Nasturtiums

July 3, 2011

 

Nasturtiums are wonderful, easy to grow annuals that your chickens will love.  Officially known to those in science to be in the family of Tropaeolum, this entire plant is edible, even the beautiful golden yellow, burnt orange and blazing red blossoms.  The plant has a slightly peppery taste as it is a relative to watercress.  These plants have long been used by people to attract beneficial bugs to their gardens and also ward off unwanted pests, such as squash bugs, cucumber beetles and some caterpillars. High in vitamin C, even their seeds, when pickled, are likened to capers.

There are many varieties.  Planting climbing varieties along the outside edges of the run, they will gracefully climb up the hardware cloth or chicken wire around your run.  As they climb, they offer tasty snacks for the girls.  They also offer some welcome shade and some protection from the elements as they form a blanket of beautiful leaves and flowers.

My girls have been sampling them this Spring and cannot get enough.  It truly is a frenzy.  They twist and tilt their heads in all directions, even upside down, to get a nibble of the leaves and flowers.  They jockey for the best position, especially when I push the leaves into the run.  As expected, the girls at the top of the pecking order are the ones involved as I near the coop.  Tilly, Oyster Cracker and Sunshine are all there.  There was also a surprise; Dottie Speckles.  Yes, apparently, she has surpassed all of the Silkies in the pecking order and is now one of the big girls!  She too, timidly got in on the action and the other three could have cared less.  In fact, although they noticed her little beak between theirs, they did not seem to mind.

This weekend, head over to your local garden center.  It’s not too late to plant them, and your girls will love you for it!

Yes, did you notice that the two best friends, my Buff Orpingtons, made a heart with their faces?

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Melissa

Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.

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5 thoughts on “Nasturtiums”

  1. Oh, I'm going to have to go pick up some Nasturtium seeds. I stopped growing these years ago because they would just take over my yard. But now I'm looking for nummy green things for them to eat. If the plants get too out of control, I'll just trim them back and put the extras in for the girls to eat.

    Hmmm, now what color to buy?

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  2. Melissa – great idea! I think, since our coop is going to be moved about the yard from time to time, I will set up several pots of Nasturtiums and set them up against the Girls' run so they can reach out and pick at them. This way I can move the pots around with the coop.

    I must post some picks of my Girls! They were 2 weeks old yesterday and are getting SO big! They are sprouting tail feathers and getting adorable little combs. I am pretty sure that my Australorp, Rosie, is Head Hen. She is always very concerned about the others and certainly seems to be the one in charge. Is it possible at only 2 weeks this has been established?

    BTW, Happy 4th of July! xo Helena

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  3. Oh Flock Mistress, I am so glad you are going to plant them again! Love the idea about trimming them back. I had forgotten how everything grows so wonderfully in California! I miss that:)

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  4. Helena, yes, I believe that an order begins since day one. You are probably pretty observant and that is why you are noticing your Austrlorp becoming head hen! Aren't they so cute with their little feathers? Also, love the idea of portable potted herbs and naturtiums. Your are a great chicken Mom already!

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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.