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

Happy May Day!

Collage of current garden photos.

Although our calendar says that summer begins on June 21, pagans have long celebrated May Day as the beginning of summer.  I can see their point.  The woods are closing in as the leaves unfurl on treetops, the first box turtles crawled out of their muddy hibernation this week, and the first lightning bugs lit up our yard.

The garden is starting to look summery too.  Swiss chard (top left), spinach, kale, and collards are ready to eat --- I still have about half a gallon of frozen greens, but am considering passing those on to the worms and eating the fresh!  Egyptian onions (center photo) are putting up flower stalks, while the first two beds of spring lettuce have gone bitter.  (As a side note, did you know that lettuce's genus name, Lactuca, refers to the milky juice produced when the plants begin to age?  The bottom right photo shows a closeup of a broken lettuce leaf bleeding white.)

The other two photos aren't signs of summer, but I couldn't resist throwing them in.  The worm snake on the upper right is a sign of a healthy garden ecosystem --- our yard is jampacked with them!  These little snakes spend their lives burrowing through the soil in search of their favorite prey --- earthworms.  Don't worry, they're completely harmless.  In fact, their heads are so small that I'm not sure they could bite even if they tried.

The bottom left photo is a mushroom growing out of a decaying stump in the middle of one of my raised beds.  In Mycelium Running, Paul Stamets writes about growing mushrooms and vegetables together to increase yields of the latter --- I wonder if my volunteer mushroom will help the garlic in its bed out?

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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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