Growing food plants next to a chicken coop

Asked March 2, 2017, 1:34 AM EST

Hello! I live next to urban chickens, and their coop sits just the other side of a fence from an area I grow food plants. (Sunchokes, raspberries, rhubarb, so far.) I know that their litter and detritus makes its way under the fence to my garden plot, because I see the pine shavings and occasional scrap of food they are given. I am wondering if the proximity to their manure should give me pause when eating or sharing the produce grown there? (From looking online, I saw that chicken manure should optimally be given about a year to 'calm down' before growing food in, though I don't see how I could do that and still use this precious, sunny space.) Should I be concerned about the likely only scant transfer of poo under the fence?
And also, would blueberries grow well in that setting, with that same scant poo?

Multnomah County Oregon food safety chickens horticulture

1 Response

You probably will be ok with your garden however you might want to be sure to wash the fruits and veggies before eating just in case some of the manure from the chickens gets on the food.

What you are reading is chicken manure compost. You probably are not getting enough passing through the fence to worry about. If you are concerned you might try higher raised beds so the litter from cross the fence does not end up directly in your garden. Another solution might be to put a row cover over the beds. This also helps keep the bugs out.

As for blue berries I would suggest you refer to some of the extension growing blue berries publications. They do like a more acidic soil so testing the soil might be a good idea before you plant them. .

If you wash your veggies and fruits you should be ok as far as food safety goes.
Thanks for using Ask an Expert

Nellie Oehler