I just built my first Hugelkultur bed for specifically for my chickens. It's about 4' X 8" and approx 4' high. I plan to enclose it with a dog kennel and cover with plastic for winter to make it hopefully a 4 season garden for the chickens. I only have 3 hens currently.
Can anyone give me advice on what to plant right away for the health of the bed that will also be good chickenfeed? Then good things to plant for the hens to eat over the early fall and winter? I hope to have another bed going in soon, not covered, but maybe will put a hoop house over it for winter as well.
Thanks very much,
Kindred Hill Farm
Kindred Hill Farm
Kindred Hill Farm on Facebook
This time of year in NH you might not get any crop at all, but any sort of peas that dry well would be a great addition. They'll help fix nitrogen in the soil, have tremendous root systems that will help hold a new bed together while adding organic material deep into the mound, AND when dried they make excellent fodder for both you and your livestock.
Yes, I'd definitely suggest peas. Some of them are even frost hardy and can handle a little cold. You might get a small crop after all.
The only other thing I have to suggest is buckwheat. It's fast. Real fast. Doesn't serve as many functions as peas but if you get a small crop off of it then you're in the chicken-feeding business all winter.
I'm a novice chicken owner, so this is just my very limited personal experience. I have a special "chicken mix" of leftover seeds which my four ex-factory chickens seem to like. I sow it in any bare earth they leave after they move pastures (we have a small suburban garden, so the pastures aren't very big). At the moment it's radish, cabbage, chard, and beets. None of the plants get very big by the time they move back to the pasture, but anything's better than nothing, and not all of them get scratched out, so they will continue to grow after the chickens move pastures again. When the odd chicken escapes into the vegetable patch, the first thing they go for is the broccoli and cabbage, so anything from that family is highly desirable chicken food.
Also, I've noticed white clover and dandelions are very popular with my chickens--easy to grow, at least!.