Edible Gardening With Chickens

Try gardening with chickens to increase the productivity of your garden, with free manure and weeding services as well as eggs and meat from your flock.

| December 2014

Sustainability meets inventiveness in Groundbreaking Food Gardens (Storey Publishing, 2014) by Niki Jabbour. Rich and varied garden plans from a range of professional gardeners offer ideas for everything from a whimsical children’s discovery garden to incredibly productive urban homestead plots. Some integrate gardening with chickens or bees to take advantage of the work they do for the garden as well as the foods they produce; others are designed to keep hungry wildlife like deer and moose out of the garden. With 73 different plans, there is sure to be something for everyone, whether formal or informal, yearlong or seasonal. The following excerpt is on Jessi Bloom’s food forest.

You can purchase this book from the Grit store: Groundbreaking Food Gardens.

Jessi Bloom brings edible gardening and chickens together in her partitioned garden. The centrally located chicken coop provides a safe place for “the ladies” to roost and has three doors, each leading to a different part of the garden. The chickens offer a continuous supply of free-range eggs and ample manure that is composted and turned back into the garden to enrich the food plants.

Notable Features

• Sustainable food forest design combines vegetable, fruit, and berry production with free-range chickens
• Features a central coop that opens into each of three sections for easy chicken rotation
• Conveniently placed composters turn chicken manure into a rich amendment for food crops

The Free Range Chicken Garden

Jessi loves “her girls” and thinks that gardens and chickens make natural partners. “To a gardener, chickens are worth their weight in gold,” says Jessi. “Not only do they produce a nitrogen-rich manure that can be composted and used to amend garden beds, but they also help to keep weeds down and grass clipped, and they gobble up a variety of insects and grubs.” To get the most from her chickens’ behaviors, she allows her birds to roam in her garden, rotating them to different areas.

Jessi has divided her garden plan into three distinct paddock sections using cross-fencing. The chicken coop is the heart of the garden and is sited so that it borders each of the three sections. The three doors of the coop are cleverly hinged as ramps that open onto each paddock, so the chickens can be rotated quickly and efficiently. Before one section is decimated, the chickens are moved to another. To protect against predators, Jessi has surrounded the entire garden with a perimeter fence.

3/27/2015 3:21:57 AM

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