would like opinions on this planting idea

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Ok, we have all these chickens running around. They wreck a garden or flower bed faster than I can plant 'em. This year, I screwed big hooks in the ends of my clothesline posts, and hung assorted old metal buckets and tubs (I'm soooo Martha!) from the hooks. Also put hooks w/buckets on the sides of buildings, fence posts, etc.

The idea is, I will plant my tomatoes and whatnot in these hanging buckets, which the chickens cannot reach or perch upon. Say, about eye level. The plan is that the tomato plants will grow, unmolested, much like hanging flower baskets. Eventually the plants will veer downward, due to weight & height, and will be hanging tomato plants. Right? It's not my own idea; I've seen similar set-ups. What I'm wondering is, will it work?

-- Shannon at Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary (gratacres@aol.com), April 12, 2002


sounds like watering hell to me, Shannon, but an interesting idea. seems there would be a lot of breakage especially if you have much wind. wouldn't it be easier to pen the chickens? we had completely free range chickens last year and the garden/flower beds were disaster areas. still working on the how-to part but "never the twain shall meet" is the rule this year. fence around the garden, fence around the chickens or BOTH.

-- B. Lackie - Zone3 (cwrench@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

Shannon, it should work. I have planted tomato plants in hanging baskets a different way. I cut a hole in the bottom of the basket, (not too big, the dirt will fall out) insert the plant in the hole, upside down so the plant is sticking out of the bottom of the pot. Then filled the planter with dirt. The upside down tomato plant grows up and around the basket. This works great for cherry tomatoes. Large tomatoes will need some sort of support when they get heavy, but it should work! Have fun!

-- cowgirlone in ok (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

We have the same problem with our chickens. We found that putting chicken wire on the ground before we plant stops them from digging. The plants can still grow thru the wire, but the chickens hate scratching in that area.

-- Jay from MN (candlebn@maxminn.com), April 12, 2002.

A friend was trying to convince me to do near the same w/ a part of my 5 gallon bucket collection. (she who dies w/ the most buckets wins,intact handel bonus points!) but they said they had seen them hanging from the handle w/ thw tomatoes growing out the bottom then climbing up the sides!? !

the reasoning aparantly was then you could have any level of soil in the large bucket, easier rain/hose watering & the bonus of how it confounded the neighbors.

but i must say ms. shannon, i've never met a chicken who would not fly to great legnths to 'try out' a peck on that shiny red tomato. & i hope you used eye bolts-hooks not the 'brass' plant hanging hooks. good luck, use mulch to help w/ the h2o & have fun!

in san fransisco, no one had real dirt to plant in, so everything vegetable & floral was grown in pots, six pot of corn looked odd, lettuce could be moved to the shade, but fennel is fabulous looking in those overbearing 'urn' style planters. i have an old broken one that i wanted to plant but my tomas has declared it his 'cat-king of all i survey' seat. and has refused to co-exist w/ such a sissy plant as florence fennel.

-- bj pepper ,in central MS. (pepper.pepper@excite.com), April 12, 2002.

With sturdy enough construction the idea should work OK I suppose but I have to wonder that if by the time you've built enough of these things to grow any significant amount of anything you wouldn't have found it easier/cheaper just to fence in your garden?


-- Alan (athagan@atlantic.net), April 12, 2002.

well mr. alan, there is the 'cowboy way' [right the first time- cheaper-but time consuming] and there is 'marthas' way' [looks great - cost is not disscussed-done in an afternoon]

and w/ marthas way we can paint everything different shades of americana/auracana green! did you confound the nieghbors, ms. cowgirlone?

-- bj pepper ,in central MS. (pepper.pepper@excite.com), April 12, 2002.

Seems it would be easier to chicken wire the garden.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (jayblair678@yahoo.com), April 12, 2002.

oh, yes mr. 'i've got another invention-fix it solution today' blair, your one to talk! :) lol!

btw. i did a 'blair' the other week, the pig people were deciding to let themselves out before i got outside. so i wired lengths of old pipe & wood to the base of the fence & then to the fence posts! voila, no more houdini hogs! but this fall my martha fix will be planting butterfly bush cuttings along the fence lines to anchor them & provide shade.

