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

Summer mulch experiment

My winter leaf mulches were a wonderful success.  They kept the weeds down admirably, and seem to have improved the soil quality in the process.  While transplanting broccoli last week, I was stunned by the moist, crumby structure of the soil in the loamy upper garden, and by the ubiquity of worms and other good soil critters.

Unfortunately, I can't just keep the leaves in place for the summer.  Some of the mulch has blown away or rotted into the ground, while the big leaves left behind are prone to move onto small seedlings and drown them out.  I raked a few dozen beds bare in March to plant peas and greens, and now weeds are already starting to crowd my vegetables.  Time to experiment with some summer mulches:

I'm trying all four mulches around our peas in the back garden, and will report back in a month or so once I can tell how they're doing.  I'm a bit concerned that the newspaper and cardboard will dry up and blow around since I didn't put anything on top of it, but it's worth a shot!  Anything that reduces our garden's weed pressure makes me a happy camper.

Looking for other ways to simplify your homestead life?  Try an automatic chicken waterer --- copious, clean water with no work.

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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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