October Chicken Coop Checklist: What To Do In Your Coop In October

October Chicken Coop Checklist: What To Do In Your Coop In October

It’s fall, y’all….and that means you gotta make sure your backyard chickens are ready before the cold sets in.

 

I know in some parts of Canada (looking at you, Alberta) that it’s already snowing….but for most of the United States, it’s just starting to get cool.

 

And there’s lots you can do right now BOTH to celebrate the season AND prepare your flock for the upcoming wind and ice.

 

Although chickens weather winter pretty well in most locations (their feathers help!), just a few tweaks can mean an easier time when the mercury dips.

 

Even if you live in a temperate climate, there’s ideas on this list to help your backyard chicken flock stay healthy year round.

 

There’s also LOTS of treat ideas to make the most out of fall!

 

Give a good clean out before cold sets in

Now is the time to give your coop a final clean before the cold makes it miserable outside. You likely won’t want to clean it again (a deep clean at least) until the spring thaw.

 

In addition to sweeping out any old bedding, be sure to wash off any accumulated poop on or under roosting bars, and wipe down nesting boxes that might have bits of broken egg or feathers lodged in them.

 

If you have a wooden or cement floor, give it a good wash to reduce the chances of ammonia build up, which can effect your chickens’ lungs.

 

Decide how to keep water from freezing

Now is the time to figure out how you’ll keep water unfrozen in your chicken coop. Will you use heated bowls, solar energy, or add water throughout the day?

 

There’s lots of options (you can view them in this article about keeping water from freezing), and you’ll have to find one that works for your particular situation.

 

Remember, what works in Southern Missouri likely won’t work in Northern Dakota, right?

 

Keep an eye on local super markets for pumpkin sales

This time of year, there’s lots of pumpkins to buy. Don’t pay retail – wait until they go on sale and stock up for your backyard chickens.

 

Pumpkin is very healthy for chickens, with lots of vitamins and nutrients for chickens – and they love pecking at it!

 

Most stores start to discount pumpkins well before October 31.

 

Pumpkins keep for a while, and stored in a cool, dry location, you can have healthy treats for your hens for the next month or two!

 

If you REALLY want to buy one now, you can make a cute coop decoration by carving out a pumpkin into a flower pot.

 

After a week, you can then feed it to your chickens! Just make sure you use flowers that aren’t poisonous.

 

Help molting hens or hens experiencing feather loss from roosters with a high protein diet.

Yep, every fall, some or all of your chickens will lose their feathers due to molt.

 

It’s normal – and there’s something you can do to help regrow those feathers quickly!

 

Giving your flock a high protein diet that include black soldier fly larvae or Fluffiest Feathers Ever! (28% protein) is an easy way to provide a high protein diet – and chickens LOVE both!

 

Double check coop security – food is getting scarce for predators.

While predators might leave your fluffy butts alone during summer, as the days get shorter and food becomes more scarce, they might turn an eye to your chickens.

 

Now is the time to check that your coop is completely secure and make adjustments as needed.

 

Make sure all doors and windows latch tightly, and upgrade the wiring around your coop if necessary. You don’t want predators to get OVER your coop walls or UNDER them!

 

See tracks and not sure what predator is hanging around? Check out my predator footprint guide here!

 

Head out to farmers markets and/or orchards.

You can usually purchase seconds (bruised or unattractive fruit that’s still fresh and edible) for pennies on the dollar. They still make great treats for your fluffy butts!

 

Some great ideas for fruit and veggies to feed backyard chickens are peaches (without the pits), apples (without the seeds), and leafy greens!

 

You can also grow your own leafy greens over winter for your backyard chickens with this guide.

Save Money With A Backyard Chicken Fall Garden [Podcast]

Save Money With A Backyard Chicken Fall Garden [Podcast]

Although it’s still the middle of summer, starting a fall garden for your chickens means when cooler weather rolls around, your flock can still enjoy fresh, organic treats.

 

In cooler weather, your chickens are more likely to suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiency, especially if you rely heavily on foraging to supplement your flock’s diet.

 

Cooler weather means less plants are available for your flock to scrounge up, and when there’s snow or wet weather, many chickens stop foraging altogether.

 

But as a smart owner, you can beat poor nutrition to the punch by starting now with a fall garden.

