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

Muck makes good seed beds

Harvesting muck out of drainage canalsA more arduous method of harvesting the silt carried by water is to wait until it settles into drainage canals and then dredge out the muck.  This method is employed in wet areas of south-central Mexico that were turned into farmable land by a series of drainage canals.  Farmers have to dredge muck out of these canals about once a year in order to keep the canals from turning into swamps, and the harvested muck makes a high quality soil amendment.

Since muck is so energy-intensive to harvest, it is traditionally poured into small molds made by mounding up a soil lip around four sides of a rectangle on the ground.  The water quickly soaks into the underlying soil, leaving a rectangle of solidified muck that can be cut into small squares.  A seed is planted into each square, then the resulting seedlings are transplanted into the main fields.  The muck seed bed gives the seedlings a good start on life, and the cubes of muck are a good amendment to the regular seedbed after transplanting.

We certainly have plenty of muck going to waste on our farm.  Previous owners rerouted the main creekbed, leaving behind an old creekbed that we've dubbed the alligator swamp.  I suspect that we could harvest many buckets of muck out of the swamp and add the high fertility soil to our garden with the help of the golf cart.

This week's lunchtime series only covered the first third of Good Farmers.  Stay tuned for another series if I get my act together before the library book is due!

This post is part of our Central American Permaculture lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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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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