I decided to do a part II for my gardening post. I am often asked how we are able to keep the chickens out of our garden. This is will be a follow-up to yesterday’s post.
Near the coop we have two large fenced in areas. The first area is the garden (wood & metal fencing around it). The second area is primarily our compost bins and a couple of trees (wire and metal stakes – temporary fencing). The coop sits in between the two areas and has doors to each area. This means we can control which area the chickens have access to at different times of the year.
During the garden growing season: the chickens stay in the second area (or roam around our yard). They tear up the ground pretty good, so we don’t have to mess with mowing that second area. This is also the season when we have the most compost items. The chickens turn the compost for us, making composting so much easier! In the photo above, all the veggies were gone so we let the chickens hang out in the garden with the flowers.
During the non-growing season: the chickens stay in the garden area. During this time they dig up the dirt, turn the soil and add their own gifts to the dirt (chicken manure is great for your garden). This means when we are ready to start planting in the garden, we have very little work to do to get the ground ready. Again…the chickens are making our job easier.
I did not come up with these genius ideas on my own. When we laid out our coop and garden fencing we used the book Free Range Chicken Gardens. We also use A Chicken In Every Yard for general chicken raising information. If you want a great resource for chickens and a garden working together, I highly recommend Free Range Chicken Gardens.
In the picture below, I am standing in the garden area. You can see the gate into the compost area to the right of the coop. The back area still has a temporary fence. Hopefully this fall we can get the permanent fence up that matches the garden area.
The gate heading into the second area….and one of our peach trees!
This is the back side of the coop. The chickens have access to this area from the doors on top and below. You can barely see the top of our compost bins. When we clean out the coop, everything goes in a wheelbarrow that gets dumped into the compost bins. Right now we keep the back doors to the coop open so the big and little chickens have access to the coop and this part of the yard all day. Every now and then the gate gets left open and we have to chase a chicken out of the garden. It is funny that you really can’t see the chickens in any of these photos. They must have been shy.The handsomest chicken farmer there ever was…I am not an expert on chickens or gardening or anything for that matter, but I will say this method has worked so well for us. We do have a huge yard and plenty of space, so that is a big factor that won’t apply for everyone. I’m sure you could do something similar on a much smaller scale with fewer chickens too. If you want to see a full tour of our coop before we fenced in the compost area click here.