Posts tagged Backyard Chickens
Composting with Grape Pomace

DSC_0971 I'm a firm believer in backyard composting. I love the idea of recycling what you have from your own garden, property, and kitchen scrapes into your own personal compost recipe. It is especially important to compost when you have backyard chickens. In fact, I really delve into this subject of backyard composting and backyard chickens in my book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies. See also my previous post, How To Compost In Your Backyard.

I call backyard composting a personal compost recipe of your life, because it is the layering of greens and browns, essentially by-products of your cooking, gardening, and property which create this custom compost mixture. My husband, John, and I have a small backyard vineyard. We use the grape pomace in our compost each fall. Grape pomace is the skins, seeds, and stems of the vineyard grapes after the wine making process. Grapes are a form of green or the fire that heats up the compost mixture, where the browns such as our chicken bedding, or rice hulls is considered the browns and fuel for the compost. Grape pomace heats up our compost to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, an incredible temperature for a backyard compost mixture. Composting with our grape pomace creates a rich organic material called humus, which will go back into our garden soil, and flowerbeds.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit Annie's Annuals and Perennials with my fellow garden bloggers attending the three day San Francisco Fling. One of the highlights of this three day adventure was Richmond east bay nursery, Annie's Annuals and Perennials. If you are ever in the Bay Area, make a visit to Annie's Annuals. A truly incredible nursery. Plants can be purchased online and shipped, too. While visiting Annie's Annuals, I noticed a sign and display, that grape pomace is one of her favorite compost materials.


This was the middle of summer, and not Halloween, as this sassy and colorful mannequin greeted you at the nursery entrance. I can only imagine how she is costumed this week, two days before Halloween!


Annie and I know a good thing, composted grape pomace. Try contacting your local vineyards in the fall, for possible sources of grape pomace. It is a great way to enjoy the colorful autumn season, maybe have a quick wine tasting, and purchase wonderful grape pomace for your backyard composting.

Gardening with Free-Range Chickens for Dummies

51DJ+VHcuBL._SY300_ Hot off the press! My new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor, Rob Ludlow of, is now available on amazon and in bookstores. You can order the book now from my right side bar below. Please tell all of your chicken-loving friends! Gardening with chickens is a great way to create sustainability in your garden, enhance your soil, eliminate pests and weeds, produce a delicious home-grown protein source, and all the while--be amused by these little "garden warriors." We give you basic animal husbandry elements needed to provide a healthy environment for chickens, what you and your family should expect if you are new to chickens, and how your garden will be enhanced with the addition of chickens. We focus on garden basics, and how to create a beneficial garden where chickens will be happy, healthy, and thrive. We help you understand garden structure, layering, and how to create an ornamental garden as well as an edible garden for you and your chickens.

We provide all different plant lists and purposes which are helpful for chickens free-ranging in your garden. We help you understand what is good to feed your chickens, and what is potentially harmful. We also help you with deterring predators with common sense management, innovative products, and specialty fencing.

We're excited to share our new book with all of you, whether you are new to chickens, new to gardening, or already experienced in both. Stay tuned as we launch the book!

Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend

Starting PVFS Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend in Garden Flats In doing research for my upcoming new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with coauthor Rob Ludlow of BackYard Chickens, I stumbled across Peaceful Vally Farm Supply's Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend. What a find!

This organic forage blend is a real treat for your hens. It is available in 1 pound to 1,000 pound quantities. You can grow in it on a large scale in a pasture, in your garden, in a chicken run or zone, or even in 17" garden flats like I did.  Warning, Peaceful Vally Farm Supply recommends not grazing horses on this mixture. Flax can form prussic acid when exposed to frost.

This forage blend is a warm season crop in mild climates, and can be sowed after danger of frost in cooler climates. It needs regular irrigation, and most likely needs to be replanted each year. Keep your seeds moist, and your chickens away from this blend until it is the desired height for your chickens. Surprisingly, seeds germinate immediately, and in less than two weeks time is 3" to 5" high, the perfect height for chickens to graze.

