like cuban oregano, chives and Italian oregano can also do well.

Katuk, blackberry jam fruit, monstera, PB fruit could be other options for understory plantings.

Native salvia can be quite prolific for attracting pollinators in dappled light. Should be a fun project!
« Last Edit: November 23, 2022, 12:54:32 PM by RS »

Tropheus76

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2022, 02:39:03 PM »
Tropheus76 -  What kind of olive trees did you plant? Have they produced a good crop of fruit?

I second white sapote and persimmon for your area. I have different varieties planted all over and they love the soil as long as it drains fast. With white sapote, start planting seedlings and then graft once established. My seedlings have grown much faster than my grafted varieties despite comparable conditions.

For bushes, what about feijoa? Chop and drop moringa for soil improvement? For prickly pear, Fruitwood nursery has an interesting selection.

I have 5 olive trees. 2 Arbies and a koroneki which are 7-10 feet tall now. Despite us having three freezes last year, we didnt get near enough sustained chill hours for them or any of my other chill requiring trees and I have not ever had fruit on them in 10 years. I picked up a couple Tunisian olives 3 years ago which supposedly have a lower chill requirement. They are growing well so maybe in a year or two.
Since wood chips are hard to get, are there local lawn services nearby that could drop bagged leaves? Leaf mulch is great for building soil and easier to handle than wood chips.

Perennial spinach (e.g. longevity, okinawa, sissoo) and passion flower might also work for groundcover and/or chop n drop. Perennial herbs like cuban oregano, chives and Italian oregano can also do well.

Katuk, blackberry jam fruit, monstera, PB fruit could be other options for understory plantings.

Native salvia can be quite prolific for attracting pollinators in dappled light. Should be a fun project!

That is a great idea on the lawn stuff even though we are moving into winter now so no one is cutting their lawns lol. I have monstera not too far away, I will have to figure out how to propagate it since mine survived the vicious freezes of last year with no protection. Didnt know we had native salvia, might drop by Lucas and see what they have in stock. Lucas is a huge nursery here in C Florida with extremely expensive fruit tree prices BUT their flowering bushes and shrubs are priced much more reasonably, and they have a crazy variety.

RS

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2022, 02:56:15 PM »
Don't give up on your olives, I'm in the warmer west area and arbequina fruited for the first time this year, but all blew off in Ian before we could harvest ;D

Ripple

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2022, 06:29:39 PM »
Hello, Melbourne, Australia is does not have a huge community, but there are forum on Dayley's website with a whole thread on fruiting plants that will grow here. It is quite cold (for Australia) with short summers. We are supposed to be 9b, but ppl say all the way from 9a to 10. There is also a heat island effect if you are near the city. The more tolerant plants are loquots, pepinos, stone fruit, blueberries, cane berries (blackberry, raspberry, etc). More marginal are banana (some varieties will grow), some mangoes (but it is definitely a marginal climate), lychee/longan!! I am experimenting but lychee is from the subtropics and regions of China that can be quite cold. I have pea-sized fruit on mine and I have seen a youtube video of a woman picking huge lychee fruit from a tree in Melbourne. Longan is supposedly more tolerant of a range of climates.

The whether spark website (below) allows you to compare climates of your area with others around the world, so very good for finding other places that may have similar fruit tree viability as yours. Also just great info on your own climate.

https://www.daleysfruit.com.au/forum/tropical-fruit-trees-successfuly-grown-in-melbourne/

https://weatherspark.com/

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2022, 09:34:19 PM »
I am not new at fruit trees. I have an existing 2 acre yard with around 80ish trees of everything from mango, pecan and olive to star fruit, 9 pound lemon, and banana.
[/quote]

Sounds like you already have a very good idea of what grows in your area. I thought of pecans, actually, but there is difficulty of finding a disease resistant type 1 tree. I have heard that Amling might fit the bill. Do you have and recommendation from your experience thus far?

Tropheus76

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2022, 09:24:10 AM »
LOL I have had some success and no disease issues thus far from my pecans but they are all either new or the two older ones I have are still less than 12 feet. The bigger of the two has actually given me a couple pecans which I didnt even notice until the leaves dropped. Could not tell you the type unfortunately, its been in gournd about 5 years and the tags are long since gone and dumba$$ me forgot to write them down elsewhere. I really love pecans though so I may add one later down the road, this time an Elliot which I have heard is the preferred type for Central Florida.

