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spring ok to plant in chicken manure ?  RSS feed

 
Chris Jones
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Location: Georgia Lake Country Zone 7/8
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Hello, I am new to the forums and to gardening and permaculture in general. I just purchased a 1.5 acre fruit orchard with 6000 sq ft of veggie beds. The plot has been conventionally maintained for 15 years, and I'm converting straight away to organic growing.

My question concerns my vegetable beds. I just sheet mulched the mostly clay soil with cardboard/newspaper, then hay, then about 2" of ~1-2yr old chicken manure, followed by a 4" layer of wood chips. I also incorporated a dusting of peat and gravel dust as I built the layers. I would like to know if this chicken manure will be ready for planting veggies in the spring? If it's not quite ready, what would be something that could tolerate this type of "soil?" I also plan on growing cover crops alongside my veggies. Any advice or suggestions from experience would be great, thank you!

Chris

p.s. Two things: First, the woodchips are between 1-2 years old, there are few, if any fresh chips. Second, I am on the cusp of Zone 7-8 in Georgia. Thank you!!
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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I would think if this is to sit all winter in the rain, it would be fine to transplant stuff into in the spring. I would focus on nutrient hungry veggies like brassicas, nightshades, and cucurbits. Some roots like carrots or sweet potatoes might not appreciate that much nitrogen.....you could follow with these in the second year.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Chris
Farmer Chris wrote:I also incorporated a dusting of peat

Are you trying to lower the ph? I'm not very familiar with peat, and I'm curious.
Re the manure, I agree with Alder.
I'd probably avoid roots, but everything else should be fine!
 
Chris Jones
Posts: 11
Location: Georgia Lake Country Zone 7/8
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Thank you for replying, Alder! I am relived to know that a few months is all it takes for this manure to break down in a sheet mulch.

And thank you Leila, I am excited about beginning my permaculture trial by fire in the spring, as the farm I took over has been a popular local destination for produce, so it will be my business and livelihood as well! As for the peat, prior to learning anything about it myself, I bought some after reading the lasagna gardening book by Patricia Lanza in which she suggests you use a thin spreading of peat between each layer. I only used a little bit and only in half of the garden so I don't know if it will make any significant changes to soil pH.

Regarding the chicken manure: Is manure okay for fruit trees and blackberries as well? I have a free source for it very near to me, and hauled off quite a bit of it. I added ~1" to the soil surrounding my fig and sweet persimmon trees (leaving about 6" bare directly around the trunk) as well as leaves topped with wood chips. I'm not suffocating my trees am I?!
 
Alder Burns
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Not sure about that much manure around fruits. Watch them I guess and see if they make a rank growth. If you mix it up with wood chip compost it's probably safe, but they might just grow greenery for a year or two without putting any effort into fruit. Though I suspect this may be the case for the persimmons, the blackberries might just thrive on it, given the situations where I've seen them growing wild.....
 
John Elliott
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Farmer Chris wrote:

Regarding the chicken manure: Is manure okay for fruit trees and blackberries as well? I have a free source for it very near to me, and hauled off quite a bit of it. I added ~1" to the soil surrounding my fig and sweet persimmon trees (leaving about 6" bare directly around the trunk) as well as leaves topped with wood chips. I'm not suffocating my trees am I?!


Not to worry, what you are doing sounds fine. There are some adjustments you have to make if you want to apply 'Lasagna Gardening' to our hot and humid Georgia climate. First off, that peat is going to completely decompose once the weather warms up in April. It just doesn't last as long as it does in places that have winters where the ground freezes and stops decomposition. It never gets cold enough here to shut down the soil life during the winter, so things like peat and manure just keep feeding a lively soil food web, although it may be running a little slower.

In working with wood chips, I have found that even during the 3 months of winter, you can get enough fungal growth in a pile of wood chips that they are quite well broken down to the point that they are feeding the soil. With your chicken manure/wood chip combination, your trees should do quite well in the coming spring. The blackberries too, mine get a couple inches of wood chips and lots of chicken manure tea in the winter.


P.S. You might want to look at an updated climate zone map. Zone 7 has moved out of Georgia and south of the fall line is pretty much all zone 9.
 
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