I currently do not have plans for sale on our coop. We modified purchased plans from Twelve On Main and as of right now I still point to Sara’s plans if you are looking to build a coop design similar to ours.
“What are the dimensions of your coop/run?“
The enclosed coop is divided into two parts: one for the chickens and one for storage. The entire area inside the coop is 10’x10′. The enclosed run is 12’x8′.
“How much did the coop cost to build?“
We did not keep perfect records of the receipts for the coop-bad practice on our side. But, after tallying it up we roughly spent $6000 on our coop, (give or take) not including any decorative lighting or electrical runs. We saved on a lot of costs by doing a majority of the labor ourselves, and most of the cost came from our cement base and the standing seam metal roof.
“What does maintenance look like?“
Personally, I think chickens are extremely low maintenance as long as you are able to keep their coop clean of dampness, most bacteria or fumes won’t accumulate. While everyone’s cleaning schedule will vary based on flock needs-you can find a more detailed outline of my cleaning schedule HERE!
Why chicken wire and not hardware cloth?
My chicken wire is extremely sentimental to me: it was on the chicken barns of my family farm. My father and grandfather were commercial chicken farmers; and when my father passed, my sister and I decided to liquidate the barns. I salvaged the rolls of wire from the debris and to me, it feels like a piece of home.
If you have large predators, yes hardware cloth will be a more secure option. We do not have large predators and I have found that on the rare occasion we have had a snake (once) they prefer to enter through the open chicken door.
Thompson WaterSeal Timberoil in Transparent Teak. This is a waterproofing seal that is used on outdoor decks and fencing for maximum protection on our run.
“What color is on the exterior of the coop?“
SW Pure White
“What type of roofing material did you use?“
Our roof is a black standing seam roof that we hired out to be installed.
“What “bedding” do you use inside the coop?“
I use a variation of the deep litter method with sand and pine shavings
“What “bedding” do you use in the run?“
We use untreated wood mulch and it is amazing. Highly recommend it because the poop will filter down underneath and compost itself pretty easily.
“How many nesting boxes do you have?“
A: We have 6 total, but they really only use 4.
“Where did you find your light fixtures-are they hardwired?”
Our exterior lights are the Arnette Outdoor lights (similar item linked here) from Lamps Plus and are hard-wired and set up on a smart system that connects to my phone.
What are your favorite coop features?
I absolutely love our coop, so it is hard to pick just one! My personal favorite features are:
the walk-in ability for easy cleaning
cement floors (easy cleaning)
electricity for lights and fan
easy access to nesting boxes
AUTO CHICKEN DOOR
If you had to change/add anything, what would you do differently?
One of my biggest regrets was not finishing the ceiling-which I recently completed. My hens would roost in the rafters and poo into the storage side-making it difficult to touch anything without getting flakey poo on myself. That problem is now solved!
If I had to “change” anything, I would have made the run even larger. But now that we have the lama crew, my chickens are safe to free-range with added protection.
I began my gardening journey like everyone else does: scouring the internet for the “best” soil recipe. And I stumbled upon Mel’s Mix.
Here’s what Mel’s Mix™ does for you and your garden that amended native soil has no chance of doing:
It conserves water. You want your plants to have just the amount of water they need — no more, no less. And Mel’s Mix™ does an amazing job at both retaining valuable moisture while allowing for excellent drainage so your plants don’t rot.
It precisely feeds your plants. The addition of blended compost means that your plants get the nutrition they need without having to mix, measure and add fertilizers.
It requires no digging or double-digging. Mel’s Mix™ ingredients create an unbelievably loose soil texture that allows plant roots to grow and expand, without the need to bust your ground up and dig, dig, dig. It’s easy from the beginning!
It takes the cumbersome science out of your gardening experience. Ever heard gardening friends who talk about soil pH and enzymes and such? Do your eyes start to cross and glaze over? We hear you. That’s why Mel’s Mix™ is so easy — the ingredients are perfectly balanced so there’s no need to get an advanced horticulture degree to understand if your growing conditions are right. With Mel’s Mix™, they are.
