Dear Aggie

Questions and Answers for July 15:

What are the benefits of raising guinea hens?

Guinea hens can be a benefit to your farm or backyard flock, just be prepared for the noise! I recommend raising them from chicks because they love to explore and will need to learn their internal homing. Guinea hens are also great animals for pest control, especially ticks and even larger pests like mice and rats. Guinea hens can be noisy, but can be great watchdogs and very territorial. In addition to pest control and acting as an intruder alert, they do lay eggs, but not as many as a chicken and can be raised for meat as well. Need help weeding your yard? Guinea’s love eating weeds as well! Just make sure you fence off your garden or keep a close eye or they may pull up something edible. Make sure to do your homework before you decide if raising guinea hens would be a good fit for you.

I do not have a green thumb, but want to know what are some easy vegetables to grow?

It takes practice and TLC to develop a green thumb so do not be discouraged! If starting plants from seed is giving you trouble, buying starter plants might help. You can find starters(transplants) at your local farmers’ market, roadside stand, or hardware store. Starters are not as fragile, have developed strong roots, and are adaptable.

Growing a garden is a lot of work, and if you do not have the time, space, or are new to gardening, container gardening might be the fit for you! Start with a five-gallon bucket or pot. Containers are mobile and harvesting is easier because pots can be placed near your house or higher off the ground. Make sure you provide enough space for the plant to thrive, choose the right potting soil, and enough water and sunlight. Soil will dry out faster in pots; having proper drainage at the bottom of the pot is important as well. Try growing herbs such as basil or chives. Basil can be harvested and cut multiple times to make tasty pesto or to season up a homemade pizza. Chives are great in salad oras a garnish, and they grow back after each cut. If you are feeling adventurous, zucchini and tomatoes can also be grown in a pot. Each vegetable requires a larger pot so roots are able to develop fully. A five-gallon bucket can hold one tomato plant with a ring of lettuce or herbs, or two pepper plants with herbs, or one zucchini plant.

Gardening takes practice, but once you are able to enjoy your own homegrown food, it is a great feeling!

By Kaitlyn Lawrence, Local Foods Educator (and Master Gardener Volunteer), Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County


Catherine Moore
Agriculture and Fort Drum Program Leader
(315) 788-8450 ext. 236

Last updated July 17, 2017