Edible gardeners want to eat what they grow. Chicken owners want happy egg-laying helpers. But happy, free-ranging chickens will mess up a veggie patch faster than you can say cotyledon.
And that is the conflict garden-growing chicken-owners face.
Thankfully, Free-Range Chicken Gardens, the new book by landscape designer and chicken expert Jessi Bloom, tells you how to have your cake and eat it to. (Chicken cake? Never mind, moving on.)
Jessi sent me a review copy of the book so I would have a chance to read it before her virtual release party, happening today all over the interwebs*, and I’m so glad she did.
From Free Range Chicken Gardens I learned:
- How to train chickens to come when I call. Now six of our hens will run toward me at full-tilt when I say, “Hey, chook chook chook!” because they think I have sunflower seeds. The seventh, the really, really stupid one, gets confused and starts ba-gawking. (Note: six hens running straight at you will induce mild, Jurassic Park velociraptor flash-back panic every single time.)
- How to turn chickens into a moderately effective weed-controlling yard-crew with paddock-style fencing.
- How to use groundcover to discourage chickens from going places you don’t want.
- How terrifically hip and modern expanded metal mesh looks on a chicken coop.
The book provides a good overview on coop building styles and considerations, very basic chicken care info, do-grow/don’t-grow plant lists for the chicken garden and lots and lots of gorgeous inspirational pictures.
But for me, the most valuable thing Free-Range Chicken Gardens offers is insightful evaluation on how to design the coop, run and fencing so that it’s easier to make the chickens an active ally in the garden.
I wish Jessi had published this book last year, before we built our chicken coop. I would have done things a little differently in terms of incorporating paddock fencing into the design.
As it is, I think the advice in this book will really help us put the chickens to their all-around best use while keeping them happier and healthier in the process. It’ll just be a little more tricky to take full advantage of the wisdom now than it would have been a year ago.
People still thinking about getting chickens or upgrading your current coop, I highly recommend this book before you start to build. It’s got great ideas to ponder. Current flock owners, if you are struggling with how to get your chickens to eat the weeds and not the arugula, then this is the book for you, too.
Win a Free Copy, And More
Timber Press, the excellent publishing house for Free-Range Chicken Gardens, has apparently lost their mind and they are giving away free books all over the damn place.
To enter to win both books, leave a comment with either your most pressing chicken question (I’ll see if I can find a chicken expert to answer it for you), your funniest chicken story (make us laugh!), the number one reason other than eggs you want chickens (homemade feather bed?), or your favorite egg recipe (title/description is fine, you don’t need to type up the whole recipe).
Feel free to comment as much as you’d like, but only one entry per person will be counted and one winner will be chosen.
Entries will be accepted until Wednesday April 11, 8 PM PST. Winner will be announced on Thursday April 12th.
More Chances To Win
Timber Press isn’t just giving these books away on this blog, they’re also sponsoring a half-dozen identical giveaways around the virtual world. Which means…enter here and then start clicking around, because even if you don’t win the NW Edible giveaway, you might win one of the other ones.
Other bloggers will probably have different ways of entering, since we’re all doing this separately, so be sure to check what the other sites are looking for before going all cut-and-paste on this giveaway.
*You’ll find similtaneous book giveaway contests of Free-Range Chicken Gardens happening at:
Reminder: Urban Farms Magazine Subscription Giveaway
Also, if you haven’t yet entered yesterday’s giveaway (we’re giving away stuff right-and-left this week!), make sure to put your name in the hat to win a year’s subscription to Urban Farms Magazine by taking the Seed Starting Challenge (it’s easy!).
Bloggers, you can also link-up your favorite post on edible gardening or seed starting and be entered to win a (second, Northwest Edible-sponsored) subscription to Urban Farms Magazine too, if readers pick your post as their favorite!
Good luck, everyone.