Gardening with ChickensDo you enjoy gardening? If so, you may be wondering how your chickens can help you out here. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing: is it practical to maintain a compost pile while keeping chickens? Fortunately there are a number of ways you can go about your gardening.
Utilising Your Flock -Tips & Ideas
Not everyone can let their flock free-range in their yard, but keeping chickens in a run does have its benefits. Chickens lay eggs but there's more they can do for you! This is what I do:
All edible food scraps
Manure (from both rabbits and chickens)
Whatever the chickens don’t eat in their run decomposes over time. Every few days I scoop up any manure and add it to the compost. In the end, I have two renewable sources of fertile soil. You may think that giving all the scraps to the chickens is a waste of nutrients, but at the end you’ve got plenty of poo so it’s really a win-win situation. The chickens can’t wreck the garden but I get the manure.
Whenever I want some new soil for planting, I toss a chicken into the compost bin and within 15 minutes the soil is beautifully mixed and tilled, ready for potting. I love my chickens!
Using Chicken Manure in Your Garden
Chicken manure can be a great fertiliser for your plants if you use it properly. You can’t just dump it around your plants. It is so strong that it will burn them if they are too young or small. That’s why I add it to my compost and over time, as more material is piled on top, its qualities give the compost a huge boost. My bin has openings at the bottom of all four sides, so the best soil which is at the very bottom, is easy to shovel out.
Rabbit poo is my favourite kind of manure! It’s small, dries quickly and it’s odourless. I usually add this straight into the soil around my plants. I grow tomatoes, beans and capsicums and they thrive on rabbit poo. Other times I add several handfuls of poo to a container half-full of water and leave it for around 48 hours, stirring every once in a while. At the end I give the brown nutritious liquid to my plants and tip the leftover poo into the compost.
Growing a Garden Patch in Your Chook Yard
Right now I'm in the process of growing out grass for a section in my chickens' run. They love to forage (of course) but they've eaten every blade of grass in the run. I chose a section of the run which I can block off while I prepare the mini chicken garden. I uprooted quite a bit of grass and put it in a container of water. As it grows, the roots are linking together to form what resembles a piece of turf. By the time I plant it, it will be easy to lift out and plant in one piece in the soil. I've had success in the past with this method and although it is slow and gradual, at the end the grass is a lot stronger than it otherwise would have been. Choosing this particular part of the run was a good idea because I can fence off the area as needed. It's also the place where the rabbit manure is washed out which is a bonus.
I know there are many more gardeners on BYC, so if you're one of them feel free to offer suggestions for this article. If you have any questions, ask in the comments!