It’s funny how ideas, or inspiration, comes into us. This one relates to my Chicken Scavenging System. I have been using a shredded Miscanthus product for chicken bedding. It is about the same price as a bale of chopped straw, but is grown without chemicals, is a perennial, and most importantly works well. My long term aim is to house a single flock of chickens, and possibly another of ducks, on a deep litter system, with the raw materials coming from on site. Probably a combination of Common Reed harvested from gray/brown water systems and Swale, along with tree and shrub prunings, straw from my grain growing, and bamboo. In the medium term, I have two deep litter systems, along with two conventional poultry houses, and another house due to be used soon.
Yesterday evening I read ‘Growing Green’, by Jenny Hall and Iain Tollhurst, which had been recommended to me by a friend, Nick Vowles. There was a lot in the book that I already knew, but, as always, there is always something new to learn. The book is about Stock Free Organic farming, and much of the book is devoted to listing the standards that you need to adhere to to be registered. The book deals with farming at all scales, so quite a bit of it, the bits that dealt with machinery, were of little relevance, but there was enough new information to have made the purchase worthwhile. The main topic that caught my attention was the recommended amount of compost to use., which was one wheelbarrow load per 10 sq meters, for most crops, dropping to 5 sq meters for Nitrogen fixers, and some other crops.
This post has been a little while in the making, and is a result of a telephone conversation with a friend of mine. She had been worried that despite working long hours, she never seemed to get everything done, or even achieve very much. Initially I was going to list all of the things that I didn’t get done this year, but the list was so long that I would never have finished the post. Instead, I’m going to go through some of the stuff that I did around the smallholding today, and then the stuff that didn’t get done.
I wanted to get some current pictures of the Forest garden posted, with a short account of where I’ve got to so far, and what’s next. For those who haven’t visited the blog before, it might be worth you checking out the Forest Garden paragraph of the Pictures, Designs, and Plans page, before continuing.
The first picture is a view from the top (North East) corner of the Forest Garden, which is about an acre in size.
The pink bands that you can see running across the picture are the swale banks, which are covered in Musk Mallow. This is a wonderful plant, perennial, edible leaves and flowers, great bee forage, deep rooted, and able to compete with grass. I planted most of these as self seeded plants from the vegetable garden,and they have started to self seed, and expand. The pictures below show a bit more detail.
A few days ago I was presented with this hardy bamboo.
It’s a new shoot of Phyllostachys viridiglaucescens, and was brought to me by a mate. He dug it up from Vic’s place, and I’ve posted pictures of the bamboo at his place before bamboo pictures.
My friend Roy dug some of the shoots up, as Vic was going to mow them down. With the dry weather, most of the feeding/watering roots were deep down, so these shoots are likely to struggle to establish, but they were due for destruction anyway, so it was worth the risk.