Remember organic gardening is not new.
It’s just the way we used to do things…before “progress” made us realize we were right before.
Organic gardening for the chicken keeper…and if you don’t have chickens – you need to get some
Here is a link to a great resource for organic gardening ideas, recipes, stories – oldie and still a “goodie”.
More on Organic Gardening here!
Taking the mid-day break, just like the old timers did. Tilling the soil is hard work.
Gardening With Chickens
Well, you can’t beat your own fertilizer. Compost the chicken bedding and droppings. Use a composting bin or set aside an area to mound up the manure. You want to pile the manure into a mound to get the bacteria and other excited microorganisms and fungi going. You will know when you have it right as heat will be produced inside the mound. This is a good thing. Keep your pile out of chicken foot reach or it will be “spread” before its time. Add household vegetable waste (never oil or meat) and egg shells (crushed) to the compost pile.
Tip: Set your compost pile near where you will be spreading it. Once it is ready – black gold with some organic bits in it -let the chickens in. This is the BEST amusement park for your birds. They will spread the compost for you. And they do a great job.
Tip: Allow the chickens access to the garden. Really. They will lightly cultivate the soil, remove insects and knock down some weeds. Most of your crops will not be touched. The only ones you will want to fence off are the lettuces and strawberries. Some birds enjoy tomatoes. Everybody’s chicks have different tastes – let ’em loose and adjust the “keep off” zones. They will jump up and munch the low hanging raspberries, but hey, they earned it. Don’t be stingy. Foraging greens and fruits is what the chickies were designed to do and eat.
Organic and safe pest solutions
If you have issues with insect pests and larger critters munching your produce, you need to spice things up. Early in the morning, spray the foliage of the affected plants with water (wetting plants too late in the evening or during the heat of the day can cause issues). Sprinkle hot pepper (your choice) lightly on the leaves. You can also mix up a spray of hot pepper sauce and water. You don’t need much. Do not use powder or neglect to strain the solution, as you will immediately gum up the sprayer. I did this as an experiment, yup. I did, really. Spritz the plants and watch the bean beetles and groundhogs pack their bags. Unless you are a fan of hot food, don’t apply this too close to harvest – and don’t rub your eyes.
Birds are immune to capsaicin. Your chickies won’t mind the pepper.
Tip: Sprinkle hot pepper around the compost to deter wildlife. It really does work.
Tip: Use “Poultry Protector” spray to combat insect infestations. It is organic and safe to use indoors and out because it uses an enzyme to kill the bugs – not poison. This is a fantastic alternative to chemicals, it can break through the tough exterior of scale, and it even destroys insect eggs.
You don’t need to till. It disrupts and confuses the delicate micro-fauna living in your soil. There is a magical balance of beneficial microorganisms playing and helping each other out. When you till, you make them dizzy. You may need to do an initial till and weeding of virgin horticultural areas, but that should do it.
The balance created by no-till gardening allows your plants to set better root structure. Weeds will not be a problem as the crops you set in will assist in crowding them out. Healthy crop plants can manage. You may also set in “cover” crops such as vetch, clover and herbs. Use mulch (compost, straw, bark mulch) along the walkways. Your chickens may be overly interested in the straw. If they do too much straw rearranging, fence off those areas or use another mulch. Thick grind wood chips are not as appealing to the birds.
Use symbiotic plantings instead of monoculture (one type of plant in a plot). Monoculture is like waving a welcome flag to pests. Hide your plants with other plants – so, the famous 3 sisters: corn is nurtured by nitrogen fixing beans. The beans grow up on the corn. Add squash to shade out the weed growth underneath. Plant peppers, basil and tomatoes together. Add marigolds around the beans. Throw garlic in and around everybody. Watch your pest issues be reduced.
Remember, this is how plants grow in nature.
Fence off the compost until it is degraded and ready for the chickens to spread.