Ok, so gardening with chickens can be amazing, they provide pest control, they weed like champions and their manure… oh, glorious chicken manure is pure gold for the garden. But, gardening with chickens can be a double-edged sword. They are like tiny organic rototillers in the garden, they toss mulch everywhere and can devour young perennials before they even get a chance to get going.
I love to let them free range but I’ll admit I was a gardener long before I was a chicken owner. I have some pretty cool and even some rare plants which have taken me years to acquire, start and propagate. So this year, I’m not getting caught off guard.
I’ve had my wonderful husband make me a mobile chicken tractor and a huge geodesic chicken dome… which is a whole other story… I’ll write it soon.
Honestly, the whole goal of having free range hens is to let them roam. So, I’m taking my friend Carolyn’s advice and only letting the hens out an hour before dusk. That way they get time to really stretch their legs, but they don’t have enough time to trash the joint!
But, even with this strategy, I’ll still need some strong defenses for my favorite perennials and young annuals. Which brings me to our DIY of the day, The DIY Chicken Wire Cloche.
What is a cloche?
Cloche comes from the French word for bell thus, in this application a garden cloche is a bell-shaped cover for plants. Cloches are popular in French pottage gardens to help keep frost off of young tender plants, we will be using them to keep chickens off our plants.
Believe it or not, chicken wire is perfect for keeping chickens out of the garden. But I have an entire suburban half acre of gardens, and I just can’t fence it all. Instead, I’ve opted to spot protect my beloved perennials.
Enough yammering, let’s get started
What you’ll need to make a chicken wire cloche:
- Standard Gauge Chicken Wire
- Form-fitting leather work/garden gloves
- Wire cutters
- A form of your choosing I’ve used a large jug and a ball vase
- make sure it’s big enough to cover your plant
- Measuring tape, for this task I prefer a flexible one like for sewing.
- Metal landscaping pin or tent peg
How to make your chicken wire cloche:
Measure your form and cut a piece of wire slightly larger than your form (say 2-3 inches larger on all sides)
Stretch your wire around the form and make it nice and tidy. Begin twisting in the ends to create a sturdy shape
Pinch and twist the bottom layer to create a sturdy flat base. I used my counter to ensure the base was level and sturdy
Place cloche over your favorite perennials and secure them with a mental pin to make sure the little cluckers don’t knock it over.
This solution will work while your plants are young, but they will eventually outgrow the cloche, but at least by then, the plant will be mature enough to handle a little nibbling.
Do you garden with chickens? Do you have any hot tips for me? Please share them below.
If you liked this, then you may like my other organic gardening posts
Thank for hanging out!