Gardening For Your Bearded Dragon

With this post, I would like to highlight the benefits of growing your own food for your bearded dragon and add a few gardening tips. I use to buy all my beardies’ greens and veggies and then in 2020 with the lockdowns taking place, it became impossible to find all the stuff they needed as stores had constantly run out during lockdown. The only solution was to plant it myself and I am so pleased with how it turned out, a pity I did not start sooner. I saw a huge difference in their health and also appetite. The ones that usually refuse to eat their greens have no problem eating it now and some, believe it or not, prefer greens and veggies above protein after the switch.

bearded dragon food


The difference I saw between buying food and growing it organically.

Fewer visits to the vet, way less – In the past problems like digesting food, parasites, and liver and kidney problems came up often. Most of our bearded dragons are rescues and already had some kind of problem that needs to be kept an eye on. Since on a 100% organic diet, a lot of these problems are something of the past. Their overall health has improved drastically.

More prone to eating their greens and veggies – Usually, our beardies get their bowl of greens and veggies in the early mornings, and with some, it never goes down well as they simply refuse to eat anything else but protein. Since feeding fresh organic, even the picky eaters finish their bowl of greens/veggies in the mornings.

Refusal to eat anything but organic – They simply refuse to eat food that is purchased in the store now. Do not touch it. This is a clear indicator that the pesticides used on these clearly have an influence on their diet.

Healthy Poop – In the past, we would struggle with bearded dragon diarrhea or constipation sometimes, especially after feeding mustard greens and squash. Since planting and feeding our own, poop problems have vanished.

Overall better quality – I did a taste test myself and must admit, greens taste better. Not as bitter as some of those I bought in store. Has a sweeter, more peppery taste and obviously more crisp and fresh. Butternut and the squashes have a way better color and also a sweeter taste. Beans and sugar/snap peas had much better color and what do you know, they actually do taste sweet.


Benefits of Growing Your Own Food

100% Organic! You do not use pesticides or any chemicals, meaning your bearded dragon is getting the best diet possible.

You save a boatload full of money in the long run!

More variety – You can plant a huge variety of greens and veggies which would be otherwise difficult to find, especially if you live in certain countries.

Fresh food on demand – No worries about greens going stale or preserving it. You simply harvest what you need for the day.

Greens and veggies that are in surplus can be used for the household.

bearded dragon food


Tips for Growing Food

Make your own compost by using ground eggshells, veggie peels, fruit, and greens. Dried leaves, mixed into your soil, makes for excellent high foliage soil.

Fertile, well-drained soil that holds moisture well works for most greens, herbs, and veggies.

To prevent greens and herbs from running to seed, pinch out any flower buds and keep the plants moist. Provide some shade during particularly sunny, hot weather.

With some protection (in a cool greenhouse or under a cloche or garden fleece), a late sowing will provide you with leaves over winter

Be sure to thin the seedlings. If left to grow too close together they tend to run to seed.

Keep greens well watered, particularly in hot, dry weather, or the plants will taste very bitter and bolt.

Rocket and turnip grows exceptionally well together

Water scarcity – If you live in a dry climate or one where water is scarce, you might want to install a “drip system” to keep the soil moist. Various methods of doing this by either installing a pipe system or simply just cutting soda bottles in half and sticking them in the ground, filling them up on a regular basis. You choose what works best for you.

Avoid compacting the soil by working it when it’s still too wet.

Plant herbs like basil, parsley, and coriander in between your greens and veggies. They serve as natural pesticides that keep most critters away from your plants. I also plant tomatoes in between as their leaves do the same thing. Obviously, you will not feed tomatoes and some herbs to your beardies, but why not use them for household use right?

bearded dragon food


Do’s and Don’ts

Do not use pesticides on the plants! The idea is to grow as organically as possible and especially keep everything chemical-free. Rather use organic methods to keep pests away like planting herbs in between plants and separating certain plants from others.

Mustard greens should be planted separately, away from all your other greens and veggies. If grown organically, Mustard has a tendency to attract plant lice which can quickly spread to all your other greens and veggie plants.

I have found that it is better to harvest mustard greens while still young plants as they not only taste better but it seems that plant lice favor the adult plants above the young ones.



Planting and Growing Guidelines

Below I will add a few guidelines for the plants that I grow mostly and became a pro gardener at. These are mostly staples as I do not prefer to grow stuff that is not used on a daily basis. These are also the ones that do best in the region and climate I live in. I recommend that you do a bit of research prior to planting to see what grows best in your area and how the specific plant should be grown.


