Beneficial plants for the backyard flock
After perusing the book with pen and paper in hand, I have shortlisted some plants to give me a starting point to work from. Apart from general greens that can be grown for food/foraging, there are also what Alanna describes as 'Tonic Herbs', which can act as poultry conditioners and egg-laying stimulants.
So, my shortlisted plants to include in the new run are:
-silverbeet, cabbages, mixed grasses and clovers.
- canola/millet (Alanna recommends using packets of bird seed for this, what a great idea!).
- Oats/barley can be grown in winter, while lucerne can be grown over summer. I like the sound of this, but will need to investigate further. I am thinking of making some type of 'cage' to grow these in, that will allow the girls access to peck, but to prevent them scratching up the ground..
Silverbeet - check! The 'tonic herbs' that I am keen to grow (although not necessarily all at once), include:
(apart from garlic, onion, mint, parsley and oxalis(!), which we already grow): Wormwood, cress, marigold, (dried)nettles and fennel. Dandelion, and chickweed are also on the list, but I'll see how I go with the others first. Powdered seaweed is also mentioned, and I do have a bag of this in the shed that I can mix in with their feed.
I managed to find some wormwood growing on my travels and sneakily took a few cuttings, that will hopefully produce some good, strong plants, which will be contained behind some mesh until established.
Comfrey is also on my list, but as I have just planted some of this, will wait until it can be harvested and divided to include in the run. Apparently it is a protein rich tonic food (which also has the advantage of turning the egg yolks a wonderful yellow), although it is stated as being mildly poisonous. Something to keep in mind when it comes to quantity...don't overdo it!
The Eden Seeds catalogue I have at the moment includes many of the seeds listed, so I'm thinking a little bit of order placing is in my near future...