Spring is the time to clean up, organize and branch out. Shake last fall’s soil off your garden gloves, and transform your yard before summer arrives.

Chickens: Backyard Barnyard

From March to May, feed stores around Oregon will be animated with the sounds of cheepcheeping chicks. Enliven your household this spring with a flock of your own. No matter how small your yard, there is likely room for a few chickens. A chicken needs four square feet of indoor space per bird, plus an outdoor run. Purchase a coop such as the Reclaimed Cedar Chicken Coop (above) from Wright Design Office (wrightdesignoffice.com). Benefits? Fresh eggs, nitrogen-rich manure for your compost pile and one less item on the grocery list.

Plenty of omelets: a chicken can lay up to nine eggs in ten days.


• Check ordinances to be sure you are following all regulations.

• Keep only hens—roosters can be loud and aggressive.

• Hens need to rest in a structure at least one foot off the ground.

• Clean the coop once a week.

• Be sure to wire the new coop for artificial lighting if you want hens to lay eggs year-round. They will need 10 hours of manufactured light per day in winter.

Compost: Gardeners’ Gold

Compost is the best nourishment for any garden. Compost is also a great way to dispose of organic matter without dumping it in a landfill. Add a thin layer of compost (about two inches) to the top of your soil for a rich and healthy growing season. Key ingredients? Nitrogen- (grass clippings, coffee grounds) and carbon-rich (sawdust, dry leaves) items, aeration and water.

Basic Steps for Beginners

1. Buy a compost tumbler from your local garden store. This method yields compost fastest and easiest.

2. Add base layer of carbon-rich matter.

3. Each day, add a layer of carbon-rich items, followed by a layer of nitrogen-rich items. Alternate adding layers of nitrogen- and carbon-rich items. Carbon or “green matter:” Add yesterday’s food scraps to the tumbler and turn the tumbler one turn. Nitrogen or “brown matter:” Clean up the debris that accumulated in your yard over the winter. Sticks and crunchy leaves are a great start to a compost pile. If you run out of debris, you can also add droppings from your chickens and/or sawdust from the local lumberyard.

4. Finally, don’t forget to sprinkle some water in the tumbler frequently. The compost should have the moisture content of a wrung dish towel.