-- bj pepper ,in central MS. (pepper.pepper@excite.com), April 12, 2002.

Shannon, I think you will be amazed at how high chickens can jump for a tasty snack! All your hard work can be demolished in just a few short hours by determined chickens. I've fought this battle for 3 years. Now, my garden is in a fence and my chickens are in another fence. MAYBE I will get some produce of my own this year.

It was fascinating watching those, so called stupid, birds jumping and snatching the biggest and ripest raspberries and blueberries from the tops of my plants.

-- Laura (LadybugWrangler@somewhere.com), April 12, 2002.

Oh yeah Shannon, fence time ...should I email you the picture of one of my hens on the roof of my gargage? Amazing liitle critters!!

-- Sue (sulandherb@aol.com), April 12, 2002.

I fence mine in, too. They can totally DESTROY a garden in nothing flat. I had one hen who would fly up to the roof of the chicken house, over the fence into the sheep barn and lay her egg there almost every day. Tall building, too. I think the bucket thing would work if you just want extra space, etc, but forget trying to keep the chickens out that way. Sneaky birds! Jan

-- Jan in Co (Janice12@aol.com), April 12, 2002.

Okay ... I haven't seen this mentioned at all, so it's probably not a very popular idea, but here goes anyway. We have our garden fenced (parts, at least -grin-) in 2" mesh 3' high chicken wire - same with the chicken yard. AND ... since, as pointed out, those "amazing birds" are so arial when they want something, we clip wings. Just cut the large wing feathers off short on ONE WING, being careful not to cut too deep! Funniest darn thing you ever seen when those hens start trying to "fly" over the fence to get to my newly planted garden. Sort of do a rotating-arial spin and land unharmed and hop off in another direction :8)! Effective and entertaining, and doesn't hurt the birds on little bit! Pretty time consuming when you have 200+ birds to do, but it's worth the effort IMO.

Oh .. the other thing my DW just reminded me to say ... the chickens stay in their "yard" until a couple hours or so before dark ... then we let them out and we sort of "stand guard" over the flowers and other plants not fenced in. It's worked well so far! Hope this helps some.

-- Phil in KS (mac0328@planetkc.com), April 12, 2002.

I'd just clip wings and put up a fence round the chickens or the garden. It wouldn't take much to keep them out of the garden. A snow fence (the ones with lathe) would work. jack

-- jack c (injack1@aol.com), April 12, 2002.

Hi, We have always put up the 2 foot chicken wire around the garden using rebars for the post.When garden season is over just pull up and roll up till next year chickens dont bother or the ducks dont get in .Pam

-- Pam (pams65@hotmail.com), April 12, 2002.

Okay guys, I clip one wing on my birds, too, and I take off ALL the flight feathers and a lot of the others, too, and my birds can still jump a 5 foot fence. I've tried overfeeding them to keep them too fat to get off the ground and the barred rocks and RI reds still get over the fences and still get the best berries. Pam, seriously, only a 2 foot fence?

What am I missing here!

-- Laura (LadybugWrangler@somewhere.com), April 13, 2002.

We have sort of a chicken moat - the pen is VERY large & curves around the garden. In the fall we open the gate between the pen & garden & chicks & ducks get a feast as well as clean up the garden for us.

-- Bonnie (stichart@plix.com), April 14, 2002.

Shannon, It is certainly worth a try. You aren't getting tomatoes for yourself as it is.

How about trying your idea AND put a few tomatoes inside some chicken wire cages? That way if one doesn't work the other might.

Another option is keeping the chickens in their own yard so you can have your own yard! :-) Let the chickens out into your yard and garden in the fall when you are done with it.

-- Lavender, Central Maryland (lavenderbluedilly@hotmail.com), April 14, 2002.

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