Gardening with chickens...the clean up

It's that time of year again. Our first light frost just passed and with more to come, it's time to salvage what's left of the garden and get it ready for winter. Thankfully the chickens are always willing to help in the garden so this time we're talking about gardening with chickens: letting them into the garden to clean up extra seeds and bugs!

Gardening with chickens

In Gardening for chickens I talked about planting a special feed garden just for the chickens. Today though, we're cleaning the regular garden out! The last set of broccoli is still doing well, so that will stay and get covered on frosty nights. The corn is completely done. We cut that down for decorations. 

Admittedly it's not as full as the stuff you can buy at the store. Ours is missing the corn. I've either cooked it, canned it or fed it to the chickens. They still look pretty darn good for free....with the addition of a spool of Dollar Tree fall ribbon, that is! 

gardening, chickens

Let's get back to the garden though. I've pulled down most of the fence that normally keeps them out of the garden and let the chickens and guineas in. I'm pretty sure this is their favorite time of year. It's exciting to them, like when Peter rabbit finally gets into Mr McGregor's garden! 

Gardening with chickens

The chickens have a great time in the garden, scratching up bugs and eating the tiny sprouts they found starting from fallen seeds. I cut the last of the lettuce, and pulled bunches of carrots. We left some of the smaller carrots in....hopefully they'll grow a bit more. If they don't though, I can pull them for chicken food.

I stacked up the zucchini by the wood pile, under a tarp. It should keep for a few more weeks. These are some big zucchinis! I use a shovel to chunk them up and throw them into the runs for a treat on rainy days. The chickens love zucchini.

Letting the chickens into the garden helps in more than one way. Of course they get all those tasty bugs and sprouts added to their diet. Plus, it is great fun for them! They also turn over the dirt a bit and add a bit of their own 'fertilizer' as they go. 

Normally I wouldn't add fresh chicken poo to the garden. It's too high in nitrogen and would burn the delicate root system of new plants. However, since new plants won't be going in for several months, there is more than enough time for it to age first. 
The guinea fowl are especially fond of bugs and seeds.  

Guineas helping to clean up the garden in fall

The guineas are so much fun to watch in the garden! They like to grab the weeds and slide their beaks along the stems, gently stripping off the seeds. They are also quite good at snatching bugs right out of the air.

I have rerouted the fence to surround the broccoli and will probably add some fence around the peppers since they're doing so well right now. I'll leave the rest of the garden fence down until spring, when we start all over again. 
The chickens will have free access for a few months which I'm sure they will love!

That's about it for now. The front corner will only get a months rest before the garlic goes in. At that point I'll put a thick layer of mulch down so they won't try to scratch up the bulbs....hopefully! If your chickens are big on digging through the garden though, you may need to protect garlic and flower bulbs with a fence.

I wrap fencing around all my flower beds to keep the birds from dust bathing in them and pulling out the bulbs! It's not pretty but it works well and I buy the green coated chicken wire so it's not horrible obvious! Whatever works, right?  


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  1. I just opened the garden up for my ducks. They feasted on the remaining kale, cabbage and broccoli while turning the beds looking for bugs. This is my first year with ducks so it is a treat to watch them forage through the gardens! Love your blog!

    1. Thanks so much! Ducks are so much fun too. Mine will follow me around on the outside of the garden fence waiting for me to toss some greens over the side for then. Too cute!


  2. We just got our poultry working in the garden as well. Thanks for linking up to our fall harvest link up. I love your blog and just added you to my blogroll: