Traditionally autumn is considered to be a slightly cold and gloomy month – leaves turn brown, the sky turns grey and your veggies slowly wither away into compost. But, it’s quite a different story when you look at it from a chicken’s perspective. Autumn is an eggcellent time of year for your girls, as the garden quickly fills up with all sorts of veggies that not only taste great, but are also extremely beneficial for their health! Garlic, leeks, kale – just to name a few – are all brilliant veggies to plant this autumn, which are not only great for you, but also have a whole host of benefits for your flock! So, don’t despair this autumn – get out your gardening gloves and start planting some autumn vegetables for you and your flock of flip-flappity-flappers!
But first… Why is it important to keep your chickens in good health throughout autumn?
The autumn months can be rough on your flock. Many chickens, be they ISA Browns, Silkies or Rhode Island Reds, will start to moult through March, April and May, which will exhaust their bodies and deplete their immune systems. Additionally, the sun naturally starts to rise later and set earlier, which means it becomes a struggle for your ladies to get enough time in the daylight to produce those scrumptious and nutritious fresh eggs for you - unless you have an Auto Door of course. It’s important to treat your girls throughout these tough months with an abundance of natural produce, which will help revitalise their diminished immune systems, as well as keeping their bodies natural balance of vitamins and minerals in check.
How should I prepare my soil for planting in autumn?
Many vegetables that grow through autumn need top quality soil that has been enriched with chicken manure or compost. Plants like cauliflower or broccoli rely upon nutrient dense soil so that they can flower at their best. Preparing your soil by mixing through a chicken manure or compost a month before you start planting your autumn crops is one of the easiest and most effective ways to ensure everything grows according to plan.
What you should plant for you and your chickens this autumn…
Broccoli is a cruciferous plant that is fantastic for you and your chickens. Whether you’re planting premium green, sprouting broccoli or broccolini, it’s imperative that you water them deeply and consistently over the 10-16 weeks it takes to grow. Broccoli holds onto its nutrients best when steamed, but there are so many fun and tasty ways to cook with this ingredient, including broccomole, which is the broccoli equivalent of guacamole – yum!
Cauliflower is very similar to broccoli in almost every respect – easy to grow, similar in appearance, great for your health! No matter how you look at it broccoli and cauliflower will always seem like slightly different versions of the same vegetable. Like broccoli, cauliflower is a cruciferous plant that may help prevent cancer, whilst also boosting your immune system, as well as detoxifying the body.
Chicory, sometimes referred to an endive, is a healthy and mysterious vegetable that comes in a wide range of varieties. If you’ve never tried chicory before it’s easy to think of it as a fancy French version of cabbage. If you notice your flock sneezing or if you feel a little fluey yourself, be sure to fill everybody’s plates, or feeders, with chicory, as it's an extremely dense source of vitamins and minerals, which can turn the tide of any cold or flu.
You don’t tend to see a lot of radishes in Australia, but they’re actually quite suitable for the climate and grow rather rapidly. In fact, radishes are so easy to grow that you’ll often find parents with green thumbs planting radishes with their young kids, to demonstrate the thrills and joys of gardening! Radishes will go down a treat in your coop as well, not to mention being a great addition to any salad you can think of!
Kale has definitely become one very popular vegetable in recent years! It is an incredibly nutrient dense super food and the smallest amount consumed daily can have a lasting effect on anyone’s health. Whether you’re planning on making a green smoothie or simply looking for some more healthy scraps to toss into the chicken coop than look not further than kale!
Not many urban gardeners plant Japanese Millet, but if you live on a larger property it’s one of the best crops you can plant in autumn. This resilient plant, similar to oats, grows exceptionally well alongside water banks and is the perfect treat for all types of animals to graze upon, including chickens. Though your girls may have a hard time reaching the millet on their own, it’s easy enough to cut a few tasty looking stalks and scatter it into the garden for your ladies to enjoy.
Honestly, is there anything better than garlic? Not only is it a fabulous addition to almost any meal it also help fortify your immune system, while still tasting amazing! But, not every Chicken Lady knows that garlic is one of the easiest ways to fight and prevent mites and lice in your flock. Just a few grated cloves in with the chicken feed is one of the best things you can do for the longevity of your flock’s health.
Everybody loves a piece of roasted pumpkin as a part of a hearty meal and your chickens will love munching on the leftovers – not the skins though, be sure the toss those into the compost bin once your girls are finished. Pumpkins are hungry plants and will sap the soil of a lot of its nutrients - it's just what they do - so be sure you have a plan for the future, by reading this eggcellent guide to crop rotation, before you plant.
Leeks are the perfect filler when it comes to soups and stock, as well as being another eggcellent way to help prevent mites and lice in your flock. Another fabulous benefit of growing your own leeks is the challenge transplanting the seedlings and growing them in an exposed trench. For any intermediate gardener, looking for a new mountain to climb, be sure to grow leeks this autumn and see how you go!
Keeping chickens is one of the best ways you can prep your soil for autumn to ensure that it is choc full of the essential nutrients your veggie crops need to thrive! A coop fill with a flock of flip-flappity-flappers, like the Taj Mahal, Penthouse and Mansion, is the simplest way to get yourself an endless supply of soil boosting manure – not to mention all those crisp and tasty eggs.