Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Four things I'm glad I did this year

Carrots in plastic tubs on my patio table, July 2016
1. Grew carrots in tubs

I haven't managed carrots for a few years.  I've never grown them successfully in the ground:  first it was carrot fly, then it was slugs.  Raised beds helped with the carrot fly--but not the slugs.  Plus I had more than one escaped chicken incident involving raised beds (raised beds make the best dust baths, don't you know).

Determined to get carrots, I filled a couple of old plastic storage tubs with a bit of chicken manure and straw, topped up with regular potting compost.  Around the rims I spread a layer of VapoRub (the advice was vaseline but we didn't have it on hand, plus the intended recipient of VapoRub, aka the six year old, hates the stuff) to repel slugs and other creepy crawlies.  The tubs were sown with seeds, placed on top of a table on the patio, and grew lovely 3-4 inch unblemished carrots. 

2. Spent 5 minutes every evening for a month rubbing out caterpillar eggs

Last year we had wholesale destruction of all brassicas because of cabbage white caterpillars.  They pretty much killed all the kale, and set the Brussels sprouts back so far that we only got one meal off the remaining six plants.  This year I was dedicated and nipped that problem in the bud in late July/early August.  No plants were killed or even set back due to caterpillars. 

3. Built a second composter

It's not pretty, but it's digesting my excess nettles, elder and blackberry vines.  The chickens helped me turn the contents of the first compost bin, making for some very nice looking compost.  Hopefully with a little more chicken help, this new pile will be ready for spring.

4. Put a second biofilter in the pond

The husband scored a secondhand filter and we filled it with a big piece of foam from an old cushion.  The water is pumped into this filter, forced through the foam which grabs any algae particles, before flowing into a gravel grow bed and back into the pond;  it cleaned up the water completely in about three weeks.  The pond has been crystal clear since, and its duckweed population has exploded;  our chickens enjoy eating the stuff so much we nicknamed it chicken salad:  free feed!

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