Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chickens-the Catch 22 of the Garden

I love my chickens and I love free ranging my chickens. However, chickens are a catch 22 in the garden. They are great little bug hunters and are really good at helping to till in compost. They also help my compost pile to process more quickly while adding their own deposits to the compost piles. The "catch" comes when the chickens overstep their "free ranging" by eating my green tomatoes. A chicken can completely clean out the inside of a tomato leaving absolutely nothing but the skin on the ground. I wish I could peel tomatoes with that level of effeciency! Chickens can also get very enthusiastic with their scratching methods and scratch so much among the corn stalks that the stalks fall over. Fences do not always keep chickens out because despite the fact that they are a little clumsy they can fly well enough to get over the fence. I let my chickens out in the morning and they make a beeline for the garden, making a brief stop at the compost pile. For the most part they have not done much damage and yes they have only taken a few of my tomatoes, but I really wish they would leave the corn alone for a few days. Everyday I go out patches of my corn are layed down flat. Within a couple of days that patch will stand back up, only for another patch to be laying down. I have had very few bug problems this year with the exception of a squash vine borer situation which with the help of my chickens is now under control. The chickens and I saved all of the squash plants and they are now producing quite well. I am also beginning to see a few baby zuchinni which will be ready to start harvesting soon. Without my chickens, I might have lost all those plants (20). I say might because the only thing that I am sure of is that during the period of attack on my plants the chickens spent a large amount of time among the squash plants. I also have not seemed to have much of a problem with Japanese beetle. I have seen a few, but they have been a very few compared to the thousands that we normally get. I get aggravated with my chickens, but overall I think I am pretty happy to have their help in the garden. We'll see how many of my tomatoes they steal and how I feel by the end of the season. My guinea is much more particular and careful of the plants. However, he is all alone and bug patrol would simply be too much for one lonely little guinea.

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