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

Ragweed and wingstem mulch, six months later

Decomposing mulch

While I'm obsessing over mulch, I thought you might enjoy seeing a followup about my wingstem and ragweed mulch from the middle of June.  This is far from a controlled experiment since three rounds of chicks spent their childhood scratching under the Gathering weeds for mulchso-mulched raspberries and blackberries, adding extra nitrogen and stirring things up for ultra-fast composting.  So I wasn't surprised to see that all of the weed leaves had completely disintegrated and even the stems were quickly disappearing into the dirt.

Without the cardboard layer underneath, I suspect the mulch wouldn't have held out as long as it did, but there were actually very few living weeds under the berry bushes when I weeded this week.  And the fall raspberries were huge, delicious, and copious down there, perhaps just from the chicken manure, but also perhaps due to the slowly decomposing weed carcasses.  So even though the mulch was a bit short-lived and needed to be topped off before winter, it's probably worth doing again.

Spreading deep bedding

The results in the woods (the source of the wingstem and ragweed) were equally striking --- no more tall weeds.  This might be a pro or a con, depending on what you're trying to do with an area.  If you want to get rid of tall weeds so you can grow shorter plants livestock will eat more readily, it might be a great idea to cut the wingstem and ragweed just before they bloom in June; but if you enjoy the flowers for your honeybees, this might not be such a good source of mulch.

I'm not sure the effort to biomass ratio is good enough to make this a regular part of our mulching campaign, but I'm going to keep it in the running.

Our chicken waterer keeps the coop dry so our deep bedding comes out perfect for garden mulch.


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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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