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CHICKEN-ASSISTED COMPOSTING

Chickens are great but they can also help you to mak great compost, says Andrew Davenport

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Compost and earth from different parts of the run are added to the pile

Several years ago the notion occurred to me that as a keen composter and keeper of chickens, my feathered friends should be employed to transform our garden waste to fertile compost for the garden.The concept is nothing new and Lady Eve Balfour, founder of the Soil Association, discussed this briefly in her book The Living Soil in 1943.The virtues of well-rotted chicken manure are well known as highly fertile plant food with a good nitrogen content and relatively good trace mineral content. It is also regarded as a good compost activator. My first attempt involving the addition of spent hops and horse manure in the chicken run didn’t produce the results I desired with the materials changing very little over several months. If anything the ground had soured and the materials had an unpleasant odour.

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INCLUDING EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS The autumn harvest is under way, which begs the question – what am I going to do with all those surplus crops? Well read on and worry no more, for on page 61 KG regular Ben Vanheems brings you a comprehensive guide to drying fruit and veg – a great way to fill the store cupboard with nutritious goodies. Continuing the theme, top chef Anna Pettigrew has some super recipes and good advice as to how to store some of our most prolific treasures. Deputy editor Emma Rawlings looks at bounty of a different type as she encourages us all to ditch our green waste bins and to compost as much garden refuse as we can, turning it instead into a rich soil conditioner. Grapes have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but with a few top tips from fruit specialist David Patch you’ll soon see how easy they can be. Plus veg expert Rob Smith reveals that there is more to garlic than you may have realised as he urges you to add giant elephant and pungent wild varieties to your growing repertoire. Steve Ott, editor