About a year and a half ago I separated from my now X live-in partner in Norman, OK. She had slept around with someone else and was sloppy covering her tracks, and it turned into a separation that was emotionally rough on me.
In the process, I lost 10 years worth of organic garden preparation and planning, and 10 years of soil building. This was a major blow to me, since I am big on eating as natural or organic as possible, and the garden was a major source of fresh food for me, contributing to my good overall health at the time.
The next stage of my life involves one of my former co-workers, now my lovely wife. I worked in the IT group, and she was the property manager for the organization before I joined the IT group. We had know each other for 8 years, when she was laid off due to reorganization of the support team.
We continued to go out on the occasional lunch, and over time our relationship grew to a point where we decided to become engaged and set a marriage date in early 2010.
Because the X took my garden along with the house we used to live in, I am having to start all over building soil, raised beds, compost, and all the other things that go along with having an organic garden. Due to the fact that our household budget is limited, progress has been slow, and in this part of the metro there is less opportunity for me to pick up discarded material I can pick up for free, so I am very frustrated with the slow progress.
The only thing I was able to save from my old garden was a few buckets of good soil to fill two 4′x4′ beds, my 5 chickens and a few of my gardening tools. I guestimate that I lost around $2000 worth of gardening and woodworking and general tools, and $2000-3000 worth of soil and soil amendments, in addition to who knows how many hundreds of dollars of other long term sustainability supplies I had accumulated.
Anyway, as you can imagine, my frustration level is pretty high, and my health has been declining because I have not been able to grow any fresh food for me to eat, and as much as I love my family, our diet is atrocious!
There isn’t much fiber in our diet, other than corn in the form of chips, way too many trans-fats and other processed food stuffs, and a scary amount of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) , the biggest contributor to the modern American health issues, EVER!!!
So, somehow I have to squeeze more out of the budget so I can get my winter garden put in place. This should allow me to build up the soil in those raised beds by adding shredded paper and kitchen scrap to the bed and letting the chickens “process” it all into a nice fluffy humus.
In order for that to happen I need to come up with enough money to build/replicate my portable chicken coop that I was not able to bring with me from Norman. This will allow me to move the chickens from bed to bed about once a month or so.
In a way I am glad I didn’t get to bring the old coop, because it was heavy and cumbersome to move. I will try to build the new coop in such a way so that I can move each module on it by myself even if that means that it takes me 2 hours to disassemble and reassemble the coop.
I think I will use the shelving angle iron you can buy at Home Deport to assemble a base frame, and then make nest box and feeder attachments that connect to the frame using bolts and wing nuts. I hope to make it all fully modular so I can attach the modules to any of the 4 sides of the coop so I can configure the coop in many different ways.
I will then use the same angle iron frame configuration to build open air cages to place over empty, weed overgrown beds and connect them to the coop and let the chickens completely strip the weed beds to the soil, tilling in their poop while they scratch for bugs, worms and weeds. Then, when the bed is bare, I will move the cages down one bed, along with the coop.
The bed that had the coop on it should then be completely filled with light, fluffy humus and be ready for vegetables that need hot fertilized soil.
Anyway, there is much work to do, wish me luck in getting it all done before spring starts.
- Gardening week ahead: Improving clay soils (telegraph.co.uk)
- Mulching in Your Flower or Vegetable Garden (hubpages.com)
- Make Compost in 3 Weeks with a Hot Composting System (treehugger.com)