by Tammy Taylor
I started heirloom seeds indoors this winter so I’d have seedlings to plant outside when the weather warmed enough. I was thrilled that I finally got some sage and basil to sprout since I was not successful sprouting them last year. I tenderly planted those herb seedlings in my edible landscape and eagerly anticipated harvesting fresh herbs soon. Then one day as I headed outside I saw that the free-range hens had been in the planted beds scratching the mulch and in the process scratching & eating my herbs. Gggrrrrr… Let’s see, what can I do to protect these seedlings as they grow? Say it with me kids – use what you’ve got! Check out the Homestead Hack I used to successfully protect my seedlings from our free-range hens.
After I recovered from the initial frustration of this sabotage attempt by the hens, I inspected the plants themselves. “Hummm, not too bad”, I thought to myself. Maybe I could save them. Of course unless you fence it off you’re not going to keep free range hens out of the beds, so I thought maybe there was a way to protect the plants themselves. I looked around and saw some bare twigs from a large shrub that is struggling with all the water we’ve received this spring and thought “Now THAT will work!” I broke off some of the branchier branches and pushed them deep into the soil next to my seedling. I went all the way around the seedling, using about three twigs for each group of herbs. Then I sat back to see if this would successfully keep the hens from not only scratching up my herbs but also snacking them down to the ground as well.
It worked beautifully. Then hens did still visit the beds and scratch around, but they no longer scratched around my herbs and didn’t care to get close enough to them to eat the leaves either. As the herbs grew the twigs were hidden through their foliage so even if the hens snack on a bit of the plant they’re not able to snack it to the ground.
Once again we’ve solved a problem without resorting to buying something to do the job for us nor causing any environmental harm. Mother Nature – the best place to shop!