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Chicken friendly (or chicken proof) plants?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Halkatla, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. Halkatla

    Halkatla Out Of The Brooder

    This year Im trying my hand at both chicken keeping and gardening for the very first time, and currently Im looking for plants I can grow that are chicken friendly. My vegetables and herbs will be protected from the chickens by raised beds and nets/fences (the plan is to allow the chicken to free range the garden whenever Im there to keep an eye on them) but I would like to grow some bushes or something that the chickens can hide under, and maybe nibble on - if anything like this is at all possible without them killing the plant in one go..

    I live in Norway, so I cant grow anything too tropical or desert'ish. Average summer temperature is around 60 F apparently (though in the last few summers most days have been at least 80 F; its turning into the tropics here... global warming - hurray? :( )

    Any tips regarding hardy chicken friendly plants would be very welcome :)
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    How much space do you have for your garden? For your chicken run? How is your soil? My recommendations: get a good soil test done. Follow the recommendations for amending your soil. Will you be doing a "bed" style of garden, or standard "row" gardening? Recommended reading: Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. The Small Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery. Gardening Without Work by Ruth Stout. How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back by Ruth Stout. Other topics to consider: Back to Eden gardening, hay or straw bale gardening. Don't worry so much about planting what the chickens will like to eat. Plant what YOU like to eat. There will be plenty of left overs for them.

    When it comes to gardening, your best bet is not to let the flock into the garden until you are completely done harvesting for the season. Then, you can let them in to clean it up and prepare the soil for next season. Or, you could let them have access to one bed at a time. Let them shred the existing plant life and fertilize. Then you can just lightly scratch it up and plant again. The standard rule of thumb is that you don't want fresh chicken manure on crops that will contact their manure within 90 days of harvest. A single chicken can tear up a whole bed of vegetables faster than you can run to stop the carnage from happening. So, either fence the chickens into a run, or fence them out of your garden. Deer fencing comes in a 100' x 7' roll, and can be cut in half lengthwise with a pair of scissors (one quick snip cuts the whole roll). It makes an almost invisible fence that you can put around individual beds or your whole garden.
     
  3. Halkatla

    Halkatla Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks!

    My garden is very small, only 550 square feet. The soil I dont know much about, but atm theres only moss, short grass and an old, neglected flowerbed with some mysterious looking things growing there.

    I just moved in, and Im likely to move on in a few years, so Im not looking for some major long term stuff, just maybe a bush or two that could withstand the adventures of a couple of hens, just to give them something else than moss/grass lawn :)

    My vegetable gardening will be done in raised beds using some of these square foot gardening guidelines youre mentioning. The beds will be lined up along the southside of my house, and will be protected from the hens once I figure out how (fence, probably).

    The rest of the garden I was thinking of giving to the chickens, and Ill be keeping them in a portable tractor (with a little coop section thats safe for night time) this summer, and closer to winter, if needed, Ill look into making a pen and coop for them. Im fencing the whole garden off with electric poultry net, and when Im home Ill let them out of the tractor to ruin my moss and grass :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    If you've got moss, your soil is acid. Lime would be a great place to start. I love my electronet! If you're putting electronet around the entire garden/chook space, and treating it as a single unit, you could easily put deer netting around your garden beds. You could also overseed an area with wheat or any other crops and protect it with deer netting until it's well established to give the chickens some intense foraging. Look for some mixes of "forage mix". They're sold to hunters to plant to attract deer. There are some mixes that are mainly grains, and others that are legumes and brassicas. I'd look for a good mix of both. Sounds like you're gonna have FUN!!!
     
  5. Halkatla

    Halkatla Out Of The Brooder

    I hadnt even thought about wether or not my soil might be acid, wow, thanks! It sure helps to ask around sometimes, lol! The more I read about gardening the more I realise that I dont know anything about it at all, but yeah, it really is a lot of fun :) I'll definitely look into growing some crops for the chickens too, thats a great idea :) Thanks!
     

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