Rocket (Arugula)

Soil – Fertile, high in foliage and holds moisture well.

Position – Sun or partial shade. A cool, shady position in hot summer months. Summer > Shady area. Winter > Sunny area.

Growing companions – Thyme, basil, turnip, lettuce, and snap/sugar peas.

Spacing from other plants – 15cm

Directions – Sow direct into the soil from early spring. Can also be sow in early autumn for a winter crop. Put under a cover if winter is harsh with frost.

Sowing and Growing

Keep plants moist, especially in dry, hot weather. Provide some shade during particularly sunny, hot days.

With some protection (in a cool greenhouse or under a cloche or garden fleece), a late sowing will provide you with leaves over winter.

To prevent the plants from running to seed, pinch out any flower buds and keep the plants moist.

Harvesting Rocket

Harvest as a cut-and-come-again crop, by nipping off what you require as soon as the leaves are large enough and leaving the plants to grow on and produce pickings for weeks.

The young, fresh, leaves have a milder flavor.

Pests and Problems

Be sure to thin the seedlings. If left to grow too close together they tend to run to seed.

Keep well watered, particularly in hot, dry weather, or the plants will taste very bitter and bolt.

Flea beetles tend to cause the most damage to plants, nibbling holes in the leaves, making them look unsightly.

In warm-temperate and subtropical climates it is better as an autumn or winter crop.

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Turnip


Soil – Fertile, high in foliage and holds moisture well.

Position – Sun or partial shade. A cool, shady position in hot summer months. Summer > Shady area. Winter > Sunny area.

Growing companions – Thyme, basil, rocket (arugula), lettuce, and snap/sugar peas.

Spacing from other plants – 15cm

Directions – Sow direct into the soil from early spring. Can also be sow in early autumn for a winter crop. Put under a cover if winter is harsh with frost.


Sowing and Growing

Prefers well-drained, fertile soil that is high in organic matter.

Needs plentiful and consistent moisture.

Loosen soil deeply or grow in raised beds to encourage good root development.

Frost areas: sow under cover in late winter

Fast-growing spring turnip crops are best harvested while the weather is still cool.

Like a sandy to loam soil that drains well and contains a lot of organic material. Do not do well in heavy compact soil.


Mustard Greens

Soil – Fertile, high in foliage and holds moisture well.

Position – Sun or partial shade. A cool, shady position in hot summer months.

Growing companions – Not recommended to plant too close to other plants. They do better on their own.

Spacing from other plants – 15cm

Directions – Sow direct into the soil from early spring. Can also be sow in early autumn for a winter crop. Put under a cover if winter is harsh with frost.


Sowing and Growing

Mustards will benefit from some shading during warm weather.

They prefer well-drained, fertile soil high in organic matter.

Needs plentiful, consistent moisture.

Can be grown most of the year-round, except during the very coldest periods of mid-winter and the very hottest periods of mid-summer.

Watch out for pests and diseases.

In areas with hot summers, avoid sowing in the hot mid-summer months

Harvest mustard while it is still a young plant.


Snap peas/Sugar peas

Soil – Fertile, high in foliage and holds moisture well.

Position – Sun or partial shade. A cool, shady position in hot summer months.

Growing companions – Rocket (Argula), Turnip, and parsley

Spacing from other plants – 20cm

Directions – Sow direct into the soil from early spring. Can also be sow in early autumn for a winter crop. Put under a cover if winter is harsh with frost.


Planting and Growing

Sow seeds direct; do not do well when germinated first.

Peas planted in cold soil are slow to germinate.

Used raised beds if the soil is slow to drain.

Shallow planting is best when soil is cool and wet, plant deeper if the soil is dry.

Erect a trellis for tall-growing by using chicken wire, brush, or suitable trellis material.

Keep soil moist, but avoid heavy watering during flowering, which can interfere with pollination.

bearded dragon food


Butternut, Zucchini and Patty Pan (Winter Squash and Summer Squash)

Soil – Fertile, high in foliage and holds moisture well. They adore soil that is rich in compost and will do beyond great if planted on a compost heap.

Position – Sun or partial shade. A cool, shady position in hot summer months.

Growing companions – Not recommended to plant them with anything else.

Spacing from other plants – Leave plenty of room as a squash plant can go quite the way if looked after well.

Directