Closing the nutrient loop is a long-term goal of mine.
At our old place in the Caribbean, I built cabins from scratch and was able to do some pretty impressing things with reclaiming the waste and the water that came through the house.
All the kitchen scraps were recycled into compost, as well as all the human waste. That’s right: we had a composting outhouse system and a three-bin concrete compost enclosure that did a great job of composting EVERYTHING!
The water from the kitchen also flowed back into the land, watering an island of edible plants. This is me installing the grey water processing area beside one of the cabins. That’s a Gros Michel banana pup I’m planting. It grew fantastically with the water from the house.
Yet now we are in a different situation. Like most American homes, the place where we currently rent has all of the grey water and the black water from the toilets running into a septic tank. In the cities, it would all run into a sewer. That means that mostly clean water from the shower and the toilet water run into the same place. You don’t get the water for your crops, and you don’t get the potential soil fertility of composted humanure and urine either.
As always, we still compost all our kitchen waste. We also shred paper and cardboard and compost it. Still, lost water aside, there’s a more serious nutrient gap in the system.
Fortunately, we have been able to partially fill that gap with animal manure.
I also have some plans to use the chickens intensively on the gardens, but you’ll have to wait for an upcoming video to see how we do that.
Right now, the chickens are mostly just making a mess of the mulch I put down in the Grocery Row Gardens.
It’s fun to watch them. I can’t allow the bird through the garden at other times of the year, though, as they tear everything to pieces and destroy all my transplants.
We’ve found it works better to have their scratching and turning contained to a fixed run or beneath a chicken tractor. Then we get lots of compost without losing our cabbages and mulch.
My daughter tested her courage by facing down our Orpington rooster, who has been known to attack little people:
He backed off, but then led the hens into the strawberry patch, where they started tearing up the plants.
At that point, my daughter boldly rescued the strawberries by chasing the wayward birds into the row gardens.
If you have a smaller yard, the chickens can really be a lot of trouble. They’ll make a mess of your porch and will tear up all your mulched areas.
My new idea is going to work much better. Just wait! I will share it soon.