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


Anna in front of a brush pilePainters make conscious choices about their pictures' edges because the edges play a large role in the painting's impact.  Ecologists know that edges promote a diversity of species, more than can be found in either habitat which the edge joins.

I've been pondering edges as I whack back encroaching Japanese honeysuckle, sassafras saplings, and brambles along the boundary of our garden.  I've noticed that my vegetables are sensitive to even the slightest bit of shade, and that the boundary beds closest to the thicket produce about half as many vegetables as do plants in more interior beds.  These brushy edges also delight the deer, who feel safer encroaching if they can retreat back out of sight in just a few bounds.

Over the last few years, we've been beating back the edges, first clipping the woody plants, then running the chicken tractors across them, and finally beginning to mow them into a semblance of a lawn.  I don't believe in lawns for prettiness sake, but I do find them very useful as a way to keep the forest edges from encroaching on our garden, and the mixed herb pasture keeps our chickens happy.

Check out our homemade chicken waterer, great in chicken coops or tractors.

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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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