Vegetable garden for guinea pigs (and people too!)

Since we got our guinea pigs a couple of weeks ago, I've been feeding them most of their greens from what I have in the winter vegetable garden: collard greens, chard, and parsley. I also some sugar pea volunteers (that came up from the peas I planted this spring), and since there's not enough of them to really have peas for the winter, I've been pulling up the vines and feeding them to the pigs too.
Just this limited experience so far makes me think that it would make a lot of sense to plant things this spring that the guinea pigs would enjoy. I'm thinking carrots -- do the pigs eat the tops as well as the root? Beets maybe? I like beets and beet greens, but we could share these with the pigs. Lettuce maybe for sure, but I have to be vigilent to prevent the slugs from getting to it first. Radish tops? Spinach always seems to bolt on me, but maybe the guinea pigs wouldn't mind bolted spinach. Other ideas for the garden?
I live in the Sunset Zone 5 (not sure what that is in the USDA system) in the Pacific Northwest, which is similar in climate to the UK.
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Warm Regards,

Claire Petersky
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Claire, you post did not show up on the guinea pig group, maybe you could copy again from here and post it directly as i am sure you will get a lot of feed back. yes they eat carrot tops and mine are fond of radish leaves (let them go to seed and the leaves will get very big) they even eat the radish itself. They eat spinach that has 'bolted' and prefer the crunchy stalk part. Dont know about beets,should be ok but they sure will look funny with bright red mouths !!! kelvyn.
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On Sat, 01 Jan 2005 23:16:18 GMT, "Claire Petersky"

Before doing this I would suggest that you discuss the nutritional needs of Guinea Pigs with your small animal vet. As I recall from working in a pet shop, Cavys have very distinct nutritional needs. After all, they originates in the Andes mountains of South America. It is doubtful that beets, carrots and peas are something that they would have encountered in the wild. Feeding them such things, although they may love it, might do more harm than good.
EM ----- When in trouble or in doubt, Run in circles, scream and shout.
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Carrots, definitely. They're extremely high in Vitamin C and my guinea pigs love them. Just because they wouldn't have come across them in the wild doesn't mean it's not good for them. Not too sure about the tops, though. How about some Romaine lettuce, tomatoes or bell peppers in the summer months? They are all very nutritional and guinea pigs relish them. Overall, if you're not sure, the rule of thumb should be not to feed them anything you wouldn't eat yourself.
Lorna and the rodent clan.

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"...I've been feeding them most of their greens from what I have in the winter vegetable garden: collard greens, chard, and parsley..."
watch out with too much of cabbage-like things: guineas get gas from them and this could have tummy aches as a result. Spinach is not too good for them either, only occasionally and in very small amounts. Carrot tops are OK, make sure it's all fresh and green, take out the withered stuff. I feed my gps beetroot too, occasionally. They love it. But variety is the key word here. Same as for humans. Check out these sites for more info on food and nutritional values: http://www.cavymadness.com/ click 'Care' and then 'Food' http://www.aracnet.com/~seagull/Guineas/feeding.html http://www.guinealynx.com/nutrition.html#lists
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On Sat, 01 Jan 2005 23:16:18 GMT, "Claire Petersky"

Try this to see what USDA zone your in. http://www2.dicom.se/fuchsias/eurozoner.html Pan Ohco
The Earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents, every man wants to write a Book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching. --Assyrian stone tablet, c. 2800 B.C.
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wrote:

That'd be cool if I lived in Europe.
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Claire Petersky
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Claire Petersky wrote:

Try this:
http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html ?
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It looks like 8A or 8B -- hard to tell at that level of detail. But our climate is nothing like that in Dallas or Gainesville. I like the Sunset zones better.
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Claire Petersky
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On Mon, 03 Jan 2005 00:50:16 GMT, "Claire Petersky"

Sorry Claire , It was my fault in assuming. Pan Ohco
The Earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents, every man wants to write a Book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching. --Assyrian stone tablet, c. 2800 B.C.
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They love both tops and roots of homegrown carrots, I know that!

Sure, lettuce, too,

Not sure about radish tops, but try them. You can grow radish in the Winter? Ours got the outside leaves of cabbage, too. They eat cut up pieces of fruit such as apples, including the peelings.
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I often refer to this web site: http://experts.about.com/q/1574/3427919.htm
I have been told that Alfalfa is bad for piggies but I have never heard about beans being bad. I was once told that dried beans are not good but I haven't heard about green beans. Can anyone confirm that?
Thanks! Matthew Hanna
Claire Petersky wrote:

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Claire Petersky wrote:

them
(that
enough
vines
I have extensive experience with this. They will eat anything green, including many edible weeds like violet and clover, but when given a chance between different greens they will always choose bitter greens, that is dandelions and chicory. In fact, given enough of these they will eat nothing else, leaving apples, clover, cabbage, and carrots untouched. If given whole plants, they will eat the root as well. They spend months at a time eating nothing but bitter greens, and modest amounts of oats and pellets. They are abviously very healthy. For dandelions, I just pull the weeds that grow in places my mower won't reach.
In your area chicory will grow year round (in my area it just survived -5F under minimal cover, and I picked some yesterday as the temperature went above feeezing. Some types of chicory have grown substantially since Thanksgiving). If you want to garden primarily for the pigs, get the wild chicory selection at Territorial. It makes large, very bitter plants that will grow a rosette only if cut in september. The seed for self-heading chicories (radicchio) is somewhat pricey in the US, but cheaper in Canada. If you want to garden primarily for yourself, they will eat the outer, tougher leaves while you enjoy the radicchio's heart.
It is just about the easiest vegetable to grow, unfussy about soil and drought-resistant, but it prefers to be seeded when the ground is warm (May through august). Next year in May it will start to go to seed and that is when you pull it and start anew (pulling it is backbreaking. I actually cover it with cardboard and compost, and punch holes for the plants that are taking their place).
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They love both tops and roots of homegrown carrots, I know that!
As kids we had guinea pigs, which meant that mostly it was Mum who looked after them! I just asked her what they liked to eat. She said they most of all liked lush grass. But in addition to carrots (roots and tops), they liked apple peel, pumpkin flesh (the yellow flesh, I think Americans call these winter squash), and she thinks beetroot tops, too. Lately she cared for a guinea pig while the owner went on holidays, and she supplemented the grass with a chaff/pellet guinea-pig mix that she bought from the pet shop.
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