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

Miles Olson on gardening

Olson in the woodsAs you can tell, I was very impressed by Miles Olson's techniques of finding sustainable sources of meat and using every part of the animal.  I was less inspired by his plant-related advice, but did find a few gems to pass on.

Olson advocates tending gardens that are so enmeshed in nature that the average person can't even tell the gardens are there.  This is a bit like the food forests of the Amazon in theme, but Olson is gardening in a more urban environment.  He advocates understanding which wild plants are edible and tending them a bit like a garden, harvesting only 10% of the plants at any one time, replanting roots, and knowing which plants benefit from pruning or coppicing.

Olson creates piles of leaves, into which he plants burdock, wild carrots, and dandelions.  The rotting leaves feed the plants, and they also make it easy to pull out the roots, which he eats.  Elsewhere, he plants seedballs, or seeds food plants into recently-burned areas.

That said, I was left wanting much more information about Olson's gardening strategy.  What does he grow other than dandelions?  Does he have traditional gardens too?  Maybe the bigger picture will be illuminated in a hypothetical book two.

This post is part of our Unlearn, Rewild lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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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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