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Gardening with Backyard Chickens

gardening with chickens
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.

Findings Gardening Plants Projects Tours

Early Spring Gardening

Even though we had a bit of snow last night, I have been very busy puttering around the yard with spring clean up and getting ready for the photo shoot with the book. My favorite spring flowers are pansies. They are so lovely, especially the ruffled variety in this pansy sphere on my front steps. I just adore the blooms and they are entirely edible. The chicken love them!

Gardening Tours

The Bog Garden

This past week the family and I took a small vacation to try and break up the cold weather and discover signs of spring. The day we left, there was almost a foot of freshly fallen snow on the ground! We had a great time in North Carolina. It was still chilly and a bit rainy but it wasn’t snowing. We went to the lovely Bog Garden in Greensboro, North Carolina. Signs of spring were everywhere. As we strolled along the boardwalk, we discovered the garden waking from its winter slumber. We even found one of the owls nesting in the garden again for the second year in a row.

Chickens Eggs Gardening Tours

Spring Has Sprung

We have had so much rain over the past week that I was beginning to believe that we would never see the sun again.  Yet, yesterday it was beautiful, sunny and not a cloud was in the sky.  Despite the rain, spring is my absolute favorite season.  The spring blooms are just making the yard smell heavenly.  I love lilacs and lily of the valley.

The chickens are laying in full force too.  I have so many eggs, that we joke that we are lacking places to put them.  Do you think it is possible to become an egg hoarder?  I think it is time to make some quiche for dinner.

 

 Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Gardening Tours

Welcome Spring

Typing is a strange thing.  Sometimes, it seems as though my fingers are faster than my brain.  Do my subconscious thoughts sometimes flow from my fingers as I place the words upon the pages?  I think so.  Sometimes when I begin to type “chi…”, chicken will automatically appear on the page, typed by my hands.  When it was supposed to be chill, children, chip or the like.  Today, as I was entering the title of this post when I came to the word “Hop” my fingers typed Hope.

Perhaps my mind is trying to tell me something.  Life around Tilly’s Nest has been taking its sweet time to emerge from its winter slumber.  The chickens are now laying eggs regularly everyday.  The gardens are beginning to bloom.  The spring peepers are croaking in the pond and gentle evening breezes blow through the window fragrances of life; hope.

These past few weeks I have spent many hours tending to the gardens.  Connecting with delicate new fronds of ferns, dainty Lilies of the Valley blooms, and gently mulching around the tenderest of tiny stalks of Lavender.  All these give me hope.  Audrey Hepburn said it best, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

 Tilly's Nest-columbinewp
The Columbines are blooming.

 

The tulips I planted last fall are spectacular.
The Robins have returned to nest.
The bees are busy in the gardens.

 

The garden is beginning to grow.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

 

Chickens Gardening Tours

A Very Unique Cape Cod Farm

Inside the hydroponic green house where vegetables and herbs thrive.
A little while back, I had the pleasure of touring a wonderfully unique hydroponic farm on Cape Cod.  E & T Farm is simply amazing.  Eighteen years ago, they began as beekeepers and began pollinating the local cranberry bogs.  From there the farm grew.
As you approach the front door of the farm, you cannot help but notice the neatly stacked piles of excess beehives to the side of the building.  Once you enter the building you discover that this is a very different farm indeed.  It utilizes aquaponics.  Not only do they raise and farm fish, but it is those very fish that are used to feed their many thriving crops through hydroponics.  Water from the massive fish tanks circulates throughout an extensive amount of planting troughs.  The ammonia rich fish waste is broken down into nitrates by beneficial bacteria.  The nitrates in turn act as food for the plants and the plants help to filter the water and keep it clean for the fish.  Everything works together!
This year round farm grows strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs, a huge variety of mixed greens, garlic, onions, squash, beans, kohlrabi, beans, edible flowers and micro greens.

 

Tender seedlings
Early beet plants
Fabulous basil

Of course there are chickens outside too!  I could not help but notice the clever creation that they made to keep the chicken feed dry.  They converted an unused beehive into a elevated open shelter for a hanging chicken feeder.

The girls were all so happy to see me.  As I completed the tour, I tucked some rich green clover into the fence.  I had no idea that a place so amazing was right in my very own backyard.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Stories from Our Nest Tours

Signs of Happiness

This week, I decided to share with you a few photos that just make me smile and dream of warmer days ahead.

 

Fifi, our Black Silkie Bantam
When Dolly hatched her own brood of Silkies
Morels pop up in unexpected places in the garden.
My favorite, Lily of the Valley
Roses bloom near my favorite Cape Cod beach
Fresh eggs from the girls
A walk through tall grasses where wildflowers grow
Chicken hugs, my inseparable girls-Oyster Cracker and Sunshine.
So tell me, what makes you smile?  I would love for your to share this week, things in life that bring joy and happiness to your life.  
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Seasonal Care Tours

The Snowy Season

This week was a tough one for us New Englanders.  We were hit by a very large blizzard this past Friday.  I have spent much of my time since then helping friends and family to pick up the pieces.  This time around, our family was much more fortunate.  Many are still without power and temperatures in the evening have been below freezing.  Today, I saw electric utility trucks all the way from Wisconsin-here to help. I thought I would share some photos.
The back garden
Spring in the back garden
Beehives in the blizzard
Tilly'sNest-beehiveswp
Beehives in spring
Looking into the front yard (see the chairs?)
Late spring in the front garden
Thank goodness I added the tarp.
Springtime near the hen house

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Gardening Stories from Our Nest Tours

A New England Snowy Morning

Last night I could hear the winds whipping and the rain falling.  Then all of sudden around nine o’clock in the evening a serene silence fell upon my ears.  The pounding sleeting rain had turned to snow.  Wonderful huge heavy snowflakes fell from the evening sky.  This morning I woke to streams of brilliant morning sunlight dancing through the windows.  The storm had left the wet heavy snow clinging to all in sight.  The wild birds were awake, alive and singing songs from their hearts.
By the time I journey out, the snow on the chicken coop had begun to melt.
Snow covered branches were beginning to melt.

 

Branches heavy with snow bent from the weight.

 

Singing chickadees were some of the first to arrive at the feeders.

 

Two regular Red Breasted Nuthatches came to investigate too.

 

Of course, my heart always feels a sense of peace when the Carolina Wrens are visible at the feeders.  We have been sustaining a few generations now of these little ones.  It is not often that they overwinter in the Northeast, but they are happy here in our yard.

 

The vegetable garden now sleeps.  The trellises are now covered in snow.

 

I scooped the snow away from our beehive entrances and left the rooftop snow for insulation. The morning sun was just beginning to reach and warm the hives.
We are expecting more wintry weather over the next few weeks.  The magic of winter is upon us.
“What good is the warmth of summer, 
without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
 ~John Steinbeck

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest