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

Nurse stump

Old treesThe most recent owners of our farm before us had a standard apple tree growing right beside their house.  I figured that a house apple was likely to be a delicious local heirloom, but although we really wanted to keep it, the tree was too old and diseased to save.  (If I'd known as much about trees then as I do now, I would have grafted some twigs onto new rootstocks to safeguard the variety, but hindsight is always 20/20.)

Stump dirtEven though the apple perished without feeding us a single fruit, its body has been feeding our garden ever since.  The wood was too punky to burn by the time we cut it up, but the rotting biomass has helped increase the tilth of our blueberry beds.  Last winter, I gathered stump dirt out of what remained of the tree to start seedlings inside, and this fall I've decided to let the rest of the stump become an instant, high quality raised bed for my gooseberry sprout.

In many forests, nurse logs and stumps form natural beds to help along new baby trees, so I'm just mimicking nature with my action.  However, I want nature to progress a little faster than it would in the wild, so I talked Mark into cleaning out the deep bedding in the broiler coop to add more nitrogen to what is otherwise a low fertility garden spot.

Cleaning out deep beddingWhile we were at it, we spread deep bedding on bare patches elsewhere in the blueberry beds, probably covering about a quarter of the currently mulched area.  All that high nitrogen chicken manure will probably be enough to feed the blueberries all summer --- the trick will be remembering those plants got a fall feeding and not topdressing with more compost come spring.  I clearly need some kind of data-collection to go with my new haphazard mulching campaign so everyone gets a fair shake when it comes to feeding.

Our chicken waterer combined with deep bedding keeps the coop dry and odor-free.

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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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Probably the easiest way to record where you put the bedding is to take a couple of pictures of where you put the bedding, including some good reference points.
Comment by Roland_Smith Tue Dec 4 12:50:42 2012

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