It’s Forage friday again

Today we’re featuring two very common plants that you should be able to find in flower at this time of year. The first is chickweed. It has tiny white flowers and it’s leaves are egg shaped and in pairs all along the slender stem. It has a hairy line that runs up one side of the stem. When this reaches a pair of the leaves, it swaps to the other side of the stem, and so on till it reaches the top. It spreads very quickly once it has established itself and some gardeners consider it a nuisance! Although chickweed can’t be called a valuable green food because it has no special properties, it is a good source of minerals and vitamins, it is safe to feed it, and a small amount makes a welcome change when other greens are hard to find. It’s an annual and can be found in flower throughout most of the year. Chickweed The second plant is the sow thistle, which is also known as milk thistle , because when the stem is snapped it exudes a milky substance. This is a very good and very popular food for small furries, who can eat both the smooth and prickly variety. It’s an erect, branched plant and can grow as tall as 4ft (120cm) We know that some of our readers have adopted or rescued rabbits who are pregnant and they should know that this is a great plant to feed to nursing mother rabbits, but it’s entirely safe to feed to rabbits of all ages. Not to be confused with the common thistle which has no feed value for rabbits. Sow thistle is easy to distinguish from the common thistle because of its bright yellow flowers, which are similar in shape and colour to dandelion flowers. They appear in clusters at the extreme top and branches of the plant. All varieties of this plant are equally useful. Some have very smooth, tender leaves, and others are slightly prickly, but not so much that they are painful to gather, and nor will they cause problems for your rabbits. They’re best fed when the stalks are tender and juicy, because when they’re fully grown, the bottom half of the centre stalk can become hard and woody, so for this reason it is at its best and most palatable when it’s a foot or two high. This is an annual plant and it flowers from June to September. Collect seeds to grow some next year, or else you can buy these seeds and many more from both Galens Garden and Rabbit Nutrition websites. To find which plants commonly grow in your area, so you know which seeds to buy, enter your postcode here