Good Earth Uncut
Saturday, 9 July 2016
This Week in the Sustainable Family Food Garden
This Weeks Tasks In The Family Food Garden
It's Time To Pre-Prepare for Perfect Peas
Across the next few weeks – between July 1 and August 15 – we are moving into the prime time period to be sowing garden peas and snow peas across many parts of Tasmania and South Eastern Australia.
Peas are a crop which cannot just be plonked straight into a newly turned and tilled garden bed, however.
Peas Prefer An Older, Airy, Open Loam.
Peas prefer a light, airy, open, well structured soil and they do not compete at all well with weeds, or with slugs and snails.
While peas may be sown into a newly cleared plot of loam that has remained under continuing cultivation for the past nine months, you cannot just dig over any old patch of part abandoned garden ground, and expect to be rearing a successful crop of easily grown peas reared in beds which which might have been left fallow (left under mulch or to run to weeds, while resting and recovering) for a year or two.
That wont' work, as peas do not like to be dropped into earth that has just been opened.
They prefer what is known in the trade as a “rumpled bed”.
More Than The Pod: Peas Must Serve A Larger Purpose.
Peas do best in ground which has seen plenty of crops and comings and goings across the previous months and seasons, and actually will have one of their best potentials wasted, when sown into ground that has been left to rebuild a natural fertility nurtured by the worms and rains under a cover crop of weeds or greens, or beneath a perennial organic mulch.
Peas and beans are taking a better place in the garden bed rotational system - and are serving a larger, more important purpose - when they are not being sown into newly opened ground, but rather when they are going down into older soils, as their sowings are timed to come around half way through a seven year rotational sequence.
One one of the great garden logics is the planting of peas and beans into older, well used beds, as they are valuable legumes whose roots – with the aid of essential nitrogen fixing bacteria - will trap and transfer into the soil an essential supply of atmospheric nitrogen which is brought down with the softer rains of the spring.
Sow Peas Into Beds That Are To be Planted Out To Pre Christmas Tomatoes, or Sown To Corn
We need – therefore – to be sowing our peas into older, well used beds that are on the way to becoming exhausted, after a long succession of cropped harvests.
Growing peas in such ground will help to reinvigorate and to re-energize it for a late sown, December drilled crop of corn, or for the last pre -Christmas planting plantings of tomatoes for the summer season.
An Essential Three to Four Week Pause Before The Sowing Moment, In Newly Opened Beds.
If you need to drill your peas into fresh beds, however, then make sure that ground that has been well prepared for a good three to four weeks ahead of the day you drill the seed.
We need to give the pea bed the best part of a month of good prior preparation - when the seed going down into new ground - for we need to ensure that two successive strikes of weed seed have been dealt with, before the seed goes in the ground.
A minimum three week “fork and lift and then return to till and forget” preparation period - prior to sowing into newly opened beds, or ground which has been left fallow for some time, under weeds – is an essential pause before the sowing moment, as the loam in such beds will contain a long built up store of many seasons of accumulated weed seed.
Time to Take out Two Successive Waves of Weed Seed
Giving the ground a month to strike two waves of weed seed – which are highly nutritious, newly germinated shoots and greens that can then be part foraged and partly turned back in by the scratching and fossicking of the fowls, or turned and tilled back into the bed, by the grower, as a form of nigh nutrient, micro green-manure -will at least give our legume crop half a chance of getting in some good germination and early growth, before the next third lot of weeds get going.
If this sounds like far too many weeds, already, altogether, then accept that fact that weeds are an inevitable part of a gardening life, but also be reassured by the knowledge that the first and second weed strikes to come through a newly turned and tilled piece of late winter and early spring earth are by far the thickest and the strongest of the strikes.
The Later Third and Fourth Weed Waves Are Thinner, and Weaker.
The third and fourth weed waves are much lighter, weaker, and easier to deal with – when doing the ultra fiddly work of weeding in between the frailer rows of growing pea crops - so letting the ground have that first month to strike the bulk of the first waves of stronger, thicker weeds rising form the in-situ store of annual seed supply, is essential.
