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Chickens in the Vegetable Garden

By Artistwantobe
July 18, 2016

My three hens live in my vegetable garden. They are wonderful garden helpers: scratching up weeds, patrolling for bugs, and fertilizing. And I get wonderful rich organic eggs! Here is how I get my girls to co-exist with my vegetables.

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(Zone 8b)
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AmargiaExp
Jul 17, 2016 7:43 PM CST
Green Grin!
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Jul 18, 2016 10:39 AM CST
I don't have any problem with my chickens free ranging. As noted, new seedlings need to be protected, but other than that, a bit of dirt scratched onto the walks is the worse damage I've experienced. Oh and the poo on the sidewalk. But, wait, I have a hose.

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I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Jul 18, 2016 10:48 AM CST
But you have room for them to roam. If I had chickens here there is not much room so they would be in the veggie gardens and the flower beds. Not much else for them to hang out in.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jul 18, 2016 12:22 PM CST
I do have room, but they seem to hang in the herb garden and flower beds more than anywhere else. I have more than one 'chicken trail' through my beds, along with their favorite dust-bath spots. I think the funniest is when I come across 3-4 of them all stretched out in nap-mode - I'll have to try to capture that on camera.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Jul 18, 2016 12:34 PM CST
Maybe there are more bugs to be had in the gardenbeds.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jul 18, 2016 12:46 PM CST
I'm sure that is right. As Laura noted in her article, they are great for bug patrol, and I don't even mind sharing the worms with them. I have to regularly push one of my hens out of my way when hand weeding.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Ric Sanders
Dover, Pa. (Zone 6b)
And his children Are his flowers ..
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Eric4home
Jul 21, 2016 1:42 AM CST
Our hens , 3 of them followed us about while yardening. when the tomatoes became ripe , we had to ban them between picks, as they would taste every ripe fruit.We have since lost all 3 due to age, Now I would like to try a few Campbell khaki ducks or geese to do the job. Smiling I really miss the girls, and they did reduce the weeds in the garden as well as the bugs. They were so tame you could pick them up and pet them. We travel a lot and I'm not sure they would get the care they needed.
Ric of MAF @ DG
Name: Mishelle Shepard
East Texas (Zone 8b)
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KenshoHomestead
Jul 23, 2016 2:15 PM CST
I wonder if this takes a particular kind of chicken whispering? I'd love if this worked for me because the grasshoppers and crickets get out of control sometimes. Unfortunately the chickens peck at every tomato, cucumber, melon, pepper, berry, and tender green and dig holes deep enough to bury neighboring plants. I open up the garden to the whole flock twice a year, dead of summer (now) and dead of winter (January). We tried Guineas and ducks, since they don't scratch so much and reputably eat more bugs, but Guineas are terribly loud and ducks trample everything. Glad to hear it's working for you, a bit of magic maybe? Sighing!
Kensho Homestead
"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." RW Emerson
[Last edited by wanderings - Jul 23, 2016 2:23 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1221735 (8)
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jul 23, 2016 4:51 PM CST
It likely depends on how much green space you have. My hens have certain spots they like (under the bird feeders, a couple dust bath spots, around the water bubbler) and I just let those areas take the brunt of their scratching. They love blueberries and will jump to get to those, but that leaves plenty out of their reach for me and the tweety birds (which are more problematic than the chickens). Squash, once they break into a big one, they seem to focus on that and I can still harvest the small ones. Kind of a give-n-take. I do keep them penned up after direct sowing until the plants are up at least 6" or so. And I usually limit their free ranging to a couple hours per day. I also have fields and woods and they seem to like to explore it all. Happy hens!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Deanne
Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a)
trialsz63
Jul 25, 2016 11:40 PM CST
