The sisters are all grown up! JR was right about our trellises. The plants have reached the outer edges of all the trellises with flowers! It was such fun to see the first blossoms appear!
Mature plants need different nutrients than vegging plants. Where before the plants are hungry for nitrogen, now we will begin applying a more potassium and potash to the regime of regular fertilizer applications. The sisters will need a host of nutrients for the complex organic molecules they will produce in the next few months.
To promote plant access to all the nutrients already in our soil, JR has prescribed compost tea for the sisters. While the tea has some nutrients its main purpose is its biological contents. The ingredients are rainwater, chicken litter compost (one year old) which contains most biological agents, worm castings, kelp powder and blackstrap molasses. The last two ingredients help the beneficial bacteria and fungi multiply during the steep.
Compost Tea Recipe and Directions
- 50 gallons rainwater or R/O
- 12 cups organic chicken litter compost
- 4 cups of worm castings
- 1/2 cup of powdered kelp
- 4 cups blackstrap molasses
Fill the tea kettle (we use 55 gal plastic drum) with water and add molasses. In a 1 gallon paint strainer bag place all other ingredients. Suspend the tea bag in the tea kettle and turn on aeration pumps to circulate and oxygenate the water. Let the tea steep for about 36 hours. Hand water plants with a 50-50 mix of rainwater and tea. Water in after application to get tea throughout the root ball.
Chicken Litter Compost and Fresh Eggs
JR says he will not have a serious garden without a flock of chickens. He says, in the day, most gardens/farms had companion animals and crops. The compost they produce makes for a great soil amendment and pot soil replenishment. If you garden, you can never have enough.
To make this work, Dough uses a deep litter system in the hen house. Chicken roost at night on perches. Their poop falls straight down to the floor which is covered in wood chips and powdered with diatomaceous earth (crushed sea shell). The powder helps dry the litter. When litter becomes thick, Dough puts out another layer of chips and powder. Repeat to get 5-6 layers. JR’s hens produce two tractor buckets of this litter, wood chip mix every 3 months.
Here we make a pile with layers of litter and other organic materials like leaves, grass, clover, wheat straw, ground limbs and a little old compost. Turn and water pile three times over a couple months and it turns to pure organic, nitrogen rich, low pH chicken litter compost. After each turn the pile will grow hot from decomposition. This high temperature of up to 140 F helps kill any seeds or pathogens in the heap.
JR’s flock also lays fresh eggs of course! They lay about 1 dozen per day! Dough loves farm fresh eggs in the morning.