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Chickens

A small flock of chickens is an excellent adjunct to a vegetable garden. Composted manure from the hen house provides a regular source of nutrients for the garden while the chickens happily eat weeds and culled produce that could pose future weed and disease problems if placed in the compost pile. Chickens relish dandelion, quackgrass and most other weeds, but will reject some members of the mint and parsley family.

Chickens can also be allowed to run in the garden for a few weeks in the spring before planting or in the fall after most harvest is complete. They will pick out weed seeds, clean up perennial weeds and also eat slugs and insect pests. A low, temporary fence is usually sufficient to keep them away from late season, over-wintered or early planted crops. Chickens should not be left in the garden for long periods, however, because their constant scratching will ruin soil structure. Their potential for damaging the soil is particularly great if the soil is wet.