In my garden I have six raised beds where I grow vegetables. The chickens never used to bother the plants much but over the past few years they've taken quite a liking to nearly everything I've planted, except for the onions. They don't seem to care for those, but for the past two summers they've destroyed my green bean beds. I built temporary fences in A-frame shape using 1 by 2 boards and hardware cloth. This was a difficult undertaking because the hardware cloth is difficult to work with. I like your idea of using the plastic fencing and considered that this year. It sounds like you've had great success with it so I will try that out next spring. It seems like it would be so much easier to use than hardware cloth! Thanks for the great idea!
Name: Michelle M. Losey
NE Ohio, USA (Zone 5b)
Organic GMO free Squash Grower
Organic Gardener
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WARYR1
Aug 3, 2016 6:20 PM CST
Wow funny I came across this article a day after I was talking about it to my counsellor. I was complaining to him that ever since we lost the farm and moved into this house we've lost at least one plant a yr to squash vine borers Angry And he replied well thats an easy one to answer... this is the 1st time in your life you haven't had chickens! What a light bulb moment! He was right! Thats why we never had vine borers!
I too used to plant a large pumpkin like atlantic giant for my chickens. I didn't even know they liked pumpkin 'till one yr I was missing 2 hens. Our farm was surrounded by state park so we had alot of wildlife eagles, hawks, owls, fox, coyote, blk bear, turkey's ect. so was sure when my dogs didn't find them and bring them home I thought for sure a preditor got them.... about a week later I was leaving for work and seen one of the missing girls in the pumpkin patch I was soooo happy I got over there and she like vanished! I new I wasn't seeing things so where could she of disappeared to. Then I hear a muffled bruk bruk bruk ah. And followed the sound to a giant pumpkin!!! They silver spangles and her partener in crime yokohama pecked out a hole in the pumpkin ate the seeds and built a nest inside. From then on I always made sure they had one :)
We let ours free range too and at night our dogs would gather them up and walk them home which wasn't too hard as they were on their way home anyhow Smiling And no I can't have any chickens in the city Sad
Michelle M. Losey
WARYR1
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Aug 3, 2016 6:49 PM CST
WARYR1 said:Wow funny I came across this article a day after I was talking about it to my counsellor. I was complaining to him that ever since we lost the farm and moved into this house we've lost at least one plant a yr to squash vine borers Angry And he replied well thats an easy one to answer... this is the 1st time in your life you haven't had chickens! What a light bulb moment! He was right! Thats why we never had vine borers!
I too used to plant a large pumpkin like atlantic giant for my chickens. I didn't even know they liked pumpkin 'till one yr I was missing 2 hens. Our farm was surrounded by state park so we had alot of wildlife eagles, hawks, owls, fox, coyote, blk bear, turkey's ect. so was sure when my dogs didn't find them and bring them home I thought for sure a preditor got them.... about a week later I was leaving for work and seen one of the missing girls in the pumpkin patch I was soooo happy I got over there and she like vanished! I new I wasn't seeing things so where could she of disappeared to. Then I hear a muffled bruk bruk bruk ah. And followed the sound to a giant pumpkin!!! They silver spangles and her partener in crime yokohama pecked out a hole in the pumpkin ate the seeds and built a nest inside. From then on I always made sure they had one :)
We let ours free range too and at night our dogs would gather them up and walk them home which wasn't too hard as they were on their way home anyhow Smiling And no I can't have any chickens in the city Sad


I bet you miss the chickens.
Name: Michelle M. Losey
NE Ohio, USA (Zone 5b)
Organic GMO free Squash Grower
Organic Gardener
Image
WARYR1
Aug 3, 2016 6:55 PM CST
Yes mam I do. I had chickens for 30+ yrs Crying
Michelle M. Losey
WARYR1
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
Image
Newyorkrita
Aug 3, 2016 6:59 PM CST
WARYR1 said:Yes mam I do. I had chickens for 30+ yrs Crying


They don't allow the chickens here in our town either. I do it is totally unfair. I mean NYC allows chickens so we should too!
Name: Michelle M. Losey
NE Ohio, USA (Zone 5b)
Organic GMO free Squash Grower
Organic Gardener
Image
WARYR1
Aug 3, 2016 7:30 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:

They don't allow the chickens here in our town either. I do it is totally unfair. I mean NYC allows chickens so we should too!


