Chickens...and so much More!

this beautiful Asian pear tree screens the entry garden from the side yard dining area
Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting with Barbara Miller at her one-acre property in east Boulder, Colorado.  Over the course of eleven years, Barbara has created an engaging and productive landscape based entirely on organic, no-till principles.  All of the gardens were built on soil created on site by an annual autumn layering of 12-14 inches of leaves (neighbors donated 1,600 bags of leaves last fall!) topped with cakes (broken bales) of hay. Grass clippings donated by a local lawn care company provide mulch/layering during the growing season. Manure from chickens and goats is layered in as well. At no time is the soil rototilled, ripped, or spaded.  It's Barbara's belief (and she recommends the writings of Ruth Stout) that worms and other micro-organisms are perfectly efficient at integrating organic matter into the existing soil without harming its structure.  Chickens, goats, and a greenhouse are part of the plan, too.

Let's start our tour:
The enclosed entry garden, which has a nice balance of sun and shade, is devoted to perennials, roses and a few containers of favorite annuals and tropicals. Flagstone paths meander through the space creating separate garden areas and niches for planting.
Viola 'Purple Showers' left, blooms all summer
a bubbling water pot adds a light, refreshing sound along the path
a beautiful textural contrast; a fern and lady's mantle

The front flower garden transitions into a shady, grassy side yard - also enclosed - where the family gathers for meals and relaxing. Note the dog door adjacent to the gate here.  Barbara allows her dogs access to most areas, but not all.  
overgrown patty-pan squash looks charming here, and will soon feed the goats!
gate with dog door

Next, we move into the lawn area where the chickens get to run, peck, and play to their hearts' content. Barbara's 54 chickens provide manure, pest control and eggs to sell.
run and play, run and play!
hunt and peck, hunt and peck!

 The vegetable, fruit, and cutting garden is designed without straight rows; too boring for Barbara! Trellises for vine beans and cucumbers double as screening to the adjacent property. Barbara is a test grower for Rodale Organic Gardening. I got to taste a new cucumber that's on trial this summer. I liked it, mild and a bit sweet, but Barbara's not a fan.  I also got to taste the new 'Pinot Noir' sweet bell pepper. A winner!  Barbara's favorite strawberry, which I thought was incredibly tasty and sweet is 'Mara du Bois.'
a small patio seating area in the heart of the garden. bags of grass trimmings ready to be spread as mulch.
red runner beans

The 18'x36' greenhouse is used in the summer for heat loving crops such as peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes --- enough to feed the family for 9 -12 months! In the winter it's a warm haven for favorite annuals and tropicals, and is seed-starting HQ as well.
Barbara Miller displays her greenhouse with crops growing directly in the soil floor.
Pinot Noir pepper, a summer crop in the greenhouse

Adjacent to the greenhouse is the chicken coup, nicknamed the "Chick Mahal." Back-to-back hen houses and a roomy yard are fully enclosed in, yes, chicken wire.
sanitation and safety are critical
doesn't that look cozy?!

A newly established pumpkin field and the goat meadow fill out the rest of the property. Barbara's Nubian goats contribute manure to the soil building program and are also pack-animal companions for backpacking expeditions.

A great garden created and cared for by a thoughtful and attentive gardener. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing it with me! Contact Barbara Miller via e-mail here:

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