Planting Herbs in Your backyard for Garden birds

Herbs are very wonderful parts of diets not only because of their spicy taste but also that they contain medicinal values that cannot be found in other plants. These herbs add additional value to our environment by providing habitat and food for backyard birds. Sometimes buying herbs can be quite difficult for a birder whom besides food wants to attract backyard and wild birds. The only way to get fresh herbs all year long is by planting them in a little garden in your home. The best place for a backyard garden is near the kitchen. You may not have enough space to put a herb garden but that can be done by doing it small scale in a window box or pots on a window sill in summer which can be brought inside during winter. Having your backyard garden next to your kitchen makes it easy to provide food and water for the visiting wild birds. You’ll be able to monitor and record birds on a daily basis in the morning, mid-day and evenings and all your food leftovers are easily placed for the wild birds. Watering and caring for the herbs is made easier with the choice of the garden.

There are herbs that are evergreen which include rosemary, bay, thyme, and winter savory. They look beautiful and green all year long despite the different seasons. Apart from these there are also herbs that are easy to grow but require regular renewal, they include, parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, marjoram and rockets. Sometimes herbs such as chives will easily and even grow in the kitchen, but others cannot stand the heat so they have to be placed outside. Flowering herbs will attract garden birds from long distance due to their strong and sweet smell, other than flowers for nectar these plants attract insects offering birds a diverse diet.

When selecting flower pots, 4/5 inch flower pots are usually big enough to use when planting herbs. Put broken crocks in the bottom of the pots for drainage. After getting the right ones for your herbs you can then decide to grow annuals from seeds and perennials which go on growing for years that are well bought as well established plants from a garden or nursery and stuffed straight into pots. The pots should be kept just moist and never over watered. It is advisable also not to use garden soil because it is usually full of weeds and diseases that can easily be transferred to the herbs. For fertilizer, choose a general fertilizer that is not too high on nitrogen. Using one that is high in nitrogen makes the plants get long, leggy and weak. Feed the plants only once a week with a liquid feed.

backyard garden herbs for birds

Here are some of the herbs to plant and what time of the year they should be planted.
Balm: A hardy perennial that is to be planted during spring.
Basil: It is a half –hardy annual that is easier to grow inside than outside. Plant it indoors in early spring and gradually pot up. Sow seeds outdoors in late spring to early summer. Ensure that you don’t buy bush basil, only sweet or lemon.
Chives: These herbs flourish in window boxes even in towns. The leaves can be cut back (half or more) in the early part of the year and should be done so repeatedly so that new leaves continue to sprout.
Fennel: It’s a hardy perennial. You should plant it outside from spring to early summer. Keep trim by pinching back growing shoots. The fennel is a diuretic, laxative, tonic that helps ease wind and digestive problems, colic, constipation and bronchitis.
Rosemary: It’s an evergreen perennial that should be grown from 6 inch cuttings in spring or autumn and then brought inside during winter frosts. You must keep it neat and bushy by pinching back growing shoots or it grows to a very large bush if not clipped. Rosemary is antiseptic, refreshing and stimulating .It helps headaches, migraine, colds, bronchitis and muscular pains.
Rockets: A very rare herb that you can boast about to your friends. It was reputedly, King Charles II’s favorite salad vegetable. It’s an annual herb that should be sown directly where it is going to grow. With its very strong taste; you should use just a little in your salad so that not to overdo it.
Mint- Is planted from seed at any time from spring to autumn. It needs good soil and moisture and some shade. Mint can be very invasive and is best grown in a mini-grow bag, which keeps it in one place.
Parsley: It’s a biennial plant which runs to seed in the second year. Should be used and be sowed annually. Parsley takes a couple of months to germinate. Although it doesn’t like being indoors, it will survive well being brought into the kitchen during winter.
Sage: Hardy perennial. Dwarf garden sage, which is more compact than the floppy broad –leaved sage. It needs a sunny situation.
Sweet Marjoram: It is a delicate perennial so best treat as an annual and grow from seed outdoors in late spring to early summer. Needs sun and warmth.
Thyme: Small hardy shrub that can be grown from cuttings in early summer.
Tarragon: Perennial French tarragon is the best to plant. Buy rooted cuttings or small growing clumps. Multiply it by division if you want to keep a constant supply of new plants.

