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Chicken poop and renewing the garden....

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello!

 

I'm new to chickening (since May), and have 5 BOs, 2 of which have just started laying and the other 3 we are still waiting for.  

 

I'm not so new to gardening, but this year my garden was just awful.  I think it's because the soil needs to be renewed and there aren't enough nutrients for the plants.  I've also have some pest problems (namely squash bugs and cucumber beetles), but that's another story.  Also, for the past few years I have had CRAZY amounts of bees in my garden every day, and this year I didn't see a single one.  I'm sure that was also partly responsible for the sad garden harvest this year, as well as the fact that my compost tumbler broke last year and I haven't been able to successfully repair it, so the garden hasn't gotten compost in 2 seasons.

 

SO.....I think I came up with a plan, and I wondered if more experienced backyard "farmers" might have some input.  I thought perhaps it would save me a little $$ on pine chips AND help renew my garden over the winter by hand-picking (with gloves) the poop from the coop a few times a week, and only changing out the pine chips once every 2 weeks instead of the usual weekly.  Then, I'd take the poop and small amount of pine chips I took out and rake it into my garden soil.  I thought that would renew the nutrients, as well as prevent weeds from growing (if I rake it weekly over the winter and early spring).

If I just depend on rain/snow to water it, and rake it weekly, do you think this will be enough to renew the soil?  Or will it be too much or create an imbalance in nutrients?  

Like I said, we have 5 hens, and my current garden space is about 3 feet by 8 feet.  I have a 2nd space next to it that still needs to be cleaned out (I removed the 7-year-old raised bed because the wood was rotted, and framed it out with that black vinyl landscape stuff that people use to border mulch around trees and such), but when I do, I will have another area about 3 feet by 6 feet.

 

Could it work, or do I need to make a new compost bin? :-(

post #2 of 5

Personally, I think you're working too hard.  How big is your coop?  Have you researched deep litter?  The issue with pine chips (and I've been using them) is that they require an incredible amount of nitrogen to break down.  There's no way you can get enough poop into those chips to make a good compostable mix for your garden in one season.  Don't get me wrong, they will eventually breakdown.  Can you get some fall leaves?  Grass clippings?  If you can get those mixed in with your chips in the coop, and let the stuff build up a bit, you'll be a bit further along in the composting process when you take the litter out of the coop.  You can compost the coop litter in a pile, without using your tumbler, but it's going to take a while.  What do you do with the weeds and plant debris that you clean out of your raised bed?  Sounds like you have a fairly small garden area, and I'm assuming a small coop and run as well.  Any vegetative matter that you clean up in your yard should go right into compost.  You can put it in your coop, in your run, or in a compost pile or bin.  In order for compost to work well, it needs to be at least 3' x 3' x 3', and wet enough.  Lots of nitrogen will help it cook down into compost faster.

 

Good reading:  The small flock poultry keeper by Harvey Ussery

                       Any of the books written by Ruth Stout

                       Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza

                       And, finally do a google search for Back To Eden.  It will turn up an excellent video that will get your mind going on all of the gardening                                  possibilities.

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

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Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

My coop is 4X8 feet.  I'm not removing many pine chips, just really the chips that are stuck to the poop.  I takes me about 5 minutes to pick out the poop from the coop (it's up off the ground so I don't have to really bend down, and the whole back wall flips down for easy access).  I haven't put what I clean out from my garden into the compost, because I've had a lot of garden pests/fungi the past few years (and I don't use any pesticides at all) and I don't want anything to overwinter and get back into the garden.  

My garden is a decent size for my 100X125 lot, only less than half of which is my backyard.  But I don't really have a spot for a compost pile, I would have to create one (which is why I was using a turning bin - broken).  And since we are STILL in the process of fencing in the run, I don't think a compost pile area is in the cards before winter.  I fill about a 1/2-gallon container of mostly poop and some pine chips, maybe twice a week, and rake it in to the garden bed.  I suppose over time, the pine chips will accumulate.  Everything you suggested seems like more work than what I'm doing now LOL!  What do you think if I try and keep the pine chips to a minimum and just put in mostly poop?

post #4 of 5
The the chickens have access to your garden area for a bit... They will till the earth and add nutrients while eating the grubs and weeds... Then I would start a deep liter compost near the coop with yard waste and waste kitchen produce. By next spring you will have compost to add to your garden and the earth will be easier to work. Good luck!!!!

 My daily ramblings on about nothing http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1011208/making-the-most-of-it

 

 

If you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at.

 

I speak in silly and smartypants....

 

A picture is always worth showing.

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 My daily ramblings on about nothing http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1011208/making-the-most-of-it

 

 

If you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at.

 

I speak in silly and smartypants....

 

A picture is always worth showing.

Reply
post #5 of 5

Or, you could toss all of your garden debris, as well as the litter that you take out of the coop into the run.  They will have a party flipping through the stuff.  The garden debris and moisture from rain and snow will help the litter to break down real fast, and the chickens will take the place of a compost turner.

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply

Jesus Christ is my pilot.

My husband of 41 years is my best friend and co-pilot.

Enjoying my gardens.  My flock are my garden helpers.

Breeding a winter hearty flock with small combs and colored eggs.

Favorite breeds:  Dominique and EE.  Hatching addict.

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1084432/egg-gender-selection-survey

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1013154/byc-member-interview-laz...

Reply
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