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

Cutting buckwheat with a hedge trimmer

Young buckwheat fruits

Electric hedge trimmerCover crops take almost no effort, but you do need to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't go to seed.  I thought that buckwheat planted on August 24 would be killed by the first frost just as it reached peak maturity, but we dodged the early frost bullet last week, and now our buckwheat is starting to develop young fruits.

I mowed down our first round of buckwheat, but I wasn't very happy with the results --- Cutting buckwheat with a hedge trimmerbuckwheat bits flew everywhere, and some plants got mashed down and then regrew.  This time, I decided to try out the electric hedge trimmer Mark got at a yard sale for $10.

As you can see, the sickle-type mowing blade made short work of our succulent buckwheat stems.  I slid the hedge trimmer through the buckwheat about an inch above the ground and was done cutting in about a minute.  A minute after that, I'd finished tossing the few stems that slid off the bed back on top of the growing area.
Slain buckwheat
The buckwheat worked as advertised in our loamy upper garden --- maturity in precisely six weeks.  Of course, the real test will be the quantity of dried organic matter we get, compared to the amount of organic matter that results from our slightly shorter but tougher oat stems.

No matter which cover crops win my long term attention, I can tell that the electric hedge trimmer has a future in our grain experiments.

Cut out the experimentation time when you build your nipple waterer using our homemade chicken waterer kit.

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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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I hadn't thought of using a hedge trimmer like that, but it seems so obvious now! I think I'll be hitting the garage sales in the next few weeks :-).
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Thu Oct 14 19:02:43 2010

We discovered this summer that the electric hedge trimmer wasn't up to cutting really serious weeds in our yard, but hopefully it'll be tough enough to cut wheat and oats. It definitely had no problem with buckwheat.

Thanks for your feedback on kangaroos on your site --- it sounds a lot like deer over here. I also really enjoyed reading one of your old posts about growing mushrooms out of mushroom compost --- very cool!

Comment by anna Thu Oct 14 20:18:09 2010

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