I thought I’d share some techniques to prevent pests from eating your freshly planted gardens. There are super plants that can help to keep garden pests at bay and attract beneficial insects. This cuts down on the use of fertilizers and other chemicals that we do not wish to use in our gardens. After all, we do keep honeybees and have chickens roaming the place! The list is by no means comprehensive, but I wanted to share what I have picked up along the way in my gardening adventures. I started with well known plants that are recognizable to most gardeners and are also readily available at most local nurseries. Pest control using plants. So simple.
I have been very involved in creating and developing an organic schoolyard garden at my son’s elementary school. This is the first of it’s kind in our town and we have been working steadily, seeing our visions come to fruition. In mid April, we built 30 raised child sized planting beds. Slowly, we have been filling those with compost and soil.
Last week, as the children began to plant seeds in the classrooms, we were given some beautiful seedlings from our local organic farm. Several parents and I began to plant the beets, swiss chard, thyme and lettuce. As we planted in the earth, another parent called us over to look at some bugs she had found. They were termites and they were already eating the wooden side of the untreated wooden raised bed. Ugh! What an upsetting moment. As we discussed treatment options with our soil team, it was difficult to determine what we could use to treat the beds organically and not affect the produce grown in it’s soil.
|These are worker termites like the ones we found.|
Feeling disappointed, I came home and returned a call to my friend with the farm. I told her of the situation and she said to me, “Why don’t you just bring down a few chickens for a couple of hours to do the job?” Genious! With that said, we are going to bring an enclosure that will fit over the affected raised bed on Monday morning. As we sit and sip our coffees, the chickens will be hard at work discovering tasty termites for their voracious appetites. I was thrilled with this solution to say the least, the chickens will be removing unwanted bugs and fertilizing our soil at the same time. What a great learning experience for the students and grown-ups alike. Somehow, I always seem to forget and underestimate the power of the backyard chicken.
Photo Credit: http://www.dpughphoto.com/
Fashionistas, excellent housekeepers, nurturing to those in need; sounds like a resume that would please any of us.
Good housekeeping skills and keeping a tidy home with everything in it’s place: something that many of us strive to achieve. The other day, I cleaned out the coop and realized halfway through that I forgot to pick up more pine shavings. With other errands to run, I spread what I had in half of the coop and filled the nesting boxes with straw. I figured when I came back, I would add the rest of the shavings to the empty space in the coop. I left the chickens to their own devices for about an hour. Upon my return, I opened the coop to add in the extra shavings. Much to my surprise, the original shavings and straw had been spread out evenly upon the floor of the coop. Everything just seemed to be in place and I swear the chickens knew that. They were happy with their work and were now busy in the run scratching for their next finds.
Classic style is always in. When I think of timeless styles and fashion, classic items never seem to go out of style. The dress that Audrey Hepburn wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Jacqueline Kennedy, scarves, trench coats and a good suit all come to mind. The chickens are always a class act. They are the feathered world’s fashionistas. Like all birds, their feathers are always in style. Each one is unique in it’s coloring, shading, and pattern. Feathers are a work of art and when combined they make for classy sophisticated birds.
Cleanliness is next to godliness. My chickens LOVE to be clean. They enjoy a freshly cleaned coop, sparkling drinking water and a good dust bath. They also prefer to have a dry run as opposed to a wet soggy run after the rain. They do not like to be overly muddy or wet. My chickens also smell fabulous. Their smell reminds me of sweet hay and warm downy feathers. Their smell makes me feel good and comforted much like a child smelling their beloved blanket.
Good pest control is never overrated. Chickens hate bugs. Critters like red mites hide in the corners of their coop until night fall. While the chickens sleep, the mites crawl up their legs to feed on their blood. They can also get fleas, parasitic worms and all other sorts of nasties. The diatomaceous earth that I have mentioned so many times before on this blog is my pest control hero. Whether I put it in their feed, dust their coop or dust them, their comfort is my goal. Some experts even say that chickens will stop laying eggs if they are stressed out by bugs.
Be kind to those in need. Don’t always look out for yourself. The chickens truly do have a flock mentality. They all stick together. When they are free ranging during the day, they stay within audible and visual distance of one another. There is something said for safety in numbers. They share their food and water with one another. Once in a while, they will share treats. On cold evenings, they snuggle and huddle together for warmth. Togetherness is always better than being alone in the world.
Chickens have figured out the basics of a happy family and a happy home. Their happy home reveals love, friendship, camaraderie, partnership, shared meals and beautiful eggs. We are blessed to have this feathered family living right next door.