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Three Things you Didn't Know about Chickens and Tomatoes

Chickens and tomatoes.... How do they go together?   

1.   Chickens and Tomatoes at the Compost pile   Chickens are smart and they go where the bugs are.  The compost pile is a favorite spot for chickens to find the latest scraps and bugs that like them.   Given free run chickens will do the hard work of aerating your pile.  We take advantage of this by using a rotating part of our garden each year as a compost pile and chicken run.

So where do the tomatoes come in since?

  • Green Tomato plants and leaves are actually toxic to chickens? ( Green Tomato plants Contain toxins atropine & solanine).     
  • There is an ongoing debate about tomato plants in compost since they can carry blight.    

What we Do

Tomatoes are very heavy feeders so each year as we rotate we pull the old tomato plant rows down and lay all but the thickest parts of the stems on the ground to start  our  new compost area and then dump at least two feet of horse manure on top and from there we heap up all the greens, stalks, rotten fruit and anything from the garden right onto it.   We water it well, wait two weeks and then let the chickens go to work.  Chickens replace nitrogen with their droppings and they spend A LOT of time on the compost pile area.   The old tomato green stems are at the bottom and seem to rot out.   And our chickens seem to ignore the old rotten plants even if they end up dug up in a month or so.    We are organic and do worry about the blight issues so we don't replant tomatoes in the same spot nor do we move the compost.. we continually work to improve soil in place.  And once it gets cooler we always overplant mustard seeds (which have some disease and fungus fighting properties) into our pile.  The chickens love the mustard greens so we let the chickens back out in the winter onto the garden areas that aren't planted after the greens are about 1 foot tall.

2.  Chickens and rotten or soft tomatoes  Chickens love all the tomatoes you don't want.   You WILL get tomato starts from the seeds so always drop them in a feeder trough.  We use Grape tomatoes as a handy supplement to our chicken feed  A .99 organic plant start will provide hundreds of little tomatoes for chickens for weeks. We have found grape tomatoes grow like weeds (literally) and are dead easy... which is important for us so we always plant a couple of extra ones for the chickens.   You still need chicken feed but we save money this way... and remember Chickens are easy to raise.

3.  Chickens are not vegetarians   If you have tomatoes you will have bugs and more specifically tomato worms.  This is free chicken food.  Just pick them off and put in a small bucket and set them down for your chickens.

Handy NO work tip... We don't  till the compost pile in the spring...  just mound it back up a little...lay growing cloth on it to suppress weeds, plant beans with a teepee and lay a drip line to it. The beans return nitrogen to the ground.  We will finally actually dig in this area two seasons after we first put in the tomatoes.


Follow the Castle Gardener.   Perfecting permaculture and organic practices that are NO WORK and can be done by a farm girl with nails..