Note from Naturally Loriel: Today’s resourceful post comes from Claire over at Bloom. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Claire over the past few months as a Scratch Mommy Contributor (I edit all the content that goes out on Scratch Mommy) and I LOVE her knowledge in gardening and chickens. I love this post especially since I have mounds of chicken poop I want to use in my garden… why not, right?
If you haven’t checked her out, you MUST check out this cherry tomato vinaigrette and this hilarious and relatable post called, “Chickens Should Come With Warning Labels.” I’m so excited to have you here Claire — thanks for joining us!
When I began gardening I did a lot of research. One thing that I kept reading over and over again is that one the best compliments to a successful backyard garden is a flock of backyard chickens. Chickens aid in pest control by eating Lyme Disease carrying ticks and other bugs that might be interested in eating your garden’s veggies. And, with all this munching, hens create not just super fresh eggs, but also lots of manure.
Both of these are very good things.
So good that many longtime gardeners have even dubbed composted chicken manure, “Black Gold.”
Composted chicken manure not only helps to build the health of the soil by adding organic matter and increasing water holding capacity (good for the health of your water bill as well), but it also acts as a fantastic fertilizer adding vital nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to plants.
Good compost is made up of combination just a few elements: Nitrogen, carbon, water and air. Ideal compost is 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.
Sometimes the nitrogen elements are called “green” and carbon is called “brown.” Green elements are things like egg shells, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and fruit and vegetable scraps. Brown, or carbon, elements are items like dried leaves, twigs, and newspaper.
Chicken manure is a green element and the coops bedding (straw, sawdust, shavings) is a brown element and can be added right to your compost bin.
So, when cleaning the coop, I simply gather the bedding and droppings and place into a section of my three bin compost bin with other brown and green elements. Be sure to remember that whenever cleaning a chicken’s coop be sure to wear gloves and even mask as ammonia levels in the air can be high.
Time is compost’s best friend and is essential when using chicken manure. Raw, chicken manure is too high in nitrogen and is too “hot” to use in a garden. It will damage and even kill plants.
Ideally, compost made up of both green and brown elements should age at least sixty days. Throughout those sixty days it is important to turn the compost regularly and add moisture. When complete, it should look dark, feel crumbly, and smell like soil. If the coop bedding has not broken down all the way, it is still okay to use in your garden.
Prior to planting, gently work or till the compost into your garden beds at a ratio of three parts soil to one part compost so that they become well combined.
Even without chicken manure, compost is an excellent way support your garden and to reduce trash going to landfills. On a personal level, I absolutely love composting. It makes me feel so much better about my own foot print. Food isn’t wasted anymore. Instead, it becomes something to help me make more food!
But, thanks to my helpful hens, I know that my compost has elevated my garden’s soil creating huge, beautiful plants and incredibly successful harvests.
Claire is a City Girl Transplant that now lives on eighty panoramic acres in the country and writes for Bloom. Bloom is a local food and backyard gardening blog full of recipes and humous realities of what life is like when you own chickens… and designer shoes. Through the sarcasm and the dirt, there is an underlyng theme of growth in every sense. Claire is a longtime foodie with a career in the food industry and a passion for wholesome, home cooked meals.