When it comes to self-sufficient living, it is hard to beat the benefits of raising backyard chickens. Especially when it comes to powering a productive garden than needs to feed your family.
When most people think of raising chickens, they think of the incredible fresh and tasty eggs that these wonderful animals regularly lay. And although they certainly do produce amazing eggs, chickens can provide even more. Especially for those who like to grow their own vegetables!
We have raised chickens since we put our first garden in some 8 years ago. And they have played a major role in helping to create some of the richest, most-productive garden soil a gardener could ever ask for.
If that wasn’t enough, they also help to keep weeds and insects in check as well. All in all, you could say our little flock of chickens have become our gardening angels.
We thought for today’s gardening article, we would take an in-depth look at just how amazing raising backyard chickens can be for your garden.
Raising Backyard Chickens – 3 Great Ways Chickens Can Power A Garden
The Fertilizer Machines
The chickens provide us with some of the best all-natural fertilizer a garden could ever need. And they do it in more ways than one.
Powering The Compost – Each time we clean the coop, we add the mixture of shredded straw and chicken manure into our compost pile. The high nitrogen level of the straw/manure mix helps to power up the heat in our compost pile. This not only speeds the process of making compost, but the chicken manure adds additional nutrients to the finished compost as it breaks down.
Manure Tea – During the growing season, we use fresh manure from the coop to make manure tea. It made of fresh chicken manure steeped in water. Manure tea is one of the most potent fertilizers around.
It provides a quick boost of nitrogen to plants when applied, and can provide a big boost to plants as they mature. See: How To Make Manure Tea
Side Dressing – In the early spring, as crops are beginning to take hold, we use the fresh straw / manure mix from the coop to side dress our vegetable plants.
When used around plants as a mulch, it releases nitrogen and other nutrients back into the soil as the mix breaks down and leaches into the soil. This has been on of the easiest and most effective ways to mulch and fertilize at the same time.
Keeping Weeds In Check
Believe it or not, chickens can be an incredible asset when it comes to controlling weeds. In late summer, when the garden is all but done, we let our chickens in the garden to forage and feast. The results are amazing.
As they scratch and roam, they consume thousands of weed seeds. Seeds that are next year’s potential weed problems.
It is a complete win-win for us, our garden, and the chickens. Not only do the chickens help control next year’s weeds, they love being in the garden with fresh areas to cover. With all the additional foraging space, it also cuts down of chicken feed usage.
One quick side note, we do plant a few fall crops such as garlic and onions. We protect these easily with a temporary fence placed around those rows.
Controlling Insects and Bugs
Chickens love bugs – and when they get a go at the garden, they go to town. Chickens scratch, claw, and devour aphids, cabbage moths, cabbage worms, tomato hornworms, beetles and a whole host of other insects.
They also dig up and devour larvae. Many insects, from Japanese beetles to several varieties of moths lay their larvae in the soil. In the fall, as the chickens roam the garden, they find and eat the larvae. It is a huge help in reducing next year’s population of problematic insects.
It is amazing to sit and watch our chickens when they get their time in the garden. Not only are they helping us – they couldn’t be happier. And happy chickens lay great eggs! For a great read on raising backyard chickens, check out the Chicken Chicks Guide To Raising Backyard Chickens.
Happy Chicken Raising and Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary. To receive our 3 Home, Garden, Recipe and Simple Life articles each week, sign up below for our free email list. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.