Gardening with chickens – it would sound like a classy new concept in homesteading and horticulture, however the actuality is that it may be a extremely efficient strategy to produce your personal meals.
You might be questioning, can chickens truly assist me with my gardening?
Sure! Chickens are glorious foragers and can eat bugs and weed seeds in your backyard. Additionally they present fertilizer by consuming high-nitrogen vegetation like clover and grass to supply droppings that include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and different vitamins.
So in the event you’re prepared to present this concept a attempt, contemplate these 20 ideas for gardening with chickens.
20 Ideas for Gardening With Chickens
1. Handle the Manure
As you would possibly count on, the largest advantage of gardening with chickens is that you just’ll have entry to an countless quantity of manure in your backyard. Chicken manure is a few of the greatest fertilizer you will discover and chickens are nice at producing it! Within the coop, it’s going to accumulate under the roost bars, beneath the nesting packing containers, and just about wherever your chickens are inclined to spend their time!
You possibly can scrape it out of the coop and use it round your vegetation. After all, you can even enable your chickens to roam freely within the backyard, the place they may deposit the fertilizer for you. In the event you do that after you’ve planted seedlings or seeds, after all, you will want to take steps to ensure the chickens don’t destroy your whole exhausting work (extra on this later).
2. Make Certain There’s Some Shade
It may get scorching in the course of the summer season in a backyard – contemplate including some vegetation that may present your chickens with shade. These tall vegetation also can defend your birds from the weather and from predators. Some good choices embody tall timber and even rose bushes. Your chickens would possibly nibble on a few of the decrease development however ought to depart the taller stuff untouched.
3. Incorporate Hardscaping
Add some chicken-friendly hardscaping to the backyard, resembling gravel paths. Chickens will take pleasure in consuming the gravel and it’ll additionally assist hold weeds down – double bonus! You may also add low stone partitions that may give the chickens a spot to perch and can present them with a spot to get their ft out of the mud in moist climate.
4. Develop a Chickens-Solely Backyard
If in case you have an unused portion of your backyard, contemplate planting it into an space that’s only for the birds! You possibly can plant wholesome treats or enable nutritious weeds, like purslane, to develop wild in your women to take pleasure in.
5. Don’t Use Pesticides or Fertilizers
In the event you can skip them, keep away from utilizing chemical substances like fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides in a backyard the place chickens will in the future roam. This may significantly hurt your chickens and in the event you resolve to eat their eggs or meat afterward, it might finally hurt you, too.
6. Make Metallic Cages
One of the vital troublesome facets of gardening with chickens is coping with the havoc they’ll wreak in your unsuspecting vegetation. Chickens, by their very nature prefer to scratch and until up each naked spot of soil they’ll discover. As you would possibly count on, this may harm or kill your whole vegetation.
To get round this, contemplate making some metallic cages made out of write fencing to assist defend your low-growing vegetation. This wire fencing will defend vegetation from rabbits and deer, too.
You may also use easy hen netting to make fences round greens which might be grown in mulch or round ones you don’t need the chickens to destroy.
7. Use Row Covers
One other method you possibly can forestall chickens from destroying your vegetation is to make tunnels out of fowl netting or tulle netting – or to easily buy store-bought row covers that you should use to guard your vegetation from the chickens. As an added bonus, you should use these covers afterward to guard your vegetation from an early or late-season frost.
8. Bust Out the Blankets
Don’t wish to spend the cash on row covers? One other method you possibly can forestall chickens from destroying your backyard is to make use of outdated blankets. These blankets will forestall chickens from tilling up cultivated beds. Simply be certain that the blankets are positioned or staked in order that they don’t come into direct contact with the vegetation themselves.
9. Keep away from Poisonous Vegetation
There are specific vegetation you need to keep away from rising in your hen backyard as they’ll make your chickens extraordinarily sick (and even kill them) in the event that they resolve to take a chunk. Some to keep away from embody:
Bleeding coronary heart
In the event you do resolve to develop these, plant them someplace during which your chickens received’t be tempted to take a chunk.
10. Train Warning with Nightshades
There’s a false impression on the market that you could simply develop nightshade crops round chickens. That’s as a result of nightshades, together with potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, include compounds which might be poisonous to chickens and different animals.
Nonetheless, you will need to word that it is just the plant components (such because the leaves and stem) which might be poisonous and never the ripened fruits themselves. Chickens will benefit from the alternative to nibble in your ripe or semi-ripe tomatoes. In some instances, they might even pattern the vegetation. Subsequently, ensure you afford your nightshade crops the identical protections you give the opposite vegetation in your backyard.