We will always need to weed any kind pea crop, assiduously, three to four times across the run of its growth toward the harvest, but a good month of preparation will cut back the amount of weeding work and time required, by half.
The July Weed Seed Strikes Are best Hit At The Ten and Twenty Day Marks
The first weed strikes for early July broken ground will come at ten to twelve days, and then again at twenty to twenty four days, after the garden loam has been first forked and lifted, but an overtime addition of two to five days must be added to the weed tilling timings for inland sites and colder clay loams, as well as in gardens set at higher at altitudes.
A Pre-Planting Pause Will Also catch the Slugs and Snails.
Giving ourselves plenty of prior pea-purposed preparation time also gives us a good chance to clean up the slugs and snails which would have occupied space that was left to rest and run to weeds, across the late autumn and winter.
If you have a poultry flock handy, letting the birds forage across the bed for just one day - at around the seven to nine day mark, and then again, for another day, at around the nineteen to twenty one day mark – is the best way of dealing jointly with both the weeds and with any slugs and snails which may be lurking in the loam.
You will see video footage of the Huon Blue pullets foraging our own temporarily netted, open raised bed – being prepared for pea sowing next weekend – on videos to be posted, at the private Good Earth Subscribers Only, Facebook site, by this Sunday night.
What to Sow and Plant
Pre- Sprouting Peas, as well as Pink Eyes
If it's still too cold and clammy, and dark and damp, in your own gardening part of south eastern Australia - with the ground outdoors just still too chill for sowing – then crops of peas, as well as pink eye potatoes, can be started early, with pre-sprouting, indoors.
In last week's version of this segment we spoke about starting spuds in containers, for a later shift to outdoor settings.
I will be posting a video on that process - using sand and terra-cotta tubs - by Sunday night, while a repeat of last weeks advice on pre-sown potatoes is laid out below.
Pre Sprouting Peas Will Buy Us Time and Save One Very Fiddly Weeding Pass Around The Easily Broken Shoots of Newly Shooting In-Ground Pea Plants.
We can do a similar pre- sowing sprouting trick with peas, by laying them out to soak up moisture, and then to shoot, on sunny window sills where the seed is left set on beds of damp paper towelling, or on old soaked tea-towels.
Put the sprouting seed in a highly visible place -so you do not forget to re-wet the bedding, every day.
Just one day of drying out can kill the shoots, once they have started to sprout, so visible settings are an essential aid to ensuring that the sprouting-bedding is kept moist, but not so wet as to leave the seed sitting in thin pools of water.
Start To Pre- Sprout No More than Seven days Before the Outdoor Drilling Date
Start the pea seed sprouting process no more than six to seven days before the day you plan to drill, but be warned that - while pre-sprouting will gain between seven to ten days on the usual time it takes for the seed to germinate, in ground, and while pre sprouting will save one entire pass of extremely fiddly work in weeding around frail, easily broken, newly emerging pea seed - once you have stared to sprout the seed, you have been tied to the seven-days-later sowing program.
Starting Early Potatoes.
Early potatoes must be set shallow, into warm grey soils and lighter loams, in frost free sites and protected pockets only, for outdoor winter sowings.
Use no mulch, no straw or hay, not for winter and early spring sown potato crops.
The Tree-Tray Method of Starting Spuds Indoors.
Early potato crops can be started indoors also: sown into fruit boxes, low cut barrels, and into deeper trays and tubs for later transfer into outdoor settings, using a tree-tray method of enticing them to grow longer root runs that can then be laid out into sand and compost trenches, early to mid spring.
I will show you how to do this, in the videos to be posted by late Sunday night.
Garden Greens and Salad Plants.
You can sow, also, outdoors now, in-situ crops of the garden greens and salad plant listed below, but only into north exposed, open raised beds and onto elevated banks, or into outdoor, sun basking, planter boxes, beds, drums and barrels.
As ever, you will need to adjust all suggested sowing and planting timings to suit your local setting.
