I had a discussion last night with a friend who is very into Permaculture. He is currently enrolled in Geoff Lawton’s Online Permaculture Design course.
He was telling me all the interesting aspects of the course and how he had plans for his property. He also told me that he had some interesting thoughts which had originated in his course that can be introduced to my land. These ideas were dealing with the Poly-tunnels that I am intending to build on my land in the spring. I have been planning on contacting a local person who sells all the components required to build a Poly-tunnel, ranging from 9 meters long to 200 meters long. Using a Poly-tunnel will apparently increase my growing season by 2 months (one month on either side of the growing year). Meaning that I could then grow from October to May… an improvement on my current narrow growing season of November to April. The initial idea my friend mentioned to me last night was the use a Hot Bed inside the poly-tunnel. Apparently the heat generated by this would add an additional two months (one on either side of the growing season) to my growing calendar… meaning September to June. This is a very desirable target for me and my plans to grow enough plants for my families meals. If you are interested in learning about making a Hot Bed, I would recommend checking the Backwoods Home article on it from March 2007. Alternatively there is an interesting article at the 1812 Garden Blog, which was where I found this great image of a Hot Bed.
The second idea my friend mentioned is something I have considered previously and have discussed with Kitty. This is placing chickens inside the Poly-tunnel in the colder months. Their body warmth can add to the already warm area and extend the growing time of the season. I have thought of something similar, placing the chickens or ducks inside a Poly-tunnel over Winter. My thoughts were:
- this would provide my animals with a nice warm area to spend the winter
- Being in a warmer area may promote egg laying throughout the winter. This theory gained some weight recently when we experienced a brief warm spell and my chickens laid an egg.
- They can spend the winter eating the weeds and left overs from my garden, and manure the ground in time for spring.
It would also be a nice location for young chicks to grow over winter. It will be several months before I purchase and install the poly-tunnel, yet it is good to continue to learn new ideas and expand my plans to include them.