Hi. I use wood chips in my chicken house as bedding.
I'm setting up a new growing bed and intend to put a layer on top of the cardboard (no dig due to back problems, but I favour no dig anyway). Then spread compost over that.
But generally speaking, can i spread these clearings on my other beds regularly, or will this affect the soil alkalinity/acidity?
We only have 6 chooks left, so not a huge amount of clearings each time, about a barrow full.
Hi Annie, I'm no soil scientist...yet
Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and phosphorous and the wood chips high in carbon. Sounds like the perfect blend for starting new beds.I wouldn't add it to directly to sensitive veg/fruit annuals. Too much nitrogen on peas and beans makes them produce wonderfully lush leaves and not many flowers.
You might be able to use it as top dressing. I wouldn't use it on beds with leafy greens. As you as you are selective and rotate it's application it sounds delightful.
In the soil microbial world, a material with a carbon:nitrogen ratio of ~24:1 is the balance point between that material decomposing and tying up nitrogen (immobilization) or releasing nitrogen (mineralization) while providing enough energy for microbial respiration. Materials such as wood chips or straw have rather high carbon:nitrogen ratios and so will immobilize nitrogen and decompose slowly. Green vegetation has a fairly low carbon:nitrogen ratio, so will mineralize nitrogen and decompose quickly. Allowing a mixture of materials (i.e. wood chips + manure) to compost will bring the resulting finished compost down closer to the carbon:nitrogen ratio of the soil itself at ~10-15:1 and thus neither immobilize or mineralize nitrogen, but provide an army of soil microorganisms that can associate with, and feed plants. In this regard, compost should not be thought of as a "fertilizer" but rather as the introduction of a wide array of microorganisms suited to acquire and supply nutrients to growing plants, giving a similar response as applying what would commonly be regarded as "fertilizer".
posted 1 month ago
Thanks for the great responses.
Jon Stika, that sounds like a whole new language you are speaking 😉, gonna have to get my head around it!
I like the idea of piling it up and letting it break down naturally, then using it as a top dressing, so I think that's what I will do once I've used everything I need for the new bed, which isn't going to be planted until late spring/summer.
A fresh chicken manure is very"strong" and its direct use as a fertilizer is not recommended due to a high risk of "burning" plants. I use a large ammount of wood chips as a bedding in a chicken coop and a chicken run too. I clean chicken coop every 2-4 weeks in winter and every 4-6 weeks in summer - I give it into my vermicomposting trench (with kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings etc.) to lay there for 6-12 months. In the end of a winter, I start giving a fresh chicken manure / chips mix from a coop into a barrel and I let it ferment in a water till spring and summer. This barrel (cca 100 liters = 25 gallons) gives me about 50 liters of liquid fertilizer, which I mix with fresh water (1:10) and use it my vegetable garden (every two weeks..). A woodchip-bedding from outdoor run has another purpose.. I shovel it every spring and autumn and use it as a mulch. Directly.. This mix is already partially decomposed after the half a year of scratching and turning by chicken claws and beaks..
Annie, I use a deep litter (wood shavings mostly) in my coop and have had similar questions. For now, I clean and start the floor litter twice a year and so have been trying to time the removal to suit my gardening seasons. In the early spring, I clean out the coop and create a (or add to an existing) compost pile which I turn periodically until I use it later in the year for cool weather garden bed prep. In early autumn, I do the same with the intent of using this material for the next springs bed prep. Throughout the year, I add whatever leafy/woody plant material and food scraps that aren't suitable for the chickens, and I aerate/moisten it periodically. This experiment has worked quite well for the garden; getting the timing/quantities of adding material in the coop has been trickier for me.
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