Building soil on the Fanny Farm

18 12 2016

With the new chicken pen finished, and at least half the new market garden finished – the other half is awaiting the moving of a huge pile of soil 30 to 40 metres away to fill in more furrows between existing windrows – the time had come to prepare the first area for production. Everything takes time, not least this project…….

The green manure I planted there soon after the house site excavations were finished was starting to go to seed, and looked promisingly ready for ploughing in… so I slashed it with my trusty Honda brushcutter. This machine is part of the ‘use fossil fuels while you still trimmerheadcan’ strategy…. after literally burning through two plastic auto string feeding heads for it, I replaced them with an alloy fixed string device that is proving way superior. With wet grass now a metre high, and uneven ground left over from the orchard heydays, mowing is very difficult, and this machine has been priceless, working long hours on 98 octane fuel. Because it’s four stroke, it starts first time every time too!

gardengreenmanureOnce slashed, the rotary hoe I bought last year was started again, and the grass clippings and green manure was laboriously ploughed into the soil. The plan is to eventually not disturb the soil ever again, but after years of cattle roaming all over it, me driving utes over that section of grass, and lately the excavator, the ground needed to be de-compacted…

I then added lime for Calcium (most Australian soils are Calcium deficient) and a starting point for rectifying the soil pH. No doubt further pH testing will be required later until I’ve got that right……gardencompost

A tonne of compost bought locally was then unloaded off the back of the ute by my better half, and the whole lot was rotary hoed again to get it all thoroughly mixed in.

The chickens were then allowed in to start scratching around and adding their bit to the soil. I need lots more chickens before this system starts working properly, but like I said, everything takes time…… we have one clucky chook sitting on a dozen eggs at the moment, so there are more on the way, and I am trying to source some meat chicks, because they are very good at tractoring soil.

The main pipe between the pump and the cube atop the power station was then cut, a T piece inserted, and a a one inch riser installed for access to water from our wonderful dam…..

gardenwaterCharlotte and Fanny might be back soon, and they will be able to see the progress since they left. Nothing will be planted there for a while, as it will take some time for all that new soil biomass to settle in. We’re getting there though……. and I will have another couple of French wwoofers here in February for some more action.

gardenchickens

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5 responses

18 12 2016
MargfromTassie

You’re making fantastic progress Mike. You are an inspiration!

18 12 2016
Idiocracy

Good stuff Mike!

Some friendly advice – Get a blade for your brushcutter, you’ll have any job done in 1/2 the time of string!

I wanted a 240v brushcutter that could take blades, for cutting this reedy grass in our gullies for garden mulch. But alas no such device exist… so I’m going to butcher a spare 240v mower, opening up the front end to make it kinda like a brushcutter, but on four wheels.

And hopefully I don’t lose any body parts along the way… 😛

19 12 2016
mikestasse

I have two blades…… this system is waaaayyy more effective! Blades are good if you’re cutting blackberries etc, but they are too small…. for cutting grass this is definitely better. Also, the cutting string that came with the head is square section and has sharp edges, plus it’s way stronger than the ordinary stuff and therefore lasts a hell of a lot longer than garden variety string.

19 12 2016
Idiocracy

I’ve actually never heard of/seen fixed string head’s before – it certainly looks pretty wild! 😀 Interesting to hear you find it works better then blades… I would have figured a 4ish tooth blade would have done the job.

I’m a bit anal about not having little bitsa plastic string all over the block… that’s why I use an 8 tooth blade up here, it works great through the drier stuff. I hear Brush Destructor blades (Aussie designed) are supposed to be the best… but they’re not cheap! Plus I don’t like the idea of little metal blades flailing around at 7500rpm… especially with the amount of rock around our place. 😛

It’s funny finding the muscles you never knew you had in your back/torso when swinging one these around all day too! 🙂

28 12 2016
One down, five to go…… | Damn the Matrix

[…] Having slashed and rotary hoed the first patch of garden, the task of starting garden beds and planting them was next. The rotary hoe quickly found a 50kg rock, aka an immovable object, which I dutifully dug up with a mattock and crowbar…. good thing it didn’t weigh any more, I was only just able to lift it into the wheelbarrow for disposal. […]

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