Need a bigger kitchen garden

Today we moved the hens into their summer quarters. It gives them more shade in the summer and also frees up the winter quarters for planting. Moving them involves moving the hen house, which is heavy. The chickens watched us move it.

See, they even played follow my leader. One laid an egg in the hen house, in its new position. When it came to shutting up time, they were not in the hen house. Even though we knew they knew where it was. We had an egg as proof that at least meant one of them knew. They were found huddled up together where the old house used to be. Looking lost. In the end we had to herd them into the house in the new position.

Once the children were home from school, I set to work on the vacated plot. If I am going to be more understanding about sharing our harvest with the wildlife, then it is going to be easier if we have more to start with.

Last year we grew 50 sweetcorn plants on the hens winter area. We ate sweetcorn everyday, for what seemed like weeks and even had enough to share with friends. Sweetcorn is really best and sweetest when eaten soon after picking. We can vouch for it. The children know the difference, as we discovered one lunch at a restaurant. (“Yes, it is sweetcorn.  Yes, I am sure.”)

Anyway, this year I decided to try the beans and peas in this area. I dug it over last week, in readiness. Now if I am going to grow more of everything, having more growing space is a step in the right direction. There is also a bit of creative planting, I have planned, which I will share with you as I do it.

So today, I doubled the plot. The earth is better than I imagined. We have a lot of heavy clay in some parts of the garden, but this earth is beautiful. I’m going to plant potatoes in this newly dug area. I’m late putting in but they are going to be in a really good sunny spot. As ever, I can do very little without someone turning up. Babs was literally under my feet as I dug. How I didn’t catch her feet, I really don’t know. The hens enjoyed the worms, millipedes and ants nests that I dug up.

Apparently they needed help finding worms. So kind of AJ to help.

4 thoughts on “Need a bigger kitchen garden

  • Thursday 6 May, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Oh lucky you having some lovely gardening space,,I miss that so much!
    We have thought a couple of times about keeping chickens, my sister has a ‘Rare Breeds’ poultry farm and is always trying to get me to have some,but I’ve been on the recieving end of a couple of foul (excuse the pun I couldn’t resist) tempered cockerals in the past. So I’m not too keen…but you never know!
    Em xx

    • Thursday 6 May, 2010 at 9:44 am

      Emma – you don’t have to have a cockerel, unless you plan to hatch your own eggs, so don’t be put off. We started out with three hens and they were so sweet and interesting that their numbers have swelled. We used to have Buff Rocks and I always thought of them as mobile garden gnomes, that laid eggs and waddled around the garden.

  • Thursday 6 May, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Hello there from across Devon (possibly; not sure whereabouts you are, but we are in the east). 🙂

    Definitely like the idea of summer and winter quarters; when we reinstate our hens (bit of a sore topic as we recently suffered a visit from the fox), we’re aiming for two areas for them, like you, so the ground gets chance to recover. Particularly like the idea of planting something on the ground in between – potatoes are supposed to be madly good for soil, too, aren’t they?

    Anyway, will stop wittering now, but just wanted to say thanks for the hen pics, which I could quite do with now, in the (temporary) absence of my own chicken ladies.

    • Thursday 6 May, 2010 at 9:13 pm

      Hi Earthenwitch – we are further north of you in Somerset. Sorry to hear about your hens. I had a bantam flock wiped out last summer by a badger. We still had the large fowl, but I didn’t want to buy more just to feed the local badger population. We know it was a badger because it was caught in the act. Potatoes are great for cleaning up the earth, so perfect for a new area like the one I’ve been digging. Hope you get some more hens soon.

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