Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rustic shade solutions

Plant propagation is something I've gotten a little better with over the years. I've learned that new cuttings ought to get premium space. They take up all the areas I have available, until they strike roots, and then I have to either pot them on to bigger homes, or plant them into the garden directly.

Because I've had more success than ever this year with cuttings, I've come across something I haven't experienced before - where to put the plants which have struck, but need dappled shade or morning light to harden them? I do have a shade house which has chickens in it at the moment, and until we move them on (shortly) I had to look for other areas I could place these successful cuttings.

Vertical space

I went to ALDI recently, and found a lovely plant stand. It only cost $30 and is constructed of metal. I liked the different teirs, because as the morning sun hits the wall for a few hours, the top shelf gets less light than the remaining two. I put the shade loving plants up the top and then move down plants as their needs require. The lower they are down on the shelf, the more morning sunlight exposure they get.

The plants are doing really well and I'm tempted to buy a few more stands. I've been avoiding the shop however, because I really wanted to look for other areas (or things I already had) that I could give my cuttings better conditions with. Why spend extra money if I don't have to? I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before - maybe because I didn't have the amount of successful plants to raise before - but there was my solution, as plain as day, begging to be used...


It was an old wheelbarrow I attempted to grow plants in a while ago. I've never had much luck with growing things in wheelbarrows. I remember even placing it under the tree because I wanted dappled shade. The plants died a while ago, but it still had soil, so I just put the pots directly on top. They get perfect drainage when I water them once a day, and the soil underneath means the pots themselves don't overheat in the afternoon, when they get a small amount of direct light.

It has a lovely micro-climate happening as a result.

What I love most about this solution however, is the canopy tree was absolutely free - it sprung up all by itself, so we didn't even plant it. But I also get to re-purpose the wheelbarrow again. I was beginning to think I'd have to bury the wheelbarrows around the yard, to get rid of them, but now I don't have to expend that energy. They just needed a more creative solution.

Needless to say, I'm scanning my yard for other prime positions, utilising existing shade cover.


  1. I love both solutions! I was thinking about getting some shade cloth this year but its costly and we would need a structure for it too which we don't have. As much as we have sunshine and trees, the shade doesn't land where we might want it. lol. Where are your chickens going?

    1. Apologies for the late reply - I'm shaking off a virus, as is the whole family.

      If you've seen some of my coop constructions, you can make a shade structure with star pickets and irrigation pipe. Then you attach the shade cloth across it. Just depends what supplies are more readily available in your area.

      If you need more links for this kind of shade structure, I can provide them. It would be whether you can get irrigation pipe and if its cost effective?

      The chickens we intend to move on, are going to be culled. I know that sounds bad, but its part of the messy business of providing your own food. We don't like doing it (David does the deed but I raise them and I know those he will be culling) but it's our responsibility.

      David culled 3 hens last night, and one was our flood hen, the only one to survive out of 5 I was raising at that particular time. I thanked God for their life, my husbands strength and remembered they had as good a life as we could provide them. These three hens were between 3 and 4 years of age, and mothered some of the remaining hens we are still using for egg production.

      There are many stories to go along, and I might tell them as we renovate Hilltop chicken coop. Not sure how long that will take us, but we're changing how its set up, and attempting to incorporate our household compost with it so the chickens can do all the turning for us! It's going to be an experiment anyway, and the chickens will get all the bugs/ healthy bacteria that come with the compost process.

      Will see how we go anyway.

    2. I'm glad you are feeling better! I understand how you might be feeling-our chickens are going on three years old and because they are not productive in winter Garry wants to cull them but I don't want that to happen-I see it differently-they do produce most of the year and when they do we are up to our fortunate ears in eggs.

      I also don't like older chicken meat-and don't have room for that much stock- so I see it as a waste of a life. I think you know that I do not judge you and your decisions and I admire Dave for being able to do this. I just cannot-not yet.
      If you ever do have time for sharing the plans for the shade house, I would love to see them. Its not urgent but it would be a good thing to know. I remember yours from the post you made.

    3. I understand your feelings on the matter. Chickens aren't just egg layers, they're manure producers too - plus they make wonderful company. They never fail to recognise us when stepping into the garden.

      We don't eat our older hens for the meat, we do however bury them with a selected plant on top. It reminds us they were here and continue to be - plus it gives the plant a wonderful source of nutrients to begin its life with.

      Regarding the links, there are a lot of excellent ones, down the bottom of this post:

      The Frugal world of Doc, in particular, is very easy to follow the steps. I hope it helps, as much as it helped us. :)

    4. Interesting way to cull them. One day I'll have to get brave but for now, just not ready to go there yet (its inevitable, I know).
      Thanks for the links-very interested!

  2. That's an excellent use of an old wheelbarrow!

    1. Well it was there, and thankfully, works as intended. :)

  3. Replying to your comment above, linda M :)

    I understand the reluctance. I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of culling hens, even though we do it. For me, I think it's healthy to feel effected. We recognise their part in our life as more than just the meat - or in this case, eggs. I can thoroughly respect when someone's not comfortable with culling.


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