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Toxic Plants in Compost

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by MEMama3, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. MEMama3

    MEMama3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My routine is to throw my compost into my vegetable garden at the end of the growing season, work it in really well and let it sit over the winter. This year I figured I'd let the chickens work it in. My problem is that I have not been discerning about what I put in the compost. Primarily concerning cuttings from toxic plants. They are already partially broken down and will continue to breakdown until fall. Do you think I need to worry about the chickens getting sick?
     
  2. No.
     
  3. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree. I've heard of some chickens eating poisonous baits and things like that but unless you throw something in the compost that is a chemical poison I don't think you have anything to worry about. I do the same thing with my compost. I spread it on (hardly broken down at all) and then rototil. Then I let my monsters in to be el destructos. They are the best grub and bug eaters and compost makers ever.

    I've watched my hens over the years, especially when I'm outside with them watching them free range. Some mushrooms they eat. Others they pass by completely. I've seen them eat horseradish leaves and rhubarb leaves. I know rhubarb leaves are poisonous and I would never give them leaves in their pen but they do eat a piece or two when they are roaming around. It's never hurt them.

    One compost hint I have is one I tried last winter and will do again this year. I have a 12x8 dog run with a tarp roof. In the late fall I push it up against one of their pop doors and use chicken wire to close off the area between the run and the coop. Leave access for the people door. I then wrap the outside of the run with greenhouse plastic. You can order remnants on line that are cheat. I added grommets to the top of the plastic (cheat set from hardware store) and used zip ties from the dollar store to attach to the dog run. At the bottom I used old 2x4's to lay on the plastic all around the bottom and placed rocks on top of that. The plastic was 2 feet too long so it was anchored nicely. After the first snow and the weather gets cold note of this is going to be able to move because it's so frozen.

    During the fall I save leaves in the paper bags. Initially I add about 5 inches of leaves to the run and when the weather is too bad for the chickens to go out in their open run I let them out in the covered dog run. They scratch and poop to their hearts content. I add vegetable scraps through the winter and leftovers from the refrigerator. I also sprinkle scratch. Depending on how often they are in the run and how productive they are I add 2 more bags of leaves.
     
  4. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By the time spring rolls around and the run is no longer frozen to the ground I rake the inside and I have about 5 or 6 wheelbarrows full of finely crumbled gold. This skips the compost pile and goes right to the garden. Last year I ran out of leaves so this year I'll save more. The best way to collect leaves is to run them over with a lawnmower first and then use the bagger to bag the leaves and store. You get a lot more leaves this way.

    Once in a while during the winter you will have to rake some of the leaves back to the center of the run but it gives you some quality time with your chickens. If a puddle is a problem I just use a trowel to make a small channel to drain any water down hill.

    This works great. If anyone has any questions you can PM me and please let me know if anyone has tried this or is going to.
     
  5. MEMama3

    MEMama3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love that idea. I planned to do something similar with the run. You should see the girls out there tearing up the compost heaps I put in the garden this morning. You can't even tell they were 3' tall piles a few hours ago!
     
  6. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello in Maine. I'm in Southern New Hampshire. I'm looking for more hens just in case you know of anyone who has them.

    I had to smile when you said your girls tore down 3' piles today. I think my girls are programmed to knock down anything that is over a few inches tall. I swear I can hear them yell 'charge!' when something is piled up. [​IMG]
     
  7. MEMama3

    MEMama3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Heaven forbid I try to rake up droppings on the lawn while their still out. They will even flatten a pile of their own poop. Crazy! I'll keep my ears open to anyone in our area with hens. I'm not sure how far away the maine swaps are from you, but there is always great selection and great prices. I'm not sure if they are doing them in NH right now.
     
  8. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Salem Oregon
    My chickens eat all sorts of plants that are toxic to humans including all the leaves off of three huge rhubarb plants while we were on vacation last spring. the only thing in my compost that was ever an issue was avocado, including the skins, pits or overripe fruit, as they are know to be toxic to all birds. I put them into my worm bin now, the worms love them.
     
  9. 4mybcs

    4mybcs Out Of The Brooder

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    My chickens love to scratch around under the Oleander bushes. I don't think they eat the plant, they are just looking for bugs. They seem to be decerning enough. I am careful to not put any Oleander into my compost though. I'm concerned about adding that toxin to my garden.
     

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