11. Use Transportable Netting
If you’d like your chickens to graze in a single space of your backyard – however not the entire thing – you possibly can set up some transportable poultry netting to maintain them contained. Limit them to only one space of the backyard with the netting and so they can free vary to their coronary heart’s content material. As a bonus, this can assist defend them from predators whereas they’re exhausting at work in your backyard.
12. Let Weeds Stay
There are some weeds that aren’t solely useful to the backyard however may also be allowed to remain put to present your chickens some meals. Take into account letting weeds like dandelions, chickweed, and purslane keep proper the place they’re – your chickens will take pleasure in munching on them and so they also can present some meals for pollinators!
13. No Plant is Rooster Proof
As we talked about earlier, it’s necessary to not get overconfident with regards to rising a hen backyard. Simply because a hen doesn’t munch on a sure plant right this moment, that doesn’t imply that she’s going to completely keep away from it tomorrow! Even when a hen doesn’t eat your plant, she nonetheless would possibly resolve to dig it up, sit on it, or harm it in different methods.
There are many vegetation which might be stated to be “hen proof” resembling junipers, candy potato vines, butterfly bushes, and decorative grasses – nonetheless, keep in mind that no plant is 100% secure.
14. Watch the Mulch
Chickens will go after nearly any plant they discover however for no matter purpose, they’re significantly drawn to vegetation which might be rising in mulch (resembling straw or hay). The most probably purpose for that is that they wish to scratch up all of the bugs and tiny critters which might be hanging out inside the thick bedding of mulch.
Whereas mulch poses many benefits to the gardener, significantly the natural gardener, you do have to be cautious about utilizing an excessive amount of of it round chickens – it could find yourself doing extra hurt than good!
15. Use Rocks
In the event you should use mulch, significantly in delicate areas resembling round perennial herbs and flowers, there’s a easy trick you possibly can attempt to cease chickens from digging up what you’ve planted. Merely mulch across the vegetation with flat stones! It will cease the chickens from attending to your tender vegetation, although they may, after all, nonetheless until the mulch in different areas of the mattress.
16. Thoughts the Garden
Conserving chickens in your backyard is one factor – permitting them to hang around in your garden is one other completely. Complete hen manure is an excellent fertilizer that may finally result in a pleasant, lush inexperienced garden, it may be exhausting in your grass. In the event you let chickens graze your garden, you could wish to contemplate rotationally grazing them in order that they don’t fully decimate a complete part .
17. Backyard and Graze in Zones
If you recognize you wish to present your chickens with free entry to the backyard however don’t need them to destroy fragile seedlings and until up freshly planted seeds, a straightforward strategy to have the very best of each worlds is to graze in zones. Let your chickens graze round tomatoes and peppers solely early within the season, earlier than there are any fruits, and transfer them to a different space as soon as these vegetation begin to produce ripening fruits.
18. Take into account Clipping Wings
Sadly, the draw back to most of the modifications that we’ve talked about above is that they solely work in case your chickens don’t fly over the fences you’ve erected. To forestall them from doing this, contemplate clipping their wings.
Don’t fear – this received’t hurt your chickens in any respect. All you will want to do is clip the chickens’ flight feathers on one aspect in order that they’re imbalanced and might’t “catch air!” to fly.
19. Work the Perimeter
Love the thought of getting your chickens hand around in the backyard however don’t wish to hold sorting them? You possibly can fertilize simply the outskirts of the backyard and let your chickens go to city on slugs and grasshoppers by constructing a fringe fence across the outdoors of the backyard.
20. Use Raised Beds
When tall sufficient – and maybe when paired with chickens whose wings have been clipped – you should use raised beds to maintain your vegetation secure and permit your chickens to work the realm round these beds as a substitute. Plus, it’s much less labor-intensive for you, since raised beds minimize down on loads of the weeding, fertilizing, and different chores related to gardening straight within the floor.
Advantages of Gardening With Chickens
Yard chickens could be an necessary asset for the backyard. Chickens like to eat bugs, slugs, and different pests that destroy vegetation. Additionally they scratch the bottom as they peck for meals or bugs which helps with aeration within the soil and will help flip up weed seeds.
Plus, chickens are pure fertilizer factories-they produce droppings wealthy in nitrogen and potassium. This implies you’ll have much less want for chemical fertilizers (and naturally, for herbicides and pesticides, as talked about above).
There are numerous advantages to gardening with chickens. Now that you recognize the various methods you may get your feathered buddies concerned within the backyard, it’s time to purchase your vegetation and get began this spring!