As planting season comes upon us, it once again becomes important to protect small plants from the chickens' scratching feet and their nibbling on the tender leaves and stalks. An easy way, of course, is to fence in your entire garden area, but if you just have individual plants here and there you need to protect, these chicken wire cloches are the answer - and so easy to make. These are great to keep plants from being trampled by your ducks, nibbled on by bunnies and generally safe until they grow a bit larger.
Four old forks per cloche (check your thrift store or yard sales if you don't have any you're willing to part with)
What you Do:
Simply cut a length of chicken wire several inches taller than the plant you wish to protect and long enough that when you form a circle it will encompass the circumference of the plant with room to spare. Join the length into a tube, bending the cut ends to secure the tube. Cut a circle out of the chicken wire and, once again, use the cut ends to secure the circle onto the top of your tube. Or do, as my crafty friend Kate from Farm and Foundry did HERE and make your tube taller so you can bend the top into a dome shape. Which ever way you choose, you'll end up with a domed tube a bit larger than your plant. [Kate's post has some nice photos of how to create your cylinder also HERE.]
To make the fork holder and ground stakes:
Bend one fork handle in half and then attach the fork to the center of the top of the cloche by bending the tines in opposite directions over the wire.
Attach the remaining three forks to the bottom edge of the cloche, spacing them equidistant from each other. This will allow you to sink them into the ground to secure the cloche so it won't blow away and the chickens won't knock it over.
You can also use your cloche to protect a container plant. Just size it to slip over the plant and set it on the dirt in the planter. I use these cloches to protect bushes and shrubs I plant in the chicken run for landscaping also.
I was lucky enough to inherit my Grandmother's silver collection, so I chose to use some of the small forks she left me, instead of standard-sized forks, but any forks will do. You can often find nice old forks at thrift shops or flea markets. (and before you start typing me a nastygram about 'ruining' good silver, my grandmother was a HUGE gardener and chicken keeper nearly her whole entire life, and was extremely thrifty as well and I know she would be THRILLED about how I was using her silver! She was not a woman to put on airs in the least bit. She is likely chuckling right now, in fact, where ever she is, about how her silver is being put to use)
The chickens clearly aren't big fans of these cloches for obvious reasons, but they do work to keep the small plants safe from our little feathered garden marauders!
|-bend a fork to make a handle and then bend the tines to attach the fork to the top of your cloche-|
|-attach three forks to the bottom edge of the chicken wire and sink them into the ground to secure your cloche-|
|-these cloches do a great job of keeping small plants safe from not only the chickens, but also from the wild bunnies-|
|-Cecilia is very much NOT impressed with my chicken wire cloches!-|
If you're not the least bit handy, fortunately Gardener's Supply Company sells some really well-made (and cute!) chicken wire clothes HERE.