by Texas Homesteader
One day I saw that our free-range hens had been in the planted beds scratching the mulch and in the process scratching & eating my plants. Gggrrrrr… Let’s see, what can I do to protect these seedlings as they grow?
Say it with me kids – use what you’ve got! Check out the Homestead Hack I used to successfully protect my seedlings from our free-range hens.
You see, I started heirloom seeds indoors this winter so I’d have seedlings to plant outside when the weather warmed enough. I was thrilled that I finally got some sage and basil to sprout since I was not successful sprouting them last year.
So I tenderly planted those herb seedlings and some veggie plants in my edible landscape. Then I eagerly anticipated harvesting fresh herbs soon. Aaaahhhh… the dreams of a gardener!
But then I saw the damage my free-range hens caused. They can’t help it, I know it’s their natural instinct to scratch around in the dirt. But after all that work getting those seedlings in the ground, my heart just sank.
Plants Damaged By Free-Range Hens
After I recovered from the initial frustration of this sabotage attempt by the hens, I inspected the plants themselves. “Hummm, not too bad”, I thought to myself. Maybe I could save them.
Why yes I’m the eternal optimist, why do you ask? HA!
Of course I realize that unless you fence off your planted areas you’re not going to keep free range hens out of the beds. But I didn’t want a fortress fence around my plantings. It just wasn’t the landscape look I was after.
So I thought maybe there might be a way to protect the plants themselves. Some way to discourage the chickens from scratching young seedlings right out of the ground. But how to protect them?
I looked around and saw some bare twigs from a large shrub that is struggling with all the water we’ve received this spring.
Then I had a light-bulb moment! I thought “Now THAT will work!”
So I broke off some of the branchier branches and pushed them deep into the soil next to my seedling. I went all the way around the seedling, using about three twigs for each group of plants.
My hope was that the branches of these twigs would fortify the plant and keep it from being uprooted. Plus since I got the branchier branches, the twig stuck out from the seedling too, keeping the chickens from getting on top of the seedling and trampling it.
Then I sat back to see if this would successfully keep the hens from not only scratching up my plants but also snacking them down to the ground as well.
It worked beautifully. Then hens did still visit the beds and scratch around, but they no longer scratched around my seedlings. And they didn’t care to get close enough to them to eat the leaves either.
Then as the plants grew the twigs were hidden through their foliage. So even if the hens snack on a bit of the plant, they’re not able to snack it to the ground.
Plus, since it’s just twigs, there’s no plastic supports to buy and remove at the end of the season. The twigs look more natural that something I may have bought to do the job too.
So once again we’ve solved a problem without resorting to buying something to do the job for us nor causing any environmental harm. Mother Nature – the best place to shop!
- How To Teach Free-Range Chickens To Come HOME
- Breaking The Broody Hen
- What Color Eggs Will My Chickens Lay?
- MYO Low-Waste Chicken Feeder
- Keeping Wild Birds Away From Your Chicken Feeder
- Nutritional Difference Of Free-Range Eggs
- How To Protect Seedlings From Free-Range Hens
- Keeping Our Chickens Mite Free
- How To Get Free Chicken Food
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