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

Scavenging biomass

Many of you answered my poll to say that you wished I'd put all of my writing here rather than hiding some away in ebooks.  While I'm not going to reprint the entirety of the October issue of Weekend Homesteader on the blog, this week's lunchtime series will highlight one of the month's four projects: Scavenging biomass.

A century ago, many products that we think of as "waste" were cherished as sources of garden fertility.  The invention of chemical fertilizers, though, made most farmers turn to easier to handle (and less smelly) sources of nutrients.  Although this sea change has damaged our environment and degraded the nutritional quality of our food supply, there is a silver lining --- the backyard homesteader has dozens of choices of free biomass to choose from.

The type of biomass you hunt down for this week's project will depend on where you spend your time.  Many of you live out in the country but commute into a city every day to work --- you can scavenge in both places without going out of your way.  If you spend most of your time in one setting or the other, though, it's probably not worthwhile to drive too far outside your usual stomping grounds
for free biomass.  I've separated sources of biomass into those found in your household, in rural areas, and urban areas to help you simplify your scrounging.

Collecting autumn leaves Gathering free sources of biomass can be a bit time consuming and physically strenuous, but the rewards are many.  Since you'll usually want to ask for permission before grabbing biomass out of someone's dumpster, your scavenging will help you meet new people and form connections in your community.  In many cases, you'll be keeping "waste" from ending up the landfill while building the long term fertility of your soil.  Last of all, it's just plain fun to get something so useful for free.

Weekend Homesteader paperbackThis post is part of our Scavening Biomass 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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Is that broccoli or cabbage in the picture? I am not sure. But the picture is really neat. I love that idea of having half of the picture under- and half above-ground. Or ground level. :) I might owe you some scavenging? I'll keep my eyes open at least, for leaves.
Comment by Maggie Mon Sep 26 15:07:23 2011

I am glad you wrote that. It is precisely what you were going to pay me to write.

(I am Anna's sister, in case you are puzzled. And I write rare features hither and yon.)

Comment by Maggie Mon Sep 26 15:10:16 2011
That's a purple cabbage from several years ago. I'm not sure if you owe me scavenging, but I could sure use some more leaves! I'll email you....
Comment by anna Mon Sep 26 16:11:25 2011

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