Friday, October 10, 2008

October 08-Harvest, Chicken Tractor and Building Composting

Our October work party was really fun and really productive.
We harvested two buckets of cherry tomatoes and a few other veggies, but given how late we had started and the low organic matter in our soils the harvest was not as bountiful as we had hoped for but we had a plan for next season-Build the soil!

Cherry tomatoes

Purple broccoli

We built a chicken tractor!

What Is A Chicken Tractor?
A chicken tractor is a movable chicken cage, allowing you to keep your chickens under control while still moving them around the yard.

Why Would I Want One?
-Have your chickens till and weed your yard
-Buy less food for your chickens
-Eliminate your need for petroleum-baed fertilizers
-and, last but not least: make your chickens happy!

The chickens are all the left over veggies and bugs while removing the soil and fertilizing it.

It was quit the entertainment for the kids too.

After the chickens finished with one bed we moved them to another and with the added fertilizer we were ready to plant our winter veggies.

Dan was a great help clearing out this area for the plant nursery staging area.

The other project that we started was building our own soils. We realized that the soil we had bought was not rich enough so we started our own compost.

Composting is simply decomposed organic material. The decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for enriching garden soil. Invertebrates (insects and earthworms), and microorganisms (bacteria and fungi) help in transforming the material into compost. It is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal. It's easy to learn how to compost

Yard and food wastes make up approximately 30% of the waste stream in the United States. Composting most of these waste streams would reduce the amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) requiring disposal by almost one fourth, while at the same time provide a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Compost added to gardens improves soil structure, texture, aeration, and water retention. When mixed with compost, clay soils are lightened, and sandy soils retain water better. Mixing compost with soil also contributes to erosion control, soil fertility, proper pH balance, and healthy root development in plants.

Composting is a dynamic process which will occur quickly or slowly, depending on the process used and the skill with which it is executed. A neglected pile of organic waste will inevitably decompose, but slowly. This has been referred to as "passive composting," because little maintenance is performed. Fast or "active" composting can be completed in two to six weeks. This method requires three key activities; 1) "aeration," by turning the compost pile, 2) moisture, and 3) the proper carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Attention to these elements will raise the temperature to around 130=-140=, and ensure rapid decomposition

We build our compost by adding one layer of food scraps and one layer of dry garden waste, some times adding straw to increase the C:N ration, and as you see Giancarlo in this pictures we turn it about every 3 months and water it. Our worms and micro organism in the compost are really happy.

Like father like son

This are the newly planted winter veggies. We covered them with chicken wire mesh to prevent cats peeing on the soil and squirrels digging their walnuts.

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