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

Chickens control asparagus beetles

Raking mulchI spent a lot of time last year combatting the asparagus beetles in hopes that our asparagus would keep their leaves all summer and give us a crop this spring.  After months of hand-picking the asparagus beetles and squishing their eggs, predatory stink bugs came along to help out in August, and I felt like we kept the beetle population under control.  Still, when I read that the beetles overwinter in mulch and other garden debris and can be deleted by burning, I decided to give it a shot.

Decided is the operative word here --- I put "burn asparagus beds" on my list in January and here it is near the end of March with nothing done.  I'm such a wimp when it comes to fire that I didn't know where to start, and when I did finally try to light the mulch, it was too damp to burn.  I didn't really want to burn up my precious organic matter anyway.  Didn't I carefully spread that straw around my garden for a reason?

Chickens on deep beddingWith the chickens moving to new digs, I opted to try a more permaculture solution.  I raked up all of the dead asparagus tops and mulch and carted the whole shebang to the new chicken coop to form the first layer of their deep bedding.  Our chickens are constantly scratching for bugs, and once they've eated up the bad beetles and fertilized the straw, I can always spread the value-added product back on the garden.  I hope the mulch transport will help keep asparagus beetle populations lower this year.

Our chickens stay healthy on pasture and unlimited clean water from their chicken waterer.

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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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