chickens in the garden

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Chickens in the garden, yes, but only under tight supervision.  This tractor of young pullets is pasturing on a bed of buckwheat.  Planted as green manure, and to smother weeds, this patch was allowed to get about four feet tall and set lots of seed before we started the tractor across.  Here’s what they did:IMG_5474[1] We didn’t want to till this patch (we’re trying to encourage the soil biota), so the chickens serve at least four purposes:  1) they are knocking it over and trampling it, so it goes from tall green plant to flattened brown mulch; 2) they are eating lots of buckwheat seed and plant, bugs, too; 3) they are spreading lots of hot chicken manure; and finally 4) piece de resistance, all the buckwheat seed they aren’t eating (buckwheat sets generous seed) is sprouting up through the mulch now,  binding all that chicken nitrogen so it won’t wash off or volatilize, and for a second crop of smothering green manure/mulch/honeybee food/chicken food!IMG_5470[1]

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