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

Introducing Kayla

Introducing Kayla

"Are you Anna Hess's husband?" asked the clerk at one of the local hardware stores Mark frequents.  Mark admitted that he was, indeed.  "My daughter's been reading your wife's book.  The library wants it back, but she's not done with it.  Do you think she could buy a copy from you?"

"I've got a better idea," Mark answered.  "Would she like a job?"

Which is all a long way of explaining how Kayla showed up on our doorstep a month or so ago.  She's an industrious helper who doesn't get bored when I ask her to weed all morning, she's genuinely interested in all of my crazy garden experiments, she can handle slogging through the mud to get to work, and (best of all) she has a large enough extended family to eat all of our extra cucumbers and summer squash.

I've decided the paperback experiment was a total success.  If it takes writing a book to find a helper like Kayla, it's worth every minute at the keyboard.

Our chicken waterer makes care of the backyard flock clean, easy, and fun.

Anna Hess's books
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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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Oh, I am so jealous! Lol!
Comment by Emily Wed Jul 10 20:55:31 2013

Lucky Kayla and Lucky Anna and Mark for finding each other so serendipitously!

Anna: I recently bought your book off of Amazon and have been voraciously pouring through it. Thank you so much for writing it in such a clear-cut and readable way. I know most, if not all of the projects you mention will be implemented in our own homestead in the next year or so.

One major sea change from watching your experiments is the design of our vegetable gardens. Having just been through a PDC course, I had fallen in love with the idea of keyhole beds as the most efficient way to use space and pack in the crops, but seeing your homestead, with its more traditional rectangular beds has got me wondering if it makes sense to design a twisting, spiral shaped garden (seemingly only for aesthetic reasons) when rows and wide aisles would make more sense in terms of efficiency.

What are your thoughts on keyhole beds? Have you considered adding some to your place?

Comment by Karen Sat Jul 13 10:12:19 2013

Karen --- Thanks for your kind words about the book!

We actually did try keyhole beds during my first, uncritical explorations of permaculture. My conclusion was that they were a lot more effort with no non-aesthetic rewards. Since we have grassy (instead of mulched) aisles, the extra edge distance (which was nearly impossible to mow) was the real death knell to our keyhole beds since it meant lots more time hand-weeding. If you have enough mulch to cover the aisles, this factor would go away, of course, but you'd still have non-linear beds that are tougher to get a wheelbarrow close to. My conclusion is that keyhole beds make the most sense if you're either very cramped for space, or if you need your garden to look elegant.

Comment by anna Sat Jul 13 10:52:32 2013

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