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

Fall mulching in the forest garden

Oilseed radishes

The oilseed radishes I slipped into gaps in the forest garden in early September have formed a sea of yellow-green, but it's time to give that area a little more TLC.

Kill mulch

Mark pulled out the dead tomato vines, put away stakes, and laid down kill mulches to expand each tree's mulched area to the dripline.

Fall forest garden

Meanwhile, I ripped out weeds and pushed back mulch to open up bare ground beyond the trees' likely root zone.  Tossing down rye seeds there will result in homegrown mulch in the spring.

Forking strawAll summer, I'd dumped wheelbarrows full of weeds at the edges of the forest garden beds, then fertilized the high carbon biomass with urine.  I could have done this right in place around the trees, but I didn't want excess nitrogen to send the woody plants off in vegetative sprints, and I also wanted an easy place for wheelbarrow dumping.  A final reason to keep my weed piles outside the tree zone is that sometimes weeds reroot in our wet climate, and mounding up the pulled out plants smothers the ones underneath so they all perish.

The result of my summer weed piles was a lot of partially decomposed biomass ready to fertilize and mulch my fruit trees.  I forked the brown matter around the base of each fruit tree to give them a boost just as their roots hit peak fall growth.

Moving mulch

While I was at it, I broke apart a stump that had been slowly decaying beside one of my apple trees.  Other forest garden beds are full of the fluffiest, darkest soil imaginable from my hugelkultur donuts, and this bed could use a woody boost too.  I laid the stump pieces rotted-side-down close to the tree so the organic matter will work its way into the soil faster.

One beautiful fall afternoon and half the forest garden is in shape.  I hope the extra care will help our baby trees grow faster and bear sooner.

Our chicken waterer automates half of your chicken chores so your flock never goes thirsty.

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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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