Fresh vegetables are one of the most important parts of your guinea pig’s diet. They provide variety, nutrients, and essential Vitamin C. If you’re getting sick of running to the grocery store for your piggies’ veggies or worried about pesticides and freshness, you can grow the veggies yourself. Freshly picked vegetables and lettuces have more vitamins, which quickly degrade after harvesting. This is a great way to save money and start a relaxing outdoor hobby.
If you don’t have a yard for a traditional garden, many of these plants can be grown in containers on a porch or balcony. If you have a sunny window or grow lights, some plants can be grown inside year-round. While you could technically grow almost any fruit or veggie that your guinea pig loves, this article focuses on plants that are easy to grow for gardening newbies.
If you want to allow your piggies to graze and forage directly in your yard, you can plant a patch of grass, greens, and herbs and take them outside to eat directly from.
Vegetables to Grow for Your Guinea Pig
Your guinea pig’s diet should consist of 1 cup of fresh vegetables per day, with most of it being lettuces and leafy greens. They can also have fruit occasionally as a treat. Learn more about a healthy guinea pig diet.
If you’re just starting out with gardening or have limited space to work with, herbs are the perfect place to start. Most herbs are incredibly easy to grow and often are best grown in containers. They can also be grown indoors year-round with proper lighting. We recommend compact hydroponic garden systems to easily grow herbs in your kitchen.
Basil – One of my favorite herbs, it’s often beloved by guinea pigs too! You can grow basil in a traditional garden bed, in containers, or even indoors. They do best in bright sunlight and grow really well in the summer. Extend the plant’s life by pinching off the buds at the top before the basil flowers. Your guinea pig can eat the flowers in addition to the leaves and stems.
Cilantro – Good for piggies and good for your guacamole, Cilantro is easy to grow as well. Plant it wherever you please (garden bed, pot, or indoors). Unlike other herbs on this list, you will need to sow new seeds every few weeks to ensure a continuous harvest.
Dill – If you’ve ever grown dill, then you know why they call it “dillweed.” We recommend growing it in containers because dill self-seeds and can easily take over a garden bed (or even your yard!). Many piggies will wheek just at the scent of fresh dill! (Learn All About Growing Dill)
Lemon Balm – Lemon balm is an easy to grow herb that doesn’t need a lot of sunlight, making it a good choice for many gardeners. This lemony plant has a hint of mint scent that some piggies love. It benefits from being cut back periodically, so you’ll have plenty of harvest for your pet. Since it doesn’t have runners, you can plant it safely in your garden bed or use a pot.
Mint – This fragrant herb is a tasty option many cavies enjoy. It’s great for beginner gardeners because it’s extremely easy to grow. But, that trait also means it spreads like a weed, so don’t plant weed directly in your garden bed or yard. Plant mint in a pot and you can take it indoors during winter to keep up
Parsley – A great staple for your guinea pig’s diet, parsley is another easy to grow herb. Plant a patch in your garden or grow it in pots. You can easily grow it year-round with a sunny windowsill or supplemental lighting. As the plant grows, you can cut stems from the outside of the plant, allowing it to continue producing all season long.
Growing fresh greens for your piggies is a great way to provide them with a healthy mix of lettuces for their daily salads. I generally recommend greens that don’t grow in heads for new gardeners because they’re a bit easier to grow and can be harvested throughout the season. Many of these greens can be grown in containers or indoors with grow lights.
Arugula – This tasty leafy green is easy to grow in your garden or in a container. As a cool-weather crop, arugula grows best in spring and fall. Since they like full sun and partial shade, it works well to plant arugula between rows taller plants like tomatoes that can shade it during hot summer months.
Cucumber – A little bit trickier to grow, cucumbers are loved by so many guinea pigs that it’s worth trying. Pick a compact cucumber variety to grow in a container or your garden like the spacemaster or bush varieties. Cucumbers are thirsty plants, so make sure they’re well watered during hot summer months. If grown in a container, a self-watering one may be best.
Dandelions – Harvest this weed from your pesticide-free yard or grow some specifically for your piggies. Since dandelion is a weed, it’s super easy to grow. Guinea pigs can eat dandelion greens and flowers.
Kale – Another cool weather crop, Kale is grown similarly to arugula. Because of its hardiness, it’s great to grow in areas with a shorter season. Kale generally grows best in garden beds.
Red/Green Leaf Lettuce – While it’s mostly sold in heads at the grocery store, red and green leaf lettuce can also be grown to harvest as young greens. Instead of planting in traditional rows, sow the seeds thickly and you’ll get a ton of tender, young leaves. To harvest, trim the leaves a few inched above the soil. The lettuce will regrow for two or three more harvests. Since lettuce is a cool-weather crop, plant in a shady garden bed or pot.
Wheatgrass – Frequently grown for humans and cats, cavies love wheatgrass, too! Easy to grow indoors, this is a great way to offer a fresh grass supplement in addition to dry hay. If you want to grow inside, you’ll just need a shallow container (a small window box works great) and some potting soil. Harvest with scissors and the grass will regrow, providing a continuous supply.
Zucchini – If you’ve got the space in a garden bed for zucchini, one plant can give you a bumper crop. Plant in full sun and they will produce a large amount of squash in July and August.
These tasty veggies can add variety to your guinea pig’s diet so they don’t get bored. They’re also easy to grow at home!
Green Bell Peppers – Bell peppers are easy to grow in hot summer weather. In my experience, they’ve grown best in garden beds, but you can grow one pepper plant in a 5-gallon container. Make sure the plant gets full sun and you’ll have plenty of peppers for you and your piggies.
Cherry Tomatoes – One of the easiest types of tomatoes to grow, cherry tomatoes are also perfectly sized to give to a guinea pig. Cherry tomatoes can be grown in a container in a sunny spot (we recommend a five gallon pot) or in your garden. There’s nothing better than fresh tomatoes from the garden.
Grow Fruit for Guinea Pigs
While fruit is best as an occasional treat for guinea pigs, you can enjoy growing fresh fruit in your garden. Most fruit grows on trees or bushes, but these options don’t require a huge investment of space.
Blackberries – Growing on a vine that will produce year after year, your piggies can enjoy the fruit occasionally and the leaves. If you plant a thornless variety, that can eat the stems as well
Raspberries – Similar to blackberries, if you can commit to growing a vine you will have raspberries year after year. Go with a thornless variety so your piggies can enjoy the leaves and stems.
Strawberries – Can be grown by any gardener, regardless of space. They do great in containers and because of the runners they send out, it’s very easy to establish a strawberry patch that will come back year after year. Your guinea pig can eat the berries occasionally and the leaves as well.
If you need some gardening inspiration, check out My Guinea Pig Herd’s six sows munching in their dedicated guinea pig garden. If you have the space to grow a dedicated guinea pig garden, this is a great way to let your guinea pig forage for super fresh lettuce and veggies.
Learn more about a healthy guinea pig diet.
If you’re new to gardening, check out the essential gardening tools for beginners and 10 common beginer mistakes for container gardeners.