January is a great time to start planning spring vegetable gardens. If you raise your own chickens, you may want to include growing an organic chicken garden in your plans. Feeding chickens organically and naturally is a great way to cut down on the costs of feed or to be able to get rid of commercial feeds altogether. So while making plans for your spring gardens, why not make a little spot available for your backyard chicken flock?
Building Your Chicken Garden
You can make 2 enclosures with a gate in the middle divider along with a gate on each end. The first enclosure can be the vegetable garden where at seasons end, after the harvest, the middle gate can be opened for the chickens to forage the leftovers. The second enclosure can be the chicken garden, where you plant things with chickens in mind.
What To Grow In Your Chicken Garden
What would you grow in a chicken garden? Pumpkins are wonderful for storing and chickens love them; just split one in half and let them go at it. Collards, spinach, lettuce and mustard greens are also good choices, not only for the greens but when they go to seed as well. Flax seed is very nutritional for chickens and rape seed is another good choice for seed foraging chickens. Do not forget sunflowers either, not only are they pretty but just take the heads off and feed the whole head to the chickens offering a protein rich seed. This all would fit very nicely in as small as a 10 x 10 space.
If more room can be set aside for chickens you may even want to plant some wheat and field corn for them as well. In a small corner of the garden space you could even set up a small worm farm for them. This way you can offer a scoop of worms daily for them or set up some other sort of bug farm that offers enough bugs for added protein.
The chicken coop can be at the end of this garden and if you like, offer a third enclosure off the other side of the coop. This would give them first spring time access into a grassy area so the chicken garden has time to grow. While in the grassy area, they would have access to the nutrient rich grasses, dandelions and clover. When the chicken garden has grown enough to let the chickens into, the first enclosure can be closed off to give time to re-grow.
By alternating pens in this fashion, the ground is being fertilized from the chicken manure at the same time allowing great foraging opportunities all summer long. Given fresh water daily and the kitchen scraps including egg shells, and your chickens really should not need anything more. Raising chickens naturally is not hard when just a little thought goes into pen design for contained free-ranged, or landscape design if your whole yard is fenced in and they can free range completely.
Carrie Hetu is not a financial expert, but has been passionate about finances since the age of 19 years old when a neighbor introduced her to taxes. From that time, she has made a point to increase her financial literacy into areas of frugal living, investing, real estate, budgeting and passive income. She currently blogs at Poor to Rich a Day at a Time and Simply Homeschooled.