Many avid gardeners consider their vegetable and flower patches as more than just hobby level agricultural endeavors. Rather, one’s garden is a reflection of one’s natural self. Thus, just as you don’t want to use harmful herbicides and pesticides on a large scale as it is unsustainably damaging to the environment, you likewise do not want to use the same practices in your own garden.
How then can you control harmful weeds and pests from destroying your prized herbs, flowers, and vegetables without employing the very practices which you may be opposed to on a large scale? One innovative solution is to keep ducks in your garden. That’s right, ducks….quacking, waddling, goofy yet adorable waterfowl. Ducks will literally take your garden pests and nuisances and convert them to natural fertilizer and eggs (which by the way are suitable for human consumption).
Gardener Amy Grisak of Grit.com wrote a piece on how she received such wonderful help and valuable work from her feathered friends. She writes -
Ducks will eat just about any pest. Grasshoppers, which can decimate a garden in short order during heavy infestation years, are quickly gobbled up when in reach of a hungry duck and so are Japanese beetles, June bugs, grubs and even mice. Ducks will also chase and catch flies, and root their larvae out of fresh manure and decaying vegetables.
Using ducks as an environmental and low cost gardening and farming aide is nothing new. Chinese farmers have herded Pekin ducks by the hundreds through their rice paddies for thousands of years. These avid foragers would seek out and consume any pest or weed they could find, yet leave the more mature rice crop alone. Furthermore, their droppings would serve as fertilizer for the plants and soil. A recent episode of The Amazing Race featured a challenge where contestants were to herd large amounts of Pekin ducks, as an homage to this ancient practice.
Ducks are best used in your garden when there aren’t any sprouting seedlings, as they will likely tear up the ground enough and prevent the seedling from taking root. Ducks should be allowed to forage when the plants are mature enough that they can survive some physical movement and won’t be hurt by some disruption in the soil. Ducks essentially use their beaks as plows, and will actively seek out even buried pests and weeds.
Also, ducks can serve as a wonderful alternative to a bug zapper. Simply keep a light over their water supply and it will attract countless insects at night, which the ducks will gladly eat out of their water. Thus, you will have a natural, environmentally sound, and fun alternative to an unsightly blue light and power consuming device.
Which breeds of ducks make the best for this innovative and green gardening solution? eFowl.com recommends four key types -
- Runner Ducks – these wine bottle shaped ducks are far and away the most active foragers
- Khaki Campbell Ducks – not only are these birds great foragers, they’re also one of the most prolific egg layers of all ducks.
- Cayuga Ducks – these ducks are a medium size, and very popular as pets for their unique iridescent green color, as well as their quiet demeanor.
- Swedish Ducks – who knew Daffy Duck was so helpful in the garden?
What are you waiting for? Get some ducks and take green gardening to a whole new level!