Chicken Gardens is
currently flying off the shelves, so I had to see what all the fuss was
about. The book is beautifully illustrated by Kate Baldwin, but
the writing (by Jessi Bloom) is much more disappointing.
First of all, I have to
admit that I'm clearly not the target audience. I love plants and
I love chickens, so you'd think a book about chicken gardens would be
just my cup of tea, right? Not really. Jessi Bloom is a
landscape designer, and even though she includes a few edibles, she
mostly lets her chickens forage through flower beds. That means
there was much less information than I'd hoped for about how to create
a food garden in which chickens coexist with useful plants.
But even if I had been
trying to create just the kind of garden the author envisions, I think
I would have been disappointed by Free-Range Chicken Gardens. The
book feels like one long magazine article --- beautifully illustrated,
but choppily written at the sixth grade level. There were also
some glaring errors that put all of the information in doubt --- for
example, mushrooms aren't plants and the white mulberry species doesn't
always produce white fruits. Finally, it was tough to tell which
plants the author had actually tried with her chickens and which ones
she'd simply read about.
All of those complaints
aside, I was able to find some useful information that will help me as
I build forest
pastures for our
flock. More on that in a later post (or two, or three).
Our chicken waterer keeps the flock healthy
while ranging under the peach tree or further afield.
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