Creating My Edible Yard – Part 1

A Gardener's Journey Into Permaculture and Urban Agriculture

Written by Trish Michaels1 Comment


My edible yard just one year after this post!

I’m learning a new way to grow an endless supply of organic food. It’s called Permaculture.  It’s how Mother Earth naturally replenishes her forests. I’m transitioning from my old gardening style into Permaculture because it promises to:

–  Require less effort, which is great for me as a lazy gardener.

–  Increase food production because the soil effortlessly stays nourished and rich season after season.

–  Help me live more sustainably and self-sufficiently.



Raised beds in my traditional, high-maintenance lawn.

I’ve been growing organic food for 20 years. My raised beds sit amidst lush spans of St. Augustine grass.  I once thought it was beautiful, though hard to maintain.  Now I realize it’s not sustainable or self-sufficient to rely on city water and store-bought fertilizers.

So, I’m getting rid of my raised beds and thirsty grass.  In future posts, I’ll share what I learn. If you’re already into Permaculture, please share your wisdom. If you’re not, perhaps you’ll be inspired.



I love cooking with all the fresh, organic goodies I grow.  Nothing is more satisfying. So, for years, I’ve been doing what I thought were the right things.  I compost my own yard and food waste to create yummy soil.  For fertilizer, I raise worms and haul in bags of expensive chicken and cow compost.  I weed and pick off bugs by hand.  I lovingly water every bed with a hose each day. I’ve always said it’s worth the effort.  But as the summers get hotter and I get older, it’s more than I care to maintain.



Once I learned Florida’s water supply is running low, I stopped wasting it on my lawn.  I had already stopped using chemical fertilizers and weed killers years ago.  So thanks to this summer’s heat and drought, I now have a yard full of dead grass, weeds and ants.  I want to replace my St. Augustine grass with sustainable alternatives.  I envision mulched areas for fruit and citrus trees.  I’m searching for native grass that gives me the look and feel of my old lawn.  Admittedly, I miss my beautiful grass, but not enough to waste precious water on it.

Back when I used to water my lawn.

Years after I stopped watering.












I want to harvest a wider variety of food with less effort. I want to find veggies and herbs that thrive here without watering them every day.  I want lots of fruit trees and citrus.  I want my front and back yards to be a beautiful, lush, edible paradise.  I don’t know if all this is possible, but I’m on the road to find out.


I heard these terms for years from my greenie friends.  I never thought of them as right for me since I was already gardening successfully.  Then I saw the lush permaculture garden my dear friends Michaela and Steve planted while building our area’s first Platinum LEED (super energy efficient) home. This summer I visited a totally off-grid community in North Carolina where permaculture gardens feed a thriving community of 60 people.  Yep, time for a change.

There’s nothing new or innovative about any of this.  This is how food forests get created all over the world.  Heck, five generations of my North Florida ancestors farmed this land for their survival.  They had to work closely with nature, long before chemicals were available or affordable.  Certainly I can do it too!  It’s in my genes.  Sounds simple enough.  So, where do I start?


I’m reaching out into my community to learn what’s working – what’s not.  I’m meeting all sorts of interesting people with tons of experience and expertise.  I’m inspired.  I created a layout of my yard and am planning space for fruit trues, vegetable beds and perennial herbs. I envision a chicken coop, a gazebo for grapes and a bird bath near the bird house where Blue Birds nest every year. I’m going to transition a little at a time this fall when I plant my favorite winter veggies. By spring, I hope to include edibles I’ve never tried before.  I’m wide open for suggestions!  And looking forward to the journey.

I’ll track my progress in a series of posts.  Click here to see “My Edible Yard – Part 2.”

By Trish Michaels

I’ve been gardening organically for 20+ years. I'm mostly vegetarian. I love cooking what I grow and creating recipes to incorporate whole grains, beans and seeds. In my Jacksonville home, I lower my carbon footprint with solar power, rainwater harvesting, composting, waste reduction, etc. I'm eager to do more! I launched Sustainable North Florida in 2012 as a way to donate my digital marketing skills to help promote the many sustainable events and people greening our community - and to connect with other locals who share my passion for protecting natural resources, eating healthy and living green. My vision is a more sustainable community that lovingly supports one another with knowledge and resources. Jacksonville is a great place to call home!

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One Comment on “Creating My Edible Yard – Part 1”

  1. Pingback: Creating My Edible Yard - Part 2 - Sustainable North Florida