Monday, May 17, 2010
Compost-A Gardener's Best Friend
I am a gardener of sorts. I don't do a lot of typical gardening, but I love plants of all kinds whether it be edible or ornamental, and I love being able to improve my plants health and appearance by adjusting the soil.There are times when I can't decide which I love the most.The plants or the work with the soil. My father worked with dirt his entire working career, until he retired, then he worked with some gardening, as a hobby.I love turning the soil and mixing it with better components to make it better, in hopes of having a better plant, and eventually better produce.I have read a little of several blogs who do composting, but cannot say that I have found one who uses my method of composting. I could be wrong, and possibly have not read the right blog just yet, but hopefully, I can use my idea to help others cut out the daily or weekly drudgery of turning the compost heap or tumbler, which ever method they may be using, and save their backs.I have chickens ,as do many of the bloggers I follow. Most are multitasking, as am I, so I would hope they would do as I have done, and let the chickens help with the composting.My chickens are kept in a pen for the most part. Sometimes we let them out when there is no garden, and when I am here to make sure they stay out of my flower beds. When they scratch my mulch out of my beds and into the grass,I really get upset.Our five acres and acres and acres of neighboring woods around the back of our lot, and they choose to scratch up my flowerbeds.Go figure!Nevertheless, I have expanded their pen this year, so they can have more clover to eat, and thus,less mowing for me.I have started putting some of the "wild mulch"(from the tree trimmers)in their pen to give them something to scratch around for bugs. After it lays for awhile, the earthworms begin to move in under it.I have tried introducing night crawlers to our five acres to no avail. That is another thing I have on my list of failed ventures.So far, I can't get Purple Martins to take up residence here, or night crawlers, or the cleome flower, or the bleeding heart, or the money plant. I keep trying. I will not be defeated.But back to the composting, I take my leaf rake, and go into the older part of the chicken pen and find a corner where the soil is as dark as I can find and start scratching.Sometimes I take a spade in the pen and turn some ground for them to look for worms and bugs. The chickens all come running to my feet when I am in there, looking for a quick treat.Most of their droppings are inside the hen house.That is a good fertilizer, but very hot and strong. Pop says when he was young, his grandparents would make manure tea. They'd put it in a grass sack, tie it up, and place it in a barrel of water. That would keep out all the weed seeds from getting back into the garden. Then they would use the water to fertilize their garden plants. I use it sparingly and/or mix it lightly with my composted dirt.Sometimes I even pitch some soil into the chicken house, so they can mix it with the droppings.I am forever taking up sod from areas where I want to plant something. I use a lot of it to rework areas of the yard that are missing grass, but some of it, I toss into the chicken pen for their pleasure of getting out the bugs and worms.The remainder goes into the composting heap which they will scratch around day after day looking for more insects.I have made myself a couple of sifter strainers for my compost. It's a square box, made of 2X4's and a small piece of mesh screen tacked to one side. I sift the compost through it, separating the wonderful loose black soil from the larger components, which I toss back into the pile to be broken down more, or toss them in a gully to slow erosion in areas where needed.Dirt is a precious commodity around here. We don't have much of it, amongst all our rock, so we do what we can to keep it from washing away to Mammoth Cave.If you haven't used my composting method, I hope you will give it a try. It's quite wet here today,after having a day or so of heavy rain,wind and hail, but I hope you are having a Good Day where you are. Later!
Posted by Sue from Ky. at 10:01 AM