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How to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

For chicken owners, providing a well-balanced diet is vital to the health and happiness of their flock. This includes fresh, nutrient-rich greens that complement their regular feed. For those of us who are frugal, we do it also to save on feed costs.

Learning how to grow a garden for your chickens is a great idea if you don’t have a ton of space for them to free range, and it’s just a fun little activity for you and the family.

Starting any garden from seeds is going to be the most cost-effective. If you are new to starting seeds indoors check out this post. Dollar Tree is a great place to go if you don’t have seeds from previous years.

Fresh greens are not just a tasty treat for chickens; they also provide essential vitamins that support their immune systems, encourage healthy egg production, and improve the flock’s overall health.

So grab those gardening gloves and some supplies and let’s get started.

How to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

Picking the Plant Stars to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

While chickens may eat almost anything, some plants are poultry poison. Filling your garden with treats that are not just tasty but safe for your flock is essential.

I’ve found that tossing in a mix of herbs like oregano and parsley keeps the girls interested.

At the same time, steerin’ clear of anything from the nightshade family (no tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes) is non-negotiable.

Below is a list of safe bets:

Safe Plant Options:

  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Dandelions
  • Sunflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Marigold (yes, the flower—they love it, and it’s good for their egg yolks!)
How to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

Plants to Avoid:

  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Avocado (who’s tossing away the good part, though?)
  • Raw beans (cooked beans, however? A buffet they won’t stop talking about)
  • Nightshades (potato salad is for the BBQ, not the coop)
How to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

Preparing the Garden

Location, location, location! Where you plant is as crucial as what you plant. Your garden should be placed where it will get plenty of sun—with a little shade for those hottest hours—and be easily accessible to the ladies.

You’ll need to consider the distance from coop, and potential protection from predators. Also, ensure the garden is large enough to rotate sections for regrowth, especially if you have a larger flock.

Then, size matters… sort of. You don’t need an acre; a 4×4 raised garden bed or even a few well-tended pots do wonders. Once you’ve chosen your spot, it’s all about the soil.

Ensure your soil is free from debris and well-draining, and consider a pH test to see if you need to add lime to keep your plants peppy.

I always use a seed starting soil because it’s nice and light.

Planting and Playing

Now comes the fun part—planting! Here’s how I do it in three easy steps:

  1. Clear the area of any debris and old roots.
  2. Test the pH of the soil and adjust if needed to a slightly acidic level (around 6.5).
  3. Incorporate organic matter such as compost and well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and nutrient content.
  4. Create raised beds if drainage is a concern in your area.

Looking for fun ways to entertain your chickens? Try these DIY ideas.

How to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

Planting and Maintaining the Garden

When it comes to planting, consider the space each type of vegetable needs and plan accordingly. Companion planting can help deter pests and make the most of your garden space.

Planting Techniques

  1. Space plants according to their recommended distance and depth.
  2. Protect new plantings with a temporary barrier or cloche until they establish themselves.
  3. When possible, start seeds indoors to get a head start on the growing season.

Watering and Fertilizing Guidelines

  1. Water regularly, aiming to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  2. Fertilize with chicken-safe compost and manure, especially in the early growth stages.
  3. Mulch around the plants to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
How to Grow a Garden For Your Chickens

Pest Control Methods

Weeds are like those friends who just overstay their welcome, especially handy when you’ve got free labor on wings. But don’t rely solely on your chickens to munch them—stay on top of weeding to keep the competition down and the soil nutrients available to your garden beauties.

When it comes to pests, chickens are much like us. They will eat those creepy crawlies but don’t mind a good chase. For the non-catchables, try some all-natural repellents like diatomaceous earth. It feels like cosmic powder to pests, and it won’t harm the girls if they give it a peck.

  1. Weed regularly to prevent competition for water and nutrients.
  2. Net the garden to protect tender seedlings from birds.
  3. Encourage natural pest predators by adding flowers that attract beneficial insects.

Harvesting and Feeding

Knowing when and how to harvest your garden is as important as the planting itself. You must also understand how to incorporate these greens into your chickens’ diet effectively.

Harvesting Timing

  1. Harvest when the plants are mature but before they go to seed.
  2. Always leave some plant material behind for regrowth.
  3. Harvest in the morning for best flavor and nutrients.

Feeding Guidelines for Chickens

After the hard work of nurturing your garden, it’s time for the grand finale. Harvest your bounty in the morning dew, when the plants are at their crispest.

A little trim here and there every couple of days keeps plants producing new, tender growth—like a never-ending salad bar you’re hosting exclusively for your hens!

Feeding time! The highlight of any gardener’s day. Offer your treasures with joy and watch your chickens gobble them down with gusto.

Be generous, but don’t overdo it. A handful of mixed greens per chicken daily is usually plenty to supplement their diet without overloading their systems.

Growing a garden for your chickens is a rewarding labor of love. It yields happy, healthy, egg-laying hens. Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your birds and might even inspire you to plant a garden for your human family too (win-win!)

Here’s to your green-thumb endeavors and the joy it brings to your coop! Now, go out there and give your chickadees the garden they deserve. They’ll thank you with more than just chicken scratch.

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