 

In this podcast, you’ll learn about 7 vegetables you can start so your hens can enjoy fresh produce even when nature works against you.
 

 

You’ll learn:

  • The 7 vegetables we’ve had the best success with
  • Why each vegetable helps your flock combat nutrient loss
  • How to extend your growing season into snowy weather
  • Why putting other animals in your greenhouse means a longer growing season

 

Links we discuss:

Butcher Box 

Where to buy raised beds

7 Best Herbs for Chickens to Eat

 

 

 

Butcher Box square

 

I’d like to hear from you!

What are you going to grow for your chickens in your fall garden? Leave a comment below!

What Can I Plant In September?

What Can I Plant In September?

Although the gardening season is winding down, you might be wondering “what can I plant in September?”

 

As long as you have a south-facing cold frame set up (or a hot bed would be better), you have options for crops you can grow through the winter.

 

(For directions to build a cold frame and a hot bed, check out my bestselling book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening)

 

Without a cold frame, unless you live in a warm area (zones 8-11), you’ll not have much success. Even in our area, we can over winter spinach without a cold frame, but not much else.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you 11 crops you can still grow in September, even though the days are getting shorter and cooler!

 

Lettuce

Direct sow your lettuce when temperatures inside your cold frame are between 45 F and 65 F. You can sow either individual seeds in rows or broadcast. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with ¼ inch of soil.

 

When seedlings are 4” tall, thin to 4 – 16 inches apart depending on the lettuce you’re planting. It’s best to avoid firm headed lettuces and shoot for leaf types.

 

Radishes

We love growing radishes because they’re as close as you can get to instant gratification in a garden. They’re ready to harvest in about 30 days.

 

Direct sow radishes by planting seeds ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart. Rows should be 12 inches apart and in full sun.

 

A week after seedlings emerge, thin radishes to about an inch apart. When crowded, radishes will sprawl and not form round roots. They will be woody and bitter.

 

Plant consecutively every two weeks for a continuous harvest of radishes.

 

Beets

Beets are perfect to grow in a cold frame because they can survive frost and temperatures down to 32 degrees (although soil temp needs to be at least 50 degrees for the seeds to germinate).

 

Before planting, select a sunny site, and incorporate compost into the soil. Test the soil because a pH higher than 6 and lower than 5 makes it difficult for the seeds to sprout.

 

Soak the seeds for 24 hours before direct sowing them to speed up germination.

 

Plant seeds ½ inch deep and thin to 2 inches apart when the seedlings are 4 inches tall. Snip the seedlings you’re removing (instead of pulling them out of the soil) so you don’t disturb the soil.

 

Cabbages

Cabbage prefers to only grow in cold temperatures, and as soon as heat hits our farm, cabbage season is as good as over.

 

Kale

Kale is an incredibly resilient plant and thrives in colder temperatures, and the funny thing about kale, is it tastes better if it’s been through a frost!  

 

We broadcast kale seeds because they’re so tiny, and the plants thrive well in close quarters as long as you fertilize and water regularly. Cover lightly with dirt and mist regularly. In 3-4 weeks, you should see seedlings.

 

Be sure to harvest the outer leaves of kale before they get too big to ensure they’re still tender and not bitter.

 

Leeks

These green treats resemble giant scallions, and are excellent for sub-freezing temperatures – they have proven to be cold-hardy down to approximately 5° Fahrenheit!

 

Spinach

Spinach needs 6 weeks of cool weather to grow to harvest size properly, so as soon as the soil is workable, sow spinach in a cold frame. Soil temperature should not exceed 70 degrees to ensure your spinach germinates.

 

Sow spinach ½ inch deep. We broadcast our spinach seeds since they’re so small. To ensure a consistent harvest, plant spinach successively every 2-3 weeks.

 

Onions

This robust crop can easily withstand freezes and frosts, making them perfect for a cold frame. You can grow onions from seeds or sets; starting with sets is a bit easier.

 

When planting onions, it’s important to remember that they need full sun in order to grow healthy, so make sure your cold frame is in a sunny location.  

