Oh winter, how do I miss my gardens and hanging outside with my flock as they meander around me. Today, instead of feeling glum, I decided to make a miniature chicken garden. Actually, I got a bit carried away and made a few. Once I got started I could not help myself. As I planted up these sweet little gardens, I was envisioning being in my gardens with my own flock. I swear I could here these tiny little chickens carrying on, clucking as to which garden they wanted to explore.
|Plant containers full of edibles. This container is filled with lettuce, pansies and sugar snap peas.|
One of my favorite things in the world is watching my chickens explore their surroundings when they are out during supervised free-ranging. Chickens left unsupervised can devastate gardens and landscaping in mere minutes, especially gardens with new tender plantings. I’ve picked up many tips over the years and today I’d like to share them with you that have made life much easier with the girls and their appetite for exploration and delicious goodies. Gardening with chickens when done correctly, is a wonderful experience.
A few weeks ago, the kids and I planted seedlings for the garden. We placed three seeds in each planting hole, hoping that at least one would germinate. We grew terrific seedlings, in fact too many! It was time to thin out the seedlings. Thinned seedlings make a tasty and nutritious snack for the chickens.
Each spring, the kids and I enjoy planting seedlings. I think this is so very important, as gardening provides children with many lessons. Plus, did you know that if kids grow their own food they are more willing to try it? Each year we try at least two new seeds. This year we chose cucamelons and red noodle beans.
|Fresh herbs and flowers dry along side mini-potatoes and garlic on vintage flower bulb drying trays.|
Like most chicken keepers, I love spending time in the garden. Each year I plant and grow plenty of herbs for the family and the chickens. In the summer, the girls enjoy nibbling on the fresh herbs. However, as the season begins to come to a close, we harvest what remains in the garden before the first frost. We then dry the herbs prior to future use. We use a few different techniques to dry the herbs and flowers based on their moisture content. Once dried, we use the herbs in cooking and also in the chicken coop! Adding a sprinkle of dried chicken-safe herbs to the coop helps keep insects, mice, and parasites away. Plus I think it soothes the girls during their egg laying. To learn how to add herbs to the chicken coop read on.
One of the things I love about living on Cape Cod is that it is full of avid gardeners. In the Spring, those gardeners love to have plant sales. I love going to them, because many of the plants you purchase come from other people’s backyards. They are hardy, prolific and grow well in the areas where we live. The plant sale that I look the most forward to is run each May by the Thornton Burgess Society.
Two years ago, I was enlisted as the Project Coordinator for a new school yard garden project. It was the first of its kind on school property and was started on a shoestring budget. One way that we kept cost down was to build our own raised beds. After scouring various gardening magazines and internet sites, I combined much of what I saw to form simple and easy gardening beds. This project requires beginning woodworking skills. Alone, it took me a just a morning to complete, including the time spent at Home Depot purchasing the supplies.