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 take Care of your Indoor Garden Plants to Attract Wild birds

A plants survival just like us is determined by many factors that directly affect its growth and development. Attracting wild birds to your garden is easier when you have healthy plants that are able to produce nectar for the birds. It can have a very tough time surviving indoors just like we would have to survive outdoors for a long period of time. Getting plants indoors needs one to adjust his natural habitat to them for them to survive. Just like human beings, a plant needs light, air, moisture, food and cleaning occasionally. Here are a few very important tips to ensuring that your indoor plants get healthy and strong through adjusting to the environment created for them.

weaver wild bird

  1. Where to situate them– Find the best place for your indoor plant and then leave it there to grow. Never move plants from one extreme temperature to another for these greatly affect them. Garden birds will be attracted and will get used to these designated points and they’ll be coming over and over. The best places to have the plants are your verandas, windows among others.
  2. Humidity– Most plants need humidity and so do indoor plants that are in centrally heated rooms that lacks moisture in the atmosphere. Stand the pots in pebbles, which are standing in a little water in a saucer or bowl for the garden birds to quench their thirst and to bath. Alternatively, you can grow several plants together in a trough surrounded by damp peat.
  3. Light– Avoid strong direct sunlight for everything except cacti, succulents and geraniums. There should be bright light for flowering plants and shade for foliage. Strong light will deter the wild birds from staying longer and also darkness with keep these garden birds away from the indoor garden.
    Some plants, notably the ivies stand comparative gloom and if you must have a display in a really dark place, dose them with light from time to time by training a reading lamp on them.
  4. Air– Most houseplants dislike dry air, and that is why they thrive well in kitchens, bathrooms and homes without ant central heating. The popular plants that can survive in dry air or centrally heated rooms are cacti and geraniums.
  5. Suitable Soil-A good potting mixture is necessary for your indoor plant to grow well. You can get one from a garden centre where you bought your plant. The best is a blend of peat, plant food and bits of rock to aerate the mixture so that the roots do not get waterlogged even if you overwater.
  6. Plant food– The plants that started in a commercial potting mixture need to start feeding after two months of active growth. For these you do not need stinking manure in your living room but rather find out the best feed for your plants depending on personal preference, trial and error. Feed your plants only when they are actively growing. Always remember to follow the instructions on the label. Feeding on demand is the rule, but be careful not to overfeed because they can damage roots and even kill the plants. Avoid poisonous feeds that can kill the attracted wild garden birds.
  7. Clean– It is advisable to clean plant leaves when they get dirty. You can use feather dusters on a stick, soft paint brush or get a sort of plant Kleenex (ask at a garden centre).
    You can also occasionally spray indoor plants with a fine mist of soft water. Get the plastic bottle with a squirter lever from a local garden center.
  8. Watering– Water is life to garden wild birds, human beings and plants. And sometimes too much of it is also harmful especially when it is overdone to plants. More plants are killed by over watering than any other reason. A plant that has dried out can often be revived by watering but one that is drowned cannot. Never over water your plants; the surface of the soil should be constantly of a wrung-out funnel. Don’t completely dry out your plants before watering again or you will damage the root system completely. The secret is catching the plant just before it looks as if it needs watering. If you cannot manage to detect when a plant needs watering, it is advisable to buy a water-meter, which shows you the state of the soil. Thoroughly water your plan5s so that the reaches all parts of the pot which must have drainage hole in the bottom. Never leave a pot standing in water or the roots will rot.
  9. What to do when on holiday– Your plants will need water even when you are away on holiday and it’s up to you to ensure that they stay well watered during that time. Mock up an automatic watering system by buying a length of ICI’s capillary matting from a garden centre. Put it in the bottom of a sink or bath with the drain clear and a lightly dripping tap, and then stand the plant on that.
  10. Repotting a plant– When a plant has overgrown its pot and its roots start to show at the base, repot into a slightly larger pot. Before repotting, soak new clay pots in water for several hours or the absorbent clay will draw water out of the soil and scrub out old pots. Water the plant the day before so that it is moist but not soggy. Then turn it upside down onto your left hand, gently knock the rim of the pot against a table edge and pull it off with your right hand. Be careful with the root, they act as the blood vessel, so even a few strands matter. Put an inch of potting plant compost in the bottom and stand the plant centrally in it. Fill in with more potting compost to half an inch below rim of the pot. Firm down with fingertips, water slowly and leave in the shade for a week. Never move plant directly from a small pot to a bigger pot. Move from one to another slowly as it grows, i.e. from 4inch pot to 7-inch pot to 12-inch etc.

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.