View Full Version : Preparing ground using chook dome
09-01-2009, 11:36 AM
I'm brand new to the forum, but have already gained plenty of helpful info from existing posts -- many thanks to all.
I have a question - I've built a Woodrow-styled chook dome and populated it with a dozen pullets. They've been doing their thing for nearly 3 weeks now; they are healthy (but not laying yet). But my from reading of Linda Woodrow and others I had expected the ground underneath to be better prepared by now than it is. The chooks have been scratching _fairly_ well (they're young) but there's still a pretty tough mat of grass and roots underneath. I had expected that they'd have scratched and pecked it all away by now. My concern is that if I move the dome to its next station now (Woodrow recommends moving it every two weeks), and plant my seedlings (which are ready to go) the old grass which hasn't been fully eradicated will simply fight its way back, through the mulch and seedlings in the new bed. Any thoughts? I'm inclined to leave the dome another week or two. Should I loosen up the ground a bit? Any suggestions most welcome
09-01-2009, 11:42 AM
I would recommend that you build some no-dig garden beds over your grass. The method was first developed by Esther Dean and involves layering clods of wet newspaper over the grass (ensuring no light can penetrate), lucern, straw, compost and maure to develop a raised garden bed. With lots of water you can then plant directly into the layers and kill the grass at the same time. Visit my website for a free download on the method. www.permup.com (http://www.permup.com)
09-01-2009, 02:58 PM
dunno what you have been told about what the chooks will achieve, but they won't remove the roots of the grass, wll not totally so their preperation is not going to be sufficient, as perma suggest set some raised beds up in that spot, we have pic's and ideas on our site might help? chooks might do a job at digging over a bed between crops, could be a way to minimise snail populations.
i'd be wanting the chooks to get green pick almost daily so i would be moving them to suit that need. or might be better with a permanent chook house where you can wupply stuff for them to pick through and then in the arvo's let them out into the yeard for a scratch around and green pick. reckon on a dozen chooks needing a fair bit of room to move around, we had 3 chooks in about a 5 X 2 meter and they needed regular scraps, hay or straw. if they are good layers you could be getting near a dozen eggs a day when they start laying.
i have never seen an established chook yard with grass in it. (Within reasonable size) So I am certain it will work, I am just not sure how long it will take.
Give it time! My chooks became much stronger scratchers with a bit of age. I think that two of them learn some of their scratching from our rhode island red which started laying earlier.
WHile they are young, I would perhaps try helping them out a little, but a single shovel hole or two in the area to give them an "edge" to scratch from. I would also try spreading some of their food over the ground (grain?) this will encourage them to scratch, as will putting kitchen scraps on the ground.
I'm not sure on the details of a "Woodrow-styled chook dome" how big is it? A dozen pullets is heaps! If they really are pullets, then they won't be strong scratchers for a month or more yet.
13-01-2009, 06:23 AM
I reckon you just need more time. Woodrow's recommendation of a few weeks is probably talking about getting chooks to clear garden beds after the previous crop. The soil would already be loose and friable, just a few weeds and leftover trimmings etc left to clear up. Clearing an established lawn would take a lot more time.
Not sure about your situation, but pigs would be able to clear it quicker! :-)
13-01-2009, 02:36 PM
Many thanks for the advice. Yes to all. I get it now. More time needed. Have recently moved in here, and it's an old old backyard -- there's been a hundred and twenty years of people tramping though it, toughening up that mat of grass.
Thanks for the no-dig suggestions too -- I already have a few no-dig beds set up elsewhere in the yard. Re-reading Linda Woodrow's book, it is as the last poster suggests: she is really talking about the movable chicken dome going onto an established bed, cleaning it up at the end of its run. So, for the information of anyone who might strike the same problem, I'm starting a new no-dig bed to take the seedlings I've got ready to plant out, and will leave the dome where it is for another month, or however long it takes to soften up the ground (with a little bit of judicious tapping with the hoe to give the chooks an edge to work on)
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