I really love having my chickens free range. Their eggs are much better (and healthier), they are very happy, and I very much enjoy seeing them in the woods, on the lawn, and on the compost pile. They were born last April, and didn't free range until the harvest was over. This year, it became clear quickly that some measures would have to be taken to keep them out of the garden. They will likely eat some seedlings, but the bigger problem is the scratching. They love to dig for insects, and do it pretty much nonstop.
But I love the idea of the chickens scratching between the raised beds, walking freely under the berry bushes. I guess I'm a chicken-romantic! Instead of locking up the chickens, or fencing in the garden, I figured out a way to protect the beds while the seeds are germinating, and while the seedlings are small. I tried chicken wire - not good! It is hard to control and the chickens liked to duck underneath it and peck at the strawberry plants. But welded wire worked like a charm! You can bend it, and I made sort of welded-wire fencing "roofs" for the beds.
I think I can remove these when the plants get big. I use a lot of wood chip mulch, and when the root systems of the vegetables are well-developed I think they'll have trouble doing too much damage.
What do you think? Any other methods to keep the vegetables safe from the dinosaurs?
They can stick their heads through it. But they don’t. The raised beds were one big invitation before I put the fencing on. Now they bypass them in favor of the unfenced, unprotected flower beds. (Which are next in line for protection!). They can’t walk on it, and can’t scratch. They don’t bother the garlic, which lines the outside of several of my beds, and I’m hopeful that the brassicas planted now will just get a nip or two. We shall see!
. . . bathes in wood chips . . .
Note to self: don't get into a fist fight with a cactus. Command this tiny ad to do it: