composting advice needed

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by gadus, Oct 29, 2016.

  1. gadus

    gadus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm using pine shavings for bedding and have thus far managed to keep most of the shavings poop-free with the use of a poop board. While I had originally intended to compost both manure and shavings separately, I'm wondering now if I can simply use the shavings for my "brown" layer, alternating with a layer of pure manure. Will the wood shaving break down enough to use on the garden by April? As anyone who has used them knows, they are considerably pulverised by the time they are cleared from the coop.

    Additionally, is there any reason that some (or all) of the manure cannot go directly on my garden now that I'm no longer growing plants on it? Would a winter's worth of breaking down directly atop the soil be any more or less beneficial than regular composting?

    Many thanks.
     
  2. potato chip

    potato chip lunch-sharer

    You probably need advice from somebody "local" or from a similar climate, but anything organic thrown onto soil will break down, given sufficient time and microbial/earthworm activity. I suspect not a lot happens when it's really cold and that you'd need to wait until it warms up before things "get going". In your situation, I'd use the waste directly on an unused bed, cover it with straw and add some worm poo or manure and keep it watered BUT I live in a warm climate and things don't "shut down" in winter over here. When does it warm up over there? It MIGHT break down if it warms up again by January. I'd allow a few months for it to be ready. Any later than that, and I think you'd be looking at later than April.
     
  3. erlibrd

    erlibrd Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    You can put the chicken poo directly in the garden all winter, I'd stop adding it the end of February. Then put it in a bin or pile through the warm months.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  4. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Yep, that's how we do it. Starting about..oh..now lol, we just dump all litter and leaves and poo directly on the garden, and when spring comes, I start a fresh compost pile for summer. The wood chips will break down faster left out in the open in the weather, so they should be fairly crumbly come spring. Even if they're not, it makes for good soil conditioner anyway ;)
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Haven't seen you visiting on the Maine thread. Come join us.

    As other posters have stated, all of your waste can go directly in the garden at this point. The big issue with shavings is that they take forever to break down even in the presence of plenty of manure. The "safe rule of thumb" for manure in the garden is to not add any fresh manure within 90 days of planting. (I stretch that a bit by following my own thought process: any veggies that are eaten raw, or grow close to the ground and are likely to get spattered, I'd follow the 90 day protocol. Any veggies that take forever to mature, or are more likely to be cooked, I am more lenient, observing 90 days between application and HARVEST.) Obviously, fresh manure is an issue in that it is likely to burn plants, so common sense must prevail. Any thing you put on your garden at this late date will not break down much if at all. However, I have had good luck putting heaps of leaves, liberally sprinkling them with urea (straight nitrogen) wetting them with a hose, and covering them with plastic for the winter. They heat up and start to break down well between now and planting time.

    Now, back to the shavings issue: What is your run like? Have they stripped it of vegetation? If so, your shavings serve a better purpose by being dumped directly into the run. The chickens will then happily turn them into compost, while at the same time making the soil in your run much healthier. IMO, bare soil is unhealthy soil. It is more prone to build up pathogens, both bacterial, viral, and parasites. Covered soil supports a healthy mix of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and critters (worms and such) that keep the pathogens in check. So... back to the shavings. An other possibility is using them ON the garden for a Back To Eden approach. I suggest that you check out this video.

    BTW: my original reason for getting chickens was for them to feed, weed, and remove insects from my garden. That they feed me is an added benefit.
     
  6. gadus

    gadus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 28, 2015
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    Thank you for the ample advice. And sorry not to have replied sooner. I started to watch the video you recommended, then got distracted and finally had too much to do.

    -I followed your advice and scattered my bedding in the run; since I added length to my roost, I still have not had the time to create a board to catch the additional manure, so there's some manure mixed in with the shavings. I didn't like to see all that manure back in the run, underfoot but it quickly was absorbed and scattered. The run is forest floor, under a oak and maple canopy. While they have scratched away at things, many small saplings remain and there's plenty of leaf fall. It gets a bit mushy with rain but without much rain lately, it's a relatively dry place. They have access-often used for napping and dusting-to the crawl-space under the coop which is high and dry; unfortunately, two of them like to lay eggs there too so I end up crawling, Rambo-style-to retrieve them on a daily basis

    -I'm going to compost my pure manure as your suggested, rather than applying directly to the garden now...I've got a compost pile already -4' X 4' X 4'-but it's time for another one. What are your choices for configuration, size, material? Some friends in the neighborhood here simply use straw bales in a "C" shape which I was planning to emulate, to try something different, although the snow makes everything problematic. Currently all my scraps from the kitchen go directly to the hens, so that only leaves the manure from 18 hens every two weeks or so.

    I'm going to go the seaweed route on the garden for this year, maybe add the chicken manure come planting time.

    -Is the Maine thread simply the one found in the "Social" category? It would make sense to speak with folks from a similar climate.

    Again, thanks.

    Gadus
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    If you put your chicken manure directly on the garden now, until snow fall makes that impossible, the worms will gladly till it in for you before spring. They will also break it down so it is not at all hot. Even when the snow is not so deep, I continue to put stuff into the garden. Just toss it right on top of the snow. Mainly stove ashes.

    Any composting I do is usually on site, (sheet composting, trench composting) or I just heap it up somewhere near where I intend to use it. If I did create a bin, I'd go for stupid simple: either hay bales, or pallets. I do have a plastic jobby that is simply a length of heavy plastic drilled with 1" holes. I hope to set that up to compost the copious amounts of doggy doo that I am now blessed with. I consider even dog poo to be a blessing. Since I've been chucking her poo into the woods at back edge of clearing, I've not had any coon issues this year.

    If you make a hay bale compost heap, you could cover it over with a sheet of plywood.

    Seaweed is an awesome garden amendment. I wish I lived closer to the coast so it would be effective for me to get a truck load. I have a friend who has built many raised beds with copious addition of goat nuggets and seaweed. His soil is incredibly healthy.

    Yes, the maine thread in on the social forum. (Where am I? Where are you?) https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1370/maine
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016

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