Gardening With Your Chickens
Gardening and chickens go together as well as peanut butter and jelly! Chances are if you’re into raising chickens, you probably also have a green thumb, or maybe you at least want to have a green thumb but maybe haven’t had much luck gardening in the past. Chickens can help!
There are many ways chickens can help you in your gardening endeavors. Let’s start with the first step in creating a garden: choosing an area and removing the weeds and/or grass. Depending on what you want to grow in your garden, you will want to choose a location with either partial or full sunlight. Take note of the places your chickens like to hang out to sunbathe! They can point you in the right direction for the good sunny spots. Once you choose your garden plot, your chickens can help you remove weeds and their scratching and digging can remove even tough sod to reveal a clean, loose plot of soil to plant in. You can toss scratch grains in the area to encourage your chickens to scratch in one spot, or you can use a chicken tractor or fencing to keep their efforts focused on your garden area.
Next, you will want to fertilize your soil to feed your plants. Not only do chickens produce eggs for us (and/or meat), they also produce another valuable resource: poop! When cleaning out your coop, add the droppings and soiled bedding to your compost pile with leaves and other organic matter to create your own nutrient-dense source of fertilizer to add to your garden. This is a great way to be a good steward of your land by using permaculture and sustainability principles of utilizing everything to its full potential.
Now that your garden area is ready for planting, it’s time for the fun part: choosing what to grow! If you are a first-time gardener, stick with things that are easy to grow like tomatoes, zucchini, and salad greens. Anything you don’t eat, your chickens will be happy to snack on! Growing aromatic herbs and flowers throughout your garden not only adds beauty, but it can also help repel pests and invite beneficial pollinators to your garden.
You will want to keep your chickens away from your garden while your seedlings are still small because their overzealous scratching and digging may uproot your tiny sprouts. Once your plants are more mature, let your chickens help with the hard work of weeding and pest control! Turn those pests making a snack of your plants into snacks for the chickens! As your garden grows, you can continue to add compost as fertilizer to add more nutrients to the soil.
If you are an avid gardener with chickens, comment below with some of your tips and tricks! If you are hoping to start your first garden this year, let us know so we can cheer you on!
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