 

Plant in rows 12 inches apart, and about 1 inch deep for sets

 

Swiss Chard

This crop is quite cold-hardy. Plant seeds ½ inch deep. It’s simplest to broadcast the seeds, then cover lightly with dirt. Succession plant seeds every 2 weeks for a continued harvest.

 

Cover crops

Cover crops such as clover. This time of year is a good time to think about direct sowing cover crops – they’ll prevent your topsoil from getting blown away and lower the amount of weeds come spring. They’ll also fix nitrogen so your spring crops will get a kickstart thanks to all the nutrients in the soil.

 

Garlic

Don’t forget to plant your garlic bulbs! You’ll want to plant them now for a summer harvest next June. Start before it gets too cold, and be sure to cover with straw if frost threatens.

 

11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest

11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest

It’s August, which means it’s time to start thinking about cool weather vegetables!

 

(Y’all were thinking about pumpkin spice, weren’t you?)

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(This article is an excerpt from my #1 Amazon Best Selling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. You can grab it on sale on by clicking here!)

 

Even though it’s still hot in most of the US, the reality is that soon it will be chilly and crisp and ready to break out the Halloween candy.

 

But not quite yet – there’s still plenty you can plant to harvest before frost hits….AND plenty you can plant and overwinter.

 

Here’s 11 vegetables and herbs you can start right now, even if you’re a little late to the game!

 

11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest

 

Beans

Beans, beans, the magical fruit….Right now you can plant both pole beans and bush beans.

 

We’ve planted bush beans because it’s very hot and humid into October, and I’ve noticed vining plants don’t do so well in the super hot months (we’re in Zone 7). Bush-type plants also help conserve water.

 

You can either plant a lot of beans at once (and then you’ll have to preserve large batches – just be aware of it) or succession plant every 7 days from now until August 15.  

 

Give them a Southern exposure so they get as much light as possible.

 

Cabbage

If you haven’t gotten your sauerkraut quota for the year yet, there’s still time to plant some cabbage. In our area (Zone 7), cabbage planted in March doesn’t do so well in the heat of June, so a late summer planting (with a maturity date in October) fairs better – cabbage loves cool weather.

 

If your cabbage hasn’t fully matured by the time frost hits (it can survive in low temps down to about 25 degrees), harvest the large leaves for wraps – super yummy!

 

Cover Crops

Cover crops, such as clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, and any other member of the Little Rascal’s gang, can help preserve your top soil and add nutrients that’ll feed your plants the following spring.

 

Another option is winter wheat (and that’s probably what I’ll go with because it’s readily available here).

 

The type of cover crop you should plant will depend on your zone, so do a bit of research to make sure you pick one that can withstand your local climate. Start now so they’re established before frost sets in.

 

Garlic

It’s not just to ward off vampires and bad dates. Garlic is best planted in late August and over wintered for harvest in June the following year. You can read here exactly how to do that.

 

Just be sure to over winter with lots of straw on top to prevent freezing. Try elephant varieties for milder taste or for using in herbal remedies.

 

Kale

Who doesn’t love kale? If you don’t want kale chips or kale salad, you can always add it smoothies. Plant by mid-august, and wait until after a mild frost to harvest – the leaves will be sweeter!

 

If you’re cool with cold frames, you might even be able to overwinter if you place your kale in a southern-facing exposure.

Lettuce

Lettuce is super boring…until it’s the only thing growing in your garden. Then it’s better than Betty White, like little green bits of spent summers.

 

Start sowing your lettuce now, and it should be well-established by fall. Choose early-maturing varieties for best results (and abundant late-fall salads).

 

Mustard Greens

Mustard greens aren’t the sexiest leafy greens, but they have their place. Plant them now, and harvest after a light frost. They’ll taste sweeter and add a little bit of spice to your salads.

 

Water consistently during the hot days of August, and don’t use them for wraps after harvest – WAY too much spice (unless you like that sort of thing. Then totally go for it).

 

Peas

I’m not a huge fan of peas, but even I get into them when it’s time to plant a fall garden. Choose early-maturing varieties, and consider green peas or sugar peas because they taste oh-so-sweet.

 

If you have too many to preserve all at once, then you can easily freeze them in small batches for winter soups and stews.

 

Radishes

Radishes are probably the most overlooked, instant-gratification vegetable out there. But plant some now, and you’ll be rolling in them within 30 days.

