Betty (Blue)'s Game
Betty (Blue) has got a new game: hold up the queue! One of our black chickens isn’t the brightest and has gotten into the habit of waiting on the ramp while the rest of the flock wants to get out enjoying their day!
This is what happens: in the morning when I open the hatch, the chickens come out via a ramp. The ramp is only wide enough for one at a time, but when Betty comes out, she stops midway and the other chickens are literally queuing behind her, getting impatient. It’s a bit like when you are walking on the pavement and someone in front of you just stops to look at their phone and you nearly bump into this person! You can almost hear them shouting at her:”Oy! Move! What you’re doing? I want to eat!” Some even try to push her off or fly over her (chickens aren’t the best of flyers, so this looks a bit silly)! Anyway, in the end they all make it to the feeder, but you can tell they are annoyed with each other.
Sadly there is one less to queue up behind her, as we had to say goodbye to Hank the Tank. Hank was a rescue chicken which we got along with 5 others in during lockdown in 2020 (the police gave us permission to pick up the chickens as it was for animal welfare), so she was already a little bit older when we got her. It’s a little consolation knowing that her last 2 years she was out and about enjoying life to the full, she even got into the habit of wanting to eat from a spoon! I am sure that wherever she is now, she will be running around eating grains from spoons and be happy once again.
Now that I am learning more and more about soil health (see ‘did you know’), I want to enthuse other people too. Thankfully there is a pretty good documentary on Netflix called ‘Kiss the ground’ which tells you a lot about soil and how important this substance is.
We often think that soil is dead material, but the opposite is true! It contains billions and billions of living things like bacteria, fungi, microscopic creatures (like springtails), slightly bigger creatures (like worms) and bigger creatures (like moles), so soil is very much alive! And not only that, soil, of course, is also needed to support plants and vegetables; our very existence really depends on soil!
No-dig gardening is gaining momentum, not just because it means, well, less digging, also because studies are showing that soil which isn’t ploughed, tilled or dug over, contains far more good bacteria and fungi than soil which has extensively been dug over. Furthermore, it also is better at retaining water, doesn’t dry out as fast and even removes CO2 from the atmosphere. So, what’s not to like?! You can sit back and relax while the garden itself does the rest!
Basically it works like this:
- Cut down weeds and leave the cuttings
- cover the area with cardboard (plastic tape removed) or newspapers
- add a thick layer of organic matter like compost, manure, dead leaves or grass cuttings
- tread down firmly
- leave for at least 6 months (preferably 1 year)
- you can now start planting or sowing in your newly created no-dig veggie bed
Existing vegetable beds:
- apply at least 15cm of organic matter, like compost, manure, dead leaves or grass cuttings
- leave for 1 month
- pull out any weeds which may grow through the mulch
- you can sow or plant directly in the mulch
Below you can find out what you can do to start making your soil healthy again; for example by making your own compost and applying it to the garden.