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

archives for 11/2018

Prelude raspberry

Prelude raspberry is marketed as an ultra-early-ripening red raspberry (thus the name). But the variety is actually an everbearer that can give you a second crop in very late autumn if your growing season is long enough.

Sure enough, of the five Prelude plants we popped into the ground seven months ago, one flowered and is steadily working toward ripening its fruit. Given that we've had several spotty frosts plus one that blanked the entire farm, however, I don't hold out much hope we'll get to eat more than that single, nearly-ready fruit this year.

But we'll certainly be glad of the planting in June 2019!

Posted Thu Nov 1 06:00:38 2018 Tags:
Uptown Athens photo mural near parking garage.

We spotted this baby toad in a jar by the Uptown Athens Ohio parking garage.

Posted Fri Nov 2 06:00:39 2018 Tags:
Pulling out dead tomatoes

I set the camera up in time-lapse mode while I started putting the garden to bed. And in the process, I came to two conclusions....

Conclusion one: sowing an oat cover crop beneath ailing summer crops in mid August sure makes this task more inspiring. I'm not just pulling out the dead, I'm making way for homegrown organic matter in the spring!

Garden winterization

Conclusion two: Mark was right. I managed to pull out one tomato stake, but the others are so deeply embedded in the clay subsoil that they might as well have been set in concrete. Are we really going to have to buy a post puller for five measly stakes?

Posted Sat Nov 3 06:00:52 2018 Tags:
Baby Spinach plant.

Our spinach crop is a little bare this year.

Some things to do next time will be to increase nitrogen and loosen the soil 12 inches deep to help the tap root get established.

Posted Sun Nov 4 06:00:52 2018 Tags:
Late ripening peppers

I go back and forth about what to do with late-ripening peppers. Mark and I vastly prefer sweet, red peppers over their immature green form. But if you pick all of the green peppers before the first frost, many shrivel-ripen, not quite tasting as good as they would have if simply eaten green.

This year, with light, spotty frosts on the horizon in early October, I decided to be a gambler and only pick the fruits that were at least partially ripe. Sure enough, the plants were only lightly nipped and fruits continued ripening, giving me two more harvests to date. Success!

Posted Mon Nov 5 06:00:52 2018 Tags:
Blue Vates Kale does not bolt?

My Mom tried Dwarf Blue Vates kale this year.

Anna noticed that it did not go to seed, so she pulled it out of the chicken coop and replanted it to see if it will come back next year.

Some perennial kale can live up to 5 or 6 years.

Posted Tue Nov 6 06:00:55 2018 Tags:
Mini moat

"How's your wood-stove alcove project going?" --- various people

We were almost done with the digging...then it set in to rain. An inch and three quarters later, we didn't have an excavation project, we had a moat.

At first, Mark and I were just going to wait for the water to soak into the soil. But we seem to be on an every-other-day rain schedule at the moment and I'm not a very patient person. So Mark dug out a sump pump. Stay tuned to see if it works!

Posted Wed Nov 7 06:00:50 2018 Tags:
Using submersible pump to clean out footer water.

The submersible pump does a good job at draining the water from our foundation.

Posted Thu Nov 8 06:01:25 2018 Tags:
Carrot harvest

With some care, it's quite possible to over-winter carrots. But I've found the flavor is best if you instead harvest them after the weather has turned cold but before the ground has started to freeze.

I've been pulling the biggest carrots here and there for a couple of months now, but Wednesday I decided it was time to take the rest out of the ground.

Carrot cleaning

I planted an area about a quarter as large as I used to back in Virginia, which meant it only took about half an hour to clean them all up. An assembly line made the process more efficient, adding to the fast work.

I scrubbed in the filthy bowl to the right, rinsed in the cleaner water in the middle, then let the carrots drip dry in the steamer on the upper left while I processed another batch. The carrots on the towel are either small or injured in some matter --- I'll eat those quickly. Then I ended up with two big covered bowls to store in the fridge for winter meals.

Posted Fri Nov 9 06:00:51 2018 Tags:
Running Honda mower dry for the Winter.

I almost forgot to run the Honda mower dry before she goes into Winter hibernation.

Posted Sat Nov 10 06:00:57 2018 Tags:
Crocus bulbs

The biggest reason I rushed to harvest my carrots is because I had that spot earmarked to turn into a flower bed. Two bags of crocuses have been waiting for months to go into the ground there. So as soon as the carrots came out, the crocuses went in.

Black cat

Huckleberry "helped" with the project, which means he sat on the carrot tops and made it difficult to use them as mulch over my crocus bulbs. I eventually got the job done anyway.

Well, except for deciding what else to plant in my new flower bed for summer and fall color. Ideas for useful or at least low-work perennials to plant in a very deer-trafficked spot?