One always needs to be guided, as well, by the site and situation variable relative soil warmth, drainage, tilth and moisture levels of our own individual garden micro-climates, as well as by the hours of direct sun exposure - or of mid-winter shade being cast - for each different bed and setting in each slightly different part of the garden.
In Open Raised Beds, Outside, Or Into Large Boxes, Barrels and Tubs, Sow:
* Garden peas only into full NW arc to NE arc shade free, full sun, super drained sites with sandy soils or structured medium, with rows sown to run on a North to South axis;
*Broad beans in blocks of three to six parallel rows, also on a north – south axis;
*Oats, grey peas and strawberry clover; or black mustard and oats, into resting poultry yards. Lime the muddy yards, broadcast the seed, cover with enough triple washed potting sand to just cover the seed.
Plant, or divide and replant into fresh ground:
*Crowns of rhubarb and asparagus, sets of shallots, potato onions, tree onions, welch onions, chives.
*Open rooted grapes, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, loganberries, youngberries, silvanberries, thornless blackberry, strawberries, blueberries.
*Hazlenut (filberts), walnut, chestnut, mulberry, fig, Japanese plum, European plum, damson, apricot, cherry, peach, nectarine, apple, pear, quince, crabapple. pomegranate.
*Comfrey, lovage, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, catmint, penny royal, bergamot, oregano.
Sow Indoors, or in a Heated Greenhouse or Glasshouse.
Finer Seed (less than 3 mm) Into Seed Trays or Containers, Seed Larger Than 3 mm Only into Tubs and Pots:
For transplanting out into the Garden, in August and September, sow seed now of:
*White, Red and Brown Globe and Torpedo Onions, Spring Onions, Chives, Garlic Chives, Leeks and Shallots.
*Broccoli, Curly Kale and Red Russian Kale, and Drumhead Cabbage.
*Silver Beet, Rainbow Chard, English Spinach, Perpetual Leaf, Dutch, or Snake Leaf Spinach (as it is variously known) plus Warrigal Greens, or New Zealand Spinach
For Growing and Harvest Indoors, or For Transplanting Outside in Late Winter and Spring, Sow Seed of:
*Mizuna, Early Mibuna (Dento Yasai) Hon Tsai Tai, Tatsoi, Komatsuna (Mustard Spinach), Shungiku (Japanese Edible Chrysanthemum) Pak Choi, Bok Choi, Wasabi, Wombok (Chinese Cabbage) and Choy Sum.
*Cos Lettuce, Red and Green Oak Leaf and Mignonette Lettuce, plus Winter Triumph Iceburg Lettuce.
*Cress, Red Leaf Mustard, Rocket and Parsley into tubs and boxes indoors for in-situ growing.
Before We Prune: A Time For Framing, Preparing and Planning
The middle days and weeks of July are the very best time to be making what I call “aesthetic expression” with our work upon those deciduous fruiting trees whose present lack of leaf cover gives the gardener a perfect chance to stand back to consider the best, most pleasing, shape and balance which may be sculpted - through our winter pruning – out of each different tree in the copse.
We trim and cut, in summer (as soon as the harvest is picked) to limit growth, and to sustain the right proportion of new and older wood, and between fruit and growth buds, to ensure the future crops of the tree.
We prune, in winter, to sculpt the light: both to ensure the better health of the tree, and to express that art which is a part of growth in gardening, a part of keeping the joy in our work, and the beauty in our life.
When Less Means More Freedom To Have Fun.
While commercial orchardists and large scale growers - who must rely on machine work and paid pickers to ensure that rapid harvest-period essential to an economic return from many hundreds and thousands of trees in their care - will seek to have each tree conform to a standard linear or geometric shape and pruning formulae, the sustainable family food grower has a greater freedom in approach.
The home gardener will grow fruiting trees, vines and shrubs firstly for the beautiful flavour, aroma and texture of freshly picked, clean organic produce, but we grow our trees, also, for the sheer fun and fancy of doing so.
