Sisterhood Within – Women’s Soul Retreat

 

amazing-balance-blur-312839I’m so excited! There is no way I can convey my joy in words. But I will try…I am proud to present: The Sisterhood Within, an event that I’ve co-created with my former PDC (Permaculture Design Course) ladies. Lori Anne Mayor, founder of Be Leaf Family Co-op, created this vision, which will take place on November 8-11, 2018 in Brooksville, FL.

It’s a retreat created for women to explore their inner power. Because that power exists inside us. Sometimes it’s masked by our demanding schedules, screaming little ones, or lack of space for a quiet moment. But it’s there.

Please join us for an exploration of the chakra system through spiritual connection in art, writing, meditation, yoga and dance. I look forward to meeting everyone! Find all the details for the event here!

P.S. Letting you in on event details is also letting you in on another amazing project in my life…

To find peace, sometimes you have to be willing to lose your connection with people, places and things that create all the noise in your life.

Learning to Grow in Long, Hot Summers! (notes from Austin, Texas)

Happy May! Many learning experiences include input from others. In the first week of every month, I’d like begin to introduce everyone to gardeners, permaculturists, teachers, spiritual mentors and friends who have inspired and supported my journey. If you are interested in contributing, contact me directly at stephdvy@yahoo.com. Thank you!

As the first guest writer, I would like to welcome E. Ray Gard! E. Ray is a gardener, educator and designer in Austin, Texas. He writes his own blog, called Agricrafty.com. Enjoy his article! And thank you, E. Ray!

Learning to grow in long, hot summers! (notes from Austin, Texas)

Hi there, our growing season here in Austin and the rest of surrounding Central Texas is a bit of a head scratcher to most people in the Northern parts of the United States. You see, we’re not quite tropical, thanks to those occasionally cold, albeit short, winter freezes that we get, but we’re not quite temperate, because our seasons are most accurately described as Summer and Fall/Winter?…well, maybe Summer and Not Summer?

Anyway, just like anyone with an unusual shoe size or uncommon first name can tell you, when you are outside of the norm, a perfect fit can be hard to come by, whether it’s shoes or good gardening advice.

So, while the rest of the United States is shuttering their garden sheds for the winter, we find ourselves filling up our greenhouses with seed trays full of kale, cabbages and spinach, getting ready to grow as many greens as we possibly can over the mild winter.

The tricky part (and this is where Florida might recognize the tune) comes in the middle of summer, while our friends to the north are rolling in verdant hills of delicate strawberry plants covered in glossy red fruit, we are staring at wilted fields of explosive, but exhausted squash, okra and tomatoes. By the middle of August, with the hot days followed by hot nights with low or high humidity, a Texas summer can kill or stunt most any vegetable.

On that note:

Tips for Gardening in Long, Hot Summers!

  1. Plants like rest!
    When the long hot days are followed by long hot nights, your plants, even if they’re well-watered, are constantly having to use energy (sugar) and other nutrients to cool themselves and maintain normal function. With this in mind, get to know your plants natural light requirements and be ready to plant some in partial shade because it might mean they can be slower to mature, but maintain productivity throughout the summer and be awesome fall producers once the temperatures start to lower.
  2. Keep your soil safe and hydrated!
    Too much rain can compact bare soils as well as wash nutrients like phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and sodium away, which makes them more acidic. Here in Central Texas, we have a lot of limestone in our soils, so low pH (acid) soils aren’t that common, but the rain can still be a powerful frenemy depending on how much and how often it comes to visit. If you are getting daily rains, be sure that your plants are located away from excessive runoff or pooling, unless they are adapted for that kind of pond living. Lots of water on a regular basis can wash away the smaller components of your soil (like humus and compost), which can actually reduce your soil’s ability to hold water when it’s not raining as well as rob your plants of necessary nutrients.
  3. Plants love great soils!
    This one might seem like a no-brainer, but to the point above about washing too much of the good stuff out of your soils, not only do those plants need water to survive the heat, they need tons of rich soil to pull a wide variety of nutrients out of. In people, this is like thinking that all you need after a run on a hot day is water, no food, no electrolytes, just water. Now imagine that you are running every single day, only drinking water to recover. I think you get my point, you have to feed your soil so your plants can have access to everything they need to run that race every single hot day of the summer.

I hope you found something helpful for learning to grow in Florida in these tips from a fellow gardener a few states to the West in Texas! I write about my own gardening experience and journey into permaculture and regenerative agriculture over on my blog at Agricrafty.com, so feel free to stop by and take a look for more useful information.

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E. Ray Gard is a cowboy way down deep. He loves to experience other cultures and has lived and worked in France, Italy, Ecuador, Honduras and Syria, but currently calls Austin, Texas home. When he’s not covered in dirt and bits of vegetables, he’s learning to play the fiddle, training capoeira or BJJ, or working on his scifi novel. He grew up on a ranch and farm in rural New Mexico and has stayed in agriculture his whole life. He started teaching gardening as a bright-eyed Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador after college and has been sharing agriculture as a way to help people improve their health, environment and quality of life ever since. Since then, he’s studied permaculture, holistic management and more recently the Regrarian’s design platform as paths to be a better student of and partner with the land. E.Ray is passionate about healing the problems of the world in a garden. He believes deeply that nurturing a piece of land makes us better dreamers, warriors, lovers and human beings in general.

