Its time to plant out cell two of our stationery chicken tractor. We have four cells in this system and the idea is to grow the food for the chickens with their assistance. Each six weeks one of the cells must be planted out to make the system function and then at five months the chickens are allowed back in. They then get one month to prepare the cell for it to be planted out again. We are still fine tuning this system to get it to work for us. We still are not sure what to plant for it to function well. What we are trying at the moment is to grow a clucker tucker seed mix and as it grows we will daily systematically cut a section and feed this to the chickens.
This is a new system and this will be the second time cell two will be planted. We never got to spend much time on it when it was first planted so this time I needed to give the soil some attention.I had thrown the soil of the four cells into place with the excavator before it was built so it was a bit average. The first thing I wanted to do was to garden fork it through to check it was in reasonable order. There was also a lot rocks and stones that have come from our shale soil. Eighteen 10 liter bucket fulls in fact. The soil is quite a heavy soil and I feel it could do with a lot more organic matter. It doesn’t really need more fertility as the chickens have been pooping in there so I chose to add sawdust. The saw dust that I have available to use is a mix of some near fresh and some quite old and decomposed with the rest in between so I feel that it will great to compliment the heavy soil. I added 10 wheelbarrows full of sawdust over the 25 square meters.
On Monday next week I will dig the sawdust through and then spread the seed. I am not concerned with possible nitrogen loss from the sawdust as it is already mostly decomposed and there will be available nitrogen from the chicken poop.
Looking forward to getting this system really working for us and I am enjoying observing the many processes it entails as it develops. Oh by the way, even though up till now I wouldn’t say there has been a great success with production we have harvested about forty or so pumpkins. A great system for pumpkins but they take over and you don’t get much else.
©2016 Tom Kendall; diyfoodandhealth.com, incorporating Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast, simplicity, permaculture, self reliance and homesteading, chickens tractor soil conditioning.