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I have a dog, two cats, and about a dozen chickens in my back yard. What sorts of plants can I grow in a garden to give them as treats? Louise

Answer

Pet Friendly Plants Hi Louise,
It is a great idea to grow a garden for your pets! And anything you can grow at home will be an added benefit for your chickens, because you will know exactly where it comes from and the extra good stuff will be going into their eggs.

For the chickens, I would recommend you plant a bed of sunflowers and/or safflowers. Other vegetables that chickens love include cucumbers, pumpkins, and tomatoes, but be careful not to feed them the greens/leaves from the tomatoes, as they are poisonous. Any of the heartier greens such as kale, cabbage, Swiss Chard, and collard greens are also great treats that often come with a boost of protein from the inevitable cabbage worms that tend to crawl on them. Chickens can also benefit greatly from some herbs in their diet such as oregano, thyme, and calendula. Raw pumpkin seeds are a natural de-wormer and oregano is used in many medicinal tinctures for bird health as an antibiotic. You might also grow some mint, lemon balm, or lavender to throw into their nesting boxes and keep them smelling fresh.

A cat garden would have to include catnip, of course, if you can manage to grow any without the cats eating it all the second it is planted! Other contenders for the cat garden include licorice root, cat grass (or rye grass), lemon grass, and valerian. Cats aren't big fans of vegetables, despite what some of the fancy cans of cat food say, so you are best feeding them a mostly meat diet besides these occasional plant treats.

A dog garden is a little easier. The following vegetables are safe and healthy to feed your dog: blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, carrots, cucumber, green beans, lettuce, peas, pumpkin, spinach, strawberries, squash, and watermelon. Some of these would certainly taste better to your dog fresh picked instead of cooked into their food, but I suggest you test them on your canine friend to see what he likes before you try to grow an entire garden full of it! Good luck!

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About Linda Lillie

Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.

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