And let me tell you, this soil is perfectly fluffy and wonderful to work with. However, I have begun to vary the recipe just a bit depending on what I can find, and the expense of filling my Raised Garden Boxes.
So how much does it take to fill my 4′ x 6’x approx 24″ deep boxes? Here’s the math:
Roughly 48 cubic feet total:
24 cubic ft of garden soil (flower and vegetable garden soil)
8 cubic ft of compost (I mix some general compost and Black Cow Manure)
8 cubic ft of peat moss (Magestic Earth)
8 cubic ft of course vermiculite/ cotton burr compost
Add bits in at a time and mix until everything is evenly distrubuted! We bought most of our soil components at Lowes. While this soil mixture can be costly, you only need to buy in bulk once and then amend afterwards by season, so I think it’s worth it!
Welcome back to my garden informational series! If you are new, hello! I have been going over some FAQ and general information regarding our garden project. When we last spoke about the garden, I discussed our garden fence– If you’ve missed any previous post, feel free to click the links below to visit them and learn more about how we built up our garden so far!
I honestly love the journey that the decision to build up a garden has taken us on. I find so much peace and comfort in being able to tend to a brand new veggie sprout, and yet have learned so much from the loss of one too. Being in the garden is teaching me to be flexible, and I’m learning to roll with the punches, because even if a growing season goes perfectly, we aren’t guaranteed the same results next year, and I think that reflects a lot of life. I’m thankful for each lesson my growing garden has presented to me, and the ability I have to choose learn every day.
Last year, I built two raised garden beds to get my garden started (my first season being spring of 2021), but for the fall, I wanted to be able to experiement with more fall vegetables. So, I doubled our garden by adding in two more raised garden boxes, and I’m so happy with how much fuller the garden area is now. I’ve left some space to add more boxes later on, but right now I’m extremely happy with the four boxes I have. Scroll down for a material list and instructions.
Manageability: Raised beds offer a manageable way to garden a smaller space intensively.
Prevention of soil compaction and plant damage: One of the greatest advantages of raised beds comes from the protection the structure provides from foot traffic, especially from children working in a garden area. Since people work on the paths and don’t walk in well-designed raised beds, the soil does not get compacted and plants are less likely to be damaged.
Longer growing season: Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring and drain better (assuming the soil is properly prepared), allowing for a longer growing season and better growing conditions. Particularly in the South, a properly prepared raised bed allows plant roots to breathe.
Less weeding and maintenance: Once the soil in a raised bed has stabilized, compaction is almost non-existent so the need for seasonal tilling is minimal. Weed populations decrease over time in a raised bed that is well cared for and mulched.
Better drainage: A well-prepared raised bed allows the soil to drain better than in an in-ground garden. In some areas of Georgia, the soil drains so poorly that raised beds enable gardening of crops that would not otherwise grow.
Easier soil amendments: A raised bed can enable crop growth in an area that otherwise would not support gardening. On steep slopes, raised beds can act as a form of terracing. Raised beds can be built on parking lots and other compacted, difficult-to-garden urban soils. For specific crops that thrive in particular soils, raised beds can be amended appropriately.
Material conservation: Because the gardening space is concentrated, the management of water, fertilizer, mulch and soil amendments can be more carefully controlled, leading to less waste.
Access for gardeners with disabilities: Raised beds, at the proper height, can improve access for wheelchairs, or for gardeners who have a hard time bending over.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the dimensions?
4′ X 6′ X 27.5″
Why so tall?
Because I like them tall!
What kind of lumber?
Does the stain affect the soil?
Nope! My beds are lined, therefore the stain never comes in contact with the soil
Why line your beds?
Adding a liner protects my wood from water damage, adds insulation, and helps retain moisture!
Are they filled from the bottom?
Nope! There is a wire “hammock” about 12″ from the ground to reduce the amount of soil it takes to fill these.