You cannot ever use any of kind of economic argument to validate the growing of fruit trees in the home garden.
Why Fruit Crops Are Luxury Crops.
There is no kind of economic “logic of returns” in having a perennial plant occupying up to fifteen square meters of our limited urban garden grounds 24\7\12 – which means at all times, permanently- while producing a pick of usable harvest for just two to three weeks of each year.
You cannot even justify home grown organic fruits as a pure expression of sustainable food miles or of a more efficient energy exchange – in terms of net growth, harvest and shipping kilojoules saved – in eating home grown fruits whose otherwise exorbitant commercial carbon fuel production costs would have been wasted growing, spraying, transporting and shipping the same kinds of fruits to the supermarket.
Home grown fruits offer a net negative return, as well, in net local gains on the exchange between garden muscle work and nutrient, water, and mulch energy inputs measured against the nutrient values of the crop that is picked.
No, there is no economic or even health or local economic justification in growing fruit – not when compared to the potential weights and nutrient value of vegetables produced in the home garden from crops grown in the same ground as that taken up by the fruit trees.
In summary of the growth economics then, while home-grown fruits may be better tasting, safer and less potentially toxic - in that we know that they have not been sprayed with hormone based harvesting agents or with toxic pesticides - in terms of sustainable family food production, and of good sustainable nutrition, the fruiting trees and vines that we plant are the local “lolly shops” of the family food garden.
So we must admit that all fruit crops are luxury crops, but - once we have admitted that - then we can then feel totally free to grow our fruit trees in the most luxurious ways that we choose to prefer, and to indulge!
A Broader Combination of Assets.
We grow fruiting trees and vines in the family food garden for a combination of assets which offer the mixed advantages of shape and colour, and beauty and form, as well as an important range of functions in the poultry grounds, offering cooling shade, diversity and flock distraction, as well as day time perches and protection from flying predators whose vision is blocked by the curtain of foliage.
Thus - because we are growing just a few trees, and are more interested in the quality of the fruit, rather than quantity, are not trying to make a living from the harvest, but need to have something that is pleasing to the eye, as well as for the palate - we can afford to mix a variety of aims and ideals in our management approaches.
Indulging Our Aesthetics.
Growing for the luxury, and having less trees to manage, means we have more license to indulge our aesthetic appreciation of the beauty and the form which fruiting trees can bring to the garden.
Having less trees to prune and pick also gives us the time and space to be able to treat each tree as an individual.
Having responsibility for just a handful of trees gives each family grower the chance to be able to interpret, train and trim each specimen - working at a more leisurely pace, across the years – using the winter pruning period to build the tree from season to season across each tree's first five to seven year period of growth towards maturity.
Pause As We Prune, to Stay Poised in Our Pursuit.
We must stay poised in our work - and pause as we prune - all the while slowly revealing the innate potential balance between necessary strength and structure, and form and function, which can be teased into a special kind of unique shape which may be found - with work and patience – in every tree in the garden.
This kind of annual seasonal, winter pruned, fruit tree sculpting takes best advantage of the balance between primary and secondary branches whose pattern of growth and spread is always just a little bit different, in every different tree that we view.
Each tree has Its Own Balance Found and Framed Between Grace and Beauty, and Between Function and Form
This balance is expressed in the little variations in junction, point, angle and spread of the counterbalancing network of limbs which make the tree, and which will define the height, spread and balance of the foliage cover.
The annual season of winter pruning gives us the chance to seek to promote and enhance the unique, individual flow and form that finds an ever variable, always different line for the eye to follow as we trace that grace and beauty of form which may be found in every tree, as well as within every living plant and animal on this earth.
Such internal landscapes of form were defined and described - by the great Gerard Manley Hopkins - as “Inscape”.
Hopkin's “Inscape”: The Internal Landscapes of The Tree.
