Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicken Introductions

As novice chicken owners, we have never introduced baby chickens to older chickens. We've kept the babies in the chicken tractor, with a makeshift coop made out of a cardboard box and a stick, for as long as we possibly could. The babies are 8 weeks old now, and with rain in the forecast for the next several days, we decided to try to get them introduced to the older girls. If all goes well they'll be sleeping in the coop and be able to stay out of the rain.

The introductions went fairly well this afternoon. Some posturing and minor pecking, but no one went for the kill. Mostly, they ignored each other, with the older girls reminding the babies who's boss when they got too cheeky.

First Garden Work Day

Here's the first look at the first community garden in a city park in Santa Fe! We had our first work day last weekend, and we got the plots outlined and the paths mulched. You can see that there's an acequia running right next to the garden. Unfortunately, we won't have the engineering to use it for watering this year, but hopefully next.

We will be assigning plots for the garden on Friday, and we'll know who our first season gardeners are soon! Then, planting time!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Santa Fe Community Gardens

I helped to found Santa Fe Community Gardens in late summer last year, seeing a need for more community gardens, and more communication between existing gardens, in Santa Fe. It's been a real rollercoaster, but we finally have garden space and a newspaper article to prove it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Worm Castings

We harvested our first batch of worm castings since we got our worms last summer. I would say it amounted to about a gallon of the stuff. A few weeks ago, Tristan moved the worms' bedding and food to one side of the bin and left the casting on the other half. After several weeks, almost all of the worms had moved away from the castings and we were able to simply scoop them out. I applied it around the base of our seedlings in an attempt to give them an urgently needed nitrogen boost.

Soil Testing

The bulk of our garden space consists of new beds, dug from a part of the yard where not a whole lot was growing previously. We amended the soil with manure, and hoped for the best. Several weeks after planting, things look kind of small, but healthy. We decided to get a cheap soil test kit (not necessarily the most reliable, I know) to see what the problem might be.

As is expected for this area, the soil is quite alkaline, which can make it hard for plants to absorb nutrients from the soil. There's enough potash and phosphorous for us to get by on, but the test for nitrogen didn't change color even the teensiest bit. A nitrogen deficiency is pretty much what I expected, since the plants seem kind of dwarfed.

I applied our first harvest of worm castings around the bases of as many plants as possible. We may have to find some other way of top dressing, because our worm compost supply is limited.