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Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard Paperback – January 23, 2012
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Award-winning landscape designer Bloom states that the heart of this book has you look at your garden as a habitat for your flock. Chickens and gardens work together synergistically since chickens reduce weeds and pests, aerate the soil, produce fertilizing manure, and provide food. Bloom and Baldwin’s guide to these pets with benefits includes comprehensive information applicable to both small urban and large rural lots pertaining to landscape design, fencing and hardscape materials, chicken-friendly plants, garden and coop designs, and predators. Details on fence fastenings and coop kits, along with numerous illustrations, full-color photos, charts and tables, garden layouts, and useful tips (Cut Miscanthus plants in late winter and use the dried grass as bedding), offer a wealth of practical advice. Beyond that, this how-to presents an ecofriendly, holistic view of human-animal relationships while addressing self-sufficiency and food issues, core motivations for the burgeoning organic, homegrown movement. --Whitney Scott
“If your garden fantasies involve chickens, Jessi Bloom. . . is here to make those dreams come true. . . . an expert guide for the untutored.” —The New York Times
“A manifesto on the many ways to pamper your hens—with plants for foraging and shelter, rain-fed water bowls and eco-friendly lawns.” —Sunset
“A comprehensive guide from mating to medicine that will particularly help beginners. . . . Bloom makes a persuasive case.” —Publishers Weekly
“Numerous illustrations, full-color photos, charts and tables, garden layouts, and useful tips. . . . a wealth of practical advice.” —Booklist
“Exquisitely produced and artfully photographed.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Bloom’s obvious enthusiasm for good design and for her birds will inspire both novice and experienced chicken owners to create a garden space for hens and humans to enjoy.” —American Gardener
“Complete with gorgeous photos, diagrams, plans, and a very well written and easy to understand approach, you will want to get your hands upon this book if you have ever dreamed of incorporating chickens into your lifestyle.” —Small Town Living
“A great basic guide for first-time chicken owners and chicken owner wannabes.” —Horticulture
“The only book I have seen that tells you exactly how you can have your chickens AND your garden too.” —Living Homegrown
“Solves the dilemma of having free-range chickens and a vegetable garden.” —The Oregonian
“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.” —NW Edible
“I’ve had chickens for four years and I wish that I could have had Jessi Bloom’s new book in the beginning.” —Diggin Food
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Is it Spring yet??? I can't wait to get out there!
I have always been an avid gardener, and the decision to keep a few hens in my yard was a natural extension of that. New to chicken-keeping, with a small flock of 5 laying hens (now 7 months old) in a small suburban, almost urban, backyard, I have quickly become quite passionate about my new hobby! Even though I probably can't let my girls free-range the yard completely, this book has given me many ideas for chicken-friendly plantings and ways to better incorporate my coop and run into my property.
The author lists plants, shrubs and groundcovers that can be grown for food/forage, as well as chicken-resistant plants that can add color to the garden, but are not likely to be eaten or trampled by your hens. This information alone is worth the price of the book. I've not seen a more comprehensive listing elsewhere, and the internet forums are filled with conflicting data/opinions as to which plants are edible or toxic.
I'll also be re-seeding my "lawn" areas with what the author calls eco-turf, an ecological seed mix containing clover, that will provide excellent forage for my girls.
The color photos throughout the book are so lovely that I know I'll be keeping this book close at hand for the remainder of the winter, as I plan and dream about creating my own, beautiful chicken garden this spring!
It's also a bit tough to tell which of the plants the author says work well with chickens are ones she's actually tried. In several places, it sounds like she's just repeating conventional wisdom, and from my own chicken experiments, I've discovered that conventional wisdom is often wrong. I would have found it much more helpful if the author had made a point of distinguishing between facts she was reporting from personal experience and those she'd just read.
The useful side of the book is the way it considers the garden as an entire ecosystem. She does a good job of telling you which permaculture layers work well with chickens (the tall ones) and which don't (shallow-rooted shrubs, annuals, and herbaceous perennials in the spring). And, as I said before, the photos are beautiful if you want a coffee table book.
This book puts all the information I need in one place. No more bookmarking websites of toxic plants, safe plants, etc.
I am in the process of planning my landscaping for this spring and this book has been invaluable in that. Its also a gorgeously photographed book, which makes it a joy to flip through.
Highly recommended for those who free range as well as those who just want to spruce up their run area a bit safely.
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