Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

Nevermind mechanical tractors, the Chicken Tractor is not really a machanical machine at all, it’s just a quirky nickname for something far better than a Petrol Guzzling Monoculture Farmageddon contraption…

Simply put, a Chicken Tractor is a Chicken Coop on wheels, without a floor so that the Chickens can forage on the ground beneath the Tractor for a day then the Tractor will be moved the length of the coop the next morning in a rotation around a pre-designed (And pre-seeded) Plot of Land. This provides natural food (vegetation as well as insects) and a more natural almost free range style environment for them!
The benefits are good, The birds rely on less imports (feed) so it is a cost saver, they are healthier, the land gets ‘scratched over’ with pests becoming Chook food, the ground also gets manured so that the perennial greens have sufficient nutrients to sprout back before the Tractor is back in the same spot after sometime.

In the below Video, Joel Slatin (aka the Nutcase Farmer) explains the concept on his industrial sized enterprise:

Some more designs:

Article on Wikipedia:

Chicken tractors allow free ranging along with shelter, allowing chickens fresh forage such as grass, weeds and bugs (although these will quickly be stripped away if the tractor remains in the same place for too long), which widens their diet and lowers their feed needs. Unlike fixed coops, chicken tractors do not have floors so there is no need to clean them out. They echo a natural, symbiotic cycle of foraging through which the birds eat down vegetation, deposit fertilizing manure, then go on to a new area.

The term chicken tractor comes from the chickens performing many functions normally performed using a modern farm tractor: functions like digging and weeding the soil in preparation for planting trees or crops or fertilizing and weeding to enhance the growth of crops and trees already planted.

With chicken tractors flock owners can raise poultry in an extensive environment wherein the birds have access to fresh air, sunlight, forage and exercise, which caged birds in commercial coops do not have. With the coop on only a small area at any given time, the field has time to wholly regrow and more birds can be fed than if they were allowed to freely roam. A chicken tractor also gives some shelter from predators and weather. Moreover, hens lay eggs in nest boxes rather than hiding them in foliage.

In the below videos (Both less than 2 / 3 min’s each) the Guy explains the setup on day one of the tractor and birds being put into place, then day two (2nd Video) you see the area after the Tractor is relocated and the effects / benefits of Chicken Tractoring.
These two videos are what first made me understand the full reasoning and intent / benefits behind this practice a couple years ago when I first came across the concept.

Video 1; Chicken Tractor on first location:
https://youtu.be/3Er7R-AKQGg

Video 2; Result day after adn explanation of findings:
https://youtu.be/GQE0WyxgTT4

bill-mollisson

Bill Mollison – Australian Permaculture Pioneer

” You do not have a Slug Problem, you have a Duck Deficiency! ”
– Bill Mollison

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Sepp Holzer -The Rebel Farmer

 

”Pigs are blessed by nature with a plough in front and a compost spreader at the back”
– Sepp Holzer (page #109, Desert or Paradise)

And so¬†I finally get around to posting ”what’s going on” photo’s of both my Allotment and Garden …

I love bees, but unfortunately with this year’s cool weather, I haven’t been able to get a nice photo yet compared with previous years, I do have a frog though ūüėČ

Click on each picture below for a larger image of such

 

Wildlife have increased both on the Allotment and Garden, mainly due to the added varieties of plants as well as ponds on both sites, I can’t stress enough how important a pond is, even if you just get a small container and place it in a hole with a few plants inside, it will go a long way to help the local ecosystem, not only that but can also create a Micro Climate which you can take advantage of in terms of Plant Variety and options …

Tadpoles are, Still Tadpoles! …¬†in the small pond at home, I’m leaning towards that maybe they don’t have as much food due to the pond size compared with the Allotment, so I’ve made a mental note to throw in a few more ”accidentally stepped on” slugs to help them along …

I’m growing Achocha for the first time this year, they are climbers so they are growing amongst the Pumpkins on the large trellis, they are related to the famous ‘Exploding Cucumber’ but the reason why I’m growing them is I feel like giving up on Peppers, the slugs are too Rambo here and this variety is said to taste like Green Peppers when fried – they are also a vine plant so a bit out of reach for the slugs.

The Japanese ‘Hokkaido’ Pumpkin are said to be one of the easiest Heritage (Heirloom) pumpkins to grow in the UK climate, are quite prolific and highly recommended as well as the Pumpkin Masque De Province.

I chopped down my Bocking 14 Comfrey literally 3 – 4 weeks ago and already have a plant almost two thirds back to the original size! You definitely need to divide the roots every year after the second year onwards … the crowns sell for reasonable money online so keep that in mind! I am pondering opening an online shop here, this will be something on offer if I go ahead with the idea.

Above are the photo’s from the Allotment plot, starting with a nice sunrise sometime perhaps after 6am? Once cloud, wow, amazing for the UK skyline eh?

The wildflower bed is¬†doing better now than I had expected (I really waited very late to buy and sow a pack on that dedicated bed) luckily all worked out fine, I suspect maybe less than half of the varieties mentioned on the seed pack germinated so I was quite happy with what came out. The Borage flowers are beautiful aren’t they? No wonder they are used in salads for a visual touch!

The¬†Pumpkin¬†is another French variety¬†Galeuse d’Eysines which I had some reasonable success with last year, it climbs well and does pretty good in storage

I placed Marigolds ‘Tagetes’ too late ( well I discovered that Marigolds really should be the First plant you germinate before you start sowing vegetable seeds – this is a personal observation, but I bet not my own) and hence lost a Pumpkin and Courgette plant to slugs, the other marigolds under my Achocha plants almost got completely decimated (that’s their purpose anyway) but are coming back to life now, their new purpose is ornamental¬†to brighten up the plot¬†and finally to provide me with seed for next year

The Water Mint ‘Mentha Aquatica’ are now flowering, they are insect / Bee beneficial and if you look closely in the photo, you can see¬†a resident Frog¬†on the left near the flower right in the emergence zone at the water line.

Till the next Garden / Allotment update – most likely a Harvest Update but there might be more ”mid summer” if we suddenly get good hot weather so the plants can get a boost

I must apologise for my regular followers for not being active on this blog over the last few months, I was granted an Allotment by my council and as I received it quite late (March/ April), being close to planting season, I had a lot of work to do to get the plot into a reasonable state and hence, most of my free time has been there. I will in the future, share the design on what I did and am doing on the plot.

It’s been unfortunately, an awful summer in regards to sunshine / warm days and temperatures here in the UK, after going outside today for a mini harvest and finally harvesting my First courgette for the season! plus some runner beans, I have made a couple observations which may be something to keep in mind with these weak summers we seem to be experiencing lately these last few years…

1: Since we had a very wet start, slugs were a huge problem this year, I realised a little too late that ideally, the plant that should probably be germinated first (if you have the space to bring them on until planting out) should be your marigolds (Tagetes) as well as any other ‘Slug Magnets’ such as perhaps Pansies and Violas (both related) – give your slugs and snails a multi buffet and there is a higher chance they will leave your seedlings alone.
Ideally, and I do stress this as I have now experienced and can confirm the huge benefit of having a Pond in your garden for the purpose of Frog habitat. This is my first year with a pond both in my Allotment (Did I mention yet that I now have an allotment?) as well as at home, I noticed a huge difference in slug / snail damage due to this.
Perhaps plan to germinate a few more plants of each of the species you noticed were devastated by slugs and snails this year during next years germinating season

2: Looking at the site today, I can recommend to anyone in the UK if you haven’t done so yet, cut off any new flowers on your tomatoes and as well as the growing tips now, I cannot see any chance of new flowers producing any sizeable fruit which would ripen in time, honestly this is even a little too late to say this but I had some hopes the weather would improve, unless of course you have a good site which gets 10 or more hours of sunshine a day then you could take a risk …

3: Start preparing early for winter crops, I highly recommend growing salads, kales etc..for winter harvest or early Spring harvest – I have built my second Polytunnel with experience through trial and error from my first polytunnel (partially from scavenged poles/ bits from first tunnel and nice large planks from raiding a construction skip) I will at some point post the design for you to follow, you can now start scavenging from skips (Construction Dumpsters) for free timber, plastic PVC conduit pipes etc. if you want to build a polytunnel as a DIY project.
I do recommend building them as DIY projects as in permaculture, we try our best to reuse and repurpose / recycle whatever we can, also, most polytunnels although great in size, have a zip roll up door and these are very unreliable!! rather make a door with hinges on a design like mine.

4: This is the second year of making Comfrey Compost Tea from my one Comfrey (Bocking 14) plant, these plants get really –¬†really huge in the second year and are a very important addition to the vegetable garden, one plant should suffice but if you have the space, go for a second if needed! My plant completely smothered my fruit bush bed (Raspberries, Loganberries, Red Currants, Strawberries and Gooseberry) I ended up having to chop the whole plant again after making the compost tea twice already, the plant practically filled my 300 ltr compost bin.
I left the plant to expand as it did because due to the weak summer, this was the only plant supplying the bees with a good reliable source of nectar – proving how invaluable perennials are in any system, not just a permaculture system…
If you are going to obtain the Bocking 14 variety (bred / selected for the traits of non self seeding and great for being a biomass source which can be chopped several times a year), be aware you will need to control the root crowns by chopping (dividing with a spade) once every year after the first summer (if in an urban garden etc)
Note: In the near future, I may include an online shop section on this site, I will most likely sell Comfrey bocking 14 Crowns so keep an eye out if you are in the UK or Europe

