Chickens in the Garden January 27, 2012

chickens in the garden weeding

White and Buff Silkies weeding

Chickens in the garden can be a blessing to those who don’t believe they have a green thumb, who get easily overwhelmed in the garden, or just don’t look forward to the clean up and prep work that goes with gardening. Your little fowl friends can be the most handy tool to have in your garden. If you think this isn’t possible, and have damaged tomatoes and pecked-at squash to discount my theory, hear me out!

Your poultry aren’t very picky about what they get in your garden, whether its digging for larva/grubs in the dirt around your plant’s root system or nibbing bites out of your fresh lettuce.  Here are some DOs and DON’Ts of getting your birds to work for you.

Chickens in the Garden DOs:

  • Allow your chickens in the garden all year using a tractor so you have bug control and weed control all season. This will also protect your produce from pecking damage.
  • Allow your chickens to fertilize your garden in the fall. This gives time for that good manure to age so it won’t burn the roots of your plants when they start growing in the spring.
  • Allow your chickens to dig and turn your soil when seasonal plants are through producing. They’re removing unwanted bugs, bug eggs, weeds, weed seeds and they’re aerating your soil for you. This will cut down on bugs and weeds that come back in the spring.

Chickens in the Garden DON’Ts:

  • Allow your chickens in the garden to free range during production season. Chickens will peck and taste test your ripening produce, or pull up your favorite daisy to get some worms around the plant’s root system.
  • Allow your chickens within your garden when seedlings are freshly planted. The slightest damage to young seedlings will stop their growth. You can cover your fragile plants with row cover or bird fencing to give your birds more freedom if you chose.

You can also reserve some special space in your garden just for your chickens. Choose plants that your chickens will love, and you will plant just for your little feathered friends.  Simply chose hardy perennials your chickens will enjoy, and start from seed in early spring.

These happy birds will have had a wonderful adventure in the garden, while you saved time and your back, from the unsavory work.

Chickens in Moveable Tractor

One Comments
Debby February 3rd, 2012

I couldn’t agree more on the benefits of chickens and gardening. I have a fenced large garden enclosure that has a door access directly to the large chicken yard. During the winter, I leave the doors between the two open so that the entire flock can go bach and forth in the remnants of the garden, foraging and eating the remaining leaves and plant materials from the season’s vegetables. A nice benefit of this is that they fertilize while they forage and scratch up and aerate the soil as well. Chickens are the best garden friends, as long as they are supervised.

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