The second week of July has started being more normal, so we’re in the 90′s F. The garden is needing water every couple days. It’s really starting to get going: I’m thinning and picking the chard most every day, and the chickens love it like candy. That and the turnips. The squashes are growing gangbusters, and the first tiny little tomato is turning ripe.
It’s become brutally hot, as always in July and August, so the task list has morphed into “maintain” from “bust your buns to build”. Lazy days of summer is right…
I haven’t gotten started on building a drainage well up by the fence where the storm water run off is damaging those two new beds. The idea is to rent a skid steer with a backhoe arm and dig a 2-3 foot deep trench about 18″ wide and 6 feet long.
If I line the trench with composite hardboard, which comes in 4×8 sheets, and cover with some sort of metal screening, it should catch that big time run off I get from the neighbor’s yards before it completely ruins the beds. Then I can go from there. There’s no point in working the soil or adding compost if it is just gonna wash away.
Happily, I’ve settled into a bit of a groove with the chickens. With the heat, their water is changed 3 times a day so it’s cooler and cleaner. I won’t say clean, ’cause they are anything but, shall we say, “litter box trained”? When the heat indexes hit triple digits, I turn the hose on, set to mist in the afternoons to prevent overheating. If it’s really bad, I put a tad bit of honey in their water as an electrolyte.
They get sprouted feed (organic whole grains and seeds) twice a day, and at least one flat of greens (pic) each day to add to the chard and turnip greens. Oh and random amounts of birdseed, kitchen scraps, aging cucumbers and the like. Their feed has simplified, as I’ve learned what they need and what they really don’t.
A day’s worth of feed for the 12 girls is 1 cup each of oat groats, hard red wheat berries, black oil sunflower seed, and millet. Then 1/3 to 1/2 cup of green split peas. The ration soaks in Nature’s Magic (liquid kelp and humic acid mix) for 8-10 hours to encourage it to sprout.
I got some 2 gallon buckets and drilled holes in the bottoms as well as part way up the sides to rinse the seeds as they sprout. If ya don’t rinse, they turn to a gummy mess and mold, which would make the girls really sick. After 2-3 days, they have sprouted and I add about 1/4 cup of Fertrell Nutribalancer, and a capsule of organic fish oil before scattering along the run for them to hunt and peck at.
I’d like to build wood framed greenhouses when the runoff problem is solved; then I could easily rotate the chickens from one bed to another each season. Could even grow their greens and fodder in there with them to free up the garage. A simple small coop with that hardboard for siding can be assembled in a corner of a greenhouse easily enough.
A greenhouse fabric will last far longer than plastic to cover the top and I wouldn’t mind leaving chicken wire on the sides all year round–keep those pesky rabbits out of my greens! Chickens in the garden are good, eating overwintering bugs, scratching up the soil, devouring weed seeds, fertilizing… I hope to have one ready for winter. Maybe pie in the sky given my pace, ie permanently stuck in low gear. But wouldn’t it be nice?