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Eggs and Garlic

October 20, 2011

Which came first?  The eggs or the garlic?  We keep hens for eggs, and the oft overlooked reason…their manure.  It does wonders for the gardens.

Curing garlic.

Chickens and garlic are just another example of overlapping patterns on our farmstead.  Good eggs and good garlic are expensive to buy.  A good way to make my eggs even more expensive would be to free range the hens and if that wasn’t too successful, I could get a LGD to protect my flock.  Or I could keep my hens in a fixed situation and use them as part of our fertilizer program and offset the costs of keeping hens for eggs.  I might only have good eggs, not excellent eggs, but I have excellent chicken manure bedding to use for my gardens.

Garlic is easy to grow, and it stores well making garlic a good choice for the self-reliant pantry.  Once you buy your seed, get your garlic acclimated to your soil conditions, and save your own seed, garlic becomes an economical foodstuff to grow.

Oregon Blue.


I have finally settled on two varieties,  Oregon Blue softneck, and Music hardneck.  Both do well in my soils.  And both keep very well until the next year, when I can harvest green garlic or scapes for cooking if my supply runs low.


A dry spell allowed me to get the garlic in a few days ago.  Remember I left this row open for the garlic, every part of the garden is now undersown with cover crop except this row.  To prep the row for garlic planting, I raked the soil to expose any weeds that germinated, perfect timing too, the weeds were in the delicate thread stage.

Broken down chicken manure, courtesy of deep bedding and my hens.  It’s light, and easy to transport by wheelbarrow to the garden area.  With the proper nitrogen and carbon ratio there is no odor and this is ready to apply as a mulch/fertilizer for the garlic.

After planting, I covered the garlic row with about an inch of chicken manure/bedding.  I have lots of cow manure for sheet composting or planting, but I find it too heavy for the garlic.  Light and easy mulch and fertilizer is the way to go.

After the bedding is applied for fertilizer, I mulch the entire row with straw.

There, finished for the year.  When the garlic makes its appearance in late winter, I will add more straw for mulch and weed control as needed.

Since I didn’t use the entire bale of straw, I dropped it off at the chicken greenhouse and the cycle begins again.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Tammy permalink
    October 20, 2011 6:54 am

    Good stuff! Inspired me to put some garlic in! Thanks for the lovely post.

  2. October 20, 2011 8:59 am

    I’ve got the chickens the eggs and the manure but I’ve never grown garlic. I think I’ll have to remedy that. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. A.A. permalink
    October 20, 2011 9:04 am

    I was well on my way to forgetting to plant garlic this fall, so thanks for the timely post!

    Does your straw bedding for the layers decompose just like that? I find that for some reason the way I make it, it seems to stay too dry to burn by itself. Would it be too hot to use without composting?

    All of ours are about through molting, so we should get some eggs in a while too, if the girls don’t judge it too dark a time of the year yet 🙂

    • October 20, 2011 12:14 pm

      AA, you know they just scratch and worry the bedding to death and that is what is does, as soon as I put it out on the garden it starts to break down with lots of fungal activity and it never has an odor, so I am guessing it is readily available, it’s not too hot to plant straight into, but that is because I bed with my nose, the chicken house shouldn’t smell like poop or ammonia, if it does add more carbon.

      I have new pullets so they are laying 100% – I am swimming in eggs 🙂

      • A.A. permalink
        October 20, 2011 8:29 pm

        Ah, then that’s close to what I’ve been getting as well.

        What about leftover grains? Do a lot of those shoot up from your chicken bedding? That was an issue with our combined rabbit and chicken bedding without composting it. The sprouts are probably not a problem with garlic and they weren’t with the potatoes, but for seeded plants weeding them out was bit too much of a disturbance.

        • October 20, 2011 9:24 pm

          I have more grain problems from the straw, but annual cereal grains are easy to weed so I don’t worry too much.

  4. October 20, 2011 9:12 am

    Chicken manure…aka Gardener’s Ambrosia 🙂

  5. October 20, 2011 9:18 am

    Looks awesome. I planted garlic for the first time a couple of years ago, and love it—so easy and so yummy! (However, this last year, we got a TON of rain in Southern CA, and some of the garlic rotted).
    Love your site!

