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

Digging the first nursery beds

Digging new beds

WhetstoneThe spot where the old farmhouse used to sit has been earmarked for years as the future site of an experimental nursery, but this was the first year we planted into the area.  Mark started reclaiming the spot about a year ago, a process that involved of lots of weedeating to kill off blackberries and honeysuckle, plus digging out huge poke stumps.  Last fall, I kill-mulched one bed on the side closest to the trailer, using double my usual thickness of cardboard (two layers instead of one), and that bed still came up in blackberries and was a problem over the summer.  So I decided to lower my standards and dig out all the roots in that and another new bed instead of kill mulching for next year.

StonesAnd I'm glad I did!  After a week of Thanksgiving eating and writing, shoveling really hit the spot.  I've decided the biggest problem with no-till gardening is that you don't get to dig often, and I love to dig, so projects like this make my day.

But it was also good to dig that area for more serious reasons.  There were lots of big roots, including one blackberry root mass about the size of a four-year-old fruit tree, so I suspect it would have taken at least two more years of mowing before a kill mulch in that area would take.  Plus, the Appalachian foundation of piled up rocks means Kayla and I disinterred more stones during our digging project than Mark and I have found during the entire rest Wheat pennyof our time on the farm.  The timing was perfect since I want rocks to use around my new grape and didn't have any on hand.

And then there's the pure pleasure of finding ancient possessions in the soil around an old home site.  Sure, most of what we found was broken window glass and rusty nails, but Kayla went home with two nice marbles and a little ceramic container that looked like it might have held makeup or ointment.  And I found a rusty coin from 1951, probably not worth much, but fascinating for the notion that it was being held in someone's hand sixty years ago.  I think the second picture from the top might be an old whetstone too?

If I get industrious again, we've got about three more beds we could dig out in the old house area, but since I've got other digging projects on the front burner, I might let Mark mow those areas for another year first.  Either way, it's exciting to have two long beds to fill with experimental perennials --- more on that in a later post.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

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.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.