Sunday, December 30, 2012

Barley Fodder

I read about barley fodder on the Internet a short time ago.  I thought it was fascinating so I had to give it a try.  The idea is simple.  Put some barley seed in a tray and keep it moist.  You want it wet, but not sitting in water.  It'll rot.

I called up a local gardening/home brew store and ordered some barley seed.  It was $0.75/lbs.  I got 10 lbs.

I started by putting seeds in a tray.  I actually used the lid to one of those seed starting trays.  I drilled holes in one end so the water would drain out.  I put it over the edge of the sink.

Then I waited.  Not much happened for the first 2 days.  On day 3 I saw sprouts. 

It was only 50* or so in the garage.  I put my seed heating mat under the tray and grow lights on top. 

Then things really took off.  The picture below was taken on day 6.

And here it is at day 8.  It didn't grow as well on the right side.  I'm guessing that is because the heating mat didn't reach that far. 

The chickens seemed to really enjoy the stuff.

Did I have any issues?  Yes.  I noticed a bad smell in the garage.  When I pulled some of the fodder out for the chickens I found a layer of seeds on the bottom of the tray that had not sprouted.  They looked like they were rotting.  They were slimy and smelled very bad.  When I try this again I'm going to start with a lot fewer seeds in the tray.  I think I made a layer that was too thick. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rain Barrels

I've been looking for rain barrels for a while.  I was able to find a cheap source of them on craigslist.

I already had one rain barrel.  It came with the house.  Now I have 3 more. 

I leveled the ground and put down stone block.  This got the barrels high enough that I'd be able to get a bucket or other watering device under them.

The two pictured above are on either side of my screened in porch.  The one below is at the front corner of the house.

Collecting rain water in some states is illegal.  Luckily, I don't live in those states.  Here in North Carolina it is perfectly legal to collect rain water. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Compost Update

I originally filled the compost bin to the top.  You can see in the picture that it settled and compacted quite a bit.  And this is after I added more to fill it back to the top.

I was very happy to see that my compost reached 140* near the bottom of the pile.  This tells me that this system is working.

 After a few weeks I moved the compost from one side to the other.  This in theory puts oxygen into the pile and helps it break down better.  The stuff on the top was light and easy to move.   The stuff on the bottom was heavy and compacted.  I probably could have taken it straight out and put it in the garden.  It looked like great compost.

I've already had a ton of leaves come down in my back yard.  So I've filled the original bin again.  This picture is from the back of the compost bin.  The one on the left is full of fresh leaves, chicken manure, and grass clippings.  The bin on the right is full of finished compost.

How do I know that the stuff on the right is finished?  I checked the temperature.  It got down to 24* the other night.  During the day it got into the 50's. The bin on the left was just over 100* while the bin on the right was only 60*.

I'm rather pleased with the new compost bins.  I still have the little black plastic bin that I bought a few years ago.  I haven't been impressed with it.  It takes far too long for stuff to compost in it.  I think it's due to the fact that it just doesn't hold enough.  That and it's really difficult to turn over the material in it.  You can see it in the picture below.  Note the giant pile of leaves on the right.   Those are what didn't fit in the compost bins, and I'm not done getting all of the leaves out of my yard.