What color stain did you use?
I used Thompson WaterSeal in Transparent Teak for the base. This provides and excellent seal and water protection for my wood. When that color turned out too orange on my whitewood, I used briarsmoke and early american over the top to give a “weathered” look that matched the older boxes.
How much did this cost to build?
Since I was able to repurpose some extra 2×4’s, and we already had our screws and stain on hand, I can only give a rough estimate. As of August 2021, if you bought all the materials at once once box will cost you (very rough math) $250-$275.
There are so many ways that someone can build a raised bed, and not every method will be a good fit for everyone. But I’m here to share with you how I built mine and the lessons I learned so that you can put this insight into your arsenal to use if you choose. I am not claiming to be an expert, and I am sure there are alternatives/additions to include to get the most out of your boxes. But these are what work for me and my garden. I also will add now, that I chose to line my boxes, so this method is not 100% “organic”, and you should seek out other wood materials (cedar) should you not wish to line your boxes.
Below are the materials for O N E 4′ X 6′ X 27″ raised garden box using my building designs. I chose to stain my boards after lining the interior to preserve the integrity of the wood, but if you prefer to not use stain, opt for a wood with more reputable longevity, like cedar.
12– 1″x 6″ x 4′ white wood board
12– 1″ x 6″ x 6′ white wood board
6– 2″ x 4″ x 6′ (for corner supports and wire “hammock” frame)
2″ wood screws
4″ wood screws
Exterior stain of choice (preferably a waterseal)
Cut down 6 of your 2×4’s to the height of your box. (For my boxes, stacking 5-1″x 6″ came out to 27.5″ tall.) We then started at the bottom, and began attaching the boards from the outside to the four corner 2×4’s using 2″ screws. Stack your sides and continue around until you have reached your desired height. Then, add the last 2×4’s that were cut to height in the center.
Next, add your liner to the inside of your box, covering all the sides, but leaving the bottom open for drainage. Secure with staples.
Once your liner is attached, It is now time to go in and build your frame that the mesh hammock will attach to. Using remaining 2×4’s attach a middle support using 4″ screws in the middle of your box, then along the sides in between the 4 corners. Attach from the outside and use 4″ screws to prevent collapse. It is ok if the screws poke through on the inside, these will be covered. Attach your wire using staples, and secure with washers and 2″ screws. (Just for scale, I can easily fit under these boxes…apologies for the strange photo…this is the only one I managed to get that shows this finished step…)
Next, lay your landscape fabric over the mesh and secure with staples. This is the final step of the “hammock”.
Lastly, attach your top shelve boards. I used 2″ screws to secure on the corners and in the middle, giving about 2″ of overhang. These are super helpful when resting on the boxes, or having a place to set your shears/seeds down!
Last, apply your stain. Choose a water-sealant as your base and then build any other color variations from there. You want to protect your wood, anda sealant is the most important part in that. I used Thompson Water Seal in Transparent Teak (the same that is on my Coop) and when it took more orange on the white wood, I went over top with some briar smoke and early american to give a more “weathered” look that matched the older boxes.
That’s pretty much all there is to these. The wire has held up great, even after filling with soil and water retention. You can opt to completely fill your boxes, but this method reduces the amount of material needed to fill a box. You can find my soil “recipe” here. (It’s a variation of Mel’s Mix that gives light, fluffly, well-draining soil)!
Wow! I cannot believe we are over halfway through this garden informational series! If you are new, welcome! Over the past couple of weeks I have been going over some FAQ and general information regarding our garden project. Last week, I discussed our garden groundcover and gravel, as well as the reasons behind our choices- If you’ve missed any previous post, feel free to click the links below to visit them and learn more about how we built up our garden so far!
Like most everything around here, I don’t choose to do things the easy way, or the way that everyone else has done it before. I want my space to be uniquely “me” and therefore I am constantly pulling my inspiration from everywhere I go! I actually saw a similar chevron fence from a designer on Instagram (I wish I could remember who it was) and while I could tell their’s was done professionally, I was determined to incorporate this beautiful zagged pattern into my life at home!
