Fertilizer and recycling stuff on a Tight Bu...

A tight budget forces one to be very creative with materials at hand. For instance I live on SS income and I usually run out of money before I run out of month! I raise chickens for eggs and through experience I have learned to use their manure effectively in my garden. One must use caution when using chicken manure, it must be aged at least 3-6 months before using it in your garden. Applied fresh it can burn your plants beyond repair.


Through trial and error and research on the subject I have developed a method that works for me. I use pine wood chips for the floor covering where my hens roost. Cedar chips won't work, they take too long to decompose and there are elements in them one does not want in a vegetable garden. Every morning I turn over the wood chips, mixing the nights manure in thoroughly out of reach of my little egg producing darlings feet. Next, when I clean the roost, I take all those chips mixed with hen's manure and dump it in my compost bin. It will heat compost to 120*-130* when used like this. The advantages of this method ages the manure and kills any bacteria that might be present. The wood chips are fairly inexpensive and provide a water holding capacity to your garden because they take a long time to decompose and also release nutrients as they age.


Because my back yard raised bed garden fills with tree feeder roots every year and because I need a LESS work garden as I age, I have started building a Hugelkultur Garden in a lot (25'WX160'L)I acquired next to my house. ( Thank you my Credit Union!) It was composed of hard clay and had a deep depression in the middle about 20' long that became a mosquito farm every spring during the rainy season. I took care of that problem as soon as it became mine! Hugelkultur!


I piled old tree stumps, limbs, rotting branches, twigs gathered from around my neighborhood into the depression. My neighbors probably were asking themselves " Why is that little old lady dragging that rotting tree limb down the sidewalk?" Ha! Next I covered that with about three inches of hay and this fall covered it with about 3-4" of shredded leaves. Leaves require a bunch of nitrogen to decompose so am now in the process of adding blood meal and putting raw chicken manure mixed into all those leaves. This isn't a problem to get since a few of my hens insist on roosting in their nests in spite of a perfect roost made from the side rails of a baby bed! During the snow we just had, those leaves gave off enough heat to melt the snow in places. By springtime my garden should be ready to plant. A layer of potting soil ( on sale!) on top of the rotted leaves and the work will be done. All I will need to do in the future is rake in wood chips mixed with hen manure and allow Mother Nature and Old Man winter and those rotting tree limbs, stumps, etc.,take care of the rest! I'll never have to buy fertilizer again!


Some people use chicken manure in their 'compost teas" A weak solution makes a good way to deliver water and natural nutrients to your plants. Full of nitrogen it makes a good starter solution for your young plants who need more nitrogen early in their growth. Some folks use oxygen and some folks just age it for about 24-36 hours and use it. I tried this method and, although I got good results, decided not to use it. Hauling messy, smelly water out to my plants just doesn't appeal to me! Hope this article has sparked some ideas.

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