Food forest, preserve and suburban oasis

Okay, maybe it’s not an oasis. This area, located directly behind the fence is also part of our property. It was one of the reasons we really liked the place. 10 years ago, the sellers referred to it as a “preserve”, not sure that’s what I’d call it, but when we first moved in it was a mass of tangled vines and nearly impassable. It was clearly going to be a big project. Meaning lots of chopping and power tools, so right up my alley.

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Later on we found out that we back up to a tributary coming off the St. Johns called Cormorant Creek. I use the term “tributary” loosely. When it doesn’t rain, the creek can almost dry out and during bad storms, the water rises pretty quickly. There were a couple of time during hurricane season when it turned into a raging torrent..It’s home to all sorts of wildlife, horned owls, herons, turtles, snakes, frogs, raccoon, squirrel, the occasional alligator and mosquitoes..lots and lots of mosquitoes.

In addition to all the critters, the preserve held some other secrets. Seems our our property was part of an old homestead dating back to the early part of the 20th century. One day while clearing out a section near the creek I discovered a deposit of old glass bottles from the early 1900’s. The girls got a kick out of that and kept asking if we could go dig for more treasure…

This extra space opened up a host of possibilities, so over the next couple of years I steadily cleared back the undergrowth and was rewarded with this. The big tree laying on it’s side in the second picture is an ancient oak that’s almost petrified. Guessing it has to be well over a hundred years old. I’ve made small paths that lead to either side, and sometimes like to go walking back there. It’s relaxing and feels like you’re close to nature.

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Anyway, the girls have had a blast back there too, sloshing through the mud down by the creek..no chance of them getting lost with all of that pink…any snakes will run in the other direction..
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The thing I love most is that you wouldn’t know from looking at this spot that we’re in the middle of the suburbs… I continue to work and have to stay on top of the creeping vines and air potatoes that pop up. I’ve also thinned out some of the smaller trees. It’s turned into a great place to dump leaves and yard clipping so they can just naturally compost…While there is quite a bit of shade, as an experiment, I’ve planted a few things to see if they’d grow. Right now there are a couple of peach/nectarine trees, a loquat and a small patch of sweet potato. The possibilities of what can be done here are endless. Well not endless, but there are quite a few. Really interested to see if part of it at least could be turned into our own food forest..

Stay tuned.

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