Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chickens and Berries

I've been considering options for protecting our berries from the chickens. I feel like I've made one mistake after another with the berries and I'm reluctant to keep on messing up.

Here are the good things about the current berry plot:
1. All the berries are there with the exception of the raspberries and blackberries.
2. It's close to a place wild blueberries are already growing.
3. Compost was delivered there two years ago, so the soil is better there than some other places.
4. It's at the top of the driveway, so if it looked pretty, that would be a good feature.

Here are the problems:
1. It's difficult to get water to this place.
2. The chickens would have to be fenced out, and I do not want a fence at the top of the drive.
3. The berries do not get as much attention as they deserve.

One thought I've had is to leave the blueberries here, as they will grow tall enough that the chickens won't eat ALL of them. If we did ever want to let other people pick blueberries, this spot is easy to get to, and I do not have to worry about other plants getting trampled.

I would then move the other berries to the periphery of the other gardens. This would be easy enough, I suppose, with the currants and gooseberries. They are not exactly "lovely" plants, but they are a delight to see. The gooseberries need a fair bit of room, and I think the currants would also like that. Also, I only moved all of them last year. I guess I'll partly be experimenting with how often these plants can be moved and survive.

By the house garden, I already am coping with blackberries. I would rather not add much to that difficulty. When I think of the big garden, it seems so bare out in the middle of that field. I'm thinking some gooseberries and currants along one side might look nice and maybe provide a bit of a wind break. I have already resigned myself to fencing that garden to protect it from the chickens, and to more easily allow the cow to graze near it. I could probably devote at least one thirty foot bed to strawberries, and I could move them between the beds every couple of years.

That still leaves the raspberries. I have thought of a couple of places I might like them to be, but none are places I'm willing to put fence. I wonder if I could plant enough that the chickens could have some and still leave some for us- rather like my plan for the blueberries. Maybe, once the other berries are moved, I could but the black raspberries in with the blueberries. And maybe, I could make another row or two of red raspberries along the drive close to the steps. Raspberry canes are not exactly beautiful to look at, but any well-tended garden space has some appeal, and then it would be yet another area I would not need to mow.

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