This “inscape” – or the internal, intricate or micro-landscape features of our deciduous fruiting trees – are studied best when the fallen leaves reveal, each year, the lyric lines of curve and crest, and of valley and hill which are mimicked not just in the veins, contours, edges and in the shapes and autumn colour patterns of the leaves, but which are repeated and captured in the ridge and wave of the patterns of the bark, and in the line and flow of the limbs.
Each tree, then has its own “inscape” and is its own landscape: it has its own unique combination of contrast in colours, its own valleys and ridges, pleats and patterns, and lines and contours.
The “inscape” of the tree is an expression, as well, of each tree's own unique “soul” of aesthetic: that special, usually only half glimpsed or sensed, usually indefinable, other “something” which is the difference between a great work of art, and something that is less.
But each fruit tree in the garden can retain its own art form only as long as woe do not butcher it through a rushed, non-seeing, unthinking process of pruning.
We can help enhance the unique characteristics of each trees own “inscape” only through through a patient and thoughtful pruning of limbs that we must shape and sculpt to help enhance the way they have curved and turned, and webbed and spread, in their search for the light, and in their push into space.
Winter's Brief Window of Revelation.
In nature, when we wander through the understorey of a woodland or into the occasional, more open clearing of a rainforest, we can see these lines of the limbs of ancient, more open branched trees revealed in all the beauty of their flow and form.
The more fully formed line of limb of our fruit trees, however, usually remain hidden - kept secret by the cloth of foliage - when trees that are pruned and shaped remain under a closer form of more evenly distributed, more compact, spring and summer leaf cover.
Winter is the only time then that the more secret selves of our own domestic trees are bared.
We must take the chance, therefore, early in the season – through the weeks of May and June - to study each tree as the leaves are shed, section by section, for we are able then to see the smaller segments of the limb networks which are making up a larger picture, one whose often overlooked separate sectors will be revealed – in greater, more focused detail – through the first new gaps in the foliage cover.
Framing The Landscape
Taking the chance of such closer studies of that inner structure of our trees being partially revealed by the autumn fall is a little bit like the classical fashion of “framing” of landscapes that were viewed within a more controlled and formal context.
Such framing was a form of imitating the eye and perspective of the artist - through holding up a small open frame, set upon a handle, kept out a foot or two before the eye - which may then focus the eye upon just one segment of a larger landscape.
This French inspired practice has been mocked by many - who are looking back from the present, and down upon that time - viewing the fashion as a typically effete kind of eighteenth century artificial posturing, a form of mimicry which equals the practice of aristocrats of the period dressing up as shepherds and dairy maids for picnic centred rural “romps” within a pastoral setting.
Yet such “framing” has a really useful, practical role, in studying the features of both natural and designed landscapes.
Before the invention of photography, framing was once used by professional garden landscape designers trying to focus on the finer details of an existing feature, details which remain essential to an informed crafting and sculpting of specimens which may be studied and imprinted that much better when framing forces a more focused study of the trunk-form, limb-line and branch-work of our fruit trees.
Better Than The Photographic Image.
Framing maintains many advantages over photography, however, if you wish to understand the innate nature of each tree.
Take an old photograph frame (one measuring around 100 mm high by 150 mm wide) knock out the glass and backing sheet, and then hold the empty frame between your fingertips and thumb - around 300 to 400 mm out from your eye- you will find yourself shutting out all superfluous, distracting detail, being suddenly able to “zero in” really sharply on just the one segment of the tree branch network.
Doing thus will concentrate your eye upon an area which has suddenly become isolated into what seems like a centrally illuminated space, so sharply and vividly will the details trapped within that “frame of focus” be clarified, as the line of the limbs is revealed - almost magically – with a suddenly more intense light lifting the details up and out and towards the eye while so much more of what was previously unseen, or not noticed, is brought into a bright relief.
Cutting Out The Clutter of External Detail.
Such framing works though – not because it intensifies the light – but because it helps the gaze focus all attention on the finer finer detail of just the one selected segment of what is otherwise a wider, sweeping panorama whose larger, broader, blurring imprint of impression of dispersing colour, light and shape can leave us lacking insight into the many, more intimate, separate details which combine to shape the larger whole.
Framing is a vital exercise for those who wish to prune with art in mind, who would like to study their subject, before they make those cuts which cannot be remade, once the delightful reverse curve of a key, unseen branch is mistakenly dropped, or when the delicate line of a limb is lost.
Framing can help prevent the great mistake of “blade into bark” can help prvent great crimes with shears.
More importantly, framing may help us come to know the soul of every tree that is loved, that has been planted and mulched, and watered and fed.
Such framing may help us find the very best balance between light and shade, and sculpted grace and colour and form, between a balance of stance and shape and sustainable yield, between the gifts of fragrant fruit and beauty found in the fold and flow of limb and leaf and lyric curve and contour in the line of the branch which leads the following eye to behold that which is glimpsed which may be held only in the eye, and not in the hand.
This Week with the Poultry Flock
Micro-Yards and Pocket-Pens Part 3
Using Pocket Pens and Micro Forage Yards as Ultra Flexible Garden Bed and Litter Conditioning Systems
Last week - in part two of this series on pocket pens and micro-poultry forage yards – we discussed the various lightweight materials, yard dimensions, and flock management roles which such flexibly portable forage systems can play both for garden based family flocks, and for fowls being kept on smallholdings and upon the family farm.
The next two parts of this four week series will bring us to the best ways to use micro- yards as the most ultimately flexible forms of litter conditioning (this week) and for garden flock fitness and conditioning purposes(next week) in situations where micro yards offer as an extra forage-extension option for the family food gardener, one which lets us take a flock out into a chosen bed or position of the food garden, as required, even for that critical single day of intercept bed conditioning which can save us hours of work with the rake or three-tyned cultivator.
Over the past three months at Kingston we have been using a combination of the micro yard and Huon Blue pullets (a very powerful pair of foraging tools!) to precondition several cubic meters of softfall pine bark mulch which was then used to fill the pathway section of a large, double sided, raised bed which now sits where the front lawn once wasted so much winter growing food- garden potential.
The micro yard has been receiving a new dressing of mulch every couple of weeks, across that time, for removing and replacing it is as easy as tipping over the soft netted frame onto its side to allow an all-round access for shovelling out the old litter, and tipping in the new.
There is only one third of a cubic meter of mulch to be moved, each time, when you are dealing with supplying and removing a 300 mm depth of litter to fill an area of 1.5 square meters, and that makes it a short, easy, fifteen minute task in a morning or afternoon gardening session.
This is one of the great advantages of micro yards: they break up your work into bite sized, easily managed and approached, smaller units of labour and material, costing very little, with each task, to manage, in terms of cash spent on mulch, or on muscle wear and in energy reserves taken from for the body.
Two Different Kinds of Litter Require Two Different Management Approaches.
The winter mulched micro-yard is working for a pen of five pullets – it should be pointed out – only because its 1.5 square meter area of forage is not the only litter space that the little flock can access, each day.
There are two different kinds of poultry litter space available to the flock, each day, and they are made of two really different types of poultry-mulch, each requiring different kinds of litter management.
Dry Shed Litter Approaches
Inside the pen, beneath the roof, the hens are working a rainproof, dry litter system which – as long as it remains dry, friable, and free of parasites – can be left in place for a year or more, or until the flock is changed, or until the relocatable pen is moved to a new site.
This dry “in shed” litter is working as a slow cycle, cool, composting system, and for further information how that dry litter method works – and must be managed – you can refer back to the columns on poultry litters that I wrote in the first three months of the year.
Wet, Open Weather Litter Management
Outside of the pen, the birds have access to a smaller, more intensively managed and regularly refreshed, wet or open-weather litter system where the hens are being used to pre condition a third of a cubic meter, per month, of softfall-pine-bark mulch, before it is barrowed out onto the paths of our food garden.
From there – a further nine to twelve months later – the now fully composted, blackened mulch will be taken off the paths to be cycled into the food and vine fruit beds.
