The last month has been rather hectic, not affording much time for working in the hoop houses, certainly not as much as I have in the past. Yesterday, being one of the first really gloriously beautiful days of the spring, I went out to work in the poor neglected hoop houses and take stock of the situation.
My oh my oh my.
Here the chard is doing tolerably, but I have allowed the weeds on each side to go to seed.
The stunted kale is starting to bolt from the heat, and it is also surrounded by weeds that have developed seed heads. On its right, you can see bolted lettuces. I also found aphids on the carrot top greens.
So here is the option I am faced with – weeding this entire thirty foot hoophouse, and distribute lots of seed heads as I do it. But I really don’t want to do that. The seeds I leave will sprout, and in pulling the weeds, it will take a great deal of the valuable dirt we have built up. Aha! The next option – chickens!
I went directly to the computer and pulled up McMurray Hatchery’s website, a large-scale chicken hatchery that operates out of Iowa. They ship day-old chicks all over the continental United States and these adorable little peeps come straight to the post office. I was very fortunate yesterday – when I went to the broiler chick page, it stated that the April 22 shipment date had a very limited quantity available. The next ship date would not be until June! Too long for the hoophouse to wait. I picked up the phone and got a representative who took my order for 25 chicks for the April 22 date. I clicked refresh on my computer – and the April 22 date disappeared from their options. I had gotten their last 25 chicks for that day.
So for the next several days we will eat out the chard and other edibles in the hoop house, and by the time the chicks arrive everything left will be for their consumption, including the aphids on the carrots. So this is the beauty of permaculture. It is literally labor-saving, as the chicks will do my work of removing delectable weed seed heads. The chickens will consume the slugs and other insects, and will feast on luscious bolting greens. These chicks won’t be contained in a small space – they will literally have 408 square feet of greens-filled space . This, in addition to their organic diet from Countryside, will provide a well-rounded diet and create nutritious birds not raised on soy and GMOs. Even this is a win-win situation, since I will be able to coordinate with Eva of Ironwood Farm on the Countryside delivery, and we can save some gas (it’s my turn). Eva is currently raising some chicks and you can read about her adventure here.
And 6-8 weeks from now, I’ll have a perfectly clean hoop house. By mid-June that hoop house will again be available for planting with cucumbers, melons, tomatoes and other plants that can withstand the heat and actually thrive in it. And I won’t have done any of it Permaculture.