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Our Rhode Island Red chicks are about 2 ½ weeks old and the coop is almost done. The area is rocky, but there is an area with some shallow soil which is pretty alkaline. I want to set up a chicken garden so they can free range during the day. Any suggestions on plants I should be planting for the chickens?
 

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I’m thinking that well-fed chickens probably won’t eat plants poisonous to them.

Green, leafy salad-type vegetables of most types are usually welcome. The same stuff humans eat. Mine seem to enjoy kale, turnip greens, tomatoes, berries, clover, tender grasses.

Your problem might be what will grow in your soil.

I’m not familiar with that area of the country so I’m of no help in that regard.
 

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Texasgirl said:
Our Rhode Island Red chicks are about 2 ½ weeks old and the coop is almost done. The area is rocky, but there is an area with some shallow soil which is pretty alkaline. I want to set up a chicken garden so they can free range during the day. Any suggestions on plants I should be planting for the chickens?
Chickens in a garden is usually a problem of what you don't want them eating, cause you want to eat it. First, they will scrounge the garden for bigs first in my experience. My flock of 13 free ranges in the garden almost everyday during the growing season. No self respecting grasshopper will come within a mile of the garden. So, you are going to benefit from most garden pest control. Only two things that they don't care for is ants and squash bugs.

They will tear through fresh baby squash, love to peck tomatoes to get to the seedy pulp and generally like bell peppers. What I plant to share with my chicks is corn, bush type cherry tomatoes and most root type vegetables. They will spend days in the corn rows staying out of the sheath and ambushing bugs. When the corn is picked, when I have to trim a cob because of a worm they get the worm and the trimmed off cob. Cherry tomatoes provide shade and again ambush locations for the bugs. They don't bother picking cherry tomatoes as much as large tomatoes, but they will eat them occasionally. Root vegetables give them green tops to eat without harming the root growth. Mine prefer beet greens and sweet potato greens.

Garden is greatly going to benefit from the chicken poop.
 

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Thanks Robin. Yeah, I have read MANY things that chickens do and don't like but I'll try them out and see for myself. Small quantities shouldn't be their undoing. And yogurt is great . . .so milk ought to be fine. Maybe I am wrong on this, I do not know . . .yet. I'll report back. Are their chicken nutritionists out there?

This conversation reminds me of a dog that ate all the gifts under our Christmas tree (at table height!) and she was unchanged ( I wasn't, though, especially when I learned the gifts were See's Candy!). Our house smelled so divine while I was so distressed, but we both made it through with flying colors. I suspect the birds will eat what they like and avoid what is not allowed in their evolutionary code. What do you think?
 

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They do seem to know what's OK to munch on and what they should leave alone. At least when they're adults. One of my chicks took a poke at a colorful caterpillar. It couldn't run away fast enough afterwards.

I've read so many topics about how to protect plants from the devastation of chickens. It seems those that survive the best are those that are more shrubbery. They can't dig them up like they do with so many other smaller plants.
 

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Oh the peepers chewing it down to nothing. yeah. I have some ideas about that and that'll have to wait for pictures down the line. In the interim, there are cloches, grazing boxes, throwing squash onto the ground and garlands of food, fodder, etc. Success on this problem will capture most of my attention, I'm sure, Oh, and growing extra stuff outside the run that will fall into the run (berries and mulberry/serviceberry tree. Espalier vines that are facing the outside might only expose the fruit. We'll see. Ask me in 6 months!
 

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Yes, to all of it. I thought you were going to grow stuff from that massive list and then just turn the birds loose in it. If you want your garden tilled just turn a flock of chickens loose in it.

OK, here's the obvious question. Are you going to stay put to enjoy all of that hard work? If you hit the road again moving with birds can be complicated.
 

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Hah! I will be planting all kinds of stuff (mostly food) in the lower 40 where sheep have been lovingly mowing the existing greenery (bless their furry black noses). Fertilizer! This acreage is destined to become an all organic and no-till permaculture gardening project should I live forever. French fruit walls, food forest, and a ton of raised hügelkultur beds should give all of us plenty of groceries! My girls will have the time of their little chicken lives, right? And in their large enclosed-on-3-sides run, I plan to get a thick carpet of pasture grasses and plant some chicken edibles here and there and in containers at different heights they'll have to jump onto (for exercise).

Oh, and I have this to share. It's a simple and brilliant idea I saw online (sorry I can't credit the inventor out there) of the trays--that ordinarily hold germination pots--turned upside down to have another life as grazing boxes. Really cool. So that may protect plantings and they can be staked down or moved or whatever. I will have a foddering system for them too. A misting system is on the list for late spring, but there will be shaded areas.

And yes, I plan to live there until the next wave of having to move comes to me. I figure a decade plus will feel like a short time given how busy I'll be. And hubby want goats and who could leave goats? I don't think the girls will outlive the goats. Just a guess.

Okay, back to the joys of the last few boxes (can you hear the screams?).
Plant Rectangle Mesh Wood Grass
 

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The pics are going to be so much fun to look at.

Ten years is a decent run for being in one place. By that time you can have the goats trained to ride in the back of a truck and put your birds in cages to keep them company.

Oh that wasn't on you list of how to decide where to move. Does the area allow livestock? When we moved here I didn't want to be anywhere near commercial chicken houses.
 

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I actually haven't had a whole lot of trouble with chickens destroying plants...it's them kicking my lovely mulch out of the garden beds that's the problem! I have to blow it back in with a leaf blower or rake it back into place at least twice a week! They do help with grasshoppers and aphids, though...
 

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This area is so rural that trees haven't found it. Wait....I have a picture somewhere,
Cloud Sky Plant Natural landscape Mountain

Its unincorporated and anything but roosters is allowed. So stay tuned. Busy ordering some structures as there is no wood or supplies on the land and my tools won't arrive for a few months anyway. I am wholly indulging myself.
 
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