I will also be the first to note that this was NOT done by a professional, it was done by me, with help from the hubby when he was home. We are not professionals and I have no desire to ever claim to be one. The fenceline is not perfectly straight nor are the angles 100% perfect, but I am 10000% okay with that. I learn a lot by doing and making mistakes first hand, and love that I can then share my mistakes with you so that you (hopefully) don’t make the same ones I do. At the end of the day, I love our fence so stinking much, and cannot wait to watch the vines grow and see how the plants will look with the black background—so. stinking. stoked.
So, with that disclaimer, let me tell you how we did it.
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2×4’s for fence panel frames
1×3’s for chevrons
4’x4’x6′ treated posts
4’x4’x10′ treated posts (if doing a gate arbor)
Concrete bags (60lb is much more managable than the 80lb-ers)
If you have it in budget, RENT AN AUGER. And not just one of those hand held ones—a big one. It’s worth it – especially if you are a 5’2″ 135 pound lady. And where we rent our machinery tools from the pricing was not that large of a diffference, and like I said, totally worth it. This one could be pulled behind a vehicle with a hitch, and rolled around to each hole by the operator, making it…easier…I say easier because I fought with the slope and constant pull of the auger to roll down the hill. But I did it, and you can too!
I will note that if you want a straight fence line, use the string method and measure out your holes real time while you are augering. (click on the link to watch a video) Had I had another body (or more patience) when I did this, I probably would have done the more sure-proof method for a straight fence.
Because I pre-measured all my holes and marked with spraypaint prior to starting, I did not get the cohesive 8-foot distance in between each post that I was shooting for, nor is my fenceline perfectly straight…rookie mistake…but it’s okay.
Time for a two-person job: use a post hole digger to remove any leftover dirt, and to get a cohesive depth. (We set ours 2′ down). Then set the TREATED posts in the hole (it is important that you spend the extra $$$ on treated posts, this keeps your lumber from rotting over time). I highly suggest two people because it makes life easier. One mans the concrete, the other levels and holds the post while the concrete is being poured.
Next, we gonna make a fence panel frame, so take the 2×4’s and cut them to desired length. (We designed ours so that each panel will be attached to the outside of one post, so each panel will meet halfway on the post width. You can also attach them in between the posts, but for me that math made my head hurt and made the process more difficult, so we attached the panels to one side.)
Basically, we are making a (roughly) 8’x4′ rectangle with a supporting verticle piece in the middle out of 2’x4’s. Adust for the width of the 2’x4’s when making cuts, and assemble them all with kreg jig screws (AKA the best invention ever).
Using the staple gun, attach your wire to the frame on one side. We had to cut the wire to fit our frame even though our panels were 4-foot tall, and the wire claimed it was 4-foot wide…I’m confused too but we made it work and cut everything down. This step isn’t necessary, but I wanted to minimize the chances of critters coming in the garden via the ground. If they were going to get in, they have to work for it.
We then attached each panel to the post with wood screws. This will ensure that the frames are extremely sturdy and secure. You can also see below that we staggered our fence with the natural slope, setting the bottom corner about 1/2″-1″ from the ground and leveling the top before securing the other side. Here’s what the panels look like before adding the chevron pattern:
Now, for the chevrons I wish I could give a more guided direction that is easy to replicate…but honestly…the whole process was a guess and check game. Because the panels are not squares, nor are they even, my angles could not all be 45 degrees.
Here you will use a nail gun and nails: I chose a starting point (I wanted the points to meet at a diagonal point on the shorter ended of the panel) and did all my cross bars at once. On the end pieces and on the middle “halfway” mark of the support beam, I did try to do 45 degrees so that the points would line up together…
Then I measured 8″ from each “tip” for the start of the next one. As I said, these edge cuts were 45 degrees and I let them end up where they wanted on top.
