How to Create a Chicken Garden
A chicken garden is a great way to supplement your chickens’ diets and keep them busy. If you have issues with your chickens scratching your garden into oblivion, then they need a garden of their own. The idea of chicken gardens isn’t new, feeding your chickens commercial feed is actually a recent development. Before feed chickens would search the farmyard for things to eat, including gardens.
We grow an entirely chicken friendly garden right near their coop for them to enjoy. Adjacent to the coop is a garden filled entirely with chicken safe plantings including hosta, coral bells, marjoram, mint, cilantro, swiss chard, raspberry bushes, nasturtium, chives, celery, cabbage, sunflowers and scabiosa. To ensure that they don’t desemate the garden in one day, we let them into the garden area supervised a couple of times a week.
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Planning Your Chicken Garden
You know your chickens aren’t picky, so giving them a simple garden should be pretty easy. However, there are some things to think about before you start planting your garden.
Best Location for a Chicken Garden
Your chicken garden should be in a location that your chickens have easy access to. They should be able to exit the coop in the morning and walk into their little paradise you’ve created.
Most gardens should be in an area with partial shade but have at least 7 hours of sunlight throughout the day. Most plants, or veggies, will do very well in these conditions.
Make sure the soil is full of nutrients and well-drained. If you are making a raised garden bed for your chickens, you will have a lot of control over the soil in the garden.
Check out How to Make a Raised Bed for $20.
Raised vs. Non-raised Chicken Garden
Do you have the right kind of soil for your chicken garden? If you are planting herbs for your chickens, most soils will be fine, as these plants are hardy.
Raised beds are nice because you have complete control over drainage, soil, and the location of the garden. However, they may not be as appealing to chickens because they love to get down in the dirt that is most readily available.
Size of Your Chicken Garden
The size of your chicken gardens is determined by the number of chickens you have and the size of your chickens.
Honestly, the bigger the better when it comes to a chicken garden because, as you know, they will destroy a small area quickly.
Give them plenty of space with a ton of plants to peruse.
What to Plant in Your Chicken Gardens
Chickens love to taste-test all kinds of plants, but there are some that are more beneficial to their health than others. Herbs, for example, can be called upon when your chickens come down with an ailment. Vegetables, on the other hand, can provide a slew of health benefits for your flock, plus hours of enjoyment!
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Extras to Include in Your Chicken Gardens
You could plop a few herbs in a small area and call it good, but you still need to take the time to add other desirable characteristics. Otherwise, your chickens may pass by the herbs and head straight to your vegetable garden.
Dust Baths and Chicken Gardens
Chickens need to take dust baths to ward off external parasites and to keep their oil glands in check.
Adding a large area for dust baths will attract your chickens without much extra effort on your part. You can section off a large area and add dirt or diatomaceous earth for them to flap around in.
Once chickens find a favorite dust bath location, they will be back time and time again.
If your chickens are free-range, you can consider giving them a secluded area of their garden with nesting boxes. Although, they may prefer to find their own location.
It can be difficult to find eggs in a thriving garden. Consider offering your hens a quiet place to lay so you have easy access to your fresh eggs.
Safety from Predators
As always, predators are lurking everywhere. You can plant bushes and shrubs around your garden that are chicken-friendly. Shrubs should be easy for chickens to hide beneath should an aerial predator decide to have chicken for lunch.
Fencing is another option for keeping large predators out of your garden. Some keep their chicken coop directly in the garden they’ve planted for their chickens, and fence in the entire area to ensure safety.
Separate From Your Garden
It probably goes without saying, but once your chickens get a taste of their own garden, they will always want more. As chickens can’t differentiate your garden from theirs, take some time to implement measures that will keep your chickens out of your garden and in theirs.
Are you ready to get started? Don’t overthink it! In the spring we always plant extras just in case some seeds don’t germinate and if you are like us we always end up with extras. Instead of letting those extras die plant in a garden just for your chickens. Chicken gardens are a great spot for your chickens to eat and keep them busy, make sure you add a bench or chair so that you can watch all of the fun!!
Get Your Kids Involved-
We involve our kids in every aspect of homesteading. It always begins with educating them, and because I love books we read a lot. Here are some of our favorite and educational books about chickens. And a few things just for fun!!