Sunday, February 14, 2010

So Much to Do

I went to the NOFA winter conference yesterday. I attended one workshop on using a hoophouse to winter laying hens, and how this can be used to increase the fertility in the hoophouse as well as creating compost for other gardens. The next workshop was about the security and resilience one can incorporate into a homestead. The last was about agroforestry. I headed home with a dazed feeling.

The hoophouse seminar was pretty straightforward and well- presented. The idea is to create a bedded pack (lots and lots of pine shavings) for the hens to live and move around on in the hoophouse. Come spring, most of this is moved to other gardens, but you also leave some in the hoophousee to be worked into the soil.

  • The hens should only be wintered there every three years to avoid a salt build up in the soil.
  • The doors should be open as much as possible, regardless of weather, or else you create health issues for the chickens. I also know from one friend's experience that there can be a moisture problem if there is not enough ventilation.
  • Pine shavings breakdown faster than straw, but some people have good luck using straw in a bedded pack.
  • If the hens smell, you've already missed the point at which you should have put down another layer of bedding.
  • When you smell ammonia you are losing nitrogen to the air instead of keeping it in the bedding/future compost.
More later on the other two seminars.

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