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

Vegetable growth in first-year chinampas

Weedeat chinampas

Having Mark available to weedeat the aisles seems to be an essential part of our chinampa experiment.  Since I mounded up weed-filled dirt without a kill mulch (although I did put down some newspaper/feed bags/cardboard and straw around the plants a month or so ago), it takes a few passes with the whacker to get the beds in line.

Chinampas from above

So far, I've been quite happy with this little chinampa experiment, except for the lowest bed, where I planted butternuts.  As you can see in the photo above, the butternut leaves are pretty yellow, which is never a good sign in the vegetable garden.  I suspected lack of nitrogen and topdressed with manure, but Mark suggested an even more likely possibility.  The stump you can see near the butternut bed was a black walnut, and even though the tree has been dead for a few years, juglone might still be present in the soil in that area.

Hazel, butternut, and tomatoes

Luckily, I know better than to put all of my eggs in one basket when experimenting.  The butternuts, peppers, sweet potatoes, and watermelons grown in our chinampa beds are only a subset of the year's planting of each type of vegetable.  In other words, if my manure trick doesn't bring the butternut vines back to vibrancy, I've always got the happy twiners in the forest garden to fall back on.

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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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