Something else to plant that my Russian Tortoise can eat often

Timmythetort8

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I am currently growing tortoise supply's testudo mix in a planter in my yard for about a month or two now and it is mostly producing radishes and clovers which I know cannot be fed very often to a Russian tortoise. The other plants that are growing in there haven't got as big as the radish and clovers so I can only feed him a little bit of the other plants growing in there. Is there any plant(s) I can plant next time I grow the testudo mix in the spring with it that I can feed my Russian tortoise very often, like basically everyday to every other day? I was going to go with dandelion but then found out it can't be feed that often to him. I live in a desert so the plant(s) would have to survive in a dry climate. Also, how often can rose leaves be fed to him because I feed him rose petals sometimes when they bloom but have never tried giving him the leaves because I didn't know if they were safe.
 

Tom

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I am currently growing tortoise supply's testudo mix in a planter in my yard for about a month or two now and it is mostly producing radishes and clovers which I know cannot be fed very often to a Russian tortoise. The other plants that are growing in there haven't got as big as the radish and clovers so I can only feed him a little bit of the other plants growing in there. Is there any plant(s) I can plant next time I grow the testudo mix in the spring with it that I can feed my Russian tortoise very often, like basically everyday to every other day? I was going to go with dandelion but then found out it can't be feed that often to him. I live in a desert so the plant(s) would have to survive in a dry climate. Also, how often can rose leaves be fed to him because I feed him rose petals sometimes when they bloom but have never tried giving him the leaves because I didn't know if they were safe.
Lavatera, spineless opuntia, grape vines for the leaves, any type of squash or pumpkin for the leaves and blooms, cilantro, curly endive, kale, collards, African hibiscus will do great in hot dry weather, gazanias, rose leaves and flowers, sunflowers, and find local mulberry trees for the leaves... The list is endless...
 

Timmythetort8

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Lavatera, spineless opuntia, grape vines for the leaves, any type of squash or pumpkin for the leaves and blooms, cilantro, curly endive, kale, collards, African hibiscus will do great in hot dry weather, gazanias, rose leaves and flowers, sunflowers, and find local mulberry trees for the leaves... The list is endless...
These can all be fed basically everyday?
 

Tom

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These can all be fed basically everyday?
There is nothing that I would feed every day except grass or grass hay to a grass eating species. These are all things that can be fed as part of a varied diet.
 

Timmythetort8

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There is nothing that I would feed every day except grass or grass hay to a grass eating species. These are all things that can be fed as part of a varied diet.
Can they at least be fed pretty often like 5 times a week mixed with other plants and not have consequences to feeding often like spinach and chard does?
 

Tom

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Can they at least be fed pretty often like 5 times a week mixed with other plants and not have consequences to feeding often like spinach and chard does?
Yes, and this is no different than spinach.

What I prefer to do is feed different things each day. Grape leaves one day, opuntia pads the next, followed by squash leaves, then some envdive the next day. Mulberry leaves on day five. Mazuri on day six. A weed like mallow on day seven. Dandelions on day 8, clover on day 9, sow thistle on day 10, broadleaf plantain on day 11, escarole on day 12, then Mazuri again. Then start over with the grape leaves again.

Mix in small amounts of any of these with whatever else you are feeding daily. Drop in dandelion, hibiscus, lavatera or gazania flowers on any day.
 

RosemaryDW

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Hmm, dandelions are perfectly fine; a dandelion relative is a huge part of their diet in the wild. So are brassicas—radishes are brassicas. I'd say maybe thirty percent of a Russian diet can be various brassicas. If you can get more variety, great! But these plants are fine. I agree clover shouldn't be fed all the time. It's a great plant but high in plant protein—protein is great and needed by all animals, just not something to overfeed.

It sounds like you need to thin the clover and radishes out of your plot; they grow super fast and crowd out other plants. Just pull some of them out to give the other types a chance to grow. That should help you out.

You can find opuntia cactus at a Mexican grocery stores—it's called nopales in Spanish.

Rose leaves are perfectly fine to feed although they may not get eaten.

As Tom says, variety is best. I'm fortunate to have access to all kinds of foods where I live. As you are in the desert you have fewer options. Thinking how warm it is already it's not a good time to plant something new; late fall would be a better time for young plants to settle in. At that time you might try Tacoma Stans, it's a desert plant. My Russian loves the flowers and eventually got used to the leaves. Desert primrose is like crack to her although it took a year before she would eat the leaves. You could try growing a mallow; there are native ones in the desert but I doubt they'd get eaten, the leaves are pretty thick and unappetizing, at least they are to mine! You might try throwing some kind of common mallow seeds in your existing plants; it should do okay and will get eaten. Hibiscus are also mallows (big ones!) as Tom says. You can see how one does or try the relative Rose of Sharon, which is pretty hardy.

Around December-ish you can throw out the seeds in a desert wildflower mix to come up in spring; I have checked the seed lists on multiple brands and have yet to notice anything harmful. I'm sure there is a native plant nursery somewhere in your area that sells a mix of desert wildflowers that is well suited to your area but if not, you can try the desert list sold here at the Tree of Life nursery, which is all about native plants: https://californianativeplants.com/blog/wildflowers/.

