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A moveable pen one a 2-3 week rotation has been the only thing thats worked for me so far.

Amen to that. I'm sacrificing the occasional vegetable plant to a local digging skunk in order to not have to run chicken wire around my beds. who wants chicken wire covering everything? I looked at your photo of your yard and I really think the only way to avoid an ugly wire situation is to do this. its time to do some real re-arranging back there. I dont know what all is against the right side wall in the photo, looks like some jade or succulents maybe? but here is what I would do. I would move it out of the way (give it a chance) take what i like and keep it for replanting against other parts of the wall, compost what I dont and then move the beds towards the wall leaving myself three feet. NOW I can put up an easy little picket or pretty, short wood fence that I can easily see into and I've saved myself from having to fence off half of my yard. you have a really great cool yard. I think if you're willing to move some things around you can save space and still leave plenty of room for the chickies. to me its the only way.

Short of confining the birds to a pen with a top, I have not been successful in keeping chickens out of my garden. They manage to jump up on any fence and then hop into the garden. They also have an incredibly long memory.

I live in rural PA and the farmer I buy my chickens from uses the braided electronic fence to create pens for his girls. It is inexpensive (relatively) and makes it easy for him to move the "grazing" area for the girls. You might want to check out Harvey Ussery - he writes for Mother Earth and actually has a workshop called "Chickens In The Garden."

Sadly I had to pen my chickens to save the garden. Now I have a lot more chickens, but by the end of the summer they had pretty much denuded the veggie and ornamentals. I think fencing the garden or the chickens is the only way. I have a hard time believing the cover of that book. My chickens would have relocated that gravel into all the beds in no time.

In a previous lifetime, when I lived in the country, we kept a flock of chickens. They were penned, but a couple would escape. Maybe because they had several acres to roam, they did not damage the garden while keeping the bug population to a minimum. Now that I live in the city, if I could keep chickens, I'd go with a moveable pen, aka "chicken tractor", partly for their own protection as I have a Cooper's hawk as a daily visitor to my backyard.

I have no idea how to keep chickens out of the garden. My neighbors keep theirs in a fenced off area. I would like to build a moveable pen and borrow those chickens now and then for my garden. By the way, I love the picture of your garden. Looks like a good place to sit outside.

I control my chickens by not being as nice as you. I let them out of their fenced yard only about an hour before sundown. So they get a little freedom, but don't have time to get into too, too much trouble.

So glad you'll be growing more vegetables! The quality of dinner in your house is sure to go through the roof.

I've found the oven and/or the freezer to be escape-proof.

How about a greenhouse for the veggies or going vertical along the fence?

A neighbor fences sections of her vegetable garden and lets the girls in when it won't hurt the plants. She keeps them moving so they don't seem to notice that they can't get to everything.

I agree with everyone else--pen the chickens. You'll keep them safe from predators, and keep the plants safe from them.

The only time I let my hens loose around my raised beds is after I'm done for the growing season. Then they can scratch and eat overwintering bugs and weed seeds to their hearts' content.

I also agree that gravel is not practical. Have you ever tried cleaning chicken poop off a gravel walk? How about straw, which you can then compost and add to the growing area? You'll still need to watch where you step!

I think a tractor or movable fencing would be best, at least for the first year. I love the photos in Jessi's book, of beautiful chickies wandering through the shrubbery ........ but your veg garden looks like mine: not a lot of shrubbery. I bought a second-hand mobile dog pen at ReStore, which, at only 4 ft high, the girls quickly learned how to fly out of. However, it is small enough to be easily movable, and it is easy to cover with a few spare wooden trellis panels which keeps them in, and hawks out. I will say that I am truly inspired by the book, and am thinking about planting some actual shrubs and maybe even smallish (fruit) trees. I love the jungle look possible in Northwest gardens (I would certainly count Eureka climate for this), though where I live broadleaf evergreens are few and far between. I will look forward to seeing what you come up with. And I would love a copy of the book -- I borrowed the one I'm reading from the library, but consider it a keeper and would like my onw.

Make the common PVC hoophouse, but cover it in wire mesh or chicken wire rather than plastic. This should also keep birds and squirrels off the crops, too. You would need to get clever for an entry, though.