I do kind of know what works but I am always looking for new things to try. Just because I have all those tree doesnt mean they are all thriving. Heck, I have a Mexican plum tree that after ten years is finally blooming heavily despite no fruit. Going to plant a scarlet and some other Florida plum near it on a couple irrigated mounds and see what happens. Its currently near some fruiting All Spice trees I planted around the same time. Another thing I picked up seed pods of are West Indian locust so I will give them a go.

I went and decided to do some walking and braving the mosquitoes yesterday and discovered some smaller clearings in the property under the oaks amidst the palmetto. I am going to try growing some citrus under the canopy and see how that works. Should be a neat experiment if anything. I have a lemon already that doesnt enjoy potted life, some seeds from an unknown tree with very big, very seedy but very juicy oranges, and I will see what home depot has at lunch for cheap. It is a neat little property, there is even a small mango that I re-planted soon after my first freeze knocked it back to the trunk that is actually doing well and in its warmer micro-climate, hasnt taken any further cold damage over the years. And yes, I totally plan on trying a named cultivar back there before the spring starts to see if that will work again or if its a fluke of the trunk. The thicker part of it is neat and I dont think it has ever been cleared before and I dont plan on doing so either.

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2022, 10:13:16 AM »
Blueberries are something to consider for acidic sandy soil.

tru

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2022, 10:38:34 AM »
peaches, avocados, banana, mango, melons, passionfruit, loquats, feijoa, jaboticaba, miracleberries, goji berries, any citrus of your choice

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2022, 03:46:58 PM »
I've heard good things about Eliott. It is a type 2. I have also read that Amling is a good type 1, but I have not grown it. My Dad had a Stewart and a Desireable. The Desireable died and the Stewart puts out half a dozen nuts a year (which the squirrels get) because it doesn't get good pollination. There is a row of pecans a few miles from my house that is probably over 50 yeaes old. They do set a good number of pecan every other year (which is typical for pecans). I think they are seedlings since that was customary back then. Based on what I saw in North Florida this year, I think  we actually have less disease in Central Florida. Maybe its because we have a drier spring and there are fewer pecan trees around to harbor the diseases? I know that is how it is with brown rot on plums.

Speaking of plums, I have heard that mexican plum makes a good rootstock for peaches. Sounds like its self infertile (which is true of all wild plums I believe). Scarlet Beauty is partly self-fertile. Its the only low chill plum I know of that is. All the UF plums need cross pollination. I am trying to grow Guthrie which is a chickisaw type that was discovered in Florida that is suposed to be really tasty. It is reported to need 300 hrs, but I am banking that it will fruit with less. I only get about 150-200. I got it from Mail Order Natives.

I'd encourage you to try seedling mangoes from poly seeds. I have had very good success with growing poly seeds out with good fruit and if you get stumped in a freeze there is a good chance that it will come back.

Rispa

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2022, 05:36:32 PM »
Mint, African blue basil (plant enough and the bees will make edge area hum), various types of ginger, sugar cane, Barbados cherry, star fruit, figs, thyme, okra, various edible flowers

Jordan321

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2022, 09:02:45 AM »
It's not a perfectly ideal mulch solution, but if O-town's landfill doesn't, the Melbourne (Fl) landfill will give you all the free mulch you can take and isn't that far from you. You'd just want to find access to a dump trailer to make the hour drive worth it.
I've had the same experience with Chipdrop. Going on nothing for a year and a half.  I even stopped and told the Asplund guy when they were in the neighborhood. He pulled out his phone and said "ok, I see you here. The next load's coming your way." -- That was 6 months ago, so I expect it to be a big load  ;)

... And thanks to whoever shared the fruitgeek link. Another fruit blog to obsessively read, just what I needed.

