Skinflint Sunday: Grow your own chook food. (Plus other things I’ve been doing.)

A while ago I bought some Clucker Tucker from Green Harvest. I fished the sunflower seeds out and then hot-footed it up to the $2 shop and bought some wire baskets. The theory is that you anchor the baskets down, the plants grow up through the wires and the gerls eat what pokes through. They can’t get to the roots of the plants to kill them so (in theory anyway) the plants last for ages and the gerls get fresh greens.
At first I thought I’d have to buy some tent pegs to hold the baskets down. Then after a day or two I actually used my brain.


I grabbed a couple of wire coat hangers and got David2 to cut them like this for me. Mini tent pegs! I figure that seeing as the chooks are lacking in the opposable thumb area this should be suffient to hold the baskets down.

So I was all set. I had the baskets. I had the “tent pegs”. I had the seeds.

Then for an inexplicable reason I waited for 4 weeks before I did the final step. I don’t know why. I really think I’m a “strike while the iron is hot” kind of gardener. Stupid really.

But anyway, I went to a Permaculture get together with a new group (more about that in a sec) and I came home all enthused. While we were there we swapped seeds and the owner of the garden went mad over the Clucker Tucker. Made me feel pretty dumb that I hadn’t done anything with it yet. So as soon as I got home I raced out to the chook run and let them out, then shut the door in their faces when they wanted to come back in to see what I was doing.

I harnessed my inner handy-man and tied the two baskets together with some black plastic ties that I had left over from making the poisonous wicking beds fences, then I scratched the earth slightly, sprinkled the seeds on the ground and then anchored the baskets. I think I was lucky that this was the area that Mick had dug out to lay the pipes for my water tank, because the ground was pretty easy for the wire to penetrate. Then I sprinkled some potting mix over the top and watered it in.

There’s only one patch in the chook run that gets sun once the Mystery Tree is in leaf, so this is where I’ve planted the seeds and the arrowroot. So far the arrowroot is yet to emerge. I’m thinking it might be a bit too cold, but time will tell.

Anyway, another job done! I’ve got a mental list in my head of all the things I need to do, and it feels so good to not have to think of things again as I do them. It’d be even better if the list got smaller and smaller and then disappeared entirely as I got everything done, but for some reason that’s never happened. Yet.


Permaculture advocates mixed plantings, even half-arsed ones like this. Sunflowers, lettuce and a couple of onions. I moved this pot more into the sun and the sunflowers have really taken off. Funny, that.


Here’s my pot of borage, going yellow from the ph10 compost. (Re-repotting all my herbs is on the agenda for today.) I’ve never seen it growing before so I was very interested to see it growing in the front yard of the house I went to yesterday. The South East Suburbs Permaculture Group had a meet and greet, so I went along to see what it was all like.

I had a lovely time! Very similar to the gardening group that we have, with like-minded people talking about food growing, organic principles and permaculture ways and means. I knew I was in the right place as soon as I got out of the car because I could hear their chickens in the front yard.

Keith and Marg have a great garden on a block similar in size to mine. They’ve already done what I someday want to do, which is utilise the front yard to provide food. Their yard is situated in the same way as mine, so it was very interesting to see what they’ve done. I came home with branches of borage for the chooks…
Apparently you can put the blue flowers in ice cubes and it looks pretty. Something for me to try.

I also came home with some wormwood cuttings. I had a plant in the front yard that I was going to take cuttings from to put in the chicken run, but when we did the massive gardening and mulch thing, one of the boys helpfully pulled up the whole plant and threw it away. So I’ve started these cuttings and we’ll see how we go. I also brought back a few different seeds, so another of today’s jobs will be to start those off.

I also got energised and started to repot my poor tomato seedlings. I went back to the soil supplier yesterday, bringing a ph tested sample glowing with purple and he said that he was waiting to hear back from the people that actually make the compost. He said he’d supply me with sulphur for fix it but he wants to see if they have a quicker fix before he does anything.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t help the plants I’ve already got here that are dying. So I planted up 3 big pots with a tomato, a couple of basil plants and some beetroot.
These ones also have radish seeds sprinkled through as a bit of living mulch while everything is small. The green you can see is snail bait. It was raining last night and I didn’t want to take any chances.

The tomatoes are really too small to be planted out but at least this way they have a sporting chance to survive.
Speaking of giving things a sporting chance, here’s how the waxflower that had a planting tube still in it is going. It has a slight yellowy tinge so I’m not sure about its long-term fate but at the moment it’s putting up a good fight.


I pulled some more leaf curled leaves from my dwarf nectarine. Is it worthwhile doing this or should i just leave them? Next year I know to spray with copper spray in August.

Here’s a bird that was attracted to the garden. Evan4 was invited to a “Secret Garden” party, so while I was Permaculturing he raided the linen cupboard, cut up a sheet that I was saving for a quilt back *sigh* and bought a mask.
Looks effective with the dreads, doesn’t it? When he came home last night he said that he was the only guy to be in costume, but he didn’t care. It made the girls notice him more…

This entry was posted in chickens, Fruit trees, gardening, Skinflint, vegetables, wicking beds. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Skinflint Sunday: Grow your own chook food. (Plus other things I’ve been doing.)

  1. Katrina says:

    Trying to think of all the plants Dad has growing in his chook run (I reckon he fenced off along one side so they could get growing to a big enough side that the chooks couldn’t destroy then) Borage, wormwood – He grows maize outside the chook run to feed to them, along with sunflowers as well as tree lucerne

  2. Jayne says:

    I love the idea of the clucker tucker!!
    *sigh* You inspire me but I sadly fail to live up to your standards lol.

  3. Janet says:

    Borage flowers are lovely in a punch – if there is something acidic, some of them will turn pink. Also splendid looking avocado tree you have there – there is a big one in street in Brunswick that I used to walk past that even had avocados on it!

  4. Liz says:

    I still can’t get over the tent peg coat hanger inspiration – so obvious and yet so inspired. I use quite a lot of tent pegs in the garden – from now on its coat hangers all the way!

  5. river says:

    I love the sound of clucker Tucker.
    Did you know that Borage flowers can also be used in salads and teas? And the flowers are pink when they first open, purple as they change colour, finally becoming that lovely blue.
    I’ve featured photos of the ones I had on my blog somewhere.

    When my last lot of veg didn’t do so well, I wish I’d thought to PH test the mix.

  6. Jan says:

    And did you know that once the borage is established you will have borage here, there and everywhere else for ever? Much the same with lemon balm and comfrey.

  7. Jan says:

    On the other hand you will have lots of bees as they love borage.

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