The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

A $20 mound

Mound to plant a tree inEvery year, I splurge and spend a hundred bucks on new perennials.  Although it seems like a lot of cash, fruit trees take a long time to mature and it just makes sense to find the money to sink into long term farm infrastructure as soon as possible.

This year, Mark talked me into spending even more on perennials since we've got several gaps in the forest garden, remnants of the days when I didn't realize that there is no point in planting fruit trees in the waterlogged soil without raising them up on significant mounds and that I should plant disease resistant varieties rather than just my favorite foods.  So I put in an order for Liberty and old-fashioned Winesap apples, Redhaven and Cresthaven peaches, Prima and Bounty Almonds, Carpathian walnuts (to go in the other forest garden where there's room for mammoths), timber bamboo, dwarf Korean nut pine, and Chicago hardy fig.

Two peach trees

The old saw admonishes us to dig a $10 hole for a $2 tree, and I'm now a firm believer in every part of the saying except the hole part.  Take a look at the photos above, and you'll probably become a believer too.  The peach on the left was planted on a large mound of rich soil that I expanded over the next two years by piling garden weeds around the mound edges.  That peach gave us a glut of delicious peaches this year.  The peach on the right was planted one year later on a much smaller mound that was never expanded.  It gave us four peaches this year, and its leaves have always been a yellowish color instead of the vibrant green of the peach planted in a $10 mound.  The dark green peach is actually 25 feet further away from the camera, but it looks nearly as big as the yellow peach, doesn't it?  In actuality, our happy peach is about twice as big around.

I've learned my lesson and have resolved to plant this year's perennials in $20 mounds.  After laying down a sheet of cardboard to kill vigorous weeds, I hauled four wheelbarrow loads of composted weeds from the forest pasture, then topped the mound with a Chickens scratching through compostwheelbarrow load of the world's best wood chip mulch.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the prime composted weeds after mound number three, so I need to come up with some other awesome soil to build the other half of the mounds.

As a side note, the chickens were just as helpful when it came time to shovel compost as when I was shovelling wood chips.  I was impressed to see how well our merged flock plays together now that the rooster has taken all of the biddies under his wing.  Just a week ago, our broody hen would never have let the loner forage so close to her sharp, sharp beak.

Our homemade chicken waterer keeps your flock healthy and happy.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Have I been alarmist at you about pine nuts yet? It may be too late now, but I would encourage you to try the pine nuts of the tree variety you're considering before buying. Some Asian pine nuts can leave a long-lasting metallic taste in some people's mouths - long lasting as in days or weeks. This happened to me and it was super unpleasant. You don't taste it when you're eating them, just later. I'd suck to nurture a tree all the way to producing and then not want the nuts!
Comment by Amy Thu Oct 21 19:46:06 2010

You hadn't told me that before, but I'd read that somewhere on the internet. I also read a lot of rebuttals from folks who believed that it wasn't the species of nuts, but instead factors of processing and/or storage. (I can't remember the specifics.) I'm willing to chance it since I've discovered that most of the bad tastes out there aren't present in homegrown produce. I used to hate half of the things I now grow --- they just taste so much better fresh!

Of course, you should feel free to say "I told you so" in a decade or two. :-)

Comment by anna Thu Oct 21 20:22:50 2010

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