5 Reasons To Raise Your Own Chickens

Raising chickens is a lot of fun. I remember as a child, the excitement of new arrivals whether by incubation or a broody hen.
Although all the benefits are too numerous to mention in one post, I am going to give you my top 5 reasons to raise chickens.

chickens_thm

# 1 No more composting
Forget drudging out to the pile, dumping kitchen scraps onto it and turning it daily.
Let the chickens do the work.
Food scraps go in one end, and out the other end comes compost. What a great machine.

Chickens will eat just about any food. I’ve even given them leftover meat. Some people have suggested that there are some foods a chicken should not eat, like apple seeds, avocados and citrus. But to be honest, I’ve never really been too careful about that. I figured if my family can eat it, so can the chickens. But I understand if you have reservation about those things. If you’re concerned, I suggest doing your own research on that.

Just dump the scraps into a large feed pan and watch the annihilation begin. Using a pan is a good idea, as there tends to be a lot of juice in the mix and they just love it. No sense in it seeping into the ground where it’s wasted. The chickens will consume the waste, and out the back door comes fertilizer.

I’ve always laid chips or pine shavings in the run. They will scratch and pick, mixing the manure into the ground. Every 3 or 4 days, just scrape off the top surface (about 1/2”) and toss into a wheelbarrow. This then goes into the garden as a mulch. I just layer it on top of the soil where I plan to plant. This is the absolute best soil enrichment on the planet. It is suggested not to add it when you have established plants or where you are going to plant right away as the raw chicken manure can burn your plants. However, the amount of manure is about 1/1000.  This has never been a concern for me as I don’t add it in season. I add it in the fall and let it sit over the winter or add it in early spring and let it sit for a couple of months before planting.

# 2 Goodbye tics, fleas and all other creepy crawlies

If you let your chickens free range, they will seek and destroy anything smaller than a marble that crawls, walks or flies. This is good news for entomophobics (people afraid of insects). Chickens have unique eyes unlike humans. Our eyes work in tandem to focus on a certain object, then pass this information onto our brains. Chickens however have the ability to use one eye to scan for predators and the other to forage for food. They also track motion much better and can freeze frame better than any Nikon on the market.

# 3 They bring hours of enjoyment to your family

If you’ve never been around chickens, you are missing out on the pure enjoyment of just sitting and watching them. They never stop. All day long they are clucking, running, pecking and having a good time. Like humans, each chickens has his/her own personalities. Unless you have hundreds, you will get to know them personally and begin to predict their moves. They really are fascinating little creatures. Be aware though, once you start naming them and treating them like pets, you’ll never want to cull them for food or give them away once their egg production diminishes. We even had a Barred Rock rooster once that was so friendly, the moment you walked into the pen, he would come running over. And heaven forbid if you squatted down, he would hop right onto your lap expecting to be petted. Needless to say, he lived a ripe old age and never went into the soup pot. And since chicken viagra hadn’t been invented yet, we still could not get rid of him. And he didn’t even mind when we brought in a young Rhode Island Red rooster to take over his manly duties

# 4 You know where your food is coming from

eggsThis may sound like an obvious one.
But in my opinion, the words “natural” and “free range” mean nothing. They are only marketing ploys.
What does natural even mean? The word has become so common place and distorted that it could mean anything. Some people even consider genetically modified organisms natural, which escapes me.

And who knows what free range means. Even eggs and chickens marked “organic” do not mean they are treated humanely and given lots of love and plenty of space to run free. It just means they aren’t fed GMOs and chemicals. that’s it. And frankly, that’s not good enough for me.

When you raise your own chickens, you are in complete control. You know what goes into them, and what comes out. Even if you choose to medicate your hens (which I prefer not to), you still are aware of it and can make choices accordingly. I strongly support giving your birds all organic feed from day 1. And if you eat organic produce, your chickens will also be getting good, healthy chemical free table scraps.

# 5 Self Sustainability

Here at “Grow Your Heirlooms”, I promote gardening and independence through growing heirloom vegetables, harvesting and saving your seeds for future growing. Chickens are a great addition to this venture. From producing compost and fertilizer, to providing protein rich eggs and meat. You won’t find a better feed to meat ratio on the planet. Many cities even allow you to maintain a small flock in your backyard.

They are easy to care for, provide hours of enjoyment and put food on your table. Is there any reason not to own a few? They have never disappointed me.

Growing Goji Berry or Wolfberry Plants From Seeds

Gojismall

I bought my first goji plant 5 years ago as a small 10″ seedling. The bush is now 5′ tall and taking over the grow box I built to contain it. They grow fast, produce prolifically and provide some of the most nutrient dense berries on the planet.

The health benefits of Goji Berries:

Goji are members of the nightshade family and native to the Himalayan mountains of Tibet and Mongolia.  Goji berries have been used medicinally in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
They have the highest concentration of protein of any other fruit and more carotenoids of any food.
Loaded with vitamin C, high in fiber and 21 trace minerals, Goji berries have 10-15 times the iron found in spinach. They also contain zinc, calcium and selenium.
People are starting to realize the benefits of eating this super fruit and are scrambling to buy the berries fresh, dried or frozen.

