Winter is for Gardening…

Full disclosure: I stole the title from the Survival Podcast and a series on winter gardening they did years back.

Well, thanks to our Chickens we’ve got a TON of nitrogen rich fertilizer.  After spending a few hours last week stripping our raised beds of dying or dead plants, this weekend was dedicated to getting a few of the beds ready for planting.

Because of the high nitrogen content of chicken maure, you cannot use it as a direct fertilizer.  It will need to be mixed with carbon rich material (mulch, dry leaves, etc) and composted.   Best estimates I found said this should take 3-4 months.  But, i’m impatient (you’ll learn that about me over time), so I came up with a work around.

Moisture and heat will speed decomposition.  (FYI, I’m not a chemist, i just play one on the internet…sometimes) Because the nitrogen will begin to go to work on the carbon its exposed to, I’m going to be using moisture and heat to speed the process along.   We spread our poop-rich mulch along the tops of the beds, then I folded a bit of the top layer of dirt into the mixture.   Next I covered the beds with a soggy decomposing straw bale I’d had laying around since last year.  Finally, I covered the beds with tarps or heavy plastic.

Over the next few weeks I’ll peel the cover of the beds, pitch fork mix the top 6-8 inches, then spray it down with the hose before replacing the cover.   With this process we should have full decomposition by planting time and will have successfully protected our baby pants from getting burned to death by that nitrogen.

Up next: Building a green house top for one of the raised beds so we can start seeds outside this year.

 

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