I know that makes absolutely no sense, but the best advice I have (if you are like me and not math-brained) is to cut as you go, and find a method that works for you. I had to do each piece at a time because no two panels were the same size (SMH and my lack of patience for the string method). Here you can see how the chevron pattern ended up working out.
I went back and forth on my decision to stain the fence to match the coop, or to paint it black. But at the end of the day, I chose to do neither- and I stained the fence black. This gave a softer, more natural black and allows the grain to peep through, and gives the perfect contrast to this area.
Using my Wagner SprayTech Flexio 570 Handheld sprayer, I braved putting my beloved little sprayer through the true test and STAINED MY FENCE via a sprayer! This is something I was terrified of trying, but I’m so glad I did because hand staining was going to be a pain in the booty. I was dissapointed when I could not find a black exterior stain, but instead used Minwax Wood Finish Oil-Based Interior Stain in True Black . After carefully researching, I found it best to dilute your stain in a 3:1 ratio (stain:mineral spirits) as to avoid clogging your sprayer. This method worked like a dream and within no time my fence (and I) were covered in black stain (reminder to cover anything you dont want stain on– overspray is no joke!)
Once the stain had plenty of time to dry, we coated everything in a clear exterior deck sealant.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that the gate arbor was a toughie. I couldn’t decide with the style I wanted but ultimately ended up with a simple straight arbor (made out of 2 8″x2″ boards (cut to length) screwed to the top of the posts)and simple cross beams made from leftover wood.
I then added some fence toppers to my posts and stained+sealed them in the same fashion as the rest of the fence. Easy peasy way to take these posts from drab to fab, and add a little feminitiy to all the harsh lines. Pretend that “porch” sign says garden because one day I’ll change it- the style was just too perfect to pass up! I can’t wait to get to planting when the weather cools down and watch how the addition of greenery will transform this space even further!
Thank you for sticking with me as I went through the “clear-as-mud” process of our fence. Because most of the projects we do are curated from visions in my mind, trial and error is apart of everything. But I think that is what is so stinking fun about it all! Check in soon to learn how I make my raised garden beds!
So make sure to check back in if you are having questions regarding our garden space, and if you have any other questions/topics you would like me to cover, please send me a message over on my Instagram: @theroostingplace.
Here we are going to talk about methods and materials we use in our garden area for ground cover, and some of the reasoning behind our choices. Originally, we were going to wait and choose a rock material after the fence was up, but realized that we were going to need approx. 10 cubic yards to cover the area of the garden, and therefore would need a delivery truck. And so began my shoveling journey.
When it comes to our in ground garden beds, I till (using this amazing tiller attachment for our weedwhacker) the area, plant my plants using a good splash of Root Stimulator, then use cardboard boxes (usually pulled from the recycle bin) as my “weed barrier”. This is a much more natural way of blocking the weeds, allows moisture to soak in, as well as retains moisture during watering, and will decompose nicely over time, adding nutrients to the soil below.
I have had very little weeds come through in my existing garden beds, and really only notice weeds where there are breaks or rips in the layout of the boxes (with any weedbarrier, a good overlapping method is best to block weeds)! As a general rule of thumb though, if you spend about 10 minutes/ day out in your garden checking and pulling weeds, there is very little “mass” maintenance needed!
One of the most important addition to your garden beds is MULCH. Mulch is a material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. Mulch can be dyed or left natural for decorative effects, but mulch is so much more than just a pretty face. Benefits of mulch include, but are not limited to:
Reduces weed growth by keeping light from reaching the soil surface.
Reduces water loss from the soil surface, which helps maintain soil moisture.
Moderates soil temperatures, keeping it warmer on cold nights and cooler on hot days.
Protects bare soil, reducing erosion and soil compaction.
Protects plants from the harsh conditions of winter freezes, thaws, and winds.
