Grasses and weeds, herbs and flowers. Shiny details for the eye and meal, but so far not so many vegetables to be seen. At least the view is stunning, most of the beds are prepared, so we are getting ready for the spring.
In the front you see 2 Hugel Kultur beds we made last year. And it is a complete disaster. We buried a pile of wood and covered it earth, soil and compost. However, the rats find it a castle and build a massive bunker underneath the wood, so big wholes appear everywhere. We have already put a lot of effort in this experiment, but so far, it doesn’t win our hearts.
Finally we have finished the raised beds that we put on top of our ‘compost-E’ and filled it up with compost, manure and lots of carbon materials to help decomposing the cow dung.
In the meanwhile little plants are awaiting in the nursery to set root in their new homes.
With the next full moon we fill up this garden as much we can, so we can enjoy a long summer with fresh food.
This winter we have decided to sacrifice our beloved zuchini circle for an extra camping field. It is a shame because the field gave us a lot (zuchinnis) and is nice and straight. But since the latter is quite rare in our garden, we found this place to be perfect for more friends to come over and sleep. When the cabbage and french garlics are done, we will start the transformation.
More reasons for us to start a new permaculture experiment. Behold our Hugelkultur in a raised bed with on the spot composting. Or is it a garden lasagna? So what did we do?
For the last year we have put our garden waste, leaves, grass and small branches, on a E shaped pile (yes we have seen this coming). As you can see it hasn’t decomposed completely, but inside you find already the fluffy sticky black gold we are looking for.
In one powerful day we constructed the outer fame, almost around the entire compost E. We used ceder wood (Cryptomeria) for the poles and planks. The Japanese Ceder (Sugi) grows very well in Terceira and is used for many purposes. The planks are the round sides that the sawmill can’t sell, so we get the for free when we order our wood. Perfect!
We levelled our the compost and put a sheet layer of bark. On top of that we layered leaves and old cow dung that we got from a farmer around the corner. The dung is not composted yet so we mixed in some bags of rough saw dust, that we picked up at the furniture work shop. The best things in life are free!
Yeah but why?
The idea is that the manure will compose quickly with the help of the carbon rich leaves and sawdust. Some parts of the shitheap are already filled with worms, which is a good sign. Hopefully they will stay in their new Sugi Logde.
The lower layer of partly decomposed material and leftovers of twigs and branches will slowly but surely provide nutrients for a long period of time. We hope that this woody material will also stimulate a fungus web in the soil that connects all the dots.
We still need to complete the wooden structure of one arm of the E, that’s first and already a big third of the bed is filled up. When this is finished the waiting game starts. To improve the process we will look for a cover up. Maybe straw that can function as mulch or just a black plastic sheet to boost the temperature a bit.
Welcome new neighbours! For my birthday I happily got our first residents of Abbyville. Mrs. Black, White and Brown forage our lawn under surveillance of Mr. Rooster. So far they have rewarded our love and food with an average of 0.3 eggs per day, so we need to work a bit on that.
Yes, I would prefer to see our chickens in large number and free range, but let’s start this collaboration with a controlled situation.
The Chicken tractor
In an egg shell it is an easy to relocate chicken coop you move throughout your garden or farm. They will get rid of your grass, weeds and seeds feed on bugs and kitchen scraps and give you class A poop in return. These egg producing, ploughing, fertilizing garden friends are excellent workers and will do good for your earth.
They made our first step in our organic approach in which we try to let everything work together. I have wanted to make a chicken tractor since I read Hemenway’s Gaia’s garden and there are tons of examples to be found on the web. A good example you will find here.
Mother Earth News published some articles as well to give you some ideas. We especially liked the idea to put the coop over (raised) garden beds to focus the work and, well, the output.
The tractors we found would still cost around a hundred euro, which I definitely wanted to spend on other things. We went shooping in the old shed and found the materials to go for no budget. Iron plant trellises would make a perfect outdoor coop, pegged to the ground and covered with chicken fence, yes I did spend 5 ekkies here, and with my new power tool (yeah, man-stuff!) I screwed all the planks and posts together I could find.
Happy with the garden residence number 15a, there still were some rookie mistakes: the house is pretty heavy and with two people it is quite a lift with four feathered friends inside. Not as smooth as the two wheeled tractor in the pictures, huh. But on the other hand, we also don’t have the same picture perfect straight lawns as the exampled picture, so because everything can be dismantled, it is much easer to carry it around our irregular land.
A second thing I would have done different is to make the house higher so it can function as a shelter as well.
Up to now we receive a mere 0.3 egg, not enough for our daily sunny-side-up. With adapting the food and regularly add kitchen scraps and dug-up weeds they should get a varied diet to start a flow of eggs in the spring. Keep you posted on that.