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

Planting, training, and flowers

Herb sets

Clear plastic potThere's almost too much going on the garden right now to post about. Time for a disjointed catch-up post!

The biggest deal this week, as usual in the middle of May, is planting. May 15 is traditionally our frost-free date, so everything I've been holding back goes in the ground now. Tuesday I set out basil and sweet potatoes; Wednesday Kayla and I direct-seeded corn, okra, and melons; and today I'll seed butternut squash, summer squash, cucumbers, and bush beans, then set out our sweet peppers.

As if that isn't fun enough, Friday is my icing-on-the-cake day. So I'll get to plant grape vines rooted inside over the winter out in front of the trailer, then set out some flowers between them. A great way to end planting week, with some long-term dreams and short-term beauty.

Training an espaliered apple

In the perennial sphere, I found time last Friday to summer-train our youngest apple trees, although our older trees are still waiting for their turn. The photo above shows our espalier experiment (before I picked up the porch). I lopped off the top of the tree this past winter and am now training two new limbs along angled pieces of string. The third incipient limb was pinched off to maintain symmetry.

Limb spreadersOur normal high-density trees aren't so particular, but they do get the usual light pruning and heavy training monthly in the summer. The only new innovation I came up with there is to make simple spreaders out of asparagus stalks dredged up out of the mulch at the base of the plants. A notch in each end and I have a spreader that will hopefully stay in place until the little branches solidify their shape.

Weedy asparagus

Of course, weeding is always on the agenda, although the task goes on the back burner during planting week. I do a lot of hand weeding, but most of our soil is now so good that the job is easy and fun...even when the beds are ignored too long like around the asparagus plants shown above.


Speaking of weeds, I made a mistake last winter by planting rye in my flower bed/grapevine area in front of the trailer. While rye is a good cover crop, it's a weed in my flower bed Buddha in the ryebecause the plant is in the wrong place!

Luckily, ten minutes of yanking up the grain reclaimed the space with no hassle. Columbine and chamomile are now blooming, and most of
the little herbs I set out there far too early survived and thrived as well. With the ground finally bare, I poked some scarlet runner bean seeds into the earth and set out some fennel, borage, and nasturtiums one evening last week, so hopefully we'll have a vibrant flowerbed in the near future.

Of course, it would take a whole 'nother post to tell you about how all of our other garden plants are faring. The cliff notes version is: first strawberry fruit Monday, first pea flowers and tomato flower Wednesday, lettuce by the gallon, asparagus finally starting to slow down from a daily dinner option to tri-weekly. Delicious!

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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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