Continue reading

Finding Good Carbon Sources For Your Compost Pile

The art of composting consists of adding both nitrogen and carbon to a large pile and letting it break down over time. However, the rate at which it turns into compost, is greatly affected by the nitrogen to carbon ratio.

Typically, I add about 25% carbon to 75% nitrogen. Although this recipe varies greatly. To understand the difference between the two types, see the video here:
What to add and what not to add to your compost pile

If you’re like me, it’s very easy to find lots of greens. Rotting kitchen scraps pile up daily forcing me to take multiple trips to the garden daily to dump my compost bucket.
The real challenge for me, is finding brown sources to add so the stench doesn’t drive my neighbors away. (on second thought, that might be a good thing)

In this video, I will discuss how easy it is to find carbon, most often sitting right under our noses:

Carolina Reaper/Banana Pepper Taste Test

The results are in (maybe not). Is it genetically possible for two distinct varieties of peppers to grow on the same plant?
People have been patiently waiting for me to bite into the morphed red runt.
I’ve grown the yellow banana for years and decided to cross it with the extremely hot Carolina Reaper.
I was amazed to see this red pepper growing right alongside of the regular banana. So what are the results?

Watch the video and see.

Dealing With Difficult Soil & Why Are My Tomato Skins Tough?

In this video, I will answer the following questions:

1. Are snow peas the same as Mange Tout
2. How to improve bad soil
3. Why are my tomato skins tough
4. You shouldn’t degrade people. Two wrongs don’t make a right
5. You must till in the compost to make it work
6. Will you send me some seeds

 

Fertilizing My Plants and Pelleted Seeds Q&A

Today I will answer the following questions:

1. When it comes to large scale farming, you can only really plant in soil, right?
2. What’s the difference between soil and potting mix?
3. What are pelleted seeds?
4. What ever happened to your potatoes in the bucket I looked for a harvest video and I didn’t see one?
5. Do you fertilize your plants?
6. Have you ever tried growing the Carolina reaper?
7. Are there any disadvantages to compost?

Soil vs Compost, What’s the Difference?

I was watching a discussion on a popular garden forum between two well known seasoned gardeners. They were discussing the difference between “soil” and “compost”. One gentleman said that “soil” was anything consisting of decomposed matter. The other gentleman argued that “soil” was rocks and minerals.
Well, for arguments sake, I’ll have to disagree with both of them.
The second gentleman was only partially right.

What is the difference?

Soil is basically the top 6 inch or so layer of the earth. It’s made up of sand, silt, rock, minerals, gases and even decomposed matter like plant material and dead carcasses from animals and insects (compost). It also includes microbes and fungi know as the food web. All of this matter is considered “topsoil” and sits on the TOP of the earth (hence the name)

Unfortunately,  the earth is being rapidly depleted of this resource as commercial farmers scrape the top layer off to remove weeds and level the land. This results in a dead, dry and parched earth. This is where farmers like to plant. But the sad reality is, they are depriving themselves of the best growing medium on the planet. They are then forced to till in fertilizers to replenish what was lost. And then this vicious cycle starts over again year after year.

Compost is basically decomposed plant matter like kitchen waste and rotting plants. It also includes dead shrubs, tree branches, and basically anything living thing that falls to the earth and dies. It is broken down slowly over time and turned back into what many would call dirt. It turns into one of the richest organic fertilizers that money can buy.

So when you hear someone say “I added soil from my compost pile to my raised beds”, what they are really saying is, I added compost to my raised bed from my compost pile 🙂

So to simplify things, You can amend your topsoil with compost to increase its mineral content or to make the soil more loamy for planting, but you never amend your compost with soil. Topsoil will contain compost, but compost does not contain topsoil.

 

 

The Best Time To till Your Garden and Drinking Weed Killer Q&A

In this video, I answer the following viewer questions:

1. How is the lasagna bed doing?
2. When is the best time to till in compost?
3. What kind of soil do you put in your raised beds?
4. Are you growing indoors this winter?
5. Where do you get most of your seeds?
6. You need to let your potatoes sit. You really are an amateur
7. You drank weed killer, gasoline and turpentine?
8. Your shirts are really distracting

Impossible Coconut Pie Recipe

This recipe has been in my family for decades. I remember my Mom making 2 or 3 at a time as it was so delicious, we as kids would gobble it up.
The beauty of this pie is its simplicity. No need to make a crust. You place all the ingredients in a blender and pour it into a pie pan. As the flour settles to the bottom, it makes its own crust.

Impossible Coconut Pie
4 eggs
1/4 lb. butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut
2 tsp. vanilla

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until well combined about 15-20 seconds.
Pour into a greased 9″ pie dish. Bake at 350 deg. for 1 hr. or until set.

Serve hot or cold.

Do You Sell Seeds & What Planet Are You From? Q&A

In this week’s Q&A I answer the following questions:

1. Why are you wasting your time on bolting lettuce? Yank the crap out and throw it away
2. Why did you have the seat belt on?
3. Why don’t you sell seeds?
4. You ramble way too much
5. If you lay wood chips, you’ll deplete the soil of nitrogen