In a way its good not having chickens in small towns or cities... Chickens need to roam and in the cities if 1 neighbor complains the zoning boards health department ect make you a prime target Angry It happened to me even on the farm I had a neighbor moved in from a big city. She was about 5 telephone poles away from us but 1 of my roo's loved her wood pile by her bed rm window. She got all pissy cuz he would wake her at sunrise crowing in her window then she couldn't get back to sleep because he kept pecking at her window eating bugs! I told her not to worry after a few months she will sleep right through him crowing and pecking and that she should be grateful he's killing so many bugs! But it wasn't gratitude she was feeling! Hilarious! But then it started 1st battle I won cuz it was zoned farm land. 2nd battle I won she claimed we had rats I said BS we have hunting cats and chickens! Inspector came dwn and said we were right there was no rats on our farm but did find a horde of rats under her dog kennels! Then the health dept came dwn and said we either had to cage the chickens or fence of the whole farm and it had to have a wire top so they can't fly out. I said BS but I only won 1/2 that battle they compramised we fenced in an acre w/ a top. But I still wasn't happy. But all those court battles were expensive! So raising chickens in the city would be cruel cuz they can't range and they would make you cage them Angry I wish I could cage them Sticking tongue out

Michelle M. Losey
WARYR1
[Last edited by WARYR1 - Aug 3, 2016 7:33 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1233015 (15)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
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Newyorkrita
Aug 3, 2016 7:57 PM CST
It would be nice to have a few hens around. I wouldn't mind my neighbors having them.

Years ago I lived across town. My neighbor bought chicks at Easter for his kids. He ended up keeping them in his garage at night and during the day let them roam in his yard. Only they came over in my yard. Turned out they all grew into roosters.

Someone turned him in and snitched on him. It wasn't me as I didn't mind. So he had to get rid of his chickens. I don't know what he did with them but one day they were gone.
Name: Michelle M. Losey
NE Ohio, USA (Zone 5b)
Organic GMO free Squash Grower
Organic Gardener
Image
WARYR1
Aug 3, 2016 8:29 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:It would be nice to have a few hens around. I wouldn't mind my neighbors having them.

Years ago I lived across town. My neighbor bought chicks at Easter for his kids. He ended up keeping them in his garage at night and during the day let them roam in his yard. Only they came over in my yard. Turned out they all grew into roosters.

Someone turned him in and snitched on him. It wasn't me as I didn't mind. So he had to get rid of his chickens. I don't know what he did with them but one day they were gone.


Crying Sad See what I mean about neighbors causing problems thats so sad
Michelle M. Losey
WARYR1
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
Image
Newyorkrita
Aug 3, 2016 8:39 PM CST
WARYR1 said:

Crying Sad See what I mean about neighbors causing problems thats so sad


Well, they were all roosters crowing at the crack of dawn so I am not surprised that he got caught.
Name: Michelle M. Losey
NE Ohio, USA (Zone 5b)
Organic GMO free Squash Grower
Organic Gardener
Image
WARYR1
Aug 3, 2016 8:44 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:

Well, they were all roosters crowing at the crack of dawn so I am not surprised that he got caught.


Yeah but if those people only new that once your brain realises they mean no harm you'll sleep right through them crowing. Kinda like people who live right next to railroad tracks after a while they no longer hear the trains. But roo's do make good fryers :)
Michelle M. Losey
WARYR1
[Last edited by WARYR1 - Aug 3, 2016 8:46 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1233082 (19)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Hummingbirder
Image
Newyorkrita
Aug 3, 2016 8:47 PM CST
I lived next door and it didn't bother me.

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