Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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Gather Free Biomass from the Woods

2/8/2012 10:48:00 AM

Tags: permaculture, biomass, soil health, Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton

 Crocuses in leaf mulch 

If you have a woodlot on your property, it's good for more than just firewood (and mushroom logs.)  I've been gathering leaves out of the woods to mulch our fruit trees and stump dirt to use as potting soil.

Not only is woodland biomass free, beneficial microorganisms often come along for the ride.  Scooping leaf litter out of the woods is a great way to introduce mycorrhizae to your garden— these beneficial fungi team up with tree roots to help them reach far-flung soil nutrients.  No wonder the peach tree in my forest garden island is thriving.

Of course, it's also just plain fun to wander amid the trees on a February day and startle a flock of turkeys intent on the same leaf pile you're interested in.

You can probably guess this is Anna writing today, since I'm the one who rambles on about organic matter and plants.  Mark's been experimenting with ways to get oil from coconuts this week—he pronounced the method of heating the expeller with a soldering iron a failure, but is ready to try again soon with a dehydrator and juicer.  Meanwhile, we finally got our golf cart fixed, so our on-farm transportation options have expanded!

 Driving a golf cart on the road 

Finally, don't miss tips from The Practical Beekeeper, coming up at lunchtime on our blog all week.  Michael Bush is one of the best modern experimenters on the topic of natural beekeeping, and his writings about keeping bees using no chemicals are a must-read for organic apiarists.

Anna Hess blogs about natural homesteading at  She and her husband make POOP-free chicken waterers in their southwest Virginia home to pay the bills, and remind you that chick-raising season is upon us— the most important time of the year for clean water. 

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