You all know I love to garden and love raising my chickens so finding a balance and what works has been very important to me for a successful chicken garden.
Successful gardening with chickens was a goal I was going to reach. I was not willing to give over my small backyard to the chickens to destroy, and trust me they will if you don't take steps, but I want to allow them some free range time to eat grass which is a constant source of greens year round for them where we live.
Plus, the chickens have cut the bugs in my yard and the light tilling of soil and bit of nitrogen that they leave behind has resulted in my fruit trees leaving out so healthy and lush this spring.
We have one tree that has always had some slight infestation each spring but this year I swear the tree is so healthy that is seems to have fought off what usually affects it. I do not spray. Goes to show that really healthy organic soil helps plants thrive so well that they fight off a lot of pests and problems.
Fencing them in was a must. You can see the post on our fencing here. I head out a little after sunrise each day to let them roam the garden four a couple of hours. They wander back into the coop to lay but this works best for me because chickens are noisy in the mornings some days with their egg songs and clucking and roaming the planters and scratching for bugs helps keep them distracted.
Last year the chickens ate up my pots. This year I have planted fewer pots but those that I have put in the yard are taller. Keeping them off of low pots is important. You can see a little munching on my calendulas.
I have learned to find what they will leave alone and what they will devour. By the way they love begonias. I will not plant those in the back any longer.
I place a lot of pots in the planters to fill in and keep the chickens guided where I want them. Can you see the little green garden fence? I put it around the little area I wanted to plant some seeds in. So far they have managed to stay out of it. They have access to enough planters to scratch in. Putting stones or objects around the base of small plants has helped keep them from being dug up.
The chickens seem to leave my shrubs alone. Not even eating them. I have been planting some more lavender to deter flies and geraniums as the chickens seem to hate them.
You can see in the shot below more little green fence. In this shot I have planted pumpkin, squash and the round screen thingy in the back is potatoes. I started slips myself and just dump some compost down in there when I need to cover more of the plants. At the end of summer I will just lift the cylinder and dig for my potatoes and then spread the soil that was in there.
Must haves for a successful chicken garden:
1. Pick up some small flexible metal garden fencing to temporarily block off areas of the garden.
2. Surround delicate plants with a piece of hardware cloth you make a cylinder of.
3. Large rocks placed around the base of small trees and shrubs will help keep the chickens from scratching at delicate roots.
4. Flexible plastic fencing can work to surround larger garden beds.