Container Gardening For Companion Birds

Grow Your Own. Mark Winwood/ Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

 Many people have acres and acres of property where they can plant as much produce as they can care for. Of course canning season would be a challenge getting all of that produce put up for the winter from a large growing space. Freezing it would be even easier and if you have the freezer space, the savings would be astronomical as long as you didn’t throw your back out taking care of the weeding and hoeing.

 

But for many city and town dwellers, this isn’t an option. However if you have a front porch or even small space outside, you can always try a container garden.

I’ve done this on my little screened porch five floors above the earth. I’ve planted strawberries, basil, wheat grass and even rosemary and I enjoyed the experience. There’s nothing quite like fresh basil during the summer to have with sliced tomatoes and some mozzarella cheese. And of course living in Florida I have a rather long growing season so there is an advantage to that. The Parrot Garden at Best Friends Animal Society plants herbs and other edible plants at the bottom of their outdoor aviaries that their birds can forage and play and hold the stems if they choose to do so. They are doing a bit or gardening and growing right in with their birds. They apparently mow down what they put in with gusto during the warm months of the year.

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few pots of fresh organic produce to have around for your flock? This would save you money as well as provide just about the freshest produce you could possibly have. You just can’t get any fresher than “just picked.”

Things that would grow well would be the aforementioned items but you could go further.

Fresh lettuce would be a welcome addition to your birds diet as well as providing your and your family with some great salads. Root vegetables like turnips and beets would be wonderful as well because you can feed both the root vegetable as well as the tops and stems. Miniature carrots would work beautifully for this purpose as well. And I don’t think anything would be prettier than a pot of rainbow Swiss chard growing on my front porch. 

Edible flowers that are organic would be wonderful to have. Simply cut them when they are ready and dry for use later in the year. Some flowers you can grow that are totally edible or good  are Chamomile, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Violets, Daylilies, Petunias, Lilacs, and Butterfly Bush, Calendula, Carnations and Marigolds. 

However there are some provisos to this type of growing for your birds. Always ensure you use organic potting soil. You don’t want nor need the chemicals found in the regular or fortified potting soil as those chemicals are going to end up in the plants. Never use pesticides. And if you have a screened in porch this would be completely unnecessary anyway. Use unglazed terra cotta pots and make sure you have drainage dishes for them to catch the water that drains through the dirt.

Try and source some organically grown seeds or seedlings if you can find them. You simply don’t want the pesticides and chemicals in them for your birds. 

Other than the obvious fun and the monetary savings you would be getting out of this little hobby, there are other things to consider. When a plant is picked, it begins to lose its nutritional value. Fresh is better in this case and unlike wine, vegetables do’t improve with age. A fresh picked bag of swiss chardroughly chopped and added to other vegetables for your birds is about as nutritious as you can get. It has aged the approximately two minutes it takes to cut a few leaves, wash it in the kitchen sink under fresh water, towel dried and chopped. It hasn’t been grown in Mexico and shipped to a warehouse until it is once again put on a truck and shipped to your grocery store.

This stuff is fresh. It still has all of its nutrients. And freshness is something you and your birds can taste. It’s still about as alive as you can get. Eating fresh is the way parrots eat in the wild. And if you can provide a little taste of that in their lives with you so much the better. After all, they deserve it.