Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Using cover crops to improve bad soil

I've written in the past that I have bad soil in my back yard.  I've made multiple attempts to get grass to grow.  It's a lot of effort and I have other things to do.

I thought it might be easier if I focuses on smaller areas.  I'm also going to get nature to do the work.

My old chicken tractor rotted and fell apart, but the wire mesh screen on it is still good.  Removing the screen was a pain, but it was worth saving. 
I built a wooden frame out of pressure treated 2x4 lumber and attached the screen to it.
Then I went to the nearest bare spot in my yard.  This soil is bad.  It's sandy on the surface and compacted and hard just below that.

I found tiller radish at the gardening store the other day.  I thought I'd give it a try.  Supposedly it grows a 32" tap root that'll break up hard soil. 
I also picked up some organic wheat.  I figured I'd throw some of this down and the chickens could eat it.  It'll also put down roots and grow green matter that can be used as mulch or composted.  I probably could have used plain old grass, but I thought I'd give this a try.
I threw some compost on the ground to give the seeds something to germinate in.  As soon as it hit the ground the chickens came to investigate.  They seem to think that everything I do is for them.
I placed my newly built box-screen-contraption thing over the compost and threw down some seed.  The chickens were clearly irritated.  They could see the seed, but couldn't get to it.
 It didn't take long at all for the wheat to germinate.
September 10, 2014
September 12, 2014

September 21, 2014
The wheat grew so fast that I don't know if the tiller radish is working or not.  I'll have to move the screened box and try this again just the radish and no wheat.  Then at some point I'll need to figure out how to get actual grass to grow here.  I haven't thought that far ahead...

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