Burlap and chickens

Mateo by the sea

Well the family just got back from a quick driving trip to Northern California to visit good friends, drink some fine wine and dip our toes in the cold ocean.  Due to the poor weather forecast over Lake Tahoe we decided to head back a day early.  Such a long drive to come back sooner then expected but there is always something to get accomplished in the yard.  Above is my eight year old enjoying the ocean breeze.   He is the now the reining tae kwan do champion for the State of Utah in the light division.   Yes I am a proud papa.  We are coming back to baseball practice starting tomorrow.

Before we took off on our trip I was able to get some vegetables planted.  I started by setting up my potato bins.

potato binsI still have a big pile of topsoil in my third car driveway from my mother’s patio project that I completed last year.  The sod is all decayed and I knew I would eventually have a use for the dirt so I kept it rather than haul it to the dump.   I used some of the dirt to fill  the bins about a third of the way full and I planted my potatoes (two whole seed potatoes per bin), and I will continue to fill the bins with the topsoil as the plants grow.

topsoil/sod pilepotato binsI grow eight to ten varieties of potatoes (some of everything I find at the nursery).  I love the tenderness of fresh homegrown potatoes.  Again I bought twice as many seed potatoes as initially needed so I have extra for a second planting when space opens up.

Next project was onion set planting.  My biggest problem with spring planting is that my chickens tend to view any dirt area as their personal digging arena.  I put up temporary fencing to try and keep them in check but there is always a chicken or two who finds a way to infiltrate my tight security and dig everything up.   I do have a secret weapon for this destructive activity……burlap.  Yes chickens dig up dirt but a ground cover such as burlap keeps them from digging up my tender plants and bulbs.

burlapI bought a roll of burlap last year that I did not use so I rolled it out on the onion bed, spiked it down with landscape anchors, placed dirt on the edges and I cut holes in the burlap where I pushed yellow, white and red onion sets through.  I managed to only cut myself twice with a box cutter.


Onion sets or plants should be planted about three inches apart and I like to dense plant rather than plant in rows due to limited space.   Just make sure you push the sets into the ground to the level of their top.  Make sure you know which end is the top and which is the bottom.  The bottom has a few small roots and the top is pointed and some will have started sprouting.

onion bottomonion top sproutedOnce they are all planted, water them in well.  I did not have enough burlap to cover the California garlic that I planted last fall.  Sure enough I had one chicken infiltrate the defenses and she dug up the garlic and a few cauliflower plants that I did not protect with the burlap.   The onions were saved by the burlap so the investment was worth it.

chicken troubleOh well….gardening is a lot of replanting for one reason or another.  I really enjoy free ranging my chickens during the day so I can’t get too mad at them.  Next I have to replant and put up bird netting for my spring peas.  The one downfall of having a lot of small birds living in your yard is they love to eat the pea shoots, leaving only plant skeletons.   Oh well….as I made the birdhouses I have to own that one also.

green onionsI left a bed of small onions in the ground which overwintered and now I have an abundance of green onions.

whisky barrelsI filled my whiskey barrels with compost and potting mix which I will use to plant a lettuce mix and cilantro.  I like to use barrels as it keeps the lettuce a lot cleaner and bug free than planting directly in the soil.  I mix several varieties of seeds together and sprinkle them over the mix.  I pat the seeds down and cover them with a 1/4 inch of soil which I water gently to avoid washing all the seeds together.   It’s great to take a pair of scissors and cut a nice mixed salad.   Cutting rather than pulling the plants allows for them to continue to grow back until the hot days of summer make them bolt.  I usually get a good couple of months of salad in the spring and again in the fall.

The spinach and radishes I planted are growing.  Looking forward to that first salad.



About urbancompostsystems

I am a retired law enforcement officer who is an avid gardener. I have a compost bin business named Urban Compost Systems. I believe strongly in the concept of growing healthy food and I utilize chickens and redworms in my "compost system". The only ingredients that I need from outside my system are leaves in the fall and some supplemental grass clippings from neighbors. I make hundreds of gallons of compost in my four bin system. I thoroughly enjoy the summer bounty I get from my yard and I take great pride in knowing that I am using my yardwaste to make healthy compost for my yard.
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