Posted Sun Nov 11 06:00:35 2018 Tags:
Installing new window in a trailer.
Installing a small window to increase the natural light costs about 50 dollars.
Posted Mon Nov 12 06:01:04 2018 Tags:
Hard freeze

Fall flirted with us for three glorious weeks. Then the barely-almost frosts disappeared with multiple nights in the 20s --- our first hard freeze.

The last green peppers escaped me but I picked broccoli side shoots frozen solid and cooked them before they thawed. Now we're down to lettuce, kale, and (possibly) brussels sprouts harvests out of the garden for the rest of the winter. But that's alright --- I'm looking forward to snow!

Posted Tue Nov 13 07:15:24 2018 Tags:
Close up of skitake mushroom with snow.
Our first snow of the year brought a new flush of shitake mushroom fruiting.
Posted Wed Nov 14 06:00:53 2018 Tags:
Selfie with tree roots

Jenn and I celebrated our one-year friendiversary with a visit to Old Man's Cave.

Mosses and liverworts

Well, okay, I'll be honest. I meandered so much peering at mosses and liverworts, rocks and roots and rushing water that we didn't make it to the cave in question. But we saw just about everything I supposed that oversight is just an excuse to go back!

Worn down stairs

Despite temperatures hovering around freezing, the park was crowded with sightseeers. To me, this staircase says it all --- so many people have trod here that the standstone steps have worn away. (The flat ones have been replaced with concrete.)

Rock cliff

There was still plenty of beauty despite the crowds though. This shot almost captures the grandeur of the rock formations...but not quite.

Posted Thu Nov 15 06:00:56 2018 Tags:
Recycling center conveyer belt.

We celebrated National Recycling Day by taking a tour of the local recycling facility.

Posted Fri Nov 16 06:00:40 2018 Tags:
Recyclables conveyor belt

In addition to being wowed by the combination mechanical and human-operated sorting system, the biggest takeaway from our tour of the local recycling facility was what was best not tossed in the recycling bin.

Our tour guide prefaced his warnings with the statement that every recycling facility is different. And single-stream facilities like theirs (where you deposit all of the recyclables in a single container) are more particular than ones where the consumer sorts their own trash.


With those caveats out of the way, here's what I shouldn't have been recycling:

Don't bag your recyclables because the line workers will have to tear the bag apart before the machines can start sorting. And, whatever you do, don't put your recyclables in a black bag --- they workers will assume it's trash and throw it out for safety reasons.

Hand separation of recyclables

Anything smaller than a business card tends to get lost in the shuffle. That means shredded paper is a no-no. Plastic bottles should be crushed then the cap should be screwed back on.

Similarly, heavy scrap metal just doesn't work on the assembly line. Our guide told us about the metal from a ratchet strap that got caught in the line and messed up a $40,000 motor. Yikes!


Tanglers are also trouble. That's anything like string, cords, or rope that will wind around various materials (and parts of the assembly line), clogging up the works.

Finally, don't stuff different types of recyclables inside each other (like filling up cardboard boxes with plastic bottles). The materials won't get separated properly and will result in contamination in the finished product.

Disassembly line

All of that said, a non-profit like our local recycling and trash pickup facility manages to salvage 91% of the materials that go on the assembly line, finding buyers despite the fact China no longer wants our waste. Great work, Athens-Hocking Recycling!

(And one final piece of fun trivia --- did you know Mark wanted to be a garbageman when he was a kid?)

Posted Sat Nov 17 06:00:41 2018 Tags:
Mark and Anna sitting in a Kubota x900.

Anna and I talked about the future of the Walden Effect blog this weekend and have decided to take a blogging vacation to to decide if we have enough homesteading activities going on to keep the blog alive.

If you want to be alerted to any random posts we may write in the interim, please scroll down the bottom of the sidebar and sign up for email alerts. Thanks for reading along!

Posted Mon Nov 19 12:48:49 2018 Tags:
Hispanic produce

Mark and I are enjoying our blogging vacation...and yet, I couldn't resist sharing some intriguing, store-bought fruits with you!

Cactus fruits

We got to explore a Hispanic grocery store on Black Friday, and I of course gravitated directly toward the produce department. I didn't try any of the cactus leaves that were available in several different forms, but I did sample one of three kinds of cactus fruits.

After some research at home, I'm pretty sure all three of the fruits pictured above are from prickly pear cacti, which grow wild in Mexico but also in plantations. There are hundreds of varieties out there, so even though I wasn't a big fan of the one I tasted (the red one in the middle), I clearly need to try this fruit again. The seeds are large and I spat them out, not knowing they were edible. The taste of the one I ate (perhaps a cordana?) was very similar to that of an unripe banana.


Much tastier, in my opinion, were the papayas. I was spoiled on papayas by eating them for four months in Costa Rica, and I've turned up my nose at grocery-store papayas ever since. But the ones in the Hispanic grocery were big and delicious (although my fellow taste testers were less impressed, suggesting papaya may be an acquired taste).

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a Black Friday as inspiring as ours!

Posted Tue Nov 27 14:21:37 2018 Tags:

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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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