Chickens and gardens – oh my!

I love blackberries. A lot. Two summers ago – the summer my Mom’s illness had escalated and we were essentially home because home was safe for her – we had bazillions of blackberries. I made blackberry syrup, blackberry jam, blackberry jelly, blackberry pie filling, blackberry cobblers, blackberry muffins, blackberry cake, blackberry lemonade… Mom particularly loved the fresh blackberry protein smoothies I made for her. You get the idea. I love blackberries! Last year we knew we were going to have to trim back the blackberries – they were beyond aggressive – they were taking over the entire property! We had a friend help us – and he did a bang up job – honestly – I worried we’d have no more blackberries every again! And sadly, last year there were not enough blackberries for much more than a few handfuls to snack on on an occasional morning – but that was about it. 😦
I’m starting to think the year off was a good thing. There are beautiful white blackberry blossoms all over the place. As you can imagine, I’m starting to plan… blackberry jam, blackberry jelly, blackberry syrup…. Sigh. Wish Mom were here to share – but I’m thinking she’s having much better blackberry smoothies in heaven!We are so thankful for the warmer weather. Pepper is particularly happy about getting to play in water! She’s so funny!The roses are loving the weather, too. Mom’s rose tree is finally putting forth the kind of blooms she routinely got from it.

One of the things I’d read about keeping chickens and letting them free range was that they had a tendancy to “nibble” on gardens. As with all things chicken keeping related – leave it to me to learn the hard way! Behold…

Yes, these are my ahem – formerly – beautiful pea plants. Yes, I can say with assurance that the chickens loved my peas as much as I did! Yes, we did put up a fence around the garden – that once the chicks are big enough they won’t fit through… Of course, they do now – and this…is the result. So, we’re adding chicken wire to our decorative fence around the garden. Gotta love chicken wire!

The final straw that spurred us to action was when the girls realized that the green beans were sprouting – and gobbled them down in great number. Grrr….Thankfully we had enough chicken wire on hand to get the green bean garden protected before all of them were gobbled down. It was amazing today – with the heat – to see how much they progressed!Thankfully we were able to intervene while there were still tomato plants to save! Well, you gotta admit – they know yummy stuff when they see it, those cute little chickens!

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6 thoughts on “Chickens and gardens – oh my!

  1. Your garden looks gorgeous, even with all the bites taken out. Cool bean trellis idea…I need to get something together like that.
    I suffer from paranoia, though, over what the chickens can eat and what they can’t…aren’t tomato plants (the plants themselves) extremely toxic? I have a bunch of radishes to pull and I worry that the greens will send them into a permanent coma. The obsessive chicken mama tendencies I brought into this project remain with me still, as you see?

    Loved the pic of Pepper enjoying the water…a true summer doggy!

  2. Danni,

    I’ve had passing moments of paranoia, as well… I’ve got to find that list of BIG BAD NO NO foods for chicks… I know for sure avocados are on there – what a sad thing! They’re the best for me! 🙂 I keep worrying about them hanging out around the cedar trees – which they seem *very* intent to do (well, it is cool down there) and I occasionally see them jump up and snatch a berry off of the tree. EGAD! Isn’t cedar toxic to chickens? Apparently, not in this form, cause they all seem to nibble on it and are doing fine. Go figure!

  3. Ok, I found this on My Pet Chicken (http://www.mypetchicken.com/ebook.aspx?Chapter=7):

    Foods Chickens Shouldn’t Eat:
    As mentioned in the first chapter, one of the great benefits of having chickens is they take care of your unwanted leftovers! There are a few foods they shouldn’t eat, though:

    Citrus fruits/peels.
    Bones
    Any large serving of meat, or meat that has gone bad
    Garlic and onion (unless you want your eggs tasting like them)Also, we hear from chicken pros that Morning Glories and Daffodils are poisonous to chickens, and even though chickens will generally know to avoid them, you might just want to keep an eye on them around these plants.

    But then…I found *this* list:
    http://www.poultryhelp.com/toxic1.html
    It is overwhelming!

  4. Aren’t they the most wonderful little landscapers/earth movers??? Grrrrr! I’m working on an alternative to chicken wire to protect my beds. For now, I have to keep my chooks in their run until I can let them out for supervised yard time.

  5. Danni,

    Thanks! Great resources! I’m surprised at a few – particularly because I bought my flower seeds this year with a bunch of perennials that are on the list! We decided not to plant them this year since we’ll likely be moving in the coming months… Phew! Glad to know – will plan future garden with the list in mind!

  6. Amy,

    I think the thing that amazes me the most is in the more established flower beds they have done an AMAZING job of eliminating the little weeds that were starting up – and they’ve kept them gone! Yay Chickens!

    I am, however, much less amused about my vegetable garden – if only one could train them to eat weeds and ONLY weeds! 🙂

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