Chickens in the garden

Garden Chickens

Last week, I posted about my back yard chickens.  Mostly, I focused on the egg a day I get from each of them during warm weather.  While fresh eggs are a definite benefit of having chickens, it’s not the only reason to have them.

Chickens in the gardenAnother good reason to have chickens is that they can potentially help you with gardening chores.  When the growing season is over and you are ready to put your garden to bed for the fall and winter.  All you need to do is release your chickens into your garden and they will clean up almost everything.  They dig up the plants, they scratch in the soil which loosens and aerates it.  They leave their droppings in the dirt which fertilize the soil.chickens enjoying shadeOf course, the chickens don’t differentiate between the annuals you want pulled up and the perennials that you want left in the ground.  My chickens killed my artichoke plants and dug up my strawberries that had been growing for five years.   I read an article in an organic gardening magazine about an everlasting berry patch, and it was working until the chickens helped with the gardening chores.  Of course, my chickens aren’t alone in this destructive behavior.  If you recall, one of our dogs devoured the avocado tree, and the grape vines, and….  I can’t think of anything else right now, but I’m sure he ate something else.  Chicken in the shade of the squashIf left unsupervised, a small flock of chickens can destroy landscaping.  They need to be confined except when supervised.  They can turn your yard into a wasteland in record time if they are allowed unrestricted access to the entire yard.  At least, that’s what happens here in the Mojave Desert.  chickens playing soccerIf you want your chickens to help put your garden to bed, you need to limit their access to only the area that you want cleared, aerated, and fertilized.  This can be accomplished by putting temporary fencing of some sort around either the area you want them to clear or around the area you want to protect from them.  As long as you keep this in mind, having chickens is a great garden help.

Another good thing about having chickens is that now I have somewhere to toss all of the tomato horn worms that I pull of off my tomato plants.  I just toss them over the fence and the chickens fight over them.  Apparently, tomato horn worms are a delicacy for chickens.  Personally, I think they’re disgusting looking creatures.tomato horn worm on the side of the houseThis tomato horn worm apparently got lost on its way to the tomato patch and ended up on the wall.    This meant that he went to the chickens with an empty stomach.

The chickens get to eat any deformed squash, like the ones invaded by squash boring beetles, and their manure goes into my compost piles.  I really love my chickens.  They are very useful pets and help us in so many ways.   If you’re thinking about getting some chickens, you should check out BackYardChickens.com.  Their site has tons of interesting and helpful information about caring for chickens.

Have you ever considered having chickens?  Leave a comment and let us know.

Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.

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