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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Use The Chicken Run And Other Fencing To Grow A Verticle Garden

Some say chickens and gardens cannot coexist but that isn't true. If you are smarter than the chickens, and take a few extra steps, you can raise chickens and have a prolific garden in the same space.


When you garden on a small urban lot, every inch of soil counts. When I added a chicken coop and run to our yard, I lost some of that valuable planting real estate. After the first year of getting used to raising chickens, I decided to try to use that wonderful vertical fencing that was sitting right in my back yard. Problem was, I had chickens on the other side of that fence and they will try and devour anything green they can reach.

Through trial and error, I came up with a way to grow vegetables along the fence of my chicken run. Grass runs along the outside of the run so I had to plant on the inside. Protection of the new seedlings from the chickens was my first task. The soil was already wonderfully loose and amended with lots of chicken droppings so I was good to go there. I did dig a nice big loose hole and drop some compost on the bottom so the roots could grow down and not out and not be harmed by the chickens scratching the nearby soil.

Hardware cloth, chickens wire and small roll out fencing from the hardware store is your friend. I strategically place it in areas that I need to protect the plants from my chickens.

protect-plants-from-chickens

First, I created a semi circle form about 18 inches high out of hardware cloth. I have bantams so you may need to make your form higher to prevent standard breeds from getting at your plants. I planted the seedlings, climbing vines are the best for this, and then placed the wire form around and right up to the fence and used some wire to secure the form to the metal chicken run fencing. Chickens will dig up anything they can get to as well so I place protection all around the base of the plants. I used wood logs at first but have since switched to bricks to make a more attractive growing area.

chicken-coop-garden
Pumpkins and cucumbers grow along chicken coop fence.
Now you sit back and watch your veggies grow. For the most part the chickens just ignore the plants. Once the plants get higher than the plant munchers can reach, they take off and provide beauty, food and additional shade in the summer for the chickens. So far I have grown cucumbers, squash and pumpkins along the fence and even tomatoes one year that grew from the seeds of tomatoes I had thrown in the run for the chickens to eat. If you are worried the fruit will be too heavy for the vine, create little slings out of old fabric scraps or nylons you can tie up around the fruit. Makes a great conversation piece when people try and figure out what is hanging in little hammocks along the run. If the chickens happen to get some leaves, then all the better. It is all just a part of learning to garden with chickens successfully in a small space but it can be done and be beautiful at the same time.

2 comments:

Patricia @ Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

I've seen pictures of your chicken run garden before. Until today, I didn't realize you planted on the inside with the little cages around them. Great use of the fertile ground!
I haven't planted anything around our coop/ chicken house. I have bed boxes with cheap little dollar store fences to keep the chickens out-- and right now all my vining veggies are trailing those little fences.
I HOPE THEY HOLD!
This is another one of your great ideas for MAXIMIZING you urban garden plot!

Nancy LittleHomesteadinBoise said...

I use rabbit fencing, cut into small cages. They work great, and I roll them up out of season and store for next year....

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