Monday, 15 March 2010

Chicken Proofing

Three tyres planted this morning with carrots. Using domes to protect them and warm the soil.
The veggies are growing away in the poly tunnel and now the time has come to think of 'chicken proofing' all the veggie beds.
Everything is left open to them during the winter, it gives them time to find all the weed roots, grubs and insects that are hiding in the soil ready to feast on my veggies in the growing season.
They do a brilliant job of it, slugs and snails are rooted out and devoured in seconds, weeds are pulled when they are young for their tender shoots, the only things that are truly safe are the big fat earthworms that go deep underground in winter to keep warm. So now I start to think about keeping the right things safe from those all devouring little beaks. My best friend is chicken wire.
On the large raised beds with overwintering onions above, I just used it flat to protect the shoots as they come through. Soon this can be removed and the plants will be strong enough to cope with the odd tug (the chickens do not like the flavour of the onions).
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The lavender bed is surrounded with a barely visible low green fence. The chickens have forgotten it's there since their easy access was denied. I will have to watch out when it flowers though as this might attract them to it again and it will need more cover.
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This is my one of my latest plantings and being heavily guarded at the moment, it is our Artichoke plants (new for this year) Elephant Garlic and normal White Garlic. This little bed is at the front door of the polytunnel. Here as you can see I have used domes and lattice fencing.
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The raised bed near the back door now has a tall fence all around to protect my new rhubarb plants. The chickens ate ALL the rhubarb last year, stalks, leaves, roots...the lot. Yes, I know the leaves are poisonous....but nobody told the chickens, they must have cast iron constitutions!!
This year WE intend to get some rhubarb so it has it own fence to protect it. In there with the rhubarb is my strawberry tub, we thought a little fruity bed would be nice near the house.
This latest invention is hoops made from inserting bamboo canes into a cheap garden hose, I made this yesterday, there are no crops are planted there yet and Archie the cat thinks it is his own private wendy house, so I think I need to seal the ends as well!! And finally we come to the tyres, the chickens think these are lovely, they can perch on the side and have a nice snack. So it's here I have to be extra careful. You can use these methods to protect plants in the ground or in pots as well. The one above shows just a piece of chicken wire with it's edges bent down over the tyre, ideal for just planted seeds. This tyre has celeriac in it and has a hanging basket dome placed over to protect them. We usually look out for these going cheap at markets or at car boot sales.
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This one has onions in and is a hanging basket dome covered in wire, double protection needed as the chickens were at a good height to tug the onions right out!
You may remember these from last year, a brilliant way to give young seedlings a chance, the pop bottle acts as a mini greenhouse, protecting the plant from the cold, wind and chickens! So I think you will get the picture, if you want veggies and chickens you have to think things through. You either fence in the chickens (we don't) or you protect the veggies either 'en masse' or individually. These ideas are also useful for protecting flowers, although that is something I don't have many of at the moment......guess who ate them? I hope if you don't have chickens this post wasn't mind-numbingly boring for you (these ideas also keep cats off) and I hope if you have got chickens you can pick up a tip or two. For all their bad impact on a veggie plot we have to remember that chickens are always worth having, they clear up slugs, snails, bugs and nasties AND they turn all these unwanted garden enemies into the most delicious product....the free range egg! It IS worth it. One last thing always peg down edges and avoid having perching areas on top of protection....these birds are on a mission.....to eat anything tasty you sow....watch out...you have been warned!! Sue xx

3 comments:

  1. you really have done a good job there... thanks for showing us

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  2. If you can keep the slugs and snails in check it's definitely worth the effort. All in all a really interesting response to some difficult gardening problems, brilliant!

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  3. Hello :-) Am catching up (again) and when I read the title of this post I mis-read it and thought it said 'chicken poofing'. What is poofing? I thought. Hmmm... chicken poofing... must be some kind of veterinary thing?? LOL!

    Hope you are well...

    Love Charlotte
    xx

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