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

Stump Dirt: Free Potting Soil

Gathering stump dirt for potting soil

It's seed starting season!  I try not to do much seed starting indoors since I actually produce better plants in cold frames outside, but it's really hard to resist sometimes.  So I headed out to the ancient beech this week to collect some stump dirt.  Two years ago, I cleaned the tree out, but last year I left it alone and six gallons of stump dirt have accumulated in the base of the hollow tree since then.

A lot of people screen the stump dirt first, then bake it in the oven on low heat to sterilize it, but I am quite happy with just picking out the big bits of bark and using the stump dirt immediately.  I do have to weed out a sprouted Jack-in-the-Pulpit or Greenbriar now and then, but I like having living soil.  And, see --- a couple of days later, the broccoli seeds are already sprouting!  I just wish we had more of these gracefully aging trees in our forest.

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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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