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September 1, 2014

Composting with chickens

It's September, finally! We can get ready to start our most productive and enjoyable fall season.
I am cleaning my beds, ridding them of summer weeds, to prepare for the fall planting. This summer I let my beds overgrow with weeds, just did not have the time to weed or plant any cover crops. But, too many weeds is not as bad of a problem because all of them can be composted beautifully.

I use my darling Lawn Boy with the mulching bag to shred the weeds into small pieces.

It does a great job at that, and fast! I can shred a pile about 5 foot by 3 foot high in about five minutes.
Not every time, but quite often, I also mow the lawn with the mulching attachment to collect the grass for the compost.

Here's the result of mulching a whole bunch of weeds and spent tomato vines from one of the beds. Took me just a few minutes to do this.

All that stuff goes into the chicken composting "bin". They love it. They pick out every last weed seed, as well as turn the compost many times while fertilizing and aerating it.

If you don't have chickens I do not recommend composting this way (shallow pile), because it is not hot enough to kill the weed seeds.

But composting in a low pile as opposed to the high piles with turning them over is much easier on the gardener's back. You can imitate chickens by raking the pile a few times. The other method I tried was to fill black plastic garbage bag 2/3 with chopped weeds, adding about a gallon of water, and then leaving it in the sun. It makes a nice compost in about a month or two.

And here is the result of chicken hard work:

It is nice, crumbly, free of weeds, and very fertile.

It is going on the top of my garden bed soil. I don't dig my beds, they are just getting layered in material, and worms do the rest of the work.


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