Kitchen Garden Guides

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How to make soil and compost with no work

When it comes down to it, I am either lazy or clever….. probably lazy! As well as that, unlike many people, I don’t like buying things much, especially if they are in plastic bags and come from far away or if I have to get in my car to go and get them. I like staying at home and using what is around me which means I also like to sit on my verandah with a coffee and think about how not to have to go out, but still have things I need!


I like sowing seeds I have saved and I often need to have plants in pots for a while until there is room in the garden and I like compost; I just LOVE the feel and smell of beautiful compost. All this means I need something to put into my seed trays, something to put in my pots and something to dig into the garden….. and here is how it gets done at my place.

My chooks live in a kind of man made forest….. well, some of it is man made intentionally, some of it is a consequence of people living here. Some years ago someone planted two oak trees and a few fruit trees, all very much too close to one another, if you ask me, but they were there so I left them there when I moved here. Someone crazily planted 2 buddleias, which are now massive, one of which the chooks have chosen to roost in at night, instead of in the funny little tin and apple crate structure which they now lay eggs in, mostly. Then, unintentionally some mallow “tree” seeds probably blew in and a few wild plum trees grew on the neighbour’s side of the fence and some other weeds and plants got a hold and now it is quite a lovely forest for chooks. Add to this a lazy woman who throws most of the weeds from the vegetable garden and elsewhere, into the chook yard for them to deal with.


Next, the oak trees lose their leaves in winter and half the chook yard becomes literally 30cms or more deep in oak leaves. I keep tossing weeds on top, the mallow sheds its leaves too as do the  fruit trees, the other plants come and go and for months and months the chooks turn it all over, pecking at insects and edible bits and pieces, which they turn into eggs for me. Sometimes I can hardly open the gate because the chooks ALWAYS kick and scratch everything towards the gate! Oh lalalala, maybe the gate faces Mecca or something but I tell you what they NEVER kick it away from the gate!


So, one day when I was again in there with my spade trying to reclaim my desire to easily enter the chook yard through said gate I noticed how fabulous was this mound, how good it smelt and, kneeling down, how beautiful it felt running through my fingers…. I had discovered gold; a free, easy, continuous supply of beautiful, rich soil, hand made by a flock of assorted chooks of all ages who had been throwing it towards me for years and for which I had cursed them up until this moment.

All set to sift some gold for seed sowing
Now I have raked the area and the chooks are back to see what I have revealed for them!
4 buckets filled. The back right is sifted.
Here are the buckets, now by my potting bench which is next to the chook yard. All very convenient.

Now I can easily gather up a wheelbarrow of soil, which I sift well if I am going to sow seeds into it. If I want it as compost for the garden, I dig it in, acorns, little sticks and all (but I do curse those innocent acorns when they turn into oak trees faster than a speeding bullet!). If I want potting mix, I take the middle ground (like Goldilocks) and use the stuff that is not too fine and not too coarse and sometimes I mix it with some cheap potting mix from some of those wretched plastic bags I hate!

It does take some management because you have to get at it before the next lot of leaves fall and not just after you have dumped a load of the world’s worst weeds on top! Sure, a few grass seeds etc germinate but chooks have very beady eyes and do not let many seeds go uneaten!

All in all it is a brilliant system and allows me more time to sit on my verandah and contemplate other ways to avoid going out and buying stuff.


Julia kitto said...

The garden looks great Kate. You, the chooks and nature are a real team.

Anne said...

good post