This photo shows the straw bales set in position on the shade cloth with the first load of alpaca manure in it.
|This shows the alpaca manure and the first load of chicken manure plus tea bags, egg shells and vegetable cuttings|
|We layer alfalfa hay alternately with horse manure, alpaca, and chicken manure because it gives extra protein in the compost and makes a very rich soil to plant vegetables in. We make sure to water each layer thoroughly so there is plenty of moisture to help it compost rapidly.|
|If you are fortunate to have a tractor like we are, then it makes it so much easier to fill the bed with manure|
|This is layering more manure on top of the layer of alfalfa hay.|
Once the raised beds are completely full we use a shovel to dig holes in the garden and bury vegetable cuttings and let them compost making sure that we water the bed periodically to help it compost more rapidly. We also dig or stir the dirt as it is composting to make sure it gets mixed together and fully composts. It usually takes about 14 days to compost these beds.
|The bed is completely filled with the various layers of manure and alfalfa hay, raked & well watered.|
The photo below shows a 6 Straw Bale Raised Garden Bed that we made in the early fall of 2011 and composted. We grew some late squash in it that was quite tasty. We recently planted some garlic in it which is already beginning to come up. We also planted sugar peas which are peeking through just barely and a couple of different kinds of squash. I'll be adding some Nasturtiums to give it a little more color plus Nasturtiums are eatable flowers that are great in salads!
After this planting we will amend the soil so it will stay rich and healthy and provide super healthy veggies!
Sometimes we add earth worms but most of the time they just appear on their own! We will have quite a few more raised beds this year. We plan to do some canning and some food dehydration as well as freezing some of our vegetables and fruit this year. So when it is time to do that, I might blog a little about food preservation.
|This is "Stormy" one of our outside "Watch Cats" I guess he thinks he's doing his job keeping the birds out of the garden!|