We currently use natural, untreated mulch in our beds as well as the chicken run, but I am considering buying black mulch (beds only) to give a pop of contrast. No matter what color you choose, be sure to add mulch, and refresh/replace the mulch as needed to avoid any disease.
Several months ago, I saw this add on Facebook selling pallets of leftover brick pavers for $25/pallet, so we jumped on it and these pallets have been sitting in our yard ever since, just waiting to be used. Pavers are great choice for edging. I love the way they flow naturally with the rock ground cover we chose, and to me they add in another element of nature.
When it came to the vision for this space, I always envisioned covering the entire area with some form of gravel/rock material. The benefits of doing this include:
Less/ viturally no weeding
No mowing/weedeating to keep it manicured
Deters animals from using this space as a bathroom
Creates a beautiful, cohesive look
We ordered 10 cubic yards of crushed limestone, which will cover the entire area with about 3″ of depth.
Why crushed limestone and not pea gravel?
I’m so glad that you asked. When we visited our local stone yard, I was under the impression that pea gravel was the obvious choice, however, after discussing with the rock-man the intention for the stone, I was then shown this beautiful crushed limestone as an alternative to pea gravel. The reasoning? It packs down much better, making it the better option for footpaths and rolling cart wheels over! I can still comfortably walk on this rock barefoot, and I especially love how it changes color when wet!
Weed Killer or Till the Area
Weed Barrier (I used a combo of Landscaping Fabric and Tar Paper)
LOTS OF ROCK
Because this area is massive, and because it is mosly dedicated to walking paths, I was not about to use the tiller to get rid of the existing grass and weeds. Instead, I used Round Up to kill the existing ground cover. I sprayed it all thouroughly, and went over the tough areas twice before rolling out my weed barrier.
Safe for planting
Weeds can poke through over time
Takes longer to drain
Can be harmful to plants
I used the above pros and cons of both these materials to my advantage. I placed the tar paper on majority of the areas where I knew would only be walkways and placed landscaping fabric in areas where I forsaw the water flowing down to, or areas closer to my garden beds; by doing this method I saved a good amount of money! (Fun Fact: you can also use old roof shingles as a weed barrier in walkways!)
We used landscaping stakes to secure the barriers, then got to work. Wheeling and Shoveling and Raking, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Overall, it took me about a week and lots of wheelbarrow loads to completely spread all the gravel evenly under the Texas summer sun while Harley was working, but the end result is so worth it. This rocks tried to crush my spirit but I proved to be more resilient than I even knew, even if I did sleep for a week straight when this part was done. 😉
As another postitive out-take: I rarely have to weed any of this area, and when I do I’ve noticed it is just this one pesky species of weed that always finds a way to pop up, but they’re extremely easy to pull so this method is very managable when it comes to weed control. So if that doesn’t motivate you to try hardscaping your garden area, I don’t know what will!
So make sure to check back in if you are having questions regarding our garden space, and if you have any other questions/topics you would like me to cover, please send me a message over on my Instagram: @theroostingplace.
Our assumption is that this approximately 64’X72′ area was most likely once used as a goat pen because there was evidence of fencing (and remaining fencing) surrounding this space. Here you can see we had already begun to stake out the area for our chicken coop when I took these.
While we are redoing the fenceline, I am extremely grateful to the old fence, as its borders inspired the perfect garden area.
We removed the old fence (we salvaged as much of the wood as we could because I have an idea for it on a later project), for several reasons: it was falling apart and leaning, there were only two complete sides and the fenceline curved severely making attaching a new fence complicated, and this is not the style of fencing I have in mind long term. So goodbye old fence, and soon I will tell you all about my new fence that will be going up.
Additionally, the whole area slopes slightly towards the pond, and other than building areas, we are leaving the slope to prevent flooding. So some areas are a little “wonky” but nothing that is a major problem.
