Tag Archives | produce

It’s all about the Chicken Poo! (Garden Soil Recipe)

My favorite Organic Chicken Manure Compost

Last weekend I finished amending my soil for this next growing season. Over the years I have discovered a pretty good recipe. I get all my supplies from Concentrates NW in Milwaukie, OR (concentratesnw.com). The bulk of the recipe is Organic Composted Chicken Manure by Stutzman Farms. I also mix in some Teufel Compost. Finally, I make a mix of fish meal (for extra nitrogen), flax meal, and rock dust (for trace minerals). The last couple of years have yielded some of the best produce I have ever grown and I think it all has to do with my soil amendments. Last year my kale plants ended up being about 6 feet tall – pretty sweet!

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Aw, hail …

Definitely NOT Portland hail


So I had to write this post because every year after we plant our summer garden a good old-fashioned hailstorm is only a few weeks away.

And today was no exception.

Although we made it through okay, just 20 minutes of small pea-sized hailstones that soon washed away with the ensuing torrent of rain, other parts of the country are not so lucky where entire crops can be devastated in a matter of minutes.

“I know this from experience,” writes Josiah Smart on his section of the articledashboard.com, “because when I was a blooming gardener I had my garden completely demolished by about 10 minutes of severe hail.”

Josiah goes on to write, “I began to keep large clay pots within 10 feet of my garden, so that at any sign of hail I could run outside and have the plants sheltered in a matter of seconds.”  This works well if you live in, say, Portland, Oregon where one clap of thunder and a flash of lighting makes the evening news for the next two weeks.

But what about other parts of the country where hail can reach an inch or more in diameter?  How do you cope with it then?  Josiah talks about his efforts to save his garden beds by constructing a retractable but flexible wire mess net.  Other solutions come in different shapes and sizes, but my favorite (not mass produced) is a sort of a tent/raised bed solution sold by Brent Neuenswander in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (contact info here) Although the material is “single season” thick plastic sheeting, I am sure it could be adapted to a longer use, more environmentally friendly solution.

The Three Season  Raised Bed GardenIn previous years, our Portland backyard crops had been decimated by hail.  However, a combination of luck and an unusually warm year has spared our crops.  We may try one of these solutions going forward because once the damage is done, you pretty much have to rip up the damaged plants and start over which can cost quite a bit of time and money.

And for the record, the hailstone in the first picture, a 5 1/4 inch mortar, was not from today’s storm here in Portland but from a storm that hit Harper, Kansas in 2004.

Have you experienced this and/or have a solution to share?   Drop us a comment!

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