Gardening can be a lot of fun and a great way to save money and be part of the urban homesteading community. Doing things like gardening and composting is a great way to teach your children how to get back to nature and give back to our environment. Some composting enthusiast call compost “black gold”. Nothing can be better than chicken manure.
Depending where you are located you may have one season for gardening or if you are like my family living here in Central Florida we have two seasons for growing vegetables. The only issue with having two seasons is that you have to rotate the crops that you grow. If you don’t then the nutrients in the ground will get depleted over time. What I usually do, is after the season is done I will rototill the old plants into the soil which will compost over time and help feed the soil.
About ten years ago before I got into raising chickens I was visiting some friends and saw some of the most healthy looking vegetable plants in my life. My friend told me the secret to his gorgeous garden was chicken manure. He would go to a local farmer yearly and pick up a truck load of chicken manure and let it sit for the year to breakdown the nitrogen and then spread it over his garden area.
Having chickens especially hens are fun and enjoyable and they are great for gardens. When my tomatoes and other vegetables start getting attacked from insects I let lose my chickens and they clean up the pest that are eating my wonderful plants. Pest and insects are a fantastic treat for chickens, here in Florida we have these nasty critters called wood roaches and palmetto bugs. When I come across these or grubs in my lawn I give them to my chickens and they think they are in chicken heaven.
Chickens and Their Manure
Let’s get back to chicken manure and composting for your garden. The age old question is, what components make a great compost? There are four components that a compost needs in order to good rich soil compost. First is nitrogen material “green”, this would be items like grass clippings, thatch, chicken manure, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps or rotted fruit and vegetables, egg shells, human or animal hair. The second item would be carbon material “browns”, these items would be fallen leaves, twigs, wood shavings, and sawdust. Item number three is water and item number four is air. You will want to keep your compost moist and turn it over once a week to stir up the ingredients.
For my chicken coop I put in fresh hay once a week in the hen house. On Saturday or Sundays I clean out the hen house of all hay and chicken feces. Putting this directly on a garden is NOT good. The manure is way too high in nitrogen and will burn your garden and kill the plants. Each week I will take the hay and manure an add it to my compost, I will keep it moist and turn it once a week for about sixty to ninety days until the compost materials are broken down and feel like soil texture. When I am ready to plant I will take the compost and till it into my raised garden beds until the ratio of the beds are three parts natural soil to one part compost.
Composting is great for the environment and my family feels good that we are giving back to nature what we don’t use. That with the chicken hay and manure is helping to provide rich organic vegetables for our family and friends.