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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 7:54 am 
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Dapper Duck
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Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 12:42 pm
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Location: South Island, New Zealand
We've just finished our chicken tractor and the hens are now working on my garden bed for me. Once they've finished in that bed, how long do you all leave the bed before planting in it? Cheers


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 6:08 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Forest Tasmania
Hi drob..welcome to the forum.
Once my chooks are moved out of my vege patch for replanting. I leave for about a week. Then plant. I also add things like blood and bone and sulphate of potash. Depending on how sweet you want the soil.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:26 am 
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Dapper Duck
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Location: South Island, New Zealand
Thanks. I enjoy watching the chooks do the work for me!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:00 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
We've got our three girls working 1.5 by 3 m beds – basically they spend a month on one, which gets lawn clippings (very short) and wood shavings and chopped straw added (vaguely a deep-litter method).

Originally I'd planned to move them on and plant into it shortly after, but I discovered that there was too much seed left! HUUUUUGE amounts of wheat germinating. So now I give it a damn good water, leave it for a week or so, then run a temporary yard from their new quarters to the old bed. They get to have all the fun of digging it over again, and do a really great job of cleaning out the seeds the second time around. I leave them on it for another three or four weeks, depending on the weather and what I want to plant.

So far it's working really well – everything that's been planted is growing fast. And they get to have extra space. We all got a lovely bonus this weekend too – we pulled the compost heap apart (well rotted by now) and made two huge mounds on the old bed. It took them about five minutes to have the piles levelled, and by the end of that day it had been turned over and really mixed through. Brilliant!

Why the heck would you ever bother digging it in yourself when the girls actually enjoy it? :D :D :D

Jo

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 4:40 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 am
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Location: Tarago, near Goulburn
That compost idea - brilliant! Shall start implementing it ... when I've got confident enough about the breeding of my worms to let them have at it, anyway. We're very worm-free and I'm sort of hoarding my starting batch from my parents' rich compost heap :)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:49 pm 
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Wise Wyandotte
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Location: Victoria
I have recently been experimenting with chook manure (i love the stuff).

I did a trial - i planted lettuces directly into the wood shavings with no soil - just the shavings.

- planted lettuces with 20% soil and potting mix added together

- " " with 40% " " "

I found that the lettuces in the first "neat" mixture were slightly slower, whilst there was very little difference between the other 2.

I have now made a very large vegie garden using the second/thrid mixture and will experiment with other plants/vegies just for fun.

Honk

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:10 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Canberra
I have moved my coop recently and I covered the original bed with straw. Watered it in very well and within a week, there were so many worms under the straw.

I would show off to my fellow gardners by just blindly reaching in and grabbing a handful of black soil and about 10 worms. My guess is, if the worms are in it, its fine for planting. I have just planted corn because I belevie it loves the nitrogen. But then the have composted so much garden waste, weeds and mulch using the deep bed method that it probably has cooled down already.

In the image below you can see the coop on its new bed, way up the back of the garden. But the most recently used bed is the one furthest away on the right (there are only two oni that side). You can see its piled with straw.

Image

This is the coop the day after moving it. The girls are ready to start the process again, you can see how excited they are. I had been using this bed as my compost pile over winter and when they got in , i reckon they didnt stop eating bugs for about two hours. Turned all the compost into the soil too. The soil is currently about 4 inches below the coop bottom rail and when the compost "settles" at the rail hight I will move it again.

Image

I will let you know how the corn goes.

Cheers
Raf

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:27 am 
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Gallant Game
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Location: Woodend, VIC
Fantastic coop design and very well constructed rwood!

I've made about 5 coops now, with each one slightly better than the last. At this rate I'll have something as good as yours by 2053! :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:32 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Canberra
I peaked early.

Everything Ive made since has been thown together without a care, but this one I spent a month on, all night in the garage. Recessed joints, countersunk screws and stained timber work. The works.

Notice the white painted door. While it was originally planned, I only put it in recently and it is an example of my lack of care now, I didnt even bother to paint it....

Going to build a permanent coop in the corner of the yard that I think I will try to make an asset not a junk pile. If I ever have time....

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:04 pm 
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Assist Admin
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Location: Gold Coast, QLD, AUSTRALIA
Great setup, rwood!

I'd like to see those pictures also in our gallery, if you wouldn't mind? I know you already have one of the tractor but I enjoyed looking at your raised beds - very impressive. :D

I am starting to plant in between the raised beds too, now, that my "food garden" (poultry and mine :wink: ) is securely chainlink fenced. Have recently sown sweetcorn, also.


P.S. Happy Birthday for tomorrow! :D


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:26 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Canberra
I will upload them now

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 3:45 pm 
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Thank you :D


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:12 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 am
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Location: Tarago, near Goulburn
Here's a question - if you're more-or-less permanently running chooks over beds like this one, how many beds would you need to avoid terminal boredom on the part of the chooks? Is it a fairly standard six-bed rotation system?

My gardening system is decidedly haphazard at the moment, but I've just realised that I could run a separate tractoring system over the three existing old water-tank raised beds (recipe: take one leaking water tank, cut in three, fill with no-dig layering of straw, compost, etc, top with good bought soil) which can only improve the food garden situation no end.

But would I need to create another three beds to do it effectively?

And then I'd have to build a circular chicken tractor, which could be an interesting challenge :)

I reckon I'd run bantams in those ones, just for entertainment's sake :)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:41 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: Canberra
The chooks dont seem to get bored. They dont seem to care which bed they are on and happily dig and scratch all day. They free range for a few hours each evening (you have to fence off the other veggies) :roll: .


If you were building circular tractors I would use 1nch PVC pipe as the frame. Light weight and flexible.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 1:52 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Location: Tarago, near Goulburn
Has to be frost-and-wind-proof however - we get heavy frosts and incredible winds. Maybe poly for the edges but around a cross-piece of wood on the base to rest on the bed edges, and usse wood for the framing from there - A-frame would end up as a sort of ark shape, which would be cool. One could even go sort of pyramidical (I'm big on triangular shapes, simply because they're really easy :) ) ... yes. I can see how it could work. Now to hold off on the design until I actually NEED it!!

Six beds would mean about two months per bed - is that about right? Including free-ranging in evenings and weekends.


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