Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chickens + compost = WOW

(Fair warning, this post comes to you via my iPad, and I'm not a thumb-typing prodigy, so I'm vagely concerned that this will end up on "damn you autocorrect!". But my husband has our main computer, and besides, I'm outside...)

I redid the fencing for the chickens yesterday, giving them access to the compost pile for the first time. Oh, what I wouldn't give for before and after shots! When they started in on it, the pile was essentially a fermenting mass of ick (that through some miracle, didn't smell). But they joyously scratched, pecked, scraped, and just generally partied down right through that pile. When I returned, the pile was a lovely, crumbly, black humus--almost exactly what the textbooks tell you it should look like. True story, today I put some of this gorgeousness out on one of my garden beds, and I didn't even screen it. (Mostly due to laziness and the fact that I don't own a screen, but still, it worked.) I actually had to put the fourth wall slats back on, since the pile was now such loose crumbliness that it wasn't staying put anymore. This, incidentally, required that I put the top brace back on to hold the sides together, which makes a lovely perch. The compost pile is now my chicken's most very favorite place to be.

I've got a day off tomorrow, since I've been working 10-14 hour days for the past week with a group of Spring Break Service Trip kids, which was awesome. I probably got too attached to them, given that I knew they'd only be here for a week, but ah well. They did such a great job and worked so hard. I think they genuinely absorbed our message of a faith-practice focused on care of creation.

Oh, and along those lines, we're also running a pilot version of Lent 4.5 both at my work and at my church (Unitarian Universalist--yeah, tell me you're surprised). If you have any inclination to a faith-based ecological perspective, I heartily encourage you to look into this program, its vey good stuff.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

MWF seeking advice from Blogger population

I have a reasonably well-established garden in the back of our little lot.  (This is not to say that I will not utterly upend that at some point, but for now, this is what I'm working with.)  I've got the beds pretty well under control, vis-a-vis weeds, but the paths.  Oh my lord the paths.  Nothing I do seems to get rid of the crabgrass in the paths, which leads to, well, a messy-looking garden (and it does re-seed the beds, of course).  I keep seeing all of these gorgeous pictures of weed-free organic garden paths, and I'm dumbstruck. 

Some prior attempts:

  • Just walking all over it (TOTAL fail)
  • mulch (partial fail)
  • newspaper and mulch (pretty good, but weeds grew back)
  • landscaping fabric (worked, but only did a small portion)
My thinking this year will be to let the chickens at it, keeping the beds themselves covered in bird netting to protect the plants.  I tend to not get ginormic projects like landscape-fabric-ing then mulching the entire garden, but maybe that's the direction I should go in. 

At any rate, I am actively seeking advice from y'all.  What do you do/have you done that works?  Or doesn't work (so that I don't waste my time)?  If you have suggestions for my herb garden, that would be nice, too.  There, I'm actually thinking about doing two layers of cardboard, landscape fabric over that, then pea gravel (I tried one layer of cardboard and mulch, and the *@$#^$ star of bethlehem grew STRAIGHT THROUGH IT).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Under the wire

Ha!  Got my urban homesteading post in just under the wire for the Monday Day of Action.  Score.

Today, my post will be short, but poignant.


(I took pictures, but they were all blurry & awful.  Don't know what has happened to my macro function.  Grrr.)