 

Succession plant every week until 30 days before the last frost date. Radishes can withstand a light frost, but a hard frost will do them in.

 

Spinach

Spinach is so cool you might even be able to overwinter it. At least, in Zone 7, we can! (No cold frame needed…..)

 

Start it now, add it to breakfast smoothies come October. Loves cold weather, less than 12 hours of sunlight, and long walks on the beach.

 

Turnips

You can grow turnips for the leaves and the roots. It’s like two veggies for the price of one, and if for some reason the roots don’t grow into purple and white globes, you still have SOMETHING to harvest.

 

Broadcast turnip seeds then thin to at least 4 inches apart. Harvest when the roots are about the size of golf balls so they’re tender and not woody.

 

The leaves are sublime lightly cooked in olive oil, but please – don’t do what my mother-in-law does and slop them so full of oil they’re like looking at a heart attack – be gentle with the oil. Mix with mustard greens for a tasty side dish.

DIY Pumpkin Vase Chicken Coop Decoration For Fall

DIY Pumpkin Vase Chicken Coop Decoration For Fall

Fall is here, y’all. And that makes it a perfect time to decorate your chicken coop with a cute fall display of pumpkins and mums.

 

Why decorate your coop? Well, certainly you don’t HAVE to. But it looks kind of cool, and if you do it right, you can recycle your fall decorations as healthy treats for your chickens.

 

DIY Fall Pumpkin Flower Pot For Chicken Coops

Want an uber cute idea to decorate your chicken coop? Try making a pumpkin flower pot this fall! (Psst….it's also a great chicken treat!)

Posted by I Love Backyard Chickens on Friday, October 13, 2017

 

Here on the farm, I like things to multitask. And that includes decorations.

 

So that’s why I love making flower pots out of pumpkins. It looks good – and when you’re tired of the display, your hens can eat the pumpkins AND the mums.

 

(Wondering why pumpkin is so healthy for hens? Click here for more information.)

 

We’ve done the whole “a coop is just a coop” thing here on the farm, and while that’s fine, things just look better when they’ve been given a bit of color. It’ll cheer you up, and enhance your flock’s surroundings and give them some environmental stimulation.

 

So in this article, I’m going to show you how you can make a living flower pot out of a pumpkin and options for flowers that are edible for you and your flock.

 

Step 1: Carve the pumpkin

So, this is pretty simple, and if you’ve ever make a jack o’ lantern, you can carve out the pumpkin without much instruction.

 

Something to note is in the video, I used a kitchen knife. Someone on Facebook pointed out a jigsaw would have been a better choice – and they’re right.

 

Avoid the mistake I made and use something electric. That being said, it didn’t take very long nor was it very hard to carve the pumpkin using a knife, so if that’s all you got, then it’ll still work great.

 

It goes without saying that you should use a pumpkin that’s big enough to house the flowers you plan to pot in it.

 

Step 2: Scoop out the insides

While this seems pretty obvious, I point it out because the pumpkin innards are GREAT chicken treats. (Find out why pumpkin is so healthy for chickens right here).

 

You’ll hear scuttlebutt that pumpkin seeds are natural dewormers. While there’s really no evidence that they’ll keep your flock parasite-free, they’re healthy for your flock.

 

So they might not do much for parasites, but they’ll DEFINITELY do something to help your flock be healthier – and happier, because hens love treats.

 

Feed the pumpkin and the seeds raw – don’t roast and definitely don’t salt the pumpkin seeds.

 

Step 3: Select flowers that are healthy for chickens

Chrysanthemums are the traditional fall flowers used in displays, and luckily, they’re healthy for chickens to peck at. Just be sure you source organically grown flowers, or at least those not exposed to pesticides.

 

Other options are calendula or even herbs that have started to flower. It’s up to you. For this project, I used chrysanthemums because they’re readily available.

 

Step 4: Stick the flowers in the pumpkin, and you’re done!

This isn’t a hard project, but it’s one you and your hens will both appreciate. Once you’re done with the display, as long as the pumpkin isn’t rotting or moldy, you can pass it on to your hens – who will love you for it!

 

Looking for a cute fall decoration for your chicken coop? Make a vase out of pumpkins! (Hint: It's also super nutritious for your hens!)