In 2 weeks time, the forage blend is ready to be given to your chickens.

Peaceful Vally Farm Supply has refined this unique forage blend from their own expertise, feedback from backyard poultry enthusiasts, and university research. This blend consists of alfalfa, buckwheat, clover, flax, millet, rye, and rye grass. Feeding your chickens this forage blend ensures their eggs will be rich in Omega-3  fatty acids, an important component of a healthy diet for those eating their eggs.

My happy hens love this forage blend, and your chickens will too

My chickens go crazy for this blend as you can see in the photo. Most chickens devour the blend before the plants can set seed. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply tells me you can try and grow this forage blend in a raised bed with a protective wire over it to keep your chickens from eating it roots, and all. With the protective wire, the grass might have time to replenish itself, if you keep your chickens away from it as regrowth begins.This blend is not only great for chickens, but ducks and turkeys,too.

If you order the Omega-3 Chicken Forage Blend from Peaceful Vally Farm Supply for your chickens, be sure and tell them VintageGardenGal recommended it.

My Hens are Eggcited About....

DSC_0847 If you haven't heard already, the San Diego Master Gardener's Seminar is around the corner on Saturday, May 4, 2013. Check out their website, Master Gardener Spring Seminar . There is still time to sign up for classes.

My hens are eggcited, because I am going to be speaking at the 8:30am session, on "Companion Gardening with Backyard Chickens", something very near and dear to my hens, who love to be out with me in the garden. Learn how to have a beautiful, thriving garden, along with a healthy happy flock of chickens. This speaking engagement kicks off the celebration of my new book, Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies (For Dummies (Home & Garden)) with co-author Rob Ludlow from Stay tuned, as we launch our "eggciting" new book!

Sunset's One-Block Party Invitation

In celebration of Sunset's newly released book later this month, The One-Block Feast: An Adventure in Food from Yard to Table, Sunset is hosting a special One Block Diet Invitation and Contest.

Sunset magazine asked VintageGardenGal to share this exciting invitation and contest with all of you because you love sun-ripened strawberries from your own strawberry patch, abundant artichokes from your kitchen garden, fresh eggs from your fine-feathered hens, and more.

Don't delay, enter now. Growing and raising your own food, and sharing with your family, friends, and neighbors has never been funnier.



Chicken Coop Photo Contest

Outside Pen at Coop de Manion Announcing VintageGardenGal's premier "Chicken Coop Photo Contest." I hear from some many of you around the world regarding your chickens and coops, I'd like to see them! Spring has got to be the best time of year to show off your chicken coop, so I thought it would be fun to have a photo contest.

I believe that chicken coops are an extension of our garden. Are you concerned about where your food comes from?  Do you enjoy fresh food, steps away from your kitchen? Having backyard chickens is a fun step in a nice direction.

What kind of chicken coop do you have? Did you inherit it when you bought your present home and property? Is it designed out of flea market finds? Did you buy a chicken coop kit? Did your dad build it for you? Did you have an existing barn or shed on your property that you modified? How many chickens do you have?

How is it decorated? How does your chicken coop integrate with your garden or property? What is important to you about your chicken coop? What do you love about having chickens in your backyard?

Submit your winning chicken coop photo to within the month of May 2010. Along with your photo, send a brief explanation of what motivated you to have chickens, how you created your chicken coop, how your chicken coop ties in with your garden or property, any chicken coop details you would like to share, and generally where-in-the-world you are located. One winner and two runner-ups will be announced in June 2010. Their brief story and photos will be shared on VintageGardenGal.

VintageGardenGal will return next week.

Ode to 'Lo

Precious J.Lo For those of you who are faithful readers of VintageGardenGal, I must pause and tell you that my precious J.Lo passed away last week. She had a very long life in chicken years, approaching 8 years old this May. There are many reasons why I want to share this with you, and you might be thinking I've gone off of the deep end. But, no it is simply a small loving tribute to our wonderful hen, J.Lo.

