When trying to add ducks to your edible landscape in the most sustainable way, you want to think about putting as many sources of food as possible to provide your ducks with a well-balanced diet that mimics one that they’d find in nature. It needs to be capable of replenishing itself to reduce the amount of labor required from you to keep your ducks fed.

Ducks Will Forage for Bugs, Slugs, & Worms When Free Ranging

Not that we don’t appreciate all the compaction our little worm friends have broken up sliding and slithering up and through the soil, but who are we to fight the circle of life? There are lots of plants you can grow to help attract more bugs, which sounds a little wild, but, as long as you have enough ducks to balance your permaculture system or any garden, your ducks will keep up with your bug problem and turn all of those nasty, sinister critters into organic butt sauce to fertilize your plants.

Plants To Add To Your Duck Pond For the Ducks To Eat

The tricky thing about some of these aquatic pond plants is that plants like duckweed, water hyacinth, and hornwort do not like the cold and will shrivel up and perish once they’ve been hit with enough frost. Apparently, duckweed will rebound from winter and start to grow again once warmer weather comes, but as a precaution, you’ll certainly want to set up indoor aquariums or water gardens to keep growing these plants throughout the winter.

Your indoor pond plant setup doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it will need a sunny window in order to keep growing fast enough to keep up with the speed with which ducks devour these plants.

Plants To Grow in Your Edible Landscape or Food Forest For Your Ducks To Eat

Here is a running list of annual food crops and perennial food-producing plants that your edible landscape ducks (and probably your chickens too!) will love. I advise putting chicken wire or some other fencing around your fruit trees and shrubs if you intend on keeping any of those fruits, as your flock will certainly not ask permission before nomming down on your delicious fruits.

  • Raspberries
  • Goji Berries
  • Blackberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Sweet Potatoes & Sweet Potato Vines
    • Will eat the leaves and also the sweet potatoes if they are left above ground to start decomp, as this softens them. Ducks don’t have teeth, so this crop stays pretty safe from them as long as your sweet potatoes remain underground.
  • Watermelon
    • Will eat the entire melon, including the rind if you leave it with them.
  • Honeydew Melon
    • Will eat the entire melon, including the rind if you leave it with them.
    • Collect several seeds from your melon to keep during the winter and replant in spring or leave a few whole melons in relatively dry areas to reseed themselves come spring
  • Pumpkin
  • Tree Collards
  • Peaches (flower buds and fruit)
  • Persimmons (leaves & fruit)
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Fava Beans

My Food Garden Indian Runner Ducks Love Pumpkins!

The best way to discover new foods to add to your edible landscape to feed your duck crew is really to just try giving them new things. Whenever I feel up to adding a new plant to my permaculture food forest, I’ll either buy the food in a grocery store, collect some seeds or cuttings from it, then try feeding it to my Indian Runner Ducks to see how much they do or don’t like it.

One of the best things about ducks is that they will certainly spit out foods they do not like 0r quickly lose interest in them. It’s also possible that they might not immediately recognize what you’re giving them as food if it’s something completely unfamiliar to them.

The grocery store method is how I discovered their love for pumpkins, oatmeal, and rice. I’ve since planted at least 30 pumpkin seeds, added the Inland Sea Oats all around the edible landscape, and may eventually get around to adding rice.

Of course, with some of these foods, the seeds they leave behind during their messy meal times have a tendency to start sprouting. Especially since the ducks tend to continually walk over the area as they move from place to place looking for bugs and food scraps, pushing dropped seeds further into the soil.

Beautiful Ornamentals That Double As Duck Feed

Something you should definitely keep in mind before you free your ducks to let them go and forge their own path is that your edible landscape ducks are definitely going to eat anything they can reach. What that means for you is that anything that you did not put a gate around or some sort of netting that prevents them from getting through it… that your harvest are going to be reduced.

Of course, the other thing you can do is just grow more food, so that even while the ducks eat whatever they can get their greedy little beaks on, you will still be able to have a good harvest for each season that you grow food.

Some tips for growing enough food to feed both you and your ducks include:

  • Growing things that naturally spread without any additional work on your part, i.e., raspberries, goji berries, and blackberries, Taro.
  • Growing foods that are easily propagated from cuttings like tree collards…
  • Growing food that seed heavily to increase the number of plants
  • Growing more fruit trees and that will eventually be at a height out of the reach of your ducks

Indian Runner Ducklings helping themselves to the goji berries growing in the edible landscape

  • Peedee Gold Ingot Liriope (Golden Monkey Grass)

Other liriope or monkey grass plants should also be tasty to your ducks or chickens. Mine loved the greenery and the roots (which I cut off during the planting process to toss into the pond for them to try).

  • Sedge
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