We’ve got big dreams for this “area”! The end goal is to fill this space with the following features:
Chicken Coop– check (total building area is approx 180 sqft)
6 raised garden beds-2/6 check
Greenhouse (160 sqft)
Water Feature of some form
Flower beds, lots of flower beds
Below you can see a rough layout for all the garden features. I’m sure this will be tweaked, but I am a huge proponent of having a physical, drawn out plan in place to reference throuout the process.
European cottage, but make it Texas. That’s what my ultimate goal is, however, as much as I am drawn to nuetral white and purples in photos, in person I can’t help but grab colorful blooms, so who really knows how this will turn out. Feel free to swoon as hard as I did over these beautiful inspiration pics.
Realistically, I pull pieces from each of these photos and spaces, because each is different. But they all scream “peace” to me. The creeping vines, the mixed tones and materials, the fine line between order and chaos…OOOO I love it all! Ultimately, no matter how my garden ends up, I want it to be a place of peace and serenity. Clearly, a Texas garden will grow what it grows, but I want this space to be a place of rest and growth, and a place for learning, no matter how it looks. I truly believe that the act of tending to the earth brings our spirits closer with God’s creation, and I cannot wait to watch this space flourish.
Did you know that there are several plants and herbs that are totally safe and beneficial to your chicken’s health? By adding the following herbs in/around your chicken coop, or by including them in your chicken’s diet, you can reduce the probability of several health risks. I have placed several of these inside my coop, and plant to add more over time!
Sage in high in Vitamin K, which aides in blood clotting. Sage also serves as a cleaning agent, pesticide, and antioxidant, which can help in the prevention of salmonella.
Oregano has several antibiotic factors, and is packed with several nutrients such as Vitamin K, manganese, iron, Vitamin E, tryptophan and calcium. Becasue of this, oregano helps fight e.coli, salmonella, coccidiosis, and avian flu! This herb is being studied as a broad-spectrum natural antibiotic on large poultry farms! You go oregano!
Lavendar is high in Vitamin A (useful for eye health), calcium (bone strength), and iron. Not only does it smell lovely and can act as an air freshener, it is known to be a natural insect repellant, and contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce stress.
Benefits: Rosemary is high in manganese (useful in metobolic health). Not only does rosemary smell great, it is known to be a natural insecticide, has antioxidant properties, assists with pain/stress relief and can enhance respiratory health. Studies have shown that the carnosic and rosmarinic acids in rosemary have powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Mint contains trace elements of Vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. Mint is a great insecticide and also can keep mice away. Any of the mint varieties (including catmint, peppermint, and spearmint) can be fed to chickens, and also can have a calming effect.
Lemon balm is high in flavonoids, which can have an antioxidant effect. Due to several chemical properties that attribute to scent, (one being citronellal) lemon balm is a natural mosquito repellant,can keep rodents away, and may relieve stress in flocks.
Thyme contains thymol and small amounts of other nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium. Thyme is a natural insect repellant, has antibiotic properties, and also aides in respiratory health.
Basil provides macronutrients, such as calcium and vitamin K, as well as a range of antioxidants, which aide in overall immune health.
Comfrey is rich in vitamins A and B12 and can aid in a rich yellow color to yolks. Comfrey is high in protein and low in fiber, making it a great addition to your chicken’s diet.
These are just a few of the nutrient rich herbs you can add to your coop to aide in chicken health! Feed them dried or fresh to your chickens, add them to nesting boxes, or hang them around the coop to freshen the air!
Singh, Manpreet, et al. “Nutrition for the Backyard Flock.” University of Georgia Extension, 1 Apr. 2020, extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C954&title=Nutrition+for+the+Backyard+Flock#:~:text=Calcium%2C%20phosphorus%2C%20and%20salt%20are,eggshell%20formation%20in%20laying%20hens.
Okay y’all. This planter was a rollercoaster for my emotions, and caused me to question every single step I took, but the end result is AMAZING! I really love the look of tall, cement planter you can buy from various stores, but I refused to spend upwards of $100 to get one. So I decided to make one myself out of two 5 gallon buckets and only spent $12 (not including tools)!
