I love gardening with chickens. It has been something that I have enjoyed immensely over the years. One of the most beneficial ways to maximize your space in the garden is to think vertically by adding climbing vines. This gardening trick allows you to make the most of the garden space that you have available. The perfect often overlooked place to consider growing vines is on your chicken coop. Vines provide your chickens shade, a bit of protection for aerial predators and a tasty snack that can be foraged through the run. Today I’m sharing my top 8 perennial and annual vines that are chicken safe, hardy, and delicious for both you and your flock.
All of these vines can be staked and trained to grow where desired. To help train the vines, you can attach them in place with zip ties, garden ties or even old cut sections of panty hose. Trellises near the coop can also come in handy.
Chicken Friendly Vines
Grapes– Perennial, Hardy, Slow growth, Sun
Grapes are a wonderful addition to any garden. They are easy to grow and require just a simple pruning each year. Fruits can be fed to the flock or enjoyed by you. You can also make jellies, wines, and even raisins. One large sturdy vine can live up to 50 years and bear almost 20 pounds of grapes during the growing season. The new tender leaves are also entirely edible. I love to make stuffed grape leaves when the timing is right.
Hops– Perennial, Hardy, Rapid growth, Sun
Hops can be an invasive vine and does well controlled in a large planter. Like mint, if not minded, it will invade your entire garden. The stems and leaves are typically avoided by the chickens because they are slightly prickly. They grow quickly and abundantly and you can try your hand at home brewing with the hops cones after the flowers had passed. Hops are not toxic to chickens as they are to dogs. They may also have some added health benefits that includes natural prevention again Clostridium.
Climbing Honeysuckle– Perennial, Hardy, Rapid growth, Sun/Partial Shade
I love honeysuckle because it is incredibly heat tolerant and attracts pollinators as well as hummingbirds. The blooms of colors vary upon the variety that you decide to plant. You can also make new plants by rooting the cuttings. They typically bloom from Spring until summer. Try sharing some cuttings with your friends so they can grow plants of their own.
Nasturtium– Annual–easily reseeds for next year, Rapid Growth, can tolerate some shade
This darling plant’s flowers are some of my favorite edibles. With blooms ranging from reds, yellows and oranges, they taste have a peppery like capers. The leaves are also edible too. They grow rapidly and easily reseed throughout the growing season. They are definitely a flock favorite and one of my favorite ways to dress up summer salads.
Roses– Perennial, Hardy, Slow growth, Sun, some can be disease prone, requires more care than other plantings.
Who doesn’t love a beautiful rose? I simply adore roses but they can be a bit difficult for the beginning gardener. They tend to require more care than other plantings including regular fertilizations as well as pruning. However, the rewards of growing roses on your chicken coop can be breathtaking. Select climbing varieties. Depending on the climbing variety you chose, you can expect a mature rose bush up to 6 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Some varieties are also deer proof.
Gourds– Annual, Hardy, Rapid growth, Full Sun
There are so many wonderful gourds available to us. I particularly love the ornamental varieties. Drying them while on the vine in the fall is a sight to see! There are also ways to transform ornamental gourds into birdhouses. I love that! It is best to plant your gourds from seed sown directly into the ground. The seeds can take a bit longer to germinate, so don’t fear by gently “roughing” them up a bit with some fine sandpaper and giving them a soak overnight before planting them in the ground. Soon enough, you will discover your chicken coop covered in a beautiful labyrinth of vines.
Peas– Annual, Rapid growth, Sun, Can get 2 crops per season
Sowing seeds is easy and one of the first crops you can plant in cold weather. They always remind me of spring. Direct sow them into the soil around the coop and protect them from hungry chickens. Some of my favorites are sugar snap peas and snow peas. Let their delicate tendrils hold the vines in place and harvest the peas when they are ready. You will find yourself picking peas every few days in the height of production. Once the pea plants are done, remove them and restart the growing process late summer into fall.
Cucumbers– Annual, rapid growth, Sun
One of the first plants I recommend to new gardeners are cucumbers. They are simple to grow and the vines and leaves are a bit prickly to help curtail the flock from nibbling. Cucumbers will amaze you by flowering and growing both inside and outside the run. Be sure to harvest them early, as the longer they stay on the vine, the larger the seeds inside grow often requiring seed removal prior to enjoying. Try them picked fresh from the garden, sliced with salt and pepper and placed in a bit of red wine vinegar with a splash of water. It’s a favorite summer side dish in our house. For a fun twist, try growing Mexican Gherkins. They look like mini-watermelons and they taste like a cross between a cucumber and touch of lemon. They are a bit tart and simply perfect to pop in your mouth on a hot summer day.
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