I have a love/hate relationship with my chickens. They give me delicious eggs and occasionally (or not-so-occasionally if the roosters are peckerheads) provide us with a delectable supper. They also eat a lot of bugs around the house as well as aerate the litter in the goat pen, add plenty of material to the compost heap, take care of our kitchen scraps and provide hours of entertainment.
But they also lay waste to any unprotected greenery, especially those plants that are young, tender and vulnerable to the scratching claws of the avian monsters. Spring flowers have to be a tough breed around here as the moment something green pops out of the ground, the chickens are all over it. And it seems the second I turn my back from planting something, they are right there, digging & scratching up the dirt right around the base of the plant. And the plant rarely makes it through the excavation process.
I suppose we could build a fenced chicken run. But I'm too lazy (and I've got Paul too busy). And even though I am constantly running outside, screaming at the biddies to get out of the gardens, I do enjoy seeing them free ranging around the property and chasing bugs.
So if I want a garden, it's a must to have it fenced in somehow. A few years ago Paul put up a permanent fence around the berry garden and that is pretty much chicken-free. The two raised beds in the front yard have hardware attached to the sides so I can put PVC pipes on them to create a hoop structure and cover it with netting or plastic. But my flower garden is subjected to yearly excavation. Only the tough flowers like iris, day lilies and well-established bushes survive. I've planted countless other flowers there only to see them dead before they bloom.
I've been working on getting a herb garden in the front yard. Two years ago I selected a site right around the well head and planted some iris and day lilies around it. They took off nicely. The next year I expanded it and just threw in some melon plants (because I ran out of room everywhere else). We only got a handful of melons though because of the chickens. This year I was eager to start putting herbs in my herb garden. At first I thought I was just going to have to live with the fact that any herbs would have to be placed in pots and just have a garden bed filled with pots instead of actually placing the plants in the ground.
There is a section of our property that I call our quarry. Although the term quarry could be used for just about every inch of our homesteading ground, this particular area has some really nice looking, flat rocks. Perfect for laying around newly planted herbs!
|Newly planted Sage & a volunteer Yarrow.|
|Spring 2013.....and the herbs are still standing!|
And if covering the garden area with rocks doesn't work.....I'll use the rock to bash the head in of whichever chicken I find digging it up.