Tuesday, April 21, 2015

On the run

Several hours after moving the residents to their new accommodations in Hilltop Coop, I got stuck into their old abode. I was going to use this shaded run as a propagation area for plants, but have since decided it had a more important purpose.

The run (before)

After evicting the former residents, the run was pretty messy - grass, dirt, poop and some old pots, which held micro greens we fed to the chickens. It all needed to go!

Under cover (before)

There was a log which served as a perch (once) which got dragged out and will be used in a garden bed, somewhere. But for a better look at the outside of Middle Ridge, I found an old picture...

Newly constructed

It's cobbled together - a shade house, tall roofed areas and short roofed areas. I liked it at the time, but there were some design flaws I look forward to renovating at a later date. Right now though, I need to put all that chicken fertility to good use - rather than have it run down hill and feed the mulberry tree!

The run (after)

So with a shovel, mattock and rake, I heaped up the soil around the edges and made some vegetable beds. There's approximately 6 metres squared, and I intend to us it all! As the winter sun lowers, it will dip under the shade cloth and enter the run directly. I should get frost protection, and because there's a door, I get animal protection too.

I never designed Middle Ridge for this purpose, but it seems crazy not to convert it to such a purpose now.

Under cover (after)

I still have some space in the tall roofed area, which I'll probably allocate to propagation. I'm still organising what shelves I can fit in this space.

I won't be able to plant in the new beds for a few weeks yet, but I already have some seedlings on the go, thanks to Farmer Liz, at 8 acres. We did a trade and her kale seeds came up really quickly.

Walking stick kale (I believe)

I also have some of her Lacy Lady Peas, which are just starting to emerge too. I have to be careful I don't kill them with my tendency to over water, and trying to be vigilant on that score! I noticed it first with the empty cell, a single kale emerged but withered quickly due to wet extremes.

I will be extra careful now, because I really want to have some wins growing vegetables. This new set-up is probably the closest I'm going to get to optimum conditions, and I need those seedlings to grow!

As always, there's more to this renovation than present, but all will be revealed in good time.


  1. Looks good! Always useful to have a place that's protected from wildlife. Blackbirds are driving me mad here at the moment, moving mountains of mulch around and disturbing seedlings.

    1. I'm not sure if I've ever had blackbirds, but we get baby butcher birds and baby kookuburras at certain times, who like to go for the easy tilled soil and grubs. I think I've discovered a problem with rats though? Bush rats. I think they're digging up the beds, in search of the grubs which are having fun in the new set-up.

      I'm telling myself, to just go with it anyway. I think it would be impossible to rat proof it, because they're such proficient climbers. And I don't need to have such high expectations, because ultimately we have to share the environment in some capacity, with some lucky critters who get to exploit all our efforts, lol.

  2. Great idea! Are you going to add soil to the raised beds?
    I find that kale does okay once its established if it gets wet. It seems to be able to withstand being very dry as well-at least here, but as seedlings, we water daily and thoroughly. Infact because we start seeds and are still heating the house on some days, we water 2 x a day.
    Are the peas a shelling pea?

    1. Hi Linda. It already has soil in it, as it was an earth floor to start with. I just dug down a little to create the footpath between the beds, and tossed the extra soil on the beds to raise them up. I'm having bush rats starting to dig into the soil though which is a tad annoying. I'm just going to keep putting plants and seeds in, hoping their roots mat up the soil enough, to make it difficult to dig. It's because its so newly tilled and full of grubs that they're making such a mess.

      Good luck with your seedlings. Not sure if the Lacey Lady peas are a shelling variety, as I can't seem to find a lot of information on them. All six have come up now, which I'm happy about. :)

    2. Oh how perfect then! One reason I"m a bit leary of huglekulture beds is because of how some things move in-mice and rabbits namely. I don't mind the rabbits and as to mice, I'd rather not know. But the first bed we built was actually overtaken by ants and they were angry anytime we went near it. We took care of it after two years by planting a tree in that spot.

    3. The ants like any kind of protected, high ground, so they can elevate their nests from rain. I imagine protection is even more important, where snow falls on the ground. If the ground is regularly wet though, then ants won't build there. I can see how huglekulture beds can work in some areas but not in others.

      Thankfully, I think new beds have a short exploitation period when they're first built. Once they settle, less critters seem to be attracted. I was digging some swales yesterday, and a friendly butcher bird flew and landed on a tree branch, not even a meter away from me. It was interested in the bugs I was unearthing, lol. Clever birds. They know when we humans dig, they can sometimes get an easy meal! ;)

      PS: I like any strategy involving planting a tree. Good problem solving. :)

  3. Excellent! That is an absolutely perfect use for the old coop. Well done.

    1. Thanks Leigh. :) Amazing it took me so long to realise it had a more valuable use. Better late than never though. ;)

  4. Oh the kale does look great, good luck with the lacey ladies, they are lovely and easy to save for next year :)

  5. The peas are looking good too. Thanks for the swap. Now I just have to wait for them to grow. :)


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