Win a bunch of tools from Truly Garden and Loma Creek! this week in the Gear forum!

Ashley Cottonwood

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since Feb 08, 2018
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chicken forest garden home care homestead monies ungarbage foraging wood heat
Chicken mamma & Compost Queen
British Columbia
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Recent posts by Ashley Cottonwood

This is the one I use from Jonny Seeds. I've used it mostly on established beds but I also used it to reseed a freshly created berm. I love it for prepping beds for root veggies!
3 hours ago
Welcome Dre!

Looks like amazing products!
3 hours ago
So many beautiful tools! *drool*

I really love my hori hori! It's my garden companion in the summer. It knows all my secrets!
3 hours ago
Things are moving slowly here with the change in season.

Still working on getting a good sprouting routine. Also battling having mold in my sprouting trays.

An update though: I've had a huge demand for more books from Paul and Shawn! I'm getting an order in from Shawn for Christmas to sell. I'll let ya'll know how sales go!

23 hours ago
Hello! These would make for a lovely set of backcountry cards! Leave them in a local hut and infect more brains!
2 weeks ago
Hey Jay, no I hand't heard of them! That's awesome! I actually just talked to a local gardener who would be interested in me selling her extras at market. I think it will be a collective of local gardeners as there are no farmers selling produce in the area.... or maybe there could be in the future?

Yes Thomas, the idea is that it starts in the covered space and get moved down by chickens and hand turning. I find if I don't hand turn it that it becomes anaerobic. I'm trying to add way more wood chips as well. What you cant really see is the slight slope n the land; the deck is the high point and runs down to the fence so if I didn't put the logs in it just get piled against the fence. It's my version of edible acres system. Next winter I'm going to build a greenhouse and compost in there.

Someone just introduced to the concept of running perforated pipes under the compost to help aeration. That will be a Spring addition for sure..
2 weeks ago
I feel like wood chips are a huge part of my composting small business. I have a fellow who does brush clearing that drops off his wood chips at my place. He loves it because he doesn't have to pay for tipping fees to dispose of them at the landfill. I love it because it is a mix of chips, leaves, branches, and larger chunk that didn't go through the chipper.

I'm concerned about the about of wood chips that I use that come from conifers. The majority of trees in the area are pine and fir. I'm concerned that this will affect what microbial communities will for in the compost and soil. Any thoughts?
2 weeks ago
Thank you for this thread.

Here is a little inspirational video.

I'm playing around with fermented feed and sprouting in a winter conditions right now!
2 weeks ago
Awe thanks Joshua! Love all the ideas and info!

I think I will have to work on the sticker poster idea. I'll run it past one of the owners that I have a pretty good relationship with and see what she thinks. She's been super supportive of my business over the past three years and like participating in fun programs with her staff.

Issues with Compost Quality
- Plastics: Food prep gloves, produce stickers, large produce labels (like the tags on pineapples), twist ties, rubber bands, juice/milk jugs lids and seals, misc oddities
- Bleached paper: Receipts, white paper towel, heavy duty absorbent towel
- Straight up garbage: Tea sachets, tin foil, misc oddities
- Some moulding (Not usually an issue because I pick up so frequently and the businesses try hard to not waste money having food go mouldy before it's processed. That and it's winter now so the cold temps help.)

That being said I think education would solve a lot of this. I have a large, clear signage that clearly states that these things aren't compostable... but I haven't kept up on my complaints and have just dealt with it because I was so scared no one would pay for my services. Now I know that isn't the case at all, and I have a waiting list of restaurants that want to join. That and I think the staff just get complacent. I think I'll ask to do a staff education session. I only have two businesses in the winter and both owners love me. I'll let you know how it goes.


Yes I have to be careful with my licence and food safety issues. Luckily my local health authority is AWESOME so if feel safe asking her questions and problem solving. A lack of knowledge and skill in the area is a huge issue. The local "chicken guru" has basically trained me because he doesn't want to slaughter for other people anymore. He has been so supportive, it's amazing! We are currently working as a team to acquire equipment. I think there is a demand for knowledge so maybe I can see about getting paid to teach 'backyard chicken skills'. I would LOVE to start some sort of homesteading coop where we could have equipment rentals and shared programs. People in my area are thirsty of homestead skills.

I will be reducing my flock size from two rounds of 75 birds to two round of 60. I will be raising my prices from $6/lbs to $7/lbs. I decided that most people don't even ask me the price per pound... and the don't really care. They just want a local bird that was raised by someone they know. If I don't sell them all I'll just eat them myself or feed my family.

Fun with Feed

So I have found with the dry feed my chickens like to throw it everywhere and eat half of it. Although the local song birds love this, I'd like to reduce my feed costs. I started to ferment my feed. I now make "chicken oatmeal" every morning. It's fermented feed with sunflower seeds.

I also started sprouting. I've started with barley and rye. I'm have issues with mould though. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Here are two trays side by side that I started on the same day:

Having fun experimenting either way. If anyone has tips for sprouting let me know!

Dream Big

OMG I have a fellow that is basically consulting for me... for free. He's trying to help me understand my business model and how I want to grow. He's helping me find grants and funding opportunities. It's been great! ... and scary. I'm totally in love with staring a market garden and completing the 'food cycle' but everyone keeps asking me to expand my composting business (Which I'm thinking of changing to 'Food Waste Reduction/Recover). The question people keep asking me is:

"Could you provide composting services for the whole Valley?"

Well yes, with a whole lotta $$$ & resources. There is no composting programs in my area because at the municipal level they have a whole lot of red tape, hoops, and financial barriers. Now I have this little bug in my brain keeps saying is someone wanted to fund me... ya, I could upscale the composting. It would have to be a different model, or and altered one, but it's not out of the questions.

I'm going to focus on my small scale operation for the Spring, but it didn't even occur to my that one day this could be A LOT BIGGER. And that I could start planning now for a project that would involve acres of land, dozens of employees, and some serious equipment. Scary as hell but it hadn't even occurred to me as being a dream.

Well thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts!

2 weeks ago