There are animals in the garden, and for once, they are actually supposed to be there.
Photo by Laura: Goats & Garlic in the Garden
I’m experimenting with housing animals in the garden while it is in its winter dormancy. I’d love to say the idea came while trying to find a way to increase biodiversity, mimic nature, and increase fertility in our garden soil. The truth is, I desperately needed a place to put the goats over the winter, and the tomato patch was the only place that wasn’t flooding. So to make lemonade out of a lemon, I’m calling it an experiment station.
In the fall, the tomato patch had about 6+ inches of wood chips on it so the goats didn’t have direct contact with the soil. Deeply bedded calf hutches protected them from elements.
In the typical goat fashion, the does managed to spread a nice layer of
waste hay mulch over the whole tomato patch. I’m hoping with the wood chips, hay, manure and urine, we will have a nice fertile layer into which we can plant our tomatoes.
The “goats in the garden” experiment led me to try a second experiment: chickens in the garden.
Yesterday, Anna and I threw some cow manure on the garden with the manure spreader. This morning the whole gang helped us move our mobile chicken coop on to the garden. We surrounded the area we wanted “chicken tilled” with electric poultry netting. The hens are loving scratching through everything. Happy hens = yummy eggs! They don’t realize they are actually working, tilling the cow manure into the top layer of the soil.
I’m only planning on leaving the chickens here for a week or less. By then, the chickens will be ready to move on to their next job.