Tropheus76

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2022, 09:38:33 AM »
It's not a perfectly ideal mulch solution, but if O-town's landfill doesn't, the Melbourne (Fl) landfill will give you all the free mulch you can take and isn't that far from you. You'd just want to find access to a dump trailer to make the hour drive worth it.
I've had the same experience with Chipdrop. Going on nothing for a year and a half.  I even stopped and told the Asplund guy when they were in the neighborhood. He pulled out his phone and said "ok, I see you here. The next load's coming your way." -- That was 6 months ago, so I expect it to be a big load  ;)

... And thanks to whoever shared the fruitgeek link. Another fruit blog to obsessively read, just what I needed.
Good ideas, I am not sure if the Orlando dump is making mulch yet. As a crow flies, its literally about 3 miles from me, but by vehicle its closer to 25 minutes with tolls lol.

I actually had a Spanish speaking coworker translate the entire process of talking to tree workers about getting the mulch dropped at my house complete with address and such and keep it on a piece of paper in my glove compartment just in case I see tree people in the neighborhood. As my luck would have it, havent seen a tree company in over a year and a half lol.

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2022, 12:20:06 PM »
I read this article a long time ago and was remindied about it while I was thinking about another thread. Its not a food forrest per say. But, this guy is growing some really neat stuff on a place very similar to your property. I'm thinking that the persimmkn from New Hampshire must be one of the improved American types. The one from Russia is probably Nikita's Gift or Rosayanka (both hybrids of Asian with American).

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://rarefruitblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/2016-10.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiZiLC9qNT7AhXIRDABHUUiCc0QFnoECCoQAQ&usg=AOvVaw1RZR0cavh6cE66FmgYhicM
« Last Edit: November 29, 2022, 04:19:57 PM by Galatians522 »

RS

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2022, 02:34:26 PM »
Galatians you are a wealth of information, thanks for mentioning the mail order natives site, https://www.mailordernatives.com/edible-fruit-berries-nuts/. Mayhaw and tupelo weren't on my radar at all for fruit. Have you had any experience with these?

The article link doesn't seem to have posted above if you have a chance to add.

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2022, 04:21:23 PM »
The article link doesn't seem to have posted above if you have a chance to add.

Oops! I'm sorry about that I will make sure to add it to the post above.

Galatians522

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2022, 05:07:18 PM »
I do not have any experience with Mayhaw or Ogechee tupelo other than what I have read. I have always wondered if they would fruit here and think people should try them. I often see other native, temperate trees that aren't suposed to be this far south. Tulip poplar, Silver Maple, Sawtooth Oak, Red Bud, Swamp White Oak, and I hear that there are some native hawthorns that do make it down into northern Central Florida (that might make good rootstock for Mayhaw). There were some old selections that were suposed to be low chill (Superberry?)~300 hrs as I recall. I am guessing that its actually susceptibility to rust fungus that limits their range more than chill.

The only tupelo I have tasted so far (other than the honey) is the black. It is the only one native this far south. The berries I tried were about as bitter as grapefruit peel, although I hear that they can be pretty nice when cooked with sugar. Ogeechee is the one people purposely try to grow. People use the sour fruits as a lime substitute and the flowers make excellent honey (to sweeten the fruits with? Lol!). The map I looked at shows that it is native about as far south as Gainesville. The Black is a tough and long lived tree, I wonder if it would be possible to graft Ogeechee to it to give it a better chance this far south. Sorry I can't be more help.

Tropheus76

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Re: Central Florida Food Forest planning ideas
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2022, 10:23:33 AM »
I take range things with a grain of salt and believe much of it is just in general. I have never gone looking for trees in the woods and if mosquitoes werent so bad right now I might go off into the nearby swamps and pine scrub looking for native pawpaws. I know from experience fauna typically doesnt like to stay in defined ranges humans have made for them, provided their needs are met even if its a small area. Copperhead snakes for example are not "supposed" to be below Gainesville which is about an hour north of me as a crow flies, longer by road. I have found two in the last 8 years within 100feet of a horse farm stable down the street. If I would have known beforehand that this was out of range I would have taken pics and sent them in to the DNR. The farm has since been pretty much abandoned, so their ample rat food source likely left for greener pastures and I havent seen them since, plenty of cool ring necks, rat snakes, corals, black racers out the yin yang, and even one of those rare king snakes. Quite sure when I dig into the palm stand I will find rattlesnakes as well.

 

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