How to Keep Chickens Out of the Garden

Fence in the Garden – Not the Chickens.
It’s winter and most of us aren’t growing much right now.
This is a great time of year for building fires in the fireplace, browsing through seed catalogs and planning our crops for 2017.
This isn’t just prime time to order seeds, it’s also a good time to start planning and strategizing for success.  It’s us against the weather, the diseases, the funguses, the insects and the varmints.  Sometimes our biggest garden problems aren’t on the plant…. sometimes it’s the chickens.  Or the cats.  Or the local wildlife.

How do you keep your chickens from eating your garden?  

How do you keep all the other wildlife from eating your garden…. the deer, rabbits, opossum, coons, groundhogs and goats?

You really have 2 choices:
  1. Fence in the animals or
  2. Fence in the garden

I may be able to fence in my chickens and goats, but good luck keeping the other local varmints away.

If I fence in my chickens it won’t stop the deer, raccoons, rabbits or groundhogs from eating all my fresh veggies.  You may live on a prairie where your garden grows and remains undisturbed until you harvest your food.

Not here.

I live in the middle of the woods… in Kentucky.  We don’t have lions, tigers and bears; but we do have raccoons, opossums and deer.  And they love gardens.  You can pour liquid fence.  You can run fishing line.  You can have your husbands and sons pee all over your garden.  BUT that hasn’t stopped the wildlife around here.  Fencing does.

It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really not that hard.  I’ve assisted in so many fencing projects on our farm that it doesn’t phase me much anymore.

To fence in your garden all you need is:

  • Some posts.  We used cedar trees that had fallen (free from the woods).
  • A post hole digger or a 2 man auger.
  • Some woven wire fence (that rabbits can’t get through and deer can’t jump over).  Mine is 6 feet tall.
  • A gate.
  • Of course you’ll need a few tools:  chainsaw for cutting posts to the right height, fence staples for attaching the fencing, hardware for hanging the gate and a couple hammers.
Tips on the Process:
  1. If you’re going to be building raised beds – build them first.
  2. If you’re going to be filling raised beds – fill them first.
  3. If you’re going to be mulching or laying gravel on your walking paths – cover them first.
  4. Consider the location of your compost pile.  Ideally, you want it to be near the garden entrance for easy access.
  5. Go big.  I’m here to tell you, no matter how big you make your garden, it won’t be big enough.  If you are anything like me and want to grow everything that you put into your mouth – you will need more beds, more garden and more plants.  You can always leave beds empty (and mulched) if you don’t want to use it- but I’m always happy to have more space to plant.
  6. Make the entrance big enough.  If you want to be able to get a side-by-side in there, or wheelbarrows, or 4-wheeler, or wagon – make the gate big enough & the paths wide enough so you can maneuver around.  It’s much easier to move manure, compost and mulch with a machine (that dumps) than it is by hand (with shovels).

Fence goes up last.

After the beds.  After the soil.  After the paths.

Why must I stretch my fence last?

The problem is that once the fence is up you have to enter your garden THROUGH THE GATE.  This may not sound like a big deal, but if you are pushing a wheelbarrow filled with manure that weighs 300 pounds it matters.  The garden bed you want to dump the manure into may be 10 feet away from the compost pile BUT the dang door is on the other side of the garden – 70 feet away – uphill, mind you.

Don’t you wish you lived here?

Yes, this is my life.  My compost pile is behind my garden.  Down a hill.  Nowhere near the gate that leads into the garden.  Ugh.  So, anytime I want to take compost from my compost pile and deposit it into my garden I have to move it 70 feet, uphill to the only entrance into my garden.

I know, cut another entrance…. I need to do that.

Once you have your beds built, filled and the paths in order you will be ready to stretch the fence.

We used a two-man auger (DH on one side, me on the other) and drilled all the holes in a morning.  We set the posts & stretched the fence.  It took a weekend.

If you want to keep critters out but don’t want a permanent fence just go grab some construction fencing.

We have used it a few times and it’s worked well for us.  You can use some wooden tobacco steaks (free around here) and $25 worth of orange, plastic fence.  It goes up in a few minutes & a 12 year old can do it.

Temporary fence is great if you want to be able to till your garden (with a tractor) or if you want to move it to new locations (Yay!  Crop rotation) or if you think you won’t want a garden next year.

They do sell this fence in a nice black or dark green but it costs twice as much – go figure.

I have all sorts of problems in my garden (like blight and squash bugs) but thankfully I don’t have chickens, raccoons or deer to deal with.

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XO,

Candi

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