by Jennifer Burcke
Photos by author
Most of them have free-range flocks. I love the idea of our hens happily wandering around our farm. Unfortunately, our farm is located on a state highway that carries a heavy traffic load. We also have a neighbor who isn’t open to the possibility that one of our hens might decide to come for a visit on her property. I don’t want to take the chance that our girls might wander too close to the road. I have no intention of allowing our girls to be unwanted guests next door. True free ranging just isn’t an option for the heritage breed flock at 1840 Farm.
Ironically, as I am putting the hens and goats to bed each evening, a dreaded garden pest is just preparing to report for duty. They’re gathering in the lettuce bed and eyeing my heirloom radishes. That’s right: The slugs are hoping to have a late-night dinner in our garden.
The very moisture that helps to encourage our Tennis Ball Heirloom Lettuce and Cherry Belle Heirloom Radishes to grow also beckons the slugs to come to feed on our beautiful produce. It’s terribly ironic. Add in that I have a wonderful flock of heritage chickens that I can’t allow to free range and feed on the slugs, and the irony becomes so deep that I can barely wade through it in my knee-high Wellingtons.
The answer was literally staring me right in the face. Eggshells were lying on the kitchen counter following a dinner that consisted of a smoked cheddar omelet and potatoes. I knew that slugs and other vile garden pests (I’m talking to you, tomato hornworms) disliked crawling over rough or jagged particles. In fact, I had used coarse cornmeal around my tomato plants the last two years in an effort to deter them organically.
In the lettuce bed, I lift large heads of lettuce up in order to place the eggshells in the moist, inviting slug environment under their leaves. When treating rows of radishes, I crush the shells and deposit them in the space between rows.
How do you garden with your chickens? Do you use eggshells to control garden pests? Share your chicken gardening tips in the comment section so that we can all learn from your experience.