hores on crow time is how the winter goes around here. During the summer we barely see the crows until late summer when the crickets are plentiful, a nesting pair stays near, but for the most part they head to more lucrative pastures in crow speak. But wintertime is different, they hang out here, and stick close. If I lose track of time and hear the crows heading home in the afternoon, I know I better get busy and get my chores done as the crows are going home to roost on the mountain.
I really like what they do with the sheet mulch in the garden. Once the manure has aged to a certain stage, they set to work on it, looking for insects and any stray oats that made it through Jane. Last year I sheet mulched too heavily (read didn’t spread, just dumped) and paid for it all summer long. This year I vowed to spread the wheelbarrow piles daily or at least weekly. My goal was to have certain areas covered by the first of the year, so I could meet the 120 day organic guideline for adding fresh manure to a vegetable growing area. Well, I did pretty good at spreading, for a little bit… and then I just left it. Little jobs have a way of turning into big jobs :( Yesterday I spread all the piles so I could get caught up with this project.
What I’m applying is mostly straw, cow manure and a little bit of urine soaked fir shavings. I find it to be a perfect mix for long-term soil building here. This is one of those trade-offs I mentioned in a comment in the previous post. I can’t bring in ramial wood ( without great expense that is) or make it easily because of the mid- elevation, western hemlock, Douglas fir forest zone I live in, so conifer shavings it is. The main objective is that I am trying to make a good bed for Jane, not enhance the garden so much. I think moderation is the key, obviously I’m not going crazy and ONLY adding conifer shavings to the garden, I know all about the white rot vs. brown rot, and when to back off on the addition of shavings to my garden. Each gardener has to make the best decision about amendments that are native to their particular area. Ramial wood is great in theory if that is the abundant available material, otherwise, it doesn’t make a lot of sense if you’re trying to be practical.
I seeded this portion of the garden with cover crop rye in October and then proceeded to sheet mulch. I did get this spread on a timely basis and now the crows have worked it over even more, spreading the cow pies pretty evenly. The rye is continuing to grow through the light mulch and this area looks the best. You can see the piles that need spreading beyond the dogs and the mangel rows.
One downside of sheet mulch or even cover crop is that is does make a cozy vole habitat. I saw two voles get chomped yesterday, I have no idea how many there really are. But that’s another trade-off, I need to replace what the vegetables take from the soil, so I feel I need to cover crop and add amendments even if it helps the voles a bit. It helps me a whole lot more.
I really do like how the crows remedy the manure spreading conundrum here in our winter pasture and gardens. I don’t think that is what the Black Crowes had in mind though when they released this song ;)