Here in California we are having a "superboom" wildflower year because of all the rain we've had, google to see if your state is too and whether they are doing any kind of weekly updates on what is blooming. If so it's a good time to learn what is native on a guided walk or a big public garden. You aren't going to grow these things this year! You're just learning.

It sounds like you are a new owner? Your Russian is tough and likely going to outlive you! I know you want to get everything perfect right away but you don't have to get a huge diet worked out overnight; you have time. Do the best you can right now to keep things mixed up while you figure out what foods you can successfully grown or found in your climate. There are plants growing in the desert that don't match the common lists we mention but you need time to figure out the names and such. Even so, there won't be much when it gets hot so you may have to rely on the grocery store more at that time. I've been there as a new owner but you truly have time.

FYI the idea that spinach is bad is based on outdated science. It's fine to feed in moderation although your tortoise may not eat it. Your tortoise is going to turn its nose up at all kinds of things, don't worry about it. At our house the saying is "she does what she wants."
 

Timmythetort8

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Ok thank you. I think I will change the style of feeding I am doing because I am just mixing the testudo mix with spring mix every day and I will switch to feeding him radish one day clover the next one type of lettuce in the spring mix etc.
Yes, and this is no different than spinach.

What I prefer to do is feed different things each day. Grape leaves one day, opuntia pads the next, followed by squash leaves, then some envdive the next day. Mulberry leaves on day five. Mazuri on day six. A weed like mallow on day seven. Dandelions on day 8, clover on day 9, sow thistle on day 10, broadleaf plantain on day 11, escarole on day 12, then Mazuri again. Then start over with the grape leaves again.

Mix in small amounts of any of these with whatever else you are feeding daily. Drop in dandelion, hibiscus, lavatera or gazania flowers on any day.
 

Timmythetort8

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Hmm, dandelions are perfectly fine; a dandelion relative is a huge part of their diet in the wild. So are brassicas—radishes are brassicas. I'd say maybe thirty percent of a Russian diet can be various brassicas. If you can get more variety, great! But these plants are fine. I agree clover shouldn't be fed all the time. It's a great plant but high in plant protein—protein is great and needed by all animals, just not something to overfeed.

It sounds like you need to thin the clover and radishes out of your plot; they grow super fast and crowd out other plants. Just pull some of them out to give the other types a chance to grow. That should help you out.

You can find opuntia cactus at a Mexican grocery stores—it's called nopales in Spanish.

Rose leaves are perfectly fine to feed although they may not get eaten.

As Tom says, variety is best. I'm fortunate to have access to all kinds of foods where I live. As you are in the desert you have fewer options. Thinking how warm it is already it's not a good time to plant something new; late fall would be a better time for young plants to settle in. At that time you might try Tacoma Stans, it's a desert plant. My Russian loves the flowers and eventually got used to the leaves. Desert primrose is like crack to her although it took a year before she would eat the leaves. You could try growing a mallow; there are native ones in the desert but I doubt they'd get eaten, the leaves are pretty thick and unappetizing, at least they are to mine! You might try throwing some kind of common mallow seeds in your existing plants; it should do okay and will get eaten. Hibiscus are also mallows (big ones!) as Tom says. You can see how one does or try the relative Rose of Sharon, which is pretty hardy.

Around December-ish you can throw out the seeds in a desert wildflower mix to come up in spring; I have checked the seed lists on multiple brands and have yet to notice anything harmful. I'm sure there is a native plant nursery somewhere in your area that sells a mix of desert wildflowers that is well suited to your area but if not, you can try the desert list sold here at the Tree of Life nursery, which is all about native plants: https://californianativeplants.com/blog/wildflowers/.

Here in California we are having a "superboom" wildflower year because of all the rain we've had, google to see if your state is too and whether they are doing any kind of weekly updates on what is blooming. If so it's a good time to learn what is native on a guided walk or a big public garden. You aren't going to grow these things this year! You're just learning.

It sounds like you are a new owner? Your Russian is tough and likely going to outlive you! I know you want to get everything perfect right away but you don't have to get a huge diet worked out overnight; you have time. Do the best you can right now to keep things mixed up while you figure out what foods you can successfully grown or found in your climate. There are plants growing in the desert that don't match the common lists we mention but you need time to figure out the names and such. Even so, there won't be much when it gets hot so you may have to rely on the grocery store more at that time. I've been there as a new owner but you truly have time.

FYI the idea that spinach is bad is based on outdated science. It's fine to feed in moderation although your tortoise may not eat it. Your tortoise is going to turn its nose up at all kinds of things, don't worry about it. At our house the saying is "she does what she wants."
Thank you for all the great options. I think I will look into planting mallow and desert primrose as I only have space for more grounded plants.vs big bushes and trees. I will look into ordering cactus pads later as they are out of stock right now(I think they are out of season).
 

RosemaryDW

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Honestly my best advice for people who want to grow something is to just find some weeds going to seed and then "plant" the seeds over the winter by tossing them on the ground. "Grows like a weed" is a very true statement; they will always be your most successful plant. Primrose is more or less a weed where you are so you can't go wrong with it. I have to purchase primrose seeds now because my tortoise eats ours done to the ground; you can't get seeds if you never even get a flower! All I did this year was throw a ton of them in the yard. We also never pull out weeds in the winter; she takes care of them In the spring.
 
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