chickens

Chickweed makes chickens happy

Chickweed is one of those weeds that lightly but persistently invades garden beds. Even the carefully placed layer of straw that we laid down around the newly planted seedlings was unable to stop it. Chickweed managed to spring up in each of the communal beds! Fortunately, it tends to be easy to remove and can be torn off without using tools. However, even just a little bit of root left in the ground seems to be sufficient for the plant to regrow; so continuous weeding is necessary to slowly but surely get rid of it.

Chickweed is easy to identify:

  • It has small, rather fresh-looking light green leaves. They are reminiscent of Oregano leaves, but not as dark green and they lack the silvery shine. Look out for fine hairs around the small white flowers and along the stem.
  Image credits: Dawn Endico via Flickr.   Original photo on https://www.flickr.com/photos/candiedwomanire/93226243

Image credits: Dawn Endico via Flickr. Original photo on https://www.flickr.com/photos/candiedwomanire/93226243

  • If there is space/free soil, it tends to send out shoots radially, as a ground creeper. But you will find the stalks lifting off the ground if there are other plants in the vicinity. 
  • There tends to be a lot of it ;-)

As the name suggests, chickens love chickweed! See for yourself how excited our girls were to receive a bucket full of freshly weeded chickweed... 

So next time you're in the garden, why not see for yourself what a chicken fanclub you will gather from simply picking some chickweed and throwing it to the girls? 

You might even want to keep some for yourself: Chickweed is high in vitamin C and can be eaten raw, e.g. added to salads. Just don't use too much of it - both for the sake of happy chicken and because the plant contains so-called 'saponins' that are toxic when consumed in large quantities. 

Happy New Year - A Word From Our VP

HI all and happy New Year to you!

Just a quick update re. the garden.

1. For those of you who pop in to the garden now and then note that we've planted quite a lot of new seedlings  - two sections of the largest communal bed and 1 small section in one of the smaller horseshoe shaped beds. If you happen to be there and the seedlings look like they are lacking water please feel free to give them some - just until they are established by which time the new watering roster folk will be easily able to take care of things.

2. Hydroponics system - we had a power outage for most of Sunday and the other day one of the pumps was disconnected so lucky it wasn't hot and sunny - if you happen to see the plants on this new hydroponics system (currently strawbs and lettuce) wilting in  a big way - can you let me know and I'll try to investigate.

3. We've had a big increase in the chook flock with 5 new ones (thanks to Kim for arranging) - they are currently fenced off from the existing chooks but should be getting introduced soon.

4. Slight change in the designation of the three open compost heaps - I'll have signs up tomorrow to indicate state of affairs.

5.Harvesting - we'll be hoping to harvest more than has been done in the past and will be leaving on one of the tables whatever isn't claimed by the folk who attended and helped with the Sunday work bees (good incentive to come and work on Sundays - get the best choice of the goodies!)

6. We have a big new whiteboard on the shed wall and will be trying to use this plus other notice boards to better convey info re. happenings and status of things in the garden - so do have a look each time you go in!This will hopefully work in conjunction with our existing excellent  website  to provide info as to what is happening and what is planned.

Think that's all 
Hope to see you in the garden (don't forget Sundays 2pm onwards for work bees)

cheers

Colin Maltman

Vice President

Mandy's Open Garden

Hi – As you may already know, my garden is in the Open Gardens Australia scheme on 29th and 30th of this month. The flyer they have made for me is attached.

Would love you to come and have a look at the 150 species of edibles growing here, flowers, natives, edible sharing verge and of course – the chooks! We have talks, home-made lemon butter, jams etc, tea, coffee and cake, home-made elderflower cordial, home-grown (no sprays) plants and some shady or sunny spots to sit and chat or relax. There is also going to be a sculpture trail with some small sculptures for sale. Doug Purdie, The Urban Beekeeper, is coming to talk about his new book – how to keep bees in the city – even on top of tall city buildings!

I would be very glad if you could pass this flyer on to anyone you think might be interested. We are raising funds for our community garden, that we started about 6 years ago and is now going really wellwww.permapatch.org.au. It is completely community run and unfunded, other than a Council grant when we are lucky. Like my garden, it is run on Permaculture lines and a local hub for learning about sustainable living – growing your own food is one great way to reduce your carbon footprint – and eat great food while you’re doing it!  

When my garden was open two years ago, we had a lot of visitors and a lot of fun. This will be the last time, as Open Gardens Australia is sadly folding up next year.

Thanks so much. Mandy Stubbs

Chickens Acquisitions - The Road Trip

Today Mandy and I went to New Leaf Nurseries to buy three new chickens for the garden. To make the long journey up there worthwhile, we stopped at various places along the way...  First stop on our road trip was pulling into a farmer's market, where you can buy fresh produce straight from the farm from a little stall in their garage. They had the biggest cauliflower Mandy or I had ever seen!

 This picture doesn't even really convey the actual huge, massive scale of that vegetable.

This picture doesn't even really convey the actual huge, massive scale of that vegetable.

I picked up some sweet potatoes and Mandy grabbed some potatoes and we were off again. The next diversion along the way was to pick up some horse poo for Mandy's garden (which she is preparing for The Open Garden Scheme coming up on the 29th and 30th November) on the way in Duffy's Forest. It's such a lovely area with lots of bushland and horses.

 This is the very same horse whose poo Mandy was shovelling! 

This is the very same horse whose poo Mandy was shovelling! 

New Leaf Nursery is such a fun place to visit. While we were there, there was a children's play group on, and they were giving out free popcorn to all the kids, who were feeding it to the resident pig, rather than to themselves. I have to apologise I didn't take any photos at New Leaf Nursery as I was simply too immersed in the experience, so you will just have to rely on my attempt to describe it, or do yourself a favour and find an excuse to go.

 The only photo I took at the nursery... What a fabulous idea for a kids garden!

The only photo I took at the nursery... What a fabulous idea for a kids garden!

We perused the chickens and settled on two American breeds; a single Plymouth Rock, a breed known for their longevity, and two Rhode Island Red crosses, bred for excellent egg production. They had Isa Browns, a popular bird, particularly in batteries, due to their enormous egg production, but as Mandy said, if we got Isa Browns, then soon all there would be Isa Browns and these rarer breeds would die out. 

They put each chicken in it's own box and helped us to the car with a bunch of other things we picked up on the way... including more food and shell grit for the girls!

 Plymouth Rock having a peck near the water bowl.

Plymouth Rock having a peck near the water bowl.

Once we got the birds home to the garden, we opened up their boxes and left them to come out and very soon they were out and starting to explore their new world... which is a lot bigger and less overcrowded than their old one, but also is home to a brooding gang of chickens who are not so happy about the lack of consultation in this whole getting new chickens into THEIR enclosure situation.

 Morticia getting all up in the new chickens' grills! 

Morticia getting all up in the new chickens' grills!