Get The Chooks On The Job!


I love seeing a chicken how nature intended – lost in a jungle of greens!

Every autumn I sow a mustard greencrop in the greenhouse beneath the tomatoes and peppers. Mustard for soil is like lemon juice for livers – a deep cleanse, (or biofumigant if you want the techy term). A soil cleanse like this is especially important where the solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants) has been.

Come July, when we’re done with the tomatoes and peppers and the mustard greens are thigh high, I open the chook door in the back of the greenhouse, and let the chickens amongst it. A fresh adventure, clean ground (so important for top chook health) and a tonne of bugs and greens to gobble is a fair trade for getting all my weeding done, gobbling all the bugs and leaving behind their soil building doings.

Integrate your chooks into your garden and make the most of this amazing labour force with carefully placed houses, chook size gates and runs alongside the edible garden for easy chook access. Protect the crops that you’re eating with high hoops and birdnet, or cleverly crafted temporary fencing. In the berryhouse and greenhouse, I make a screen by pegging one of my fruit tree bird-nets to the overhead wires.

screen off the chooks

By August the mustard greens are shredded and turned into the soil for a hit of nitrogen and a load of humus building material. A zhuzh up for the beneficial fungi and bacteria which makes for stronger crops to follow. Hello beautiful soil!

When they’re done, I close the greenhouse door and open the one into the berryhouse (when one door closes …) where team chook will get to it weeding beneath the raspberries and currants in their constant hunt for bugs and genetically driven desire to shake their booty. This leaves the greenhouse free for its annual scrub down. Because, believe it or not, its time to get ready for spring. Creeps up on you, doesn’t it?