In February I posted a picture of my modest collection of raised beds and asked for ideas about how to keep the chickens out of them. Jessi Blum, author of Free Range Chicken Gardens, chimed in with some good advice. I wanted the best of both worlds: total chicken protection with very little effort on my part.
After some trial and error, I think I got pretty close. This has been in place for over a month with no chicken invasions to date. Here’s an overview (and by the way, these photos were taken earlier in the season):
And here’s a bit more detail:
In the asparagus bed, I just stretched the chicken wire across the top of the bed and put a couple of boards under the wire, but also on top of the bed, so the chickens could not actually just walk on the chicken wire and pick at the plants. I attached the chicken wire with U-shaped nails/staples. My hope is that the asparagus will grow through the gaps in the wire. I chose wire with large enough gaps that I can actually squeeze my hands through.
In the potato bed (this was mostly just an accident) I tossed a cheap wooden trellis, to which a bit of chicken wire was attached, over the bed. That seemed to be enough to keep the chickens out, so I left it. It’s not even attached to the raised bed–it’s just sitting there.
In a bed where I have planted some squash (lower left in the photo above) I screwed a board into each corner, then stretched some aptly-named bird netting around the whole thing. I affixed the bird netting to the boards with wire ties and anchored it in the ground with landscape staples (those big u-shaped bits of wire they use to keep landscape fabric down.)
In the other bed, I just rounded up some plastic green stakes (any sort of stake would have worked) and wrapped chicken wire around it. In some cases, I attached the chicken wire with little u-shaped nails/staples, and in some cases I tried using eyelets that I screwed in, figuring that way I could pull the chicken wire off later. And in some cases I really didn’t attach the chicken wire to the beds at all–I just wrapped it around the posts and the raised beds.
The straw bale garden (against the fence, at top in the above photo) just has a piece of chicken wire wrapped around it, anchored to the ground with landscape staples. It’s attached to the chicken run, goes past one stake I put in the corner, and over to the fence itself. I attached it to the fence with a couple of hook-and-eye things so that I could pull it away from the fence to get in there if I need to.
In every case, it’s still pretty easy to get at the beds. The height of the chicken wire or netting is such that I can still reach in there to pull weeds, harvest, scatter seeds, etc. I mean, I wouldn’t want to bend over all day like that, but I can pretty much reach in and do what I need to do.
So that’s it! The photo collage below will give you a close-up of some of the things I was talking about. Oh, and I do know what a fancier version of this would look like: It would use solid wood stakes attached to the beds with hinges at the bottom so that they could drop down on the ground for easy access on one side, maybe using hooks and eyes to hold them closed when they are upright. But I didn’t feel like going to even that much effort–and so far, this works!
Anybody else have chicken-proofing success stories they want to share?