Tag Archives: weed cloth

Chickens for Hire – Creating a Chunnel

May 22, 2013

When we were originally discussing getting chickens, we talked about getting about six…then six turned to twelve. By the time all of them were ordered, we ended up with 22! What?! I guess that’s just how things go.

We built a coop for them and then moved on to building a tractor so they could eat greens but still be safe AND work for us, preparing the ground in our garden! The only problem is that our garden is about 50ft from the coop AND there is an asphalt driveway in between. Still, whenever my husband was home, we were able to move the chicks in the tractor. However, it is just too far and too awkward & heavy to move by myself. Plus, the 22 chicks that fit in there nicely are growing…fast…

So, until we could figure out what to do next, we decided to build a run. The chicks LOVE it! They fly out of the coop every morning. They love scratching in the big pile of leaves (the run is partially in the woods) and they are eating all of the baby snakes. The snakes are no longer attacking them – I guess because they’re bigger now.

However, one day we realized when we went to take them our kitchen scraps, they were running at us. They had already eaten all of the green out of the run and though there were plenty of bugs in the run, there was no more green. So, for the love of the chickens (and our wallets), we decided to let them free range. It started out just after supper, then after lunch, and pretty soon they were free ranging the whole day (with only one hawk incident so far).

Then, last week, when I was putting them up for the night, I couldn’t find one of them. We were very upset and decided we needed to figure out something so they would not get lost/eaten but were still able to eat lots of greens. The chicken did turn up (likely slept under the coop or in a tree that night) but we spent last Saturday working on building chunnels (chicken tunnels).

We do not have a ‘chicken’ section of the budget so we had to be very picky on what we would spend our money on. Of course, it would be ideal to be able to have movable chunnels but we could not spend money on wood and fencing so we decided to stake down most of our chunnels for the time being.

The holes in the fencing we bought (cheapest) also ended up being too large so we had to figure out what we had to cover the holes so the chickens could not escape. We ended up covering it with weed cloth (because it certainly does not keep the weeds away) and some cloth we cover the plants with when there is a freeze warning.

The chunnel runs along the edges of the garden so  that once they eat & scratch everything down to just dirt, we will expand the garden and move the chunnels over. That is the plan, anyway.

Untitled_Panorama10-2(Panorama of the chunnel coming from the coop, across the yard and crossing in front of the driveway (at bottom of pic). There are two removable chunnel sections so the the kids can cross the yard.)

Untitled_Panorama10-6(Panorama of chunnel heading up the other side of the driveway, next to the mulched garden, and ending up at the tractor.)

They still would rather go in the run or free range but we are hoping they get used to the chunnel. Whenever we have the money, we’re going to replace the cloth with chicken wire but for right now, it works 🙂 I will keep you updated to how it works out.


The Garden Saga Continues…

May 8, 2013

Ripping up the garden, taking out the weed cloth, replanting the garden. This is what I did yesterday.


before(green beans in middle, peas at bottom…more green beans have since been planted between the two rows and tomatoes have been planted at the ‘top’ of the garden)


duringI worked from Right to Left. You can see in this photo how straight the rows on the Left are and how convoluted and patchworky they are becoming on the Right side.

Here was the process:

  1. Raked back mulch
  2. Ripped up weed cloth
  3. Used a spade to get under the plant/over the weed cloth
  4. Transplanted plants onto weed clothless ground

beansYou can see in the top left of this photo – this is where the bean plants were spaded out. The bottom of the photo shows where they were transplanted. The weed cloth in the middle has been removed from the ‘bottom’ and not yet from the ‘top’.


afterThe bottom of the photo shows undisturbed mulch. This is where there was NO weed cloth so these plants remained undisturbed. The rest of the area looks as though we allowed our puppy to dig for bones 😛

Not very pretty. Time will tell whether or not the plants will bounce back. I am not expecting much. I’ll let you know how it turns out! I’m going to wait a few days before I plant or transplant anything else. I pray everything turns out well.

In other news:

  • Potato patch has its first blossoms!
  • Chickens have eaten all of the green out of their run so we are letting them free range more until we figure out a better way to get them in the garden in the tractor. This is what we are thinking:

Starting Over…

May 7, 2013

Oh. My. GOODness.

Before I share my horrible garden snafu, let me give you some background…

Think back five years ago. It was our first year gardening. We bought some blueberry bushes and decided to do square foot gardening. We built some raised beds and put weed cloth down. The weeds just laughed. We tried for two years to somehow keep the weeds away from our garden and blueberries but nothing seemed to work.

My husband was doing a photoshoot at an arboretum and talked to the grounds person about it. They said the only thing to do is to put down tarps. So, over the course of about a year, we put tarps down all around our blueberry bushes (obviously leaving room around the bushes for rain). It worked! Next step – we ripped up our raised beds, laid down tarp and put the raised beds on the tarp. Again, it worked! No weeds and everything was growing great.

Then, about a year ago, I saw the Back to Eden Film. PLEASE go watch it. It will blow. your. mind. For the walkways of the garden and blueberry bushes, we just put mulch over the plastic. We were not planning on planting anything there – we just wanted it to look nice and for the plastic to not rip up and blow away (what it was doing while uncovered).

We had a large section of the garden covered with plastic that was not being used for anything. We decided to pull up the plastic, put down newspaper, cow manure, mulch and TA DA! our first Back to Eden garden 🙂

February 24 13 - 0115

I started planting in it this spring and even though I was planting in aged cow and chicken manure, my plants seemed to be sprouting and then stalling. However, the weather has been unusually cloudy and cold so I thought maybe once the sun comes out, everything will take off.

April 26 13 - 0137(these should be more green than they are)

Today is the start of a warmer/dryer spell so I decided to plant some tomato and pepper transplants from my greenhouses. I raked back the mulch and attempted to dig a hole in which to put the transplants.

But I couldn’t. I tried with my hands. Nope. I scraped & scraped with my gloves and realized I was hitting weed cloth. We forgot we had weed cloth under the tarp when we ripped it up!!! Two layers of weed cloth! No wonder everything was stalling. There is nowhere for the roots to go!

I am so sad. ALL of those carrots, lettuce, peas, tomato plants, spaghetti squash…all of it…it’s never going to grow if we leave the garden like this. We have no choice but to rip up all of the weed cloth and replant. I’ll post pics later. Mourn with me for a bit over the loss 😦

I know I should be thankful that I put in transplants today – that the whole garden was not just direct seeded – or I would have found out much later. I may have even kept planting, thinking I had just planted too early or something. I’m sure I’ll feel more thankful later this summer if I am actually getting harvests from this section of the garden.

One of the reasons for putting mulch on the garden and letting it sit for 4-6 months is so that as it rains, the soil will be conditioned. Another big problem we will be facing this summer planting in this section is that (I can only assume) the soil under the weed cloth did not benefit from the mulch over these past six months. I hope it will get better as the year goes on (without the weed cloth). Ugh! It’s just so frustrating! Grrrrrr.

Anyone want to share your gardening mistakes to help me feel better? 😉