We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather on Sunday and my husband tilled in the garden. We thought it was going to be too wet and muddy with all the rain we have been having but remarkably it wasn’t too bad!! A few weeks ago when we had out OTHER nice day I unloaded a trailer full of old decomposing leaves from my father-in-laws’ house. The leaves were supposed to be taken to the dump in the fall but thankfully they didn’t make it there. These leaves were oak leaves and when they decompose they are very nutritious for the soil. They are a great amendment to any planting bed.
On that day I also detached the chicken run from the coop and had my husband help me flip it over. It must have weighted 200 lbs! We have wire mesh on all sides of the run so that animals don’t get the bright idea that they can burrow under the chicken run and snack on one of our chickens. So after a year of the chickens being in there, doing their chicken thing, it was pretty matted down with chicken poo. Chicken poo is one of the most wonderful fertilizers. I will not go into detail but trust me when I say it is good stuff.
It was killing me seeing all this poo just sitting there decomposing (and not smelling by the way) when it could be in my garden helping feed the soil and thus my plants! So with a bit of pleading and many promises that I would not let the run break as we flipped it over, my husband helped me flip it over so I could clean it out. Flipping was where his part stopped and my job of scraping and flinging began. If you have a chicken run and want to clean it out I would highly advise holding your breath. Once you get that stuff stirred up… woooo weeee!
So after about an hour of flinging poo like a monkey with a shovel I was satisfied that I had nourished the garden to the best of my ability that day.
Then I decided we needed to open up the earth machine (the big black trashcan-looking thing in the top picture) and get all that composting goodness spread on the garden as well. Pictured above is what a years worth of kitchen scraps, 2 clean outs from the chicken coop and a bit of heat and time looks like. The big mess of dried up grasses on top were a late edition in the late winter and I didn’t think they were going to decompose. I just wanted to get them in there so they wouldn’t blow away and I could have them for a base for this years’ compost bin. The grasses got removed and sat aside so we could incorporate the rest of the good compost material.
Look at all that composting goodness!! All those kitchen scraps are not in the landfill and have decomposed and make a nutritious mash for my garden. #winner!
See all those indentations? Those are worm trails. Lots of worm trails means lots of worms. Lots of worms means lots of aeration for the soil. Lots of aeration means lots of water can filter down and feed the plants! Worms are a sign of a healthy garden. I didn’t add worms to the compost bin (although you can). These worms found this bin and crawled up into it from the open bottom in the earth machine.
We decided that the garden was not big enough. Last year we were fighting to get to each plant. It was packed full of stuff. So we decided to expand the garden about 4 feet. Doesn’t sound like much but the garden was already 13 feet across and 30 feet long. Tilling up new soil is tough work. Especially after one has been tilling nice cushy leaf and chicken poo infused soil. It will take a year or two but this new section will have the same Ph as the rest of the garden.
Till Till Till. We had the tiller set on the deepest setting for the tines. I think it was about 5 inches. A good till will mix in all your amendments, aerate the soil and break up any weeds that sprung up over the winter. It is like mixing cake batter. You want to make sure everything is all incorporated.
Here we have a willing helper flinging compost. Note that she is NOT wearing proper foot wear.
And here we have an unwilling helper wearing proper foot wear.
As you can see gardening at our house is a family event. Some are more willing participants than others.