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

Turning spring around

Carolina wren

All winter, our farm grows toward the sun.  I plant most of our fall and early spring crops in the mule garden, the furthest away from the shade of the hill.  We bask in the warmth that comes in the south-facing bank of windows in front of the trailer, and our tractored chickens do the same with their open-fronted living quarters.

Chicken tractor in the garden

But as April brings a spell of days in the low 80s, everything turns around.  First comes the chicken tractor, which I literally turn 180 degrees so the solid back creates a shaded zone for hot afternoons.  I start to close the shades on the trailer's west windows to block out afternoon heat.  And soon we'll even switch our work schedule so we do outside tasks in the morning instead of the afternoon.

Four-leaf clover

This heat spell won't last long, and by tomorrow I'll be scurrying around to cover up seedlings, glad the strawberries haven't yet opened their blooms.  The hint of summer was fun, though, since it gave me the chance to lounge in the yard and find the year's first four-leaf clovers (two in one patch).

Roast rhubarb salad

As a completely unrelated side note, I really appreciated everyone's rhubarb suggestions!  I merged several pieces of advice together by tossing about a cup of chopped stalks with about two tablespoons of strawberry freezer jam and roasting them at 450 degrees for about ten minutes until they were just becoming soft.  Adding the strawberry-roasted rhubarb to a spring salad of lettuce, baby kale, and arugula, topped with hard-boiled eggs, a store-bought avocado, and a bit more strawberry jam drizzled on top was delicious!

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

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.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Hello~Your blog is so wonderful and I enjoy getting my daily emails!! As usual the temps are dropping back into the mid 20's here in Ky...I grieve.... all of my daffodils are trying to bloom...the lilac...spice many of my little peas heads are just are the beets....Most of my leafy veg and radishes are in glass covered raised I don't worry about them too much....but the others.... I am in a panic....In years past I have worried myself to death covering everything up with tarps only to read last year on some site that covering with tarps was really bad for young seedlings! What would you advise? I would truly appreciate your experience.
Comment by amy Mon Apr 14 10:58:27 2014

Hi Anna,

Have to comment on that lovely looking salad! We enjoy rhubarb (and avocados and eggs) many ways here, too. We most often enjoy rhubarb savory, sauteed with other vegetables or steamed and then simmered in a curry. Yesterday, I spied a rhubarb crown peeking through the soil. Just last Monday I was boiling maple sap and in snow up to our knees. Today, a warm, gusting wind is blowing, and the honey bees are flying! Pleased to report that our one "survivor" colony is building up quickly!
Best, Eva

Comment by Eva Mon Apr 14 13:04:13 2014
Amy --- I save all of our row cover fabric, even the pieces that get tattered after a few years on quick hoops or cold frames. That's what I use to cover up plants at this time of year when things need protection from cold spells. Tarps can work, but only if you wait to put them on just before dark and take them off first thing in the morning. If you're willing to do that, you can also use five-gallon buckets, blankets (if it's not going to rain), etc. Good luck!
Comment by anna Mon Apr 14 17:12:33 2014
Do you ever want a dwarf avocado tree?
Comment by Kathleen Mon Apr 14 19:48:55 2014
Thank you Anna!! Especially for the advice regarding the tarp:)
Comment by amy Mon Apr 14 20:29:37 2014
Kathleen --- I always want a dwarf avocado tree, but the realist in me doesn't let me get one. A gardening friend tried it and failed to get any fruits, and my own experience with dwarf lemon trees inside suggests that our trailer is neither warm nor sunny enough in winter to keep tropical trees happy. I guess that's the one "vegetable" we'll keep buying....
Comment by anna Tue Apr 15 13:24:07 2014
Add a comment

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.