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

January leaf gathering

Raking leaves with goats

Goat helperIf you've got some spare energy for the garden while the ground is frozen in January, there's one obvious solution --- harvest some biomass. With over 50 acres of woodland circling our core homestead, there's a nearly unlimited supply of leaves just waiting for my rake in the winter. Add a couple of goats and a trusty dog and a biomass-harvesting expedition turns into a winter treat.

Back home, the question becomes --- who could use those leaves most? Monday's harvest went into the chicken coop, and that's definitely the spot where I recommend utilizing high-carbon amendments first. With our deep bedding suitably refreshed, I next turned to our hazel bushes to use up leaf bags two and three.

Newspaper kill mulch

The ground is too frozen to weed before I mulch, but I still have plenty of newspaper stockpiled. So I laid down two-sheet thicknesses then used old logs to weigh down the edges and form a sort of moat to keep leaves from blowing around. Finally, I filled the container up with leaves.

If we get a good soaking rain or dense snow before our next windstorm (not a bad bet since we only see breezes down in our holler maybe once a month), the leaves will mat down and should keep our hazel bushes well mulched for the rest of the winter and spring. And the rotting biomass will slowly feed the bushes too, providing low-nutrient fertilizer that will simulate the leaf mold found in a woodland setting. Hopefully 2016 will be another good year for nuts!

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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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as of Fri aft. not sure what's up. I'll prob. return tomorrow. I'll write again on it then, too. Esp because I hope to report on Megan by tomorrow nite... sorry to be such a worry-wort!--mom

Comment by adrianne Fri Jan 8 20:46:58 2016
If you want to call sometime before 10 I'll see if I can trouble shoot what's up because my connection to kite isn't down. I'd call now but don't want to risk waking you up....
Comment by anna Sat Jan 9 08:04:26 2016

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