Florida Gardening in April

April gardening:

This month was a month of action in my gardening world. Everything I had organized and prepared happened. And I’m happy to say, it was not only a success, but took me to places I hadn’t anticipated and introduced me to life-long friends.

In this month, I initiated phase two for a school garden; held the first Mommy and Me Gardening Club meeting; on Earth day I became certified in permaculture design; accepted another kids garden design project where I’ll partner with a county park; I was featured as a guest writer on a fellow permaculturist’s blog: Agricrafty.com; and I’m creating a website for my business! The website is in the beginning stages as well as the business end of things, but it’s still very exciting! This blog is connected.

I haven’t been working too much in my own garden, but I did create an herb spiral and I’m designing a shade structure for my raised beds and a bench for my garden shed. I’m waiting for the rainy season and need to weed! But here is what you could have been planting:

What to plant in the vegetable garden:

  • corn
  • melons
  • basil
  • dill
  • oregano
  • chives
  • thyme
  • sweet marjoram
  • Chayote
  • calabaza squashes
  • southern peas
  • okras
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • dasheens
  • sweet potatoes
  • malangas

What is flowering:

My yard is filled with color this time of year! So many things are in bloom. Be sure to water. The rainy season isn’t quite here and the plants are getting a little more heat, which may stress them out.

  • Jamaican strawberry tree (I’m convinced this tree flowers most months! The bees love the little flowers.)
  • plumeria
  • lantana
  • oleander
  • periwinkle
  • perennial peanut
  • jasmine
  • bouganvallia
  • coral bean
  • phalaenopsis
  • desert rose
  • marigolds

References:

Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.

Meet the Teachers

20180426_203601Katrina is a stay-at-home mom with two children, ages 4 and 6. She got her AA in Environmental Science Technology and has a fascination with Florida Ecology. She is involved in Anchor Home School with her son Landon and the PTA at her daughter’s elementary school. She started a small garden a few years ago, found out how easy it is to grow edibles in your landscape, and has been adding on to her garden ever since. She loves to see her kids eat raw fruits and veggies right in the garden. Katrina is helping with a beautification project in Sun City and hopes to be involved in educating the community on how unique Florida is and how we can make small changes to keep you doing less work in your yard and more time enjoying it with your kids.

Stephanie is a mom of four children, ages 2, 4, 6, and 8. She has been gardening since she was pulling weeds in her mom’s large vegetable garden. Over the years, she’s moved from vegetables to flowers and now has a variety of perennials, vegetables, fruit trees, orchids, tillandsia and palms. Her favorite gardens are butterfly gardens, which attract many species of caterpillars, butterflies and hummingbirds. Stephanie recently has shared her love of plants with the Ruskin Elementary School in a beautification project on the campus. This included raised vegetable beds that can provide educational opportunities for the science teachers. This blog is where she documents her experiments in her own garden. She is also certified in permaculture design.

Experiencing Permaculture

“You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.” ~Geoff Lawton

If I don’t answer my phone; you don’t hear from me in awhile; or you’re talking to me and I’ve zoned out, it’s because I’m designing native gardens, water catchment systems and tiny homes in my mind.

The past two weeks I filled my brain with information from several disciplines as I explored the idea of permaculture at Koreen Brennan’s Farm. I believe I just left gardening heaven in the form of a garden summer camp. And it was magical!

I discovered micro-rhizomes, mycelium, edible weeds, design concepts, keyhole systems and much more. Originally, I had enrolled in this course to learn and organize concepts to use for my organic community garden and holistic healing center. I had no idea that I would walk away with far more than the expansion of my own plant knowledge.

Permaculture is a design, a lifestyle, a business model, and a state-of-mind. It’s a lifestyle that I’ve been living and craving to dive deeper into. Apparently, my tribe lives in this world. These people are me. They understand without explanation. They are open to innovative ideas and adventure at a depth I rarely experience. But something I don’t think I can live without. I think we just formed an intentional community by saying, “yes” to permaculture. And that’s only the beginning.

Though, we were sad to leave, we weren’t meant to stay there together. We are meant to inspire, support and encourage each other. We are meant to take that first step toward the unknown, to accept where we are, to trust, to understand each other, to be our own adventures, and to believe. We aren’t just certified to share our passions; we are meant to make our dreams a reality. Thank you, Koreen!

 

Learning to Let Go

Letting go is hard. It can be painful. It can be challenging even when we know it’s good for us. Some things we need to let go of because it’s a toxin to our lives (i.e., alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, abusive relationships, etc.). Some times we are forced to let go of things because we move on in life – we get a new job, graduate from college, get married, have children. Here we may let go of former co-workers, friends, familiar landscapes. But we let go because we know it’s time, and we’re ready for the next stage in our life. Sometimes we’re blind to the idea of letting go, and when we finally realize we need to, it can cause great sadness. No one can avoid letting go, and it’s rarely easy.