I want you to know that your chickens can live a long healthy life. I want you to know that your chickens can become part of your family, just like your dog or cat. I want you to know that you can have a friend in the garden, with feathers and wattles. I want you to know that chickens have personalities, spirit, and character. I want you to know that chickens can give back, in intangible joy.

J.Lo was a Silver-laced Wyndotte, one of five hen in our original "Hollywood Girls" flock. Initially she was a bit of a runt, at the bottom of the pecking order in the flock. She was a good egg-layer, laying beautiful cream-colored eggs. She was always a talker, peeping over this and that. Over time she rose to the top like cream in the pecking order, fueled by her independence and sense of adventure.

She loved to be out in the garden, and loved to be a part of our social activities. She was never afraid of new people, or the number of people in the garden. She just felt at home, and was very sociable. In fact, I think she rather enjoyed being the life of the party.

Last year I wrote about my "coffee cup" thoughts reflecting on our first ten years on our property. J.Lo, and our "Hollywood Girls" were a cornerstone of our journey, and a part of the catalyst for writing VintageGardenGal. Somehow I can't stop thinking, that J.Lo will always live on with us in the garden, and she will. Ode to you, J.Lo.

Please feel free to comment.

"Backyard Chicken Coop", Chickens

Our Beloved Buff Orpingtion, Lucy

Before we talk about the backyard chicken coop, let's talk about chickens first. There are other requirements other than your desire to have chickens in your backyard.

Are you zoned for chickens? If you don't know that answer, call your city office, and make sure you are zoned for keeping chickens. You do not want to go to all of the time, work, and possible expense of building a chicken coop, to have a neighbor squeal on you.

Do you have enough space for them? If you have a postage-size backyard, you probably do not have enough room. Chickens, generally speaking require spacing of 1.5-2 square feet/bird for the chicken coop, and 8-10 square feet/bird for their outside protected pen area. Chickens are very busy and active as a rule, and if they are too confined many problems may follow. You probably don't want your chickens too close to your home or back patio for obvious reasons.

Do you have a game plan as to where you are going to keep your chickens? Do you have an old shed or stand alone building that can be modified into a chicken coop? Will it be safe from rusty nails or exposure to anything that would harm them. Are you planning on building a custom chicken coop? You must provide shelter for them so they are protected from weather and predators. Make sure your chicken coop is large enough for you to get in and out of easily for interacting with your hens, egg collection, and cleaning.

Are you responsible to care, feed, manage your hen flock faithfully everyday? Chickens are living creatures, very sweet, and very sensitive. They require everyday attention, just like your dog or cat. Caring for chickens are wonderful lessons for children. They learn lessons about responsibility, discipline, friendship, raising your own food, rewards, and more. Do you have a close neighbor or relative who can watch and care for your chickens when you are out of town?

Do you own a dog now, that is a terror for the neighborhood cats? Or do you have big problems with coyotes on your property? If you have known existing dangers, it is probably not wise to introduce chickens to this equation.

Will having chickens break your bank? Young chicks and pullets are very reasonable to purchase. Most of your expensive will come from purchasing their ongoing feed and bedding. Are you planning on building your chicken coop from you have the money for that initial investment? Heaven forbid, but there might be times when your chickens need a vet. Can you afford a vet for your chickens?

Are chickens easy to care for? They can be quite independent, but I find they enjoy human interaction and bond easily with people who care for them. They can be petted and picked up, but don't do well with roughness. They enjoy treats, beside their laying mash, such as fresh cantaloupe, strawberry hulls, fresh chard, lettuce, etc. Remember, what a chicken eats, determines the taste of their eggs. Never feed chickens any poisonous plants, or anything with strong flavors.

Chickens give back. Chickens have different personalities, and even sounds, which make them all unique. They are a lot of fun to watch, and interact with. They are always busy, and on the go. You will soon experience eggs, like you have never tasted before. Their manure droppings can become a valuable addition to your compost pile, and ultimately your garden. Chickens require little, but yet quickly become a part of your life.