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Growing Greens for your Birds
(originally published in FinchFriends News)
A few years ago, we started growing our own greens for our birds in pots on our sunny porch.
We use a set of 8" ceramic pots with saucers (they retain soil moisture a bit better) available from Plant and Pottery Outlet but any garden center like Summerwinds, Target, Orchard Supply Hardware stores that carries ceramic pots and saucers will work fine. The terra cotta non-glazed clay pots dry the soil out a little too quickly for a good crop of greens.
When planting your "pots" place at least one layer of flower arranging pebbles or marbles in the bottom of each pot - this helps slow down/prevent losing a lot of the soil every time you water. A bag of these little glass "stones' is usually about $2.00 at any local Michaels Craft Store or JoAnn Store. Also available at some Target and Walmart stores in the crafts dept. Using any available pieces of old broken pots will work the same way. Some folks use styrofoam packing peanuts.
Don't place your pots directly on the ground or in your grass lawn - the snails will come and make short work of your efforts in no time at all! If possible, put the pots in a sunny area - using a plant stand or something that can handle wet/dry & sun elevated out of snail territory. Even 2 cinderblock 12"x12"x 3" bricks with a 48"x1"x12" piece of scrap lumber across them will be better than leaving them on the ground.
This is how we do it - we do not have a lot of birds, so it works for us this way. If you keep a lot of birds, you will have to adjust how many pots you are growing through trial and error.
The idea is to plant and grow them in rotation, assuring you a fresh supply all the time. We use 7 pots, and plant each pot a few days after the last one until you have 7 sets of greens growing at one time - all of various ages. Then you can "cut 'n come" again (as our seed packets suggest) each day - cut pot#1 today, and leave it to grow back for another week. Tomorrow take your cuttings from pot#2. The following day, cut from pot#3 and so on....
At least once a year dump all the pots out clean out any remaining "roots" and replenish the soil with a good mix of compost and vegetable potting soil. We do not use chemical or fertilizers other than well aged organic compost from our compost bin and water as needed.
Growing your own greens can save you a lot of money, ensure you freshness and takes very little work once you spend the time to set the process in motion.
We use Renee's Garden seed varieties: The Heirloom Cutting Mix, and Baby Mesclun, "Cut and Come Again" at 2.69/pack. You can order these seed varieties online direct from Renee's via the link above. Each ceramic pot was about $5.00 check your local garden center for availability.
Other greens our birds love that grow well in pots - baby bok choi, curly parsley, kale. any kind of lettuce, basil, white clover.
Get growing today! Your birds will thank you!
Related link: Sprouting Seeds For Your Birds
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