During the last few weeks the heat on some days has been unrelenting and the hens in our care may need a bit of extra TLC.
There are several factors to keep in mind such as providing shade in summer to keep them cool but making sure the hens are warm in winter.
There are several good websites on how to have a chicken castle or just the basic roost for your little ladies.
Having a good supply of eggs for the kitchen and chicken litter for the garden are two good reasons to keep a few hens in your garden.
Being prone to attacks from scale, mites and lice the adage of ‘prevention is better than a cure’ comes to mind.
Hens need to dust bathe so providing an area where they can do this to clean their feathers is essential but the plantings around their house can help to ward off infestations plus help to beautify the area.
Strong smelling herbs are ideal for this and there is a good selection to choose from.
The old favourites of Rosemary and Lavender are hardy as well as being attractive and the Sage plant is also useful as it is supposed to have the added benefit of deterring mice.
Nasturtium, Thyme are welcome along with the garlic bulb.
There is also the humble Wormwood plant which with its pretty leaves and distinctive odour is ideal for the side of a garden hen house.
Wormwood or Artemisia was mentioned several times in the Bible and not always in the kindest of ways and the inference or meaning was of a curse.
The plant grows to about one-metre-tall, is drought resistant and inhibits the growth of other plants around its perimeter.
With the smell supposedly helping to repel ants, flies, mosquitoes, and also mice among other things.
For medicinal purposes it has been used as a cure for malaria, gallstones, arthritis and even Crohn’s Disease, so supposedly a wonder plant.
With the leaves being of a lacy texture and a delicate shade of green it is an attractive hardy plant suitable for all areas of the garden.
Artemisia absinthium is the plant that makes the drink Absinthe which was so popular in the early 20th century.
It was developed in Switzerland in the 1800s and became especially popular in Paris and Montmartre amongst the artist community.
The common name for it was the Green Fairy due to its colour and the supposedly hallucinogenic properties that it contained.
It is a spirit and the high alcoholic content with the distinctive colour probably helped with the nickname.
The drink was banned in the early 20th century, but the ban has now been lifted so presumably people are now drinking it for its aniseed flavours.
However, I am sure the plant will have no affect on your little hens in your own backyard!
Watch the vegetables on those hot days – keep up the water and cover with shade cloth or an old sheet to help prevent sunburn.
Pick your fruit first thing in the morning as that is when the sugar level in the fruit is the highest making it more delectable.
Keep up a constant supply of water particularly with cucumbers to inhibit that bitter taste and tomatoes to help prevent blossom end rot.
Remove all fallen fruit from under your fruit trees for good gardening hygiene.
Try to keep cool and enjoy all the pleasures of your garden this January and A Happy New Year from the Amateur Gardener.