The first and most important thing your chickens can do for your garden is provide organic manure fertilizer. The key is to let the manure decompose and break down before mixing it in your soil. Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and can burn your plants if not broken down first. Poultry owners refer to chicken manure as black gold because it is the best kind of manure for raising any kind of garden. So before you purchase chicken manure compost, just know you already have all you need, right in your backyard coop! There are many ways to age chicken manure. The hotter the temperature, the faster it will decompose. Here are a few tips to make your own organic Chicken Manure Compost:
- Gather manure with the shavings from your chicken coop.
- Make a pile of the manure on the ground or in a compost bin.
- Add equal amounts of other organic carbon materials such as topsoil, grass clippings, dry leaves, shavings etc.
- Lightly wet the pile (cover the pile if on the ground.)
- Rotate if you are using a compost bin every week and let it cure for 45-60 days or if on the ground, stir every so often and let it cure 6-12 months.
- Compost is cured and ready when it is dry and falls apart easily, it will have a slightly sweet smell and be nice and dark.
- Another tip is to wait until your garden is dormant, sprinkle fresh manure on garden beds and let it cure through the winter. In the spring, till it into the soil!
Another great way chickens are helpful for the garden is they eat harmful bugs that might be present. If you monitor your chickens, when vegetable plants are at least 6 high, you can let them in your fenced garden to look and scratch for bugs. Chickens aerate the soil and look under leaf plants for insects. They also eat little weed seedlings that might be coming up. Once most of the bugs are gone, chickens can be let out of the garden. Be careful not to leave them in too long that they start eating your plants! Occasionally, let your chickens peck around the yard, under bushes and trees and around fence lines. Your spiders, slugs, earwigs and caterpillars will be held at bay. With a little supervision, you can enjoy a garden and your chickens too!
Visit CleanCoops.com to learn more about the benefits of raising your own backyard flock and building your own chicken coop.