Help!! Questions on using chicken waste in your garden!?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by MommaChicken3, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. MommaChicken3

    MommaChicken3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Im not new to being a chicken mommy, but I am new to gardening! I was told using chicken waste was fantastic in your vegetable garden! So I thought after cleaning my coop, which is pine shavings, I would add it to my garden beds and till it and I would have the best garden around! Well, after doing a little research I found there is much to do to it before just throwing it in the garden! I haven't planted any veggies yet, only because from what I've read, I've done it completely wrong and could possibly kill my plants! Is there any hope for my above ground garden beds, or do they now need to be emptied and start over? They are rather large beds!! I've been tilling it and watering it the last 2 weeks in hopes of getting all the nutrients into the ground, but have I completely screwed up? My beds are currently full of last years soil, a little fresh soil, chicken waste with pine shavings, and decomposed leaves that have been tilled and watered regularly. Any hope for my garden, or ways you have done it successfully? I'm all ears and appreciate any advice!!!![​IMG]
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  2. boskelli1571

    boskelli1571 Overrun With Chickens

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    Hello - relax!! [​IMG] As long as you don't dump it directly onto the plants, everything should be fine. I empty out my coops at the end of the year, dump in the gardens (raised beds) and leave it over winter. The nutrients get watered down and absorbed. So - stop dumping now before you plant. So - what to do with it? I have 2 50 gallon rain barrels - I use one leg of a stocking/panty hose, fill it up with poop and drop it in the barrel - voila! Chicken poop tea! After steeping for a week or so, you can use it to water your plants. The rest of the coop poop,I use in the compost heap with kitchen scraps, cut grass etc.
    Your soil sounds like it should grow the worlds biggest tomatoes! Just to be sure, invest in a soil analyzer. They are a little pricey, but worth their weight in poop, you can use them year after year and tweak your soils' nutrition as needed.
    I see you are in Illinois - still waiting to see grass?? [​IMG]
     
  3. MommaChicken3

    MommaChicken3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2014
    Wauconda, Illinois

    Oh thank god!![​IMG] And yes, I'm in Illinois, no snow here the grass has finally started to get a little green!! We still get a frost here and there so I'm waiting to plant until after Mothers Day! Thank you so much for the advice!!! I bought some plant fertilizer last year, the bag was extremely small and really expensive and it smelled like straight chicken poop! I thought to myself, "why am I paying for this when I have chicken poop readily available at the barn?" Everything I read about composting chicken waste seemed extremely confusing and way to technical for me lol but you just made my life so much easier!! Thanks a ton!! [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    This can be extremely complicated or pretty simple. The basic process is that microbes, earthworms, or other things eat carbons (like wood shavings) using nitrogens (like chicken poop) as fuel. Some people go to great lengths to get a perfect balance of carbon and nitrogen, but a lot of us don’t. A lot of people call this process composting but I just think of it as rotting.

    In the future one very simple way to handle this is to do like Boskelli said, empty your coop in the fall after the garden is finished. By spring it will have rotted and be great nutrition for your garden. Another way that you can make really complex or extremely simple is to compost it. You can try to balance the ingredients, keep the moisture level perfect, and turn it regularly. This will give you useable compost in a few months. My method is a lot closer to piling it up and letting it rot. It takes longer but unless you have heavy equipment to turn it, turning that stuff is WORK! I use the two pile method, one working pile and one storing stuff to become the working pile.

    There are two potential problems dumping that stuff directly in the garden with growing plants. If you get too much nitrogen (the poop) it can burn certain plants if it comes into pretty close contact with them. Certain plants are more susceptible to his than others, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and such. Some things like corn can take more but you can still burn them. The other potential issue (and not likely to be a real problem, still I’ll mention it) is that too much carbons can suck a lot of the nitrogen out of the soil so the bugs can use it to break down the carbon. The nitrogen is not lost, once the carbon is broken down the nitrogen is back in the soil, but it is “borrowed” for a while and not available for the plants.

    So where do you go from here? I think you’ve pretty much done it. The problems happen when it is too concentrated, either nitrogen or carbon. You’ve mixed the soil so the concentration isn’t very high. The bugs that eat it need moisture and you’ve been watering it. You don’t really want it sopping wet, but just keep it damp. Damp is the best condition for those bugs to work. I don’t know how much longer you will wait to plant something in there, but by reducing the concentration and letting it work a bit, you should be fine. I’d just pretend I knew what I was doing all along and carry on. Just don’t put any fresh manure on it but start your compost pile.

    Good luck!
     
  5. MommaChicken3

    MommaChicken3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2014
    Wauconda, Illinois

    You guys are fantastic!! Thank you so much! I was going to wait until Mother's Day to plant, but I might just give it a little extra time. Seeing as the soil should be pretty nice it shouldn't take to long grow my plants when that time comes! (Hopefully) [​IMG] I won't be adding anymore compost, so hopefully the garden should be ready to plant in 2 months or so [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Two months or so? Easily! I thought you were talking about a couple of weeks.
     
  7. RichnSteph

    RichnSteph Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As stated above if you are waiting until Mothers Day then you'll be fine. If you are still worried about it you can always turn/till it every couple of days and keep it moist for the bugs to do their jobs. You are probably going to have tomatoes at big as grapefruit! I do like others here in that I have one compost bin that contains last years poop, leaves, grass clippings, etc that was mixed and turned and then set out to "rot" over the winter. I have another active pile that I'm adding to right now that will transition to the resting pile this fall. The only thing I don't do is add the pine shavings to my compost since they take forever to break down. When I clean the coop I just scoop the poop out of the poop board and put that in the compost bin. The shavings on the floor of the coop are raked out into the yard once a month for the chickens to kick around.


    RichnSteph
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I've added bedding pretty much as you've mentioned, this time of year, and I plant around Memerial Day. My gardens are the envy of my friends! Fall is probably better, but sometimes life gets away from me and chores don't get done til later.
     

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