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

Easy soil building with cover crops

Oat cover crop

How easy can it be to build your soil?  This patch of oats proves that two minutes of planting in August can produce quite a bit of biomass.

Forest garden in summerYou may recall that our forest garden had grown up in a truly distressing fashion this summer.  After Mark whacked all of the weeds down with his weed eater, there was a lot of soil that had been shaded bare by the huge wingstem and other weeds.  I tossed handfuls of oats on the ground and ignored them, figuring they'd either come up or get eaten by birds.

I forgot to tell Mark about my experiment, so he mowed through some of the cover crops, but the patches he missed grew up quite nicely.  They kept down any late summer weeds and will probably provide semi-bare patches with a light coating of mulch come spring.  The soil won't be weed-free and rich enough to plant vegetables directly into but will probably be bare enough to plant a summer round of cover crops in the same quick and dirty fashion.  Those two minutes of gardening really paid off!

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with POOP.


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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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