5: This is the first year that I started collecting leaves in summer … sound a bit weird? well, Evergreen trees actually do shed leaves, in spring / early summer, evergreens shed their older leaves once newer growth has already pre-placed it, after emptying one of my compost bins prematurely, I needed to start filling it again ASAP, every week or so I took the time to visit the same places near my workplace as well as home to fill some smaller bags with these brown leaves to counter all of the fresh greens (including all veg and fruit scraps) that goes into the average compost bin weekly during summer.
Both of my compost bins (one at home and one on the allotment) started freshly emptied¬†in the early summer, but with collecting browns as much as possible weekly from evergreen shedding, both bins are practically half full and I do not collect grass cuttings to fill them with as most home owners do! …

6: Now is a great time to make a deal with your local tree surgeons to dump a load of woodchip for you – woodchip at this time has leaves included in the mix and this helps decomposition, have an area in your garden / site where you can bag up all of the chips and let sit for next year, be sure to moisten it and mix in a little bit of soil¬† / compost or manure. Newly cut woodchip will cause ‘Nitrogen Lock’ which depletes the nitrogen from your soil, hence why it’s best to bag it up and let sit for 6 months or a year before applying. If your intention is for creating /covering walkways then this will not be needed and you can practically lay it down immediately.

7: Please Please learn new things, don’t be scared to go against the norm! Don’t feel embarrassed if someone gives you advice if they haven’t been into gardening or growing food as long as you have!
With the advent of the internet, many young motivated individuals (also older ones) are amassing much knowledge from the countless hours they are and have been spending online researching. I am referring to the old guys who have had plots on my allotment site for well over 10 years now (think of how many more thousands of people there are countrywide just like them?) , although they are quite nice people and often listen to what I advise, they simply cannot follow any of it! We have one guy who’s plot gets flooded basically every year and still refuses to build raised beds despite other plot holders just a few plots away demonstrating the benefits of raised beds – he perpetually loses crops and has developed a regime of multiple seed sowing in the greenhouse at home to counter the problem …
Then there’s the guy who practically Carpet Bombs¬†his plot every day with slug pellets (would you like some beans with that formaldehyde sir?) despite knowing about frogs, beer trapping and laying plastic sheeting down as a habitat to catch them under. He also still went out and bought a few bottles of Tamorite Fertiliser Liquid after I pointed out that there are many comfrey Bocking 14 plants on some old derelict plots where there are no tenants – And explained how to make comfrey tea to him in detail, which he showed a huge interest in. Consumerism is a cancer on these people I feel

I will be posting a series of articles on Wildlife Ponds, although these ponds may be slightly more relevant to the UK, you can still use the same concepts and tips no matter where you are!

pond frog

Frogs in a Pond, make excellent Slug Terminators in a Permaculture System

This is article #1, further below I will update with links to future articles in the series so please keep an eye out and follow the blog, out of all of my mini projects in my mini garden over the last year or two, this has been the first which really excited me and is keeping me very interested and motivated, I guess it is the multiple benefits which a pond can provide which make it such a worthwhile project, that I am already figuring out little ways to extend the size of the pond and plants which I will place into¬† the system, all of this will be shared in the future once complete …

Quick Update on my own mini pond and it’s progress, the pond is in place, filled with water, pebbles and some duck weed as an interim substitute for the pond plants I intend to obtain in the coming weeks. I am specifically concentrating on only British Native species for the reason that they are more friendly to local wildlife and the ecosystem in general. A net was made from chicken wire just in case any herons or blackbirds decide to fish for frogs, today I got hold of what I hope is ‘Iris pseudacorus’ which is a native Water Iris, I should be able to give a true identification once it flowers in June. Now I await for my trusted ‘Pond Plant Nursery’ to sell me their winter recovering Oxygenating plants and others which I am adding into the design, Oxygenators are important especially if the pond is ”still” meaning without a water feature such as a fountain or waterfall. Never hesitate to find a specialist like I have, they should normally be more than happy to help out with advice depending on your pond size, mine is almost a micro pond if there is such a category?

Below are a few pictures I have obtained from other online sources, The last image is one I would like you all to look at and decide for yourselves, why that particular pond has a few issues with it which may be inhibiting frogs rather than promoting or helping them, just use your common sense and in the coming days I will post what I know is wrong with it based on the picture.

Click on each picture above and it will open in a larger viewing window

perma ponds - wrong doings

In the last picture above, take a look and see if you can find at least 3-4 issues with this pond which are inhibiting the frog / wildlife ecosystem, I will post the exact same photo in a few days highlighting the issues and discussing further!

Click HERE for a previous post with a nice video explaining 6 great benefits to having a pond system

I have decided this year to add a pond into my system, I have a small back garden so the pond will have to be quite small as well, my main goal is firstly to keep frogs as Slug Terminators! I have a supply of Frogs / Frog spawn which I can make use of and then there will be the added benefits that usually come with ponds / water systems in a garden, here is a very precise video explaining 6 great reasons why you should have a pond (even if just a small one) installed in your garden.

Keep an eye out on my Growingarden Permaculture Blog for any updates on my pond design and how it all goes on through the year and years ahead!