Tag Archives: chicken coop

Garden Expansion, Continued…

September 10, 2014

We are always trying to expand the garden. As IĀ  blogged about earlier, we collect a lot of cardboard from the local elementary school every year and lengthen the garden. We typically do this in the fall so the areas can be covered with manure and will be ready to be planted in the spring.

This year, I did this with three spaces. Before we started doing a Back to Eden garden, we had to use tarp to keep the grass away from the blueberry bushes. So, in order to expand, I typically have to:

  1. Rake back six or so inches of decomposing mulch (NOT light and fluffy as ‘fresh’ mulch would be)
  2. Cut away 2-3 layers of tarp with scissors
  3. Cut away 1-2 layers of weed cloth
  4. Cover with mulch that was raked away
  5. Put down some compost

I did this in an area between the tomato and potato patch (I am thinking it will be next year’s potato patch)DSC_5373and beside both strawberry patches.

The strawberry plants have put out a TON of runners over the summer…into the tarp covered with mulch (not going to grow well). So, after expanding the skinny strawberry patch, I planted some runners.

The bunch to the left is what I planted this spring. The spaced out ones are the runners I planted.Nieto Family - August 25 14 - 0002This is halfway. I filled up the whole area with runners by the end of the morning.

I also planted some celery stumps that have been growing indoors. We’ll see how everything does.Nieto Family - August 25 14 - 0003Lastly, I expanded the other strawberry patch. When cutting away the tarps, I saw two blueberry shoots. I just left them alone. I am going to let them come up on their own. We’ll just have a blueberry bush amongst the strawberries šŸ™‚ I covered the strawberry patch with chicken compost and am letting it sit this winter. I have not decided if I am going to plant anything in that space or not. I am leaning toward letting the strawberries expand on their own and filling in the gaps with more runners next year.

Before compost…

Nieto Family - August 31 14 - 0001After compost DSC_5386(This picture was taken before a storm. Do you see the plants turning their leaves, asking for rain?)

How did I get all of this compost? I cleaned out the coop, of course. I clean out the coop a number of times each year but I have never cleaned it out this much. Since the chickens are not laying šŸ˜¦ my husband took out the nesting boxes and I was able to COMPLETELY clean out the coop. DSC_5355The only thing I did not do was wash it out. DSC_5357I do not see that ever happening. It was hard work and I am glad it is done! The coop is now nice and clean and three patches are ready to sit all winter in their compost blanket, enjoying compost tea every time it rains.DSC_5365 DSC_5366

As soon as we get back from vacation, I need to go to the local horse stables and cover the rest of the areas that will sit through the winter. I also have more fall crops to plant and I have over 200 bulbs that are being mailed to me in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, I can get it all done before winter!

Who wants to come lend a hand?! You can just hold the baby while I work — that would be a help too! šŸ˜€


Expanding the Garden, Fall Planting, and Chicken Death

August 27, 2013

We have been busy, as usual, this week.

  • Expanding the garden
  • Fall planting
  • Cleaning out the coop
  • Expanding the run
  • Dealing with chicken death

Expanding the Garden

Our church meets in an elementary school. Right before school starts, the cafeteria is getting food in, the teachers are unpacking boxes…there is a ton of cardboard to be had. So we load up all the cardboard we can and expand the garden every fall.

Before:10484629_791900920860759_4757761746985017869_oAfter:10533883_791900957527422_3687780063672357214_oSometime this fall, winter, or spring…whenever I get around to it…I’ll go to the local horse stables and cover this whole area with horse manure. Depending on when I am able to get the manure down, I may plant in it spring 2015.

Fall Planting

I planted some more broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce this week. It is supposedly too late to plant but I am continuing to plant just to see… I am using old seed so it is only costing me time and labor at this point. Nieto Family - August 22 14 - 0126This used to be the spaghetti squash patch. We moved the chicken tractor over it and I planted cabbage on the outsides and broccoli in the two middle rows.

  • The tractor can be covered to protect the brassicas from cabbage moths/butterflies
  • It can be covered in plastic to extend the season
  • Hopefully, I can use this area to get a jump start on spring/summer crops

Cleaning Out the Coop

We are in the process of collecting wood shavings from a local mill so we can clean out the coop completely and cover as much of the garden as possible with that wonderful compost.Nieto Family - August 22 14 - 0105

Expanding the Run

We got rid of the chicken tunnels for the time being. They are impossible to mow around and I was tired of stepping over them šŸ˜› We instead expanded the run. It now goes from the coop to the house (our entire side yard).

Dealing with Chicken Death

We think two of our pullets got into something (but don’t know what) when we expanded the run because they both died. These are both chicks that were hatched at the homestead. One was 12 weeks oldDSC_5149 and the other was just about egg-laying age. DSC_5145She was gorgeous. It was saddest to lose her. Also, because she was so big, it took her longer to die. After a couple of days of no eating, drinking, or getting up, my husband had to just break her neck šŸ˜¦

Of course, we have no clue what exactly happened to them. They both had droopy wings and were tripping over themselves. Towards the end, they would have seizures. After they died, my husband went around picking up many of the chickens, inspecting them, so we could tell if any of the rest of them were losing weight or looking ill. Everyone looks fine (as fine as moulting birds can look) so far.

One curious thing happened though. When the chickens started moulting, our rooster stopped crowing…Is that normal? He is not even a year old so he is not moulting…any thoughts?

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursdays to see how others are prepping their fall/winter gardens and to see if others have insight on my chicken deaths.

Free Resources for the Garden

September 12, 2013

I am planning on adding two new crops to the garden next year. Strawberries and sweet potatoes. I prepared the beds by covering them with manure when I cleaned out the chicken coop this summer.

I am planting in the sweet potato bed right now for lack of room but I was able to find a free source of horse manure recently and went ahead and covered the strawberry patch and the newly prepared potato patch.

DSC_2926(strawberry patch covered in chicken and horse manure)

DSC_2923(potato patch covered in horse & chicken manure)

I am always watching L2Survive’s YouTube videos where he goes and talks to Paul Gautcshi. I love learning from him! One thing I learned recently is that he uses wood shavings (about 6 inches) in his coop. It soaks up the ammonia smell and makes a fine, very rich compost. He says to spread it very finely over the garden. Truthfully, I’m just looking forward to the lack of smell šŸ™‚ Our coop doesn’t smell horribly but I love the smell of the wood shavings! I’ll post a pic when I get it all spread out šŸ™‚

I saw an Asplundh truck the other day & they said they would be more than happy to bring by some mulch. They never showed up šŸ˜¦ I guess they were not able to find our house. We don’t need any more mulch but I was excited anyway.

It hurts me to spend money in general so buying things for the garden tends to be put on the back burner. Especially since I’m saving up for expensive crops like strawberry sets and sweet potatoes! Are you getting any free things for your garden?

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday. Check out what other people are doing to save money (among other things)!