How to Eliminate Garden Problems of Pests and Weeds
Garden problems of pests and weeds are common and every gardener whether a beginner or expert finds himself dealing with it at some point of his work. It is not possible to pass through life without experiencing a few pests. Different plants attract different pests and diseases and some problems come as a result of specific weather.
When dealing with pest and weed control, there are two kinds of cure: cultural and chemical.

Cultural Cure as A Way of Eliminating Pests and Weeds
These are basically preventive and involve preparing the garden thoroughly so that your plants have the very best chance of living a healthy life.
Dig thoroughly so that to avoid waterlogged grounds that leads to rotting of roots. If you have a heavy sticky soil, work in plenty of well rooted compost, peat or even course grit.
Buy fresh seeds and healthy plants. Then saw and plant at the right time taking note of the instructions on seed packets.
Make sure that you feed our plant properly.
Never leave rubbish or old plants about to attract woodlice, remember that garden birds will feed on these pests hence naturally controlling them. Avoid use of harmful chemicals if you’re targeting backyard birds, harmful chemicals will kill your birds instantly as they feed on the sprayed pests and insects.

How to Pick a Garden Plant for wild birds

Having wild birds in your backyard garden is so magical that it makes you feel creative, satisfied, fulfilled and peaceful as a birder. Even with that in mind, sometimes it is not easy to choose a garden plant that is good and healthy enough to grow to beautiful flowers, herbs or shrubs to attract garden and wild birds such as sunbirds, mouse birds, Bee-eaters, Eastern grey-plantain eater among others. Bird twitcher and a gardener both starters and experts need to know how to select the best plants for their garden. Here are the few guidelines to getting the best plants for your backyard to attract those birds.

backyard bird flower

  1. Take into account the climate of your region because plants differ in tolerant to cold, heat and moisture and also the endemic to migratory bird species frequenting your backyard.
  2. Know the types of wild birds in your locality and the kind of flowers they are attracted too.
  3. Choose the best nectar producing flowers for garden birds
  4. Take clearly labeled plants so that you know exactly what you are buying and if it is what you want.
  5. Pick those plants that are sturdy with a full rounded, healthy look. Remember, a healthy plant doesn’t look dry and shriveled.
  6. Spurn any plant that’s yellow, wilting, spindly, struggling. Have damaged leaves, look gnawed around the edges, have greenfly or anything else on them.
  7. Shake the plant out of the plastic container that is concealing the root and take a good look at it. Choose a plant that has several small roots rather than one with one or two larger roots.
  8. Check containerized plants before paying for them. You do not want to buy plants with spiraled root system because it won’t grow well.
  9. If you are out to buy shrubs, try to get a decent shape and not thin or straggly. Some sellers will convince you to buy it so that you prune it yourself but remember getting it to good shape will take a long time and it will be easier for you to learn how to prune if you know what the thing ought to look like before you begin.
  10. In case you are buying trees, don’t buy tall ones because the roots will be left behind when they are moved so buy small young trees. Preferably pick a tree that is in the second year from seed.
  11. If you are buying bulbs, examine them for pests, fungus and rot but remembers some birds feed on these insect, the more it attracts insect the better for small garden birds
  12. If you are buying seeds, buy fresh ones not stale and check the date. Those that don’t have dates on the packet, buy only from reliable sources and keep them sealed till you are ready to plant them. Those that you are ordering by posts, always make sure you are buying them from reputable, well established sources.
  13. Never buy anonymous plants without a grower’s label from greengrocers or supermarkets because you can never be sure of quality.
  14. Never impulse buy in a nursery, make a list of what you want and confirm their availability. This prevents you from impulse buying and the seller convincing you to get alternative for what they do not claiming it’s equally good.
  15. Wild bird likes strong and attractive color; yellow and red sometimes is the best attractor of the backyard garden birds.
  16. Plants and shrub that grow tall and bushy will attract bird of prey, that will be predating on the small garden birds hence avoid plants that tend to grow tall.

Finally, check out the plants will like your soil, produce good scent and attract so many garden and wild birds. Then check if they mind any local problems you may have e.g. shade, pollution from motorways and factory fumes. And then find out how much space that the plants will eventually need.