2 80lb bags of Mason Mix Type S Mortar by Quickcrete (you will have cement left over)
Approx 3 ft. Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth Wire (the chicken wire was easier to manuever into a rounded shape, so it depends on the look you want)
Concrete Sanding Block
Tarp to lay on work surface
Lay a tarp on the ground (I used a contractor trash bag, it doesn’t matter what you use as long as your work surface is covered-it will get messy!). Remove the wire handles from your buckets and cut off the bottom of one of the buckets. Then stack the two on top of each other with the original openings touching. (The newly cut hole is at the topnow.)
Next, attach the wire to the sides of the buckets using screws. (I experimented with two different types of wire, mainly because it is what I had on hand). Chicken wire is more flexible and will allow a more “curved” pot, while the hardware cloth will result in a straighter pot. Either is fine to use, but if this step is skipped entirely, you will find yourself running to the hardware store anyways-CONCRETE WILL NOT STICK DIRECTLY TO THE BUCKET. Yes, I tried it and it failed miserably. Trim the top of the wire to be even with the top of the bucket.
After putting on gloves (and a mask if you don’t like breathing in tiny concrete particles—maybe one day I’ll learn to put my mask on more often…) begin to mix the concrete. By mixing small amounts at a time, this gives more time to work with the concrete before it dries out. Add in small amounts of water at a time and use your trowel to mix until the concrete is somewhere between a thick pudding and cooked oatmeal consistency. If the mixture get too watery, slowly add a little more dry concrete until the right consistency is acheived. (You will learn as you go what the best consistency is, so if its not perfect the first time don’t worry.)
Begin to “smoosh” the concrete through the wire with a gloved hand. On the bottom half, the concrete will fall to the bottom and hit the ground-this is okay, just keep building it up. Once the wire has been filled in, plus a little more, STOP adding concrete. This takes several coats and if more is added it will keep sloughing off. Take the trowel and begin to smooth over the wired surface, then leave it to dry for several hours, seeing a noticable lightening in color indicates the coat is dry. (It looks ugly at this point-I promise it will get better!)
Once the first coat (or brown coat) is dry, it’s time for coat number two. I found applying with my gloved hand and smoothing over with the trowel was the easiest way too apply coat number two as well. Fill in any low or uneven spaces, smooth, then leave it alone to dry!
Once this second coat has dried, it is time for the final coat! For this coat, place a small pile at the base of the planter, then use the trowel to slide the cement up the side for a smooth finish. Use a gloved hand to add cement to any uneven spaces, the smooth again with the trowel, beginning at the bottom and working upwards. I also found that just smearing on the top coat with a gloved hand (no smoothing) gives a unique texture as well, so play around and see what you like best! Because the trowel is straight, it can be difficult to get a perfectly round, smooth finish, so keep this in mind and be playful with the look!
When final coat is throughly dry, use the concrete sanding block to smooth out rough edges. Smooth in a vertical direction to go with the lines created by the trowel.
Dust off excess concrete (I used a broom), and drill holes in the base if you forgot to at the the beginning (@me).
Now it is ready to be moved to it’s new home! NOTE: the planter will be heavy- it is advised to move it using an extra set of (strong) hands! For me, this is right next to our front door. For now, I placed the pot my fern came in directly into the cement planter, but aim to fill the pot halfway with mulch and the remaining space with potting soil.
As a disclaimer, I only spent $12 (not including the tools) because we get our 5 gallon buckets for free with a contractor account through Sherwin Williams, and we already had the wire on hand. So I decided to give an honest breakdown of what this project realistically cost!
For a grand total of $50! ($30 if you don’t include the trowel and sanding block which can be reused for other cement projects!)
I love how this turned out though I will say, if you are looking for a smooth finished surface this is not the method for you! This will not create a “perfect” finish, and I suggest trying to make a cement mold instead of using a coating. But if you are looking for a more natural cement planter, without spending $$$, give this a try and let me know how it works for you!