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

Wood chip mulch

Wheelbarrow full of wood chip mulch

If someone had asked me yesterday how long wood chips need to age before they can be used as mulch, I would have said, "You should probably wait two years.  And even then there could be pockets of chips too young to mulch with.  Wait until your chips have turned black."

Mycelium-coated wood chipsToday, I'll tell you something completely different.  With a flock of broilers scratching through and fertilizing fresh wood chips, and with wild fungi colonizing the substrate, your wood chips could be perfect mulch in just 6 months.  And black isn't the prime color --- white is.  The best mulch will be held together by huge masses of mycelium, bringing the fungi to bacteria ratio to the point that trees love.

As I shoveled the world class mulch out of the forest pasture, I had to keep my wits about me so that I didn't cut off any hen toes.  My wise old hens knew that worms and grubs like to hide out under mulch, and they also knew that the hen closest to the shovel always gets the prize.

The chickens feed the wood chips, the wood chips feed the orchard, and the grubs feed the chickens.  I love it when permaculture systems fit so well together.

Our homemade chicken waterer is perfect in coops, tractors, or pastures.

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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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