Thursday, 29 May 2008


Right down at the bottom of my steep block is an area we levelled many years ago and here I grow things that don't need much attention. Basically this means pumpkins in summer and broad beans in winter.It is divided into 3 bays and I let the weeds grow all year round in at least 1 bay, for the chooks. Years ago this used to be just very stony, hard clay with lots of enormous, very bad weeds. The garden group and I periodically go over it and remove the stones but otherwise it has been a combination of sheets of coconut-fibre underlay over the trampled weeds, topped with peastraw and left until it has all rotted enough for the chooks to be let in and work it over.
You can see in the photo how beautiful the soil is now - completely cleared of weeds and fertilized by the chooks over the last 2 months or so. All I do now is rake it level and sow my broad beans. Chooks are excellent workers and time-savers! And mine never stop laying, all year round.
image Today I put the chooks into the second bay and it won't be long until this is cleared and fertilized by them and ready for another crop - maybe globe artichokes, I am thinking, as they take up a lot of room in my crowded vegetable garden at the very top of my block, about 100m away. Up there I have also sown a small, Egyptian variety of broad beans especially grown for falafel. I hope it is far enough away to stop cross-pollination! The house and the rest of the garden are in between.
My broad beans saved from last year are now lying in the damp soil. I am sowing them later this year so they don't get so tall and floppy before they flower - an idea from Malcolm Campbell.
image Here is the third bay which is now a green manure crop of oats, lupins, self-sown broad beans from last year and something I have forgotten! I still cannot get lucerne to germinate. Eventually I will dig this in and leave it to rot away before giving the chooks a bit of a go in here and then sowing pumpkins in spring. You can also see the border of arrowroot(more visible in the other photos) that I grow to pick and feed the chooks during summer when green feed is hard to find.
image In the hour or so I spent down there today, in the company of the friendliest chooks around, they did a great job of getting on with clearing the weeds in the second bay, converting them into eggs and leaving their manure behind. While I was working away I was practicing my Italian, saying all sorts of crazy stuff out loud to the chooks. Luckily my neighbours are a fair distance away but I am hardly likely to care anyway and Italian should be said in a good, hearty voice! Ciao!


Maggie said...

We heard you down on the plains! Niki speaks fluent Italian so she translated. The tomato joke was good!

Kate said...

L O L. Next time it will be French so I hope Tara can translate! Soon I will be speaking Fritalian!

Chook said...

It all looks very lush for a low maintenance area. I really like it when you put up pictures of the whole plot like that.

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

I love the idea of using the chooks so intensively in the area. I'm getting ready to plant some broad beans and will use this idea.

P.S. Je suis sur que votres poules vous trouve tres interresseant!

chaiselongue said...

This looks a wonderfully efficient way of weeding, fertilising and producing food! I'm sure the Italian helps the egg-production too! We used to keep chickens many years ago and the ground they'd been on was very productive + weed-free. Ducks are good for this too, but a bit messier as they like to splash around in water.
What variety of bean are you growing for felafel? I love making felafel - they remind me of my childhood in north Africa - but I always buy the dried beans.
Thanks for your comment on my watering post - I'd like to get in touch soon for more advice. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

You better start practising the French. You'll be in france before you get to Italy, I'm sure!
day off from lessons yesterday but back again tomorrow

Rachel said...

Mais alors - une jardinierre en l'Australie que parle francais et italienne? Quel dommage que je suis en Melbourne et non l'Australie de Sud! Moi, je ne parle pas l'italienne, mais je parl francais et espagnole - Spanch ou Franol?!

Kate said...

Zut alors! Bonsoir Rachel! Je comprends le français mais je ne le parle pas bien! Il y a beaucoup de personnes qui font les 'comments' sur ce blog qui parlent et écrivent bien le français ! Je parle aussi le japonais. C'est fraponais!

Votre blog est magnifique!

Rachel said...

I take very, very little credit for the Across the Miles blog; I am seriously in dereliction of duty in commenting on books as well - all the other ladies are in the US and they manage to obtain books that are very difficult to find in my local library. I keep meaning to comment more...

My "other" blogs - or the ones that I frequent - are MotherTalkers ( and EatDrinkBetter( I have a feeling you'd probably rather like EatDrinkBetter!

Franponais - I'd be very interested to hear that! ;-)