Chicken Adventures and Building Beds…Again

I’ve got a post already queued up for Thursday and I don’t really want to push this one off until next week, so have an extra post this week. And it would appear I have a lot to say…who knew?

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Last week, the babies had their first outdoor, out of the run adventure (please excuse the mess). They’re still not all that confident about being out of the house, but they seemed to think scratching around all the way outside was fun…for about 30 minutes. The first time. The last couple of times I’ve tried to let them out, they come out of the run for about 10 minutes and then hurry back to the house. I’m hoping this is an age thing (they’re still really young) or an availability of food thing (there’s not really anything growing right now). The temperature has been significantly lower than it was the first time they went out too, which probably has an impact.

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The other news that I thought I might as well share while I’m writing a post is that we redesigned the beds on the driveway yet again. Seems to be another post I didn’t write (building them the first time). Remember I said Michael Judd was at the conference this year, talking about swales? Tony and I didn’t agree about the design for them in the front yard, but our idea for this part of the yard was pretty much the same, so we thought we’d start here and see how things went. Between Judd’s presentation and his book (we bought a copy while we were there), we built the A-frame for finding/measuring the slope and got to work.

To summarize, there are ditches between the beds. The dirt from those ditches is tossed onto the beds to raise them and the ditches are filled with mulch. That mulch is the path to walk on and he claims that in 18 months, that mulch is ready to be used as compost (dug out and tossed on the beds). He’s a permaculture guy, so he likes to put mushrooms in the compost to get more production out. As an aside, “permaculture” means a lot of things, so there’s no good single summary, but his focus for the talks I attended was “stacking functions”…putting more production in one space, as long as it’s complimentary. Back to mushrooms: they are not only edible, but also help the mulch decompose. We didn’t inoculate the mulch with spawn for two reasons:

  • the mulch we used was too old (he said no older than 6 months, ideally…ours was 12-24 months old)
  • we don’t have spawn

If it looks like we’ll have new enough mulch next time, we might see about getting some spawn. To get back on topic, this design is supposed to help catch rainwater and sink it into the ground (the ditches) and help keep the plants from getting too soggy, while taking advantage of the collected water (the raised beds).

It took all weekend to build the part we got done. We want to finish going around the tree at the bottom of the hill, but we ran out of time. We didn’t go all the way across/between the trees because Tony has perennials there and we’re not sure where they are. We may or may not go back and dig that part out…I’m leaning toward not just because of all the roots.

This garden needs a lot of help, drainage- and nutrition-wise, so I’ll give it a couple of years to not work before I give up on this new idea. It seems like it should work since you’re composting right there and tossing all of that decomposed matter onto the beds to give the plants something to work with. If nothing else, it’s more attractive than trying to force squared-off beds to try to fit into that kind of roundish shape.

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