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.
|I love seeing fluffy butts in the garden.|
|Three Silkie Bantams enjoy a breakfast of bugs|
Termites were found in one of the new planting beds at my son’s school. As we are practicing organic gardening techniques, it was only natural to think of the chickens to help eradicate these unwanted pests. My friend who owns the farm in Cotuit arrived around 9:30am with a large wire dog crate and three Silkie Bantam chickens.
We stirred up the soil and then placed the cage inside the raised bed with the chickens inside. We kept the chickens caged for their safety and to help them focus on the immediate task at hand. Within seconds of being in the enclosure they got to work. As they dined on their delicious breakfast of termites, students came outside to see the chickens busy at work.
While the chickens did their part, we planted strawberries, beets and potatos. Ever so often, we lifted the cage and retilled the soil to unearth a fresh batch of termites. Soon enough, the chickens were full. Their crops became pendulous and we knew that they had done their job. Next time, you have a problem in your garden, don’t forget about the skills of your chickens. Mine even made their own resume sometime ago to remind me of their talents!
You can find more pictures in today’s copy of the Cape Cod Times on page A3.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest