Plant a Chicken-Friendly Garden
If you are lucky enough to keep chickens and enjoy gardening, it is only a matter of time until you begin designing and growing plants with them in mind. Of course, chickens will happily dine on scraps from the kitchen but you'd be surprised at how they enjoy parts of vegetable plants that we normally do not consider consuming. Chickens will happily dine on carrot tops, peels and trimmed ends. They love beet greens and they will devour an entire broccoli plant!
Over the years, we have begun to interlace edible plantings among our perennial gardens. Not only does the foliage add a burst of color, but we love to increase the garden's yield by thinking outside the raised beds. Our chickens enjoy their own garden exploration time with supervision. In fact, we grow an entirely chicken friendly garden right near their coop for them to enjoy. We have planted a small area of grass filled with clover and dandelions. Adjacent to the coop is a garden filled entirely with chicken safe plantings including hosta, coral bells, marjoram, mint, cilantro, swiss chard, raspberry bushes, nasturtium, chives, celery, cabbage, sunflowers and scabiosa.
Photo by Melissa Caughey
We have mulched this garden with pine wood chips. We find that these wood chips not only provide the same garden benefits as mulch, but they are much easier to tidy up after the chickens have spent time exploring and scratching. Whenever we add new tender plantings to the garden, as a precaution from overzealous chickens, we surround the new plant with chicken wire to keep it safe until it is well established. If left to their own devices, chickens can be devastating to gardens. Therefore, if there are areas where you prefer chickens not roam, it's best to fence them off or try and redirect their interests by tossing a bit of chicken scratch in the opposite direction.
If you are unable to allow your flock to freely wander about their surroundings don't let that stop you from gardening for your flock. Simply snip off tasty sprigs of garden goodies and toss them into the run.
Chicken-Safe Herbs and Vegetables
All of these plants are entirely edible and safe for your flock.
- Bay leaves
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers