Saturday, March 26, 2011

Swappin the Chicken Yard and the Garden

(Carl Wayne Hardeman is a Master Gardener and a wonderful speaker and writer!  Need a speaker?  Click here.)

doin' the chicken dance!

It’s windy this morning here at the Snappin Turtle Farm in my dreams. The wet ground is cold, and the damp air cuts me and Mimi to the bone. But they’s work needs done, and days are getting longer and warmer.

We got most of the spring garden planted. We transplanted cabbages, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, Texas and Georgia sweet onions, and a few red cabbages. I guess they taste like the Bonnie and Dutch Flat cabbage. The garlic we put out last November is about a foot tall and has survived several freezes over the winter. The old collard green stalks have begun to grow new leaves.

Four years ago on April 15th we had a killing frost. We’re ready for it and have some black plastic, floating row covers, and straw at the ready.

We pulled up the black plastic from some of the raised beds and planted seeds of Detroit Red beets, Red radishes, Danvers and Chantenay carrots, and Little Miracle and Early Alaska and Wando sweet peas. Hopefully the ground is warm enough for them to germinate. If not, we just wasted a little time and a couple dollars seeds.

During the waning moon (fourth quarter) after St Paddy’s Day, we will plant about 200 foot of Kennebec red taters. We have trenches ready in raised beds of humus.

But today we’re gonna create the summer garden spot, like I learned from Uncle Charlie and Aunt Cora Kennedy. We will swap the chicken yard and the garden spot. Both are fenced in with chicken wire. The chicken house is at the end and overlaps both spots. We will shoo the chickens in the chicken house and shut up that door and open the other door into the old garden spot. Next I will till up the chicken yard and take advantage of a year’s worth of rotten chicken manure.

The chickens will delight in running around catching bugs and eating weeds. About once a week I spread two bales of straw in the chicken yard and scatter chicken feed amongst the straw. They love scratching and pecking. I believe they are grinning, too.

We ordered a dozen each Dominecker, White Leghorn, and Rhode Island peeps. They will be in at the co-op soon. We asked for all hens, but that’s an inexact science.

We lost at least two pullets last year to chicken hawks. I need to invest in some bird netting to cover part of the chicken yard so’s they can run under it when the hawks come around. I’m told chickens shy from a hawk’s shadow on the ground.

Well, me and Mimi better get a move on. We could lose a crop wasting time.

Aint God Good!
Carl Wayne

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