Something I have on my wish list for season extenders is Quick Hoops Bender tool from Johnny's Selected Seeds. This may be of help to you for keeping the chickies out of your beds. You use the tool for bending electrical conduit into nice 4' or 6' diameter hoops for each raised bed. Then cover with bird netting (you may have to rescue a sparrow or garter snake now and then) or Agribon cloth. The cloth would have the added advantage of season extension and also would help keep pests such as cabbage moths or squash bugs off of your crops. Would have to open it up a bit when it was time for pollination, however. How about creating a 'spa' for your chickies? Give them their own special place in the yard that is most desireable from a chickies viewpoint? Dig a little swell under a small tree or some shrubbery and put some sand there for their dust bath, then plant some tasty greens and place a waterer nearby. Whenever you handpick beetles or hornworms from the garden, this will make a tasty treat for your hens. Always serve the bugs in the chickies' special spot and they will develop that expectation as they are definitely creatures of habit.

My guess is that your book will find a readership here in Arlington, Virginia.

Our County Board will be considering -- probably sometime during the next year -- an amendment to its zoning laws that would permit backyard chickens -- subject to limits (very small flock, no roosters etc). Currently, backyard chickens are effectively prohibited, given restrictions on lot size and distance to fenceline.

Although the proposal is still conceptual, it has already aroused considerable negative community sentiment. Numerous community residents have expressed serious concerns about rodent infestation, among a host of other issues, and question whether backyard chicken coops make sense in an "urban village" like Arlington. At least one County Board member has expressed support for the proposal, which seems to be part of a trend toward urban gardening generally (local, organic food etc.). In any event, you might keep an eye out -- there will most certainly be a big battle on this issue.

I've had some luck fencing off the garden in the early part of the year (when the veggies really are defenseless) but letting my girls in once the plants are bigger and stronger. I still lose some now and then, but if I let them get into baby salad greens I'll never get a salad for myself!

We use inflatable snakes to keep the birds out of our ripening fruits. Only cost $8 at the garden center. Move them every time you pick (about every other day) and the birds never figure it out. Might work for the hens too. Good luck.

As for the people struggling to legalize hens in their community, you may want to get the upcoming July/August issue of Chickens magazine--I''ll be describing how the Durham City Council went from "no f-- way" to unanimous consent on legalizing hens.

I looked at the post on your straw bale garden. How quickly did the rice straw decompose at the end of the season? I've used it for mulch in my veggie garden & it seems to last forever; the good part about it is no weeds, unlike "regular" straw.

Good luck on keeping the girls out--mine have their own pen and never come into the yard. My Labrador & visiting German shepherd would probably scare the hens to death--or something worse!

We're doing a low-strung cable wire fence this year across the bottom of our garden. We're coupling that with potentially clipping one wing, just so the girls are not as inclined to fly up and over. Having had a HUGE yard in the past with plenty of room for the tractor... I'd really vote against the chicken tractor. It's a pain and leaves destruction in its mist. Plus, it's a lot less safe for hens from predators (you're speaking to someone whose flock suffered a tractor raccoon attack with not great results). You could also feed your girls in the coop and then let them out for the second half of the day. At least then, they won't be quite so ravished and veggie-hungry!

Bird netting over the beds- you can use stakes to blanket it up higher once the plants grow higher. You have to secure it on all sides and then get under it to weed/harvest, but it does work. My chickens hate it and stay away from it.

Motion detector sprinkler?

Sounds like your irrigation system is already in...shouldn't be too hard to set this up. I haven't gotten one of these, yet. But I have an unruly dog and 3 chickens so I'm thinking of giving it a go.

My chickens do not like rosemary... and rosemary grows in full sun like my vegetables and it is evergreen... so I am thinking about planing rosemary around the outside of my raised beds... not sure if it will work but I only have 5 chickens and they are kind of lazy anyway, so I have hope.

We have 2 & 1/2 acres for our chickens to roam and they still prefer to come all the way up to the deck and our back door to poop. Does anyone have any suggestions for potty training?

How about using concrete reinforcing mesh to make a hoop house. Its the welded wire mesh with six inch squares. It comes in rolls so when you unroll it it has a bit of a curve. It could easily be covered with bird netting or chickenwire. It is also easy to lift off access veggies. I also use it to make tomato cages. What i do is cut the re-mesh into 3 square modules. There will be pokey wires sticking off one side. Bend those back to become hooks. Now you can hook the modules together to make whatever size tunnel or tomato cage you need. They can also be stacked on top of one another to make a 10 foot tomato cage. Plus, at the end of the season they stack up nicely and dont take up too much space. They can also be hit with a propane torch to sterilize them at the end of a season unlike pvc.

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