Have you ever considered growing your own fresh food for your guinea pigs? Perhaps you are thinking of making your very own guinea pig garden? Gardening can be fun and cost effective way to provide fresh and tasty food for your guinea pigs.
In this article, we’ll help guide you through everything you’ll need to know to get you started. Read on to find out more!
Why should you start your own guinea pig garden?
There are plenty of benefits to starting your own guinea pig garden. Here’s 4 good reasons to help you make the decision:
Fresh tasty vegetables conveniently at home
You start to hear the hungry wheeks calling out to you. Your guinea pigs remind you that it’s dinner time, so you quickly proceed to the kitchen to start prepping their meal. You open the fridge and find that someone has used up that bunch of lettuce you’ve been saving. If you had some vegetables ready from your garden, you could save a trip to the shop by picking some from your very own plants. Convenient right?
Help cut down on guinea pig food costs
Fresh vegetables are an important part of any guinea pig diet! In fact, each guinea pig needs approximately 50 grams of fresh veg per day. While that may not sound like a lot at first, that quickly adds up, especially if you have a large herd! By growing your own plants at home, you can help supplement your food shop with some tasty veggies or herbs you have right at home.
Good for the environment
Growing your own fruits and veggies is not only good for your guinea pigs but also good for the environment. Many fruits and vegetables are shipped out in plastic packaging which unfortunately contributes to the waste that we humans produce. By gardening, you are effectively cutting down on the need to purchase items that require the disposal of packaging.
Start a new hobby
Gardening is a great opportunity to get back in touch with nature. It is found to be quite therapeutic for many individuals, not to mention the opportunity to catch some much needed vitamin D from being out in the sun! Gardening can be as involved as you’d like so it is a great hobby to pick up should you find yourself having a busier schedule.
Top 7 plants that are easy to grow for guinea pigs
Below you will find a list of plants that we find are fun and easy to grow to help you get started with your very own guinea pig garden!
Note: Whilst there are plenty of safe plants for guinea pigs to eat, there are also a lot of plants that they cannot. Before planting anything with the intent of feeding them to your guinea pigs, it is important that you identify which foods are safe to avoid any complications to their health.
Here are a few common examples of foods that are considered unsafe for guinea pigs:
Click here for a list of more unsafe foods for guinea pigs.
Vegetables you can grow for guinea pigs
A fan favourite amongst all guinea pigs, lettuce is a fun leafy green to grow that will surely get you plenty of excited wheeks in return. Common types of lettuce include romaine lettuce and little gem lettuce which can mature in as little as 30 days. Please note that not all types of lettuce are suitable for guinea pigs. For instance, iceberg lettuce is not recommended as it provides little to no nutritional value to piggies.
Lettuce prefers cooler temperatures compared to other plants so growing these would be most ideal in either Spring or Autumn.
For a crunchy and tasty snack, growing beans for your guinea pigs can be a lot of fun! In fact, green beans are known to be packed full of vitamin c and can be a healthy addition to a balanced and varied piggy diet. Green beans will be ready to pick as early as 45 days after planting and yield many pods during the Summer!
Limited on space or worried you don’t have a knack for gardening? Then look no further because cress is one of the easiest plants to grow for guinea pigs. In fact, cress does not require any soil at all. Seeds can be sprinkled into a container lined with moist paper tissue and then covered with cling film to trap in the moisture. Keep your eyes peeled because your cress can be ready in as little as 5 days - Magic!
There are plenty of herbs that guinea pigs can enjoy and mint is no exception. It is actually one of the easiest herbs to grown! But be careful, this herb can grow in quite the abundance so many will favour planting them in pots for a more manageable experience. For this reason you can plant mint indoors and keep in direct sunlight. You should have a mature plant as soon as 14 days.
Another fast maturing crop is spinach. These leafy greens can mature in approximately 6 weeks. Spinach is packed with important vitamins including A, C and K as well as being full of fibre for a healthy gut. Seeds can be planted in early Spring or again in late Summer. Spinach however is high in calcium so it is important to give in moderation when feeding your guinea pigs. For more information be sure to read our guide to guinea pigs and calcium.
Although pumpkins do not grow as quickly as our other plants listed here, they are easy and undeniable fun to grow! Pumpkins take on average 3 months to mature and can be sown between May - July. The best part is guinea pigs will love nibbling on the flesh of a pumpkin for a tasty treat.
A leafy green rich in important vitamins and minerals for guinea pigs, swiss chard can be another fun plant to grow throughout the year. Swiss chard is best grown in either Spring or Autumn and matures in about 10 weeks. These leafy greens are packed in antioxidants which can be helpful in aiding against disease causing toxins.
Simple but tasty, grass is a quick and easy thing to grow if you want to have fresh food for your guinea pigs. In fact, grass is super hardy and can be grown in many different ways whether it be in a large patch of soil which can create a nice space for your piggies to run through or, an indoor pot to trim for a tasty treat from time to time.
Grass can grow in as little as 5 days which is super quick in comparison to other plants mentioned above. Grass will proceed to grow at approximately 2 - 3 cm per week and will continue to grow even after part of it is trimmed.
In fact your guinea pigs eat a lot of this already as hay is quite simply dried grass that comes in a wide variety. For a list of the different types of guinea pig hay, be sure to check out our other article ‘Why hay is so important for guinea pigs’.
A word of caution on homegrown plants for Guinea Pigs
When gardening, there are a variety of tools and products that can be used to aid and support the growth of your plants. However, not all substances used are safe for guinea pigs. Things like pesticides, fertilisers, and other lawn or garden treatments are often packed with chemicals that can cause severe harm to your small pet.
Before using anything to treat your plants, be sure to opt for natural or DIY alternatives that are often just as effective and most importantly, safe!
Growing your own herbs and vegetables for your guinea pigs can be a fun and rewarding experience. It can be a reliable and easy way to produce fresh food whilst also starting a new hobby too. What plants are you planning on growing? Be sure to tag us on social media to show off your very own guinea pig gardens.
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