Thus - before each barrow load of fresh clean pinebark-mulch being brought into the poultry garden system even begins to be used in the food beds, as a downstream, composted component of the growing medium - it serves two previous useful roles first, within the poultry yards and garden setting.
Replace Your Pinebark Litter Every Six to Twelve Weeks, When Used For Intensively Foraged But Weather Protected Pens and Micro Yards.
The parasitic worm preventative and anti bacterial qualities of softfall-pinebark will last only as long as the fresh, resinous, highly aromatic smell of the medium persists.
If you are using fresh softfall-pinebark mulch as a dry medium, inside roofed pullet pens, and for rearing chicks in weather protected pens, and in roofed sun runs, then its flock-health assisting and parasite deterring qualities can last for up to ten to twelve weeks, though it is at it's most potent for the first six weeks.
Replace The Pinebark Litter Every Four to Six weeks, However, When Used For Rain Exposed Micro-Runs and Pocket Yards.
If you are using the finer grade pinebark mulch in outdoor, rain exposed, wet litter systems - and especially in micro yards stocked at the rate of one pullet per half square meter - then you need to replace the mulch monthly in that wetter weather period, in cool-temperate climate zones, in the months which fall between April 15 and November 15, each year.
In a warmer, drier season - between November and April in each breeding season – you can replace the mulch within your rain exposed litter systems less often: each six to eight weeks.
If, however, we are having one of those unusually cooler, damp, sustained spells of darker summer weather such as we seem to experience in Tasmania - from late November through to mid January, once in every four to five years - then the outdoor, rain soaked mulch must be replaced, each month.
As explained above, also, rain and damp exposed pinebark mulch will begin to degrade quite quickly, soon losing its best resinous parasite deterring impacts - once it has been scratched and turned and intermixed with the soil below, by the hens, as well as being mixed with the remnants of hay and straw and older drier mulch - being kicked out into the micro yard - from inside the pen.
Some natural intermixing of the pinebark litter with fragments of roots and soil below - as well as with particles of loam and leaf brought in with the daily supply of cut and carry greens - will also take place, within a few days of each new load of mulch being laid.
All of these impacts will begin to degrade your litter resin role, slowly, and it will start to lose its best efficacy - as in intestinal worm deterring medium - within 30 days.
Keeping The Winter Open Weather Litter System Super Fluffed, Tossed and Aerated
In summary of the points we have covered then - this far, in part three - we need to replace open weather yard litters every four to six weeks, if they are to serve the extra purpose of helping to keep the flock internally healthy.
But replacing the outdoor litter monthly can also play an important role helping to keep our hens fit and strong and free of vices through encouraging the flock to stay active and engaged, across each day, scratching and turning a really open and friable, non compacted, inviting new litter mix, as they seek and search and hunt for the grain settled at or just below the surface, as well as searching for the grubs and worms in the ground beneath.
To work at its best rate, however, in making the very best use of an actively managed litter system – you need to have the right breed of larger sized hen, equipped with greater leg power, and you need, as well, to keep the flock just a little bit hungry – and, like their wilder jungle cousins - waking with slight daily edge of the hunger required to help ensure that older hens, especially, remain active for the bulk of their day, in their search for the food.
Once our hens are past eighteen months of age, you should not feed the flock, at all to encourage a more active forage habit - for the one day in every seven, giving them only their daily ration of greens, but no mash, no meal, and no grain.
We will talk about this, in detail, next week, in Part 4 of this series.
With another three days of heavy raining coming, you may need to be using Jo's floating litter raft discovery of the past few days. The Litter Rafts are illustrated above, and I will be writing about the method next week. You will find a video posted on the subscriber's facebook site where I discuss the ways in which litter rafts work.
These beautiful images of some super impressive Black Barnevelder and Huon Blue breeding males are set within a newly occupied fruit tree forage yard which has been rested for the full nine month period required to ensure that the parasite cycle was broken. I will talk about this in more detail in coming poultry columns.
Check out the Good Earth Uncut Members Facebook Group for this weekend's videos.