I started to research and ask questions, and it turns out that yes, some chickens have discriminating tastes and from the folks I talked to, if I really wanted something to eat those hornworms, what I really should get was ducks. DUCKS? Umm, no, that was not in the plan.
Of course, after I slept on it all winter, first thing that next Spring, we got ducks. I was looking for Indian Runner ducks, but we ended up with a hodge-podge group of runners and runner crosses. After the plants were established, we plopped the ducks into the garden and stepped back to watch.
On one side of the garden by the gate, we set up a little pool. If you have ducks, you know that they get their water dirty. I kept a watering can nearby and would scoop the water up and use it as fertilizer to water the plants. Very handy!
Overall, our garden ducks provide a very useful service: natural bug removal without pesticides. Plus, they offer the non-stop fertilize-as-you-go benefit!
If you are considering using ducks in the garden, I'd suggest a couple precautions:
1. Research your ducks carefully. Look for a breed that would be a good fit for your garden AND your homestead. Our ducks overwinter with our chickens, therefore compatibility was a key component in selecting our breed. The Indian Runner ducks we chose, are very adaptable and generally easy going. (We did rehome the runner crosses, as they were more aggressive with our hens).
2. Make sure your ducks will be safe in the garden. Our garden is completely fenced and the duck enclosure keeps out predators at night and provides shade in the heat of the day.
Finally, and not inconsequential, you'll find one more benefit to having ducks.
Join us each day for farm and garden chat at fb.com/thepocketfarmer or find us on Twitter @thepocketfarmer. Hope to see you there! :)