Veggie Gardens and Chickens! Tell about or show me pics of yours.....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by firsthouse_mp, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. firsthouse_mp

    firsthouse_mp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 13, 2009
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    I have never had a veggie garden and chickens at the same time. This coming Spring/Summer will be our first time merging the two in our backyard. I am very curious whether we will be battling eachother over what they are allowed to eat. Because of the way our veggie beds are configured, it will be very hard to fence in the different raised beds....they are not all lined up, but are in an "L" shape wrapped around the coop.

    Normally our hens have free rein of the backyard and they have yet to destroy our plants or our lawn which I hear is very unusual. Somehow they seem to always migrate to the far corner of the yard where they scratch and dig to their heart's content--fine by us as it's an unused corner.

    So, how do you protect your raised beds? Build moveable screens to cover them?
    Will they destroy a bean pole teepee before it's large enough to produce?
    If I put in 8" tall edging around some lettuce, will they jump over this? (I saw a pic where someone did this and somehow they claimed it held the hens out of the bed!)

    Would love to hear your experiences!

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  2. Ohhhdear

    Ohhhdear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 15, 2010
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    Expect your beans to be chicken fodder, along with tomatoes, lettuce, swiss chard, potatoes, and most flowers. 8 inch barriers won't deter chickens; you need at least 4 feet. I had my beans staked, too... you should have seen the girls jump vertically to reach the leaves!

    The only way I kept my garden from being eaten was to surround it with 4' fencing. Your raised beds might survive if you put hoops over them and cover the hoops with staked down bird netting or mesh. However, keep in mind if they can potentially perch on a hoop they will, and probably fly up and over your fence. You will probably also want to clip the flight feathers on one wing of each bird.

    The only plants in my 1/3 acre backyard run/garden combo which were NOT devoured by the chickens were marigolds, basil, hydrangeas, daylilies, chives, onions, and black-eyed susans.

    Or move their coop to the back corner of your yard where they like to be anyway, and then fence in your garden?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  3. GardeNerd

    GardeNerd Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have pictures of my garden at the link in my signature. Most of the veggies are kept behind a picket fence to keep the chickens from eating it all. I have also protected areas temporarily with portable pet fencing, like during berry or grape season. Things the chickens don't eat as much, aren't protected and in the main backyard where the chickens roam. I have a post on my blog called chicken proofing my yard that has some of the other things I do to peacefully coexist with my chickens and still enjoy gardening.
     
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  4. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 11, 2010
    Greenacres, WA
    Oh no.....it's been so cold/snowy/miserable around here that I haven't even looked ahead to spring gardening! This will be the first spring I'll have chickens (got chicks last August). I have a 100 square foot garden area in addition to many raised beds which house strawberries and lettuces, and also blueberry bushes and TONS of raspberries. The chickens didn't seem interested at all in the raspberries and blueberries last year....though at the time they were only 1-2 months old and not living outside full time. Funny, I actually have the coop/run situated in the garden area now and for the duration of the cold season, with the hope of tilling in the combo leaves/pine shavings/poo in the spring, and then moving the Eglu back into its lawn rotation. I also have tons of flowers in the yard--many which were in bloom through last fall, and the chickens seemed to have no interest in them at the time. I wonder if they'll be less destructive of vegetation if they're well fed. Now that I think about it, I'll probably have an issue with the chickens trying to dust bathe in the garden area b/c of all the exposed soil. Will have to find a way to protect sown seeds and seedlings! There's no way for me to attractively fence off all my garden stuff so I may just have to see what happens this coming spring/summer and hope all my produce doesn't go to the birds!
     
  5. Ohhhdear

    Ohhhdear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 15, 2010
    West Michigan
    The chickens will love the blueberries and all the lower raspberries they can reach, and your strawberries will definitely need major protection.

    I think if you provide areas where they can dust bathe safely away from your plantings, that will help save your flowers.

    Do you have more than the 4 chickens in your picture? I have 12, and they have a bigger impact on their living space than 4 chickens would. So perhaps your plantings might survive longer.

    I suppose you could monitor the plants they're obsessing on and then protect those. My girls decided they loved my peony bushes, but not to eat. They provided a lot of shade. But 12 chickens kinda mashed down the broad leafy stems until I staked the bushes and tied string around the stalks. They also avoided my rambling rose bushes, not even wanting to dust bathe underneath the canes.
     
  6. firsthouse_mp

    firsthouse_mp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 13, 2009
    NorthernCal
    Oh dear. I have 3 chickens in a brooder...maybe there is destruction in numbers as you said! They will be like Godzilla by Summer!

    Mrsbos--looks we will have the same dilemna! Trying to see if they become destructive as they get older and things seem more enticing!
    Gardenerd--love your blog! Your chickens are so pretty. Thanks for sharing!
    ohdear--thankfully I will have basil, marigolds and onions, so they might be spared.
     
  7. Bandit

    Bandit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 16, 2009
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    I put chicken wire attached to those thin electric fence poles (cheap stuff) around my garden till it was big enough to withstand a little scratching. The chickens then just ate up the bugs (and a few tomatoes which I sacrificed for the greater good) and the worms and left most of the produce alone. But I let them in last year before the plants were big and they scratched it all up. So be aware they will do that till the plants are about a foot or more tall.
     
  8. firsthouse_mp

    firsthouse_mp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 13, 2009
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    I am thinking about having my husband make 2' tall row cages to protect the plants until they are slightly larger. Even still, it sounds like there will need to be "supervision" when they are out and about. I actually did not really think about this when we were landscaping and am kinda re-thinking my yard now!
     
  9. TeamChaos

    TeamChaos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 8, 2009
    I did the same as Bandit- Stuck in cheap poles and ran bird netting across them to keep chickens (and dogs) from trampling our gardens before the plants were big enough to have a fighting chance. I also planted a bunch of "Sacrificial veggies" around the edges and just planned on the chickens eating the heck out of them (they did). I was amazed at how much time chickens will spend JUMPING to grab tendrils and other juicy bits. This year I need to plan better for chicken proofing my melons and cucumbers- I kept them off the plants, but I didn't think about how much damage a few beak stabs would do to my harvest!
     
  10. cobrien

    cobrien Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 16, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I have 4' fences around my veggie beds and rings of 4' plastic netting or chicken wire around plants that are not in the beds (small citrus and avocado trees, blueberries, artichokes). I have been planting more and more stuff in my yard for the last 3 years and I now have fences everywhere! While it has worked as a short term solution I am re-thinking the whole thing as I am going to plant more stuff and don't want more fences - in fact I don't want any fences at all. Although my coop and run is plenty big and I don't have to let them out, the chickens as well as the humans really like letting them free range a bit each day. So I plan to build a ~5'x10' ish hoop pen/tractor, very light weight and not predator proof as it will be more of a chicken play pen to be used when we're home instead of giving them access tot he whole yard. We're in the city with a fenced in yard so we don't have many daytime predators to worry about. We'll use this for our 4 younger chickens; our 3 older retirees don't free range much. We will move it to a new spot each day and let the girls do some digging and bug/grass nibbling for a few hours or more each day when we're home.

    I don't believe that protecting the plants with short fences only until they are established will work. Mine eat everything, jump up to get tasty leaves 3' above the ground, and dig into the soil and damage the roots. They looooove my nice fluffy compost/soil. I've also tried supervising them when they're out but I tired of it, once they find out where the tasty stuff is they became pretty relentless. But all chickens are different so it is worth experimenting to see what works for you. I have gotten pretty clever devising protection for plants out of cheap materials - plastic netting, bamboo poles (free from neighbors with overgrown bamboo grove) and zip ties and voila!
     

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