I’ve lived in Florida for 5 years and before I moved I knew my life was about to undergo a profound transformation. Of course this was a given because I was moving hundreds of miles away from everything familiar – my friends, my house, my church, my entire life. I was scared, and I didn’t want to. It was the first time in my life, I let go of my own wants and completely surrendered everything to God. This was difficult, but I knew there was a reason God was moving my family to Florida. That reason didn’t fully come to life until this year when I discovered my true inner potential and was awaken with a Divine guiding hand to a bigger purpose in life to help victims of human trafficking. In this process, I have explored who I am and what life means to me. It’s been a spiritual journey where I have learned to grow and let go of many things.

What I’ve let go:

  • Anger: Anger is a difficult emotion. It covers up what’s really happening inside. This one was a challenge for me and very painful. I uncovered rejection, abandonment, competition and disappointment. These emotions are far harder to deal with than anger. By understanding my own anger, I have learned to respond, not react. This has been much healthier for any relationship I’m involved in.
  • Fear: We are all afraid of something. My biggest fear is being abducted. Do you know how hard it is to read about kidnappings of human trafficking victims? But my own fear has pushed me to take a positive action step to help awareness for this cause. I am also afraid of failure. I think we all are. But I’ve recently decided to take a huge risk, and I’m seriously hoping to open a business within the year. I discovered once I took the first step toward my dream that I wasn’t as afraid as I had thought, and I’m having a lot of fun watching things come together.
  • Expectations of myself and others: We all do this. Unrealistic expectations tend to cause disappointment. We should all have standards, but keep in mind that these standards reflect the reality of the relationship, the situation, the feelings. And we must realize no one is perfect and expecting perfection from ourselves is impossible. So let’s give ourselves some slack and let go of the stress that comes with unattainable expectations.

Bryan Divisions, a musician, inspires and encourages to let go in his song entitled, Let Go. Please check out his song. It’s been a great reminder.

Sometimes we let go and never look back. Other times, we let go and shortly after run right back to that which we let go. It’s not always the letting go that we must understand, but instead the lesson to be learned and knowing that we’re walking toward something that is happening just for us at the right time. Find peace in the process, and it will take you a step closer to true joy.

What is something in your life you need to let go of?

“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” ~C. Joybell C.

Learning to Design Shade Gardens

This past month, I was asked to design two small shade gardens, so I grabbed my books and went to the Internet to see what did well in Florida. Shade gardens can be limited by the colors used because blooms tend to need more sun, but I feel like these gardens still have a variety of color textures, creating its own foliage beauty. Here is what I came up with:

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (Brunfelsia):

This shrub is the centerpiece for this small garden. The blooms are purple, lavender, and white. But that isn’t the best part. The fragrance is AMAZING! These shrubs aren’t picky for soil or light and are easy to care for. Be sure to keep soil moist during dry spells and fertilize in spring. This shrub will grow from 7 to 10 feet tall and up to 12 feet wide. ¹

Autumn Fern (Dryopteris erythrosora):

The Autmn Fern or Japanese shield fern is a perennial fern that grows well in Florida. Its foliage can reach up to 2 feet tall. The foliage is a bronze-copper color in spring when the plant is young, then matures to a dark green. The cultivar Brilliance has more reddish to coppery coloring than other species and holds the coloration when it becomes mature. Keep the soil evenly moist. ²

*Cost: $98, mulch included. Plants purchased at Crowley’s Nursery and Gardens. Mulch purchased at Home Depot.

Resources:

1 https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/yesterday-today-tomorrow/yesterday-today-tomorrow-plant.htm

2 http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3188

Hostas:

Hostas are a good shade-garden plant and were a favorite of mine when I lived in Illinois. I did read mixed reviews on hostas in Florida, so perhaps this is an experiment. They may not handle the heat well. This particular garden spot doesn’t get any direct sunlight, so I hope the hostas have a fighting chance to survive.

Aztec Grass:

This ground-cover grass is another plant that works well in shade and moist soil. This grass can be trimmed one a year. ¹

Tri-Color Ginger:

I chose this Brazilian-native ginger because of the color variety. This ginger does well in humidity and filtered light. It can grow from 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. You can fertilize this plant up to every 2 weeks, though I would suggest adding compost and mulch to add more natural fertilizers. ²

Variegated Ginger

This ginger can be used as a substitute for ginger spice. This plant can grow from 5 to 8 feet tall. It needs to be in moist soil. If the soil is sandy, be sure to add compost and mulch to help remedy the soil. ³

*$68, mulch included. Note: Some of the other plants pictured were already apart of the garden. Plants and mulch were purchased at Lowe’s.

Resources:

1 https://myperfectplants.com/product/aztec-grass/

2 http://homeguides.sfgate.com/tricolor-ginger-plants-46862.html

3 https://www.gardenguides.com/90603-variegated-ginger-plants.htm