Out to roam
For the most part I keep the chickens in their run, it is large and comfortable and everything they need is there. I let them out in the garden only occasionally but need to do so more often. I have raised garden beds with a gravel topping (called Tuscan Topping). The gravel topping does quite well at keeping the weeds to a minimum. In a permaculture system(in any system) you can choose to let the chickens into your garden beds to eat weeds and fertilise the soil. With raised beds and a gravel path I don’t want the chickens in the beds, as they spill the soil out and into the paths. So I mostly use the chickens to eat the weeds (and pests) growing around the fruit trees and along the paths. I use a long bamboo cane to shoo them off the garden beds. They love exploring the whole garden and don’t stay long in one place. In fact they might visit each area for a minute or two before moving to the next. So in a garden set up like mine, having them out involves me keeping a constant eye on them or they will enter my garden beds and rough up the soil where new plants are growing. UNLESS, I have netted my beds. When I am growing brassicas the beds are netted. It is the very best way to keep Cabbage moths away. But to keep the nets from being exposed to UV all year long I pack the nets away. A roll of netting 75m by 4m cost me $150. I also don’t want to negotiate the nets every time I want to access the garden beds, nor a woven wire fence/frame. Because chicken supervision takes away important time I want to spend in the garden cultivating and propagating, I have reduced the time the chickens enter the garden to zero… UP until now…. I have been reminded of the important role chickens play at reducing codling moth infestations and hence hooray! chicken Shepard I will be…or bird netting come out and marry me!