Saturday, March 23, 2019

Greenhouse/Potting Shed

I Love This Time of Year

Yesterday we were blessed with another beautiful spring day, and this morning, I am feeling it!  But, I was finally able to get into the front section of our greenhouse/chicken coop combo and get some stuff done.  And I couldn't be happier with the results.

On this side of our greenhouse we store the chickens feed, and also plan 
on potting the seeds here.  This photo, and all those on this page was taken 
from within the chicken coop portion of our structure. 
This past fall I made a decision that I wanted to have a space here that would allow me to start some plants each spring, keep them growing, and maybe even have a little space to grow some things in the ground but with some protection.  It didn't take me long to realize that our existing old greenhouse would be perfect.  It was after all a fully functional greenhouse.

However, I had been using it for a chicken coop pretty much ever since we moved in here.  which is a role that is serves exceptionally well by the way.  I got the idea from Joel Salatin at Polyface farms and have been housing my chickens and rabbits in this greenhouse every winter.  But there is one problem with it, at least the way that I have been doing it, and that is the dust.
Here you can see the black bark mulch that we used for 
the floor.  Its thick enough to keep us from walking in the 
mud that may result from our gardening efforts, and should
help keep some moisture in the soil once we plant inside
the space. 

I like to use the deep litter method in my chicken coops, mostly for the great resource it generates for our compost piles.  So anywhere I house chickens I lay out tons of carbon rich materials right on the floor.  All of my coops have open floors to the ground under them, so there is access to whatever soil life there might be.  I throw straw, shredded paper, sawdust, fall leaves etc. in mass and then make sure to throw scratch grains out often.  This gets the chickens scratching, which turns the manure into the carbon mix and we have virtually no smell as a result of this approach.  Its a great system....but it generates the dust storm mentioned before if you don't keep the whole thing slightly damp and when its freezing outside, that's hard to do.

It was for this reason that the old chain link gate had to be replaced with a new wall across the middle of the coop.  If I was going to try and grow food in this space, I had to try and find a way to keep the dust in check to some extent so the seedlings and plants weren't dusted daily when the chickens were present at least until they move out into their summer homes. I scrounged around and found some old metal roofing that would make a perfect, water proof wall and within an afternoon had a functional wall that would at least offer a chance at keeping the dust in check.

This is where I plan to do most of the growing.  Its the east side of the structure,
so it should get the most afternoon light.  The brown dirt under the temporary
saw horse table is for growing plants in the ground.
Yesterday I finally found time for the total clean out of the front portion of this coop that it had been needing for growing activities to begin.  It was still covered in dust from before and the floor needed  some attention as well if I was going to be growing and watering in that space.  So I took everything out and hosed the entire space down..... and I mean all of it.  I sprayed the walls, the roof, the shelves, and the floor.  I watched the brown liquid come from places I couldn't have imagined and just kept flooding that space until it felt clean enough to grow in.  Once the puddles started forming I covered the floor with a thick layer of old landscaping mulch we had laying around from two or three years ago.  It happens to be black which might help it absorb some heat from the sun on nice days and just like that, an old dusty shed was transformed into a potting shed ready for spring planting!  I cannot wait to get out there in the next few days and get some seeds started!

I am working on a short video of this project and once I have it uploaded, I will be sure to get it posted here as well.  As always, there is more information over at our original web site which you can view here

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