  6. October 20, 2011 9:19 am

    I really enjoy reading your posts. 🙂

  7. October 20, 2011 9:52 am

    I just love this. We are thankful for our chickens as well – they eat our scraps, clean up our gardens and then give us manure to be applied each year.

    • October 20, 2011 12:28 pm

      Tonya, I know, ours eat all the house generated compost and you’d never even know it was there. Amazing creatures for the farmstead. 🙂

  8. October 20, 2011 11:44 am

    LGD? Large Guard Dog?

  9. Karen permalink
    October 20, 2011 11:48 am

    I thought of you today at the garden center when I saw a 10lb bag of composted chicken manure for $7. Sad thing is… I may be purchasing some for my garden after your recommendation of it for first the peppers and now garlic! I’ve been using an all natural 4-1-2 fertilizer along with my homemade compost and an foliar applied fish emulsion. The health of my soil is improving but I do believe you are making sense when you praise the poop. My peppers are half the size they should be. I’m hoping that chickens will make it to our to do list by next spring. Right now I’m doing the reading and research… figuring out where a coop would work and how to get it built. I understand your not doing total free range; it is not an option here because we have a large hawk population. (We don’t even have ferrel cats because of them). Why do you say you will have less than excellent eggs? What is the missing? What’s the difference between good and excellent?

    I also thought of you today as I stopped by “my” farm to purchase our raw milk. (They have a token farm in the city where they keep a few cows and a storefront for selling the milk. It is only legal to sell raw milk on the farm here in Texas. When the city grew up and around them they sold off most of their ranch land ($$$) and relocated the main herds away from the city folks) We have been in a bad drought this year with record high temperatures and the grassy fields have been dead. Couple of weeks ago we had a few good strong slow rains and now the temps are now in the 70s-80s. The grass is growing like crazy – you’d think it was spring. As the cows eat this new grass IS it like spring grass to them? Will the milk and butter be richer? I mean they had the cows on hay for July and August but will probably be able to graze fresh green grass until January or February. The quality of the milk is related to the quality of the grass, not the time of year, right? OK. maybe there is such a thing as a stupid question. sigh.

    • October 20, 2011 12:11 pm

      Karen, I think the key is that my composted manure has a lot of carbon, it isn’t just straight poop. And that comes from adding bedding when the chickens need it. That makes a product that doesn’t burn. I really prefer cow and that is what most of our compost is, but the chicken stuff is so light and easy to move around I use it a lot for side dressing and little projects like the garlic.

      As for excellent eggs, a chicken that can get access to lots insects really has the best eggs, so mine get a few worms from the sides of the greenhouse, but natural raw protein really makes a difference, but since the eggs are a small part of our diet, I willing to expend my energy on other parts of our diet, like 100% healthy meat and milk and great veggies and fruit that we grow ourselves.

      Yes, the grass will be like spring grass, which can be a little washy, and no it’s not a stupid question. A cow grazing for her own food when the grass is growing will provide the best milk. That’s why seasonal dairying provides the most nutrient dense dairy products. And seasonal depends on where you live, here we should be milking from late spring to early winter, and where you’re at, fall to summer. Although most try to milk year round because we are so conditioned to have everything on demand 24/7/365. Poor cows. It’s pretty rough on a cow here (in the north) to calve in late summer and into fall and go into the dark days having to produce milk. But the almighty dollar rules. By gum we need milk, and we need money for… the latest gadget to come along. Ok sorry for rant, but I really get ticked off when I see people bitching about milk production and sick cows and when the real story is told, it’s not the cows fault. Ok rant over. Gahhh.

  10. October 20, 2011 12:27 pm

    I will have to look in our store for chicken manure. Unfortunately I can’t have any chickens to make any of my own. – Margy

  11. October 20, 2011 3:42 pm

    This is a beautiful tutorial. Thanks.

  12. October 20, 2011 7:52 pm

    Pretty chickens and eggs. I wish had more occasion to use garlic but I rarely do. I hate to cook.

  13. October 21, 2011 3:59 am

    I spend enough on garlic, but I ain’t took the opportunity to grow it. We use it for just about every meal we have these daysl.

  14. Spirited Rose Dairy permalink
    October 21, 2011 7:03 am

    My dad grew Inchelium Red garlic, a softneck variety, this year. Huge bulbs and very garlicy tasting!

    We just bought some Music hardneck to plant, so I was glad to see you like it!! 🙂

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