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

What I'm willing to do for straw

Gasing up the ATV

The floodplain isn't precisely dry, but after quite a bit of hot weather, the groundwater has sunk about six or eight inches below the surface. Which means that Mark is now able to get the ATV to the edge of our new footbridge, about 370 feet from the trailer. And roughly two-thirds of the distance from motorized transport to garden is easily traversable by wheelbarrow. Yep, the combination of factors finally makes it worthwhile to haul in ten bales of straw!

Walking down the hill

This isn't the time of year to buy straw. Since no one has cut their overwintering grains yet, any straw available hails from last year and is expensive --- $8 a bale, and only available a 45-minute drive away. But I couldn't stock up on our usual supply of straw last year because the offerings turned out to be full of grain seeds, so the extra time and money is worth it now to keep the spring garden in good shape. It's even worthwhile to haul the straw one bale at a time up the hill pictured above.

Newspaper mulch

Back in the garden, I made short work of my delicious new organic matter. I've been hoarding newspapers since 2012 (according to the dates on the pages), and I put most of my stash to good use acting as a weed barrier beneath the straw. That meant I didn't have to hand-weed each bed before mulching, and I could also use the straw more lightly than I would have needed to otherwise. Between Mark's hard work with the weedeater and the newspaper-straw combination, our garden is finally starting to look presentable! (Mom and Kayla, any chance you'll start saving me newspaper once again?)

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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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I'm thinking about collecting cardboard - from all the online orders we make, and our local recycling center - covering my beds with that, and putting weed scraps underneath to do a combo mulch/compost in place.
Comment by Emily Fri May 8 16:12:10 2015

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