Chickens in the Garden
Chickens in the garden – not always a helpful statement. My girls have done a fair amount of damage when they’ve been able to get into a garden bed without permission. But I am here to tell you that your chickens can be your garden ally. So let’s talk about how chickens can help you in the garden
Chickens in the Garden – Pest Control
If you have a garden, you have bugs. As an organic gardener I am always looking for better means of pest control. There is really no better garden pest patrol than a chicken. Now I should say NEVER put your girls in an bed you are currently growing; they’ll more likely eat your garden goodies than any bugs. I like to put my girls in a bed right after harvest to eat up any bugs, slugs, etc. Chickens can scratch, dig out and eat the pests and the pest larvae making a safer bed for the next round of planting.
Chickens in the Garden – Aerator
One of the benefits of allowing your hens to get in an empty bed to eat bugs…they are going to till up the soil as they search. As they
scratch and pick they are loosening and adding oxygen back into the soil. This will save you time and probably your back in the process. They can also help to mix in your fresh compost as they work. It is a big win all around.
You’ll want to “contain” the hens to your garden bed. This can be done with fencing or a chicken tractor, depending on the size and shape of your beds. If you don’t have beds a tractor will probably work the best.
Chickens in the Garden – Fertilizer
Chickens poop…a lot. What better way to get rid of it than to let it help your garden? They can be mighty fertilizers in two ways. The first is, as they are working a bed they are pooping. This fresh poo gets mixed into the soil adding nitrogen right at the source. Some people find that chicken droppings are too “hot” for planting so you may want to let the bed rest for a bit if the girls are in there for awhile. I haven’t had an issue with free chicken poo in my garden beds. Secondly is adding coop clean-up to your compost bins. This a a great nutrition boost for your compost and later your garden. Compost with chicken waste is still a great source of nitrogen, but it is toned down a bit.
Chickens in the Garden – Compost Turner
I don’t know about you, but turning compost isn’t exactly my favorite job. But my chickens love it! The same way the scratch and peck
in a garden bed, they’ll do in a compost pile. This a a great way to get the compost turned, aerated! As they turn it, oxygen is added to the pile, helping it to break down faster. But beware, they’ll eat your worms too! I often have the girls work the compost into a bed right before I plant in it; just another way that your chickens can help you!
Sure, a chicken in the garden can be a pain; but if you plan it right they can be your best garden buddy. Whether they are eating bugs or turning your compost chickens in the garden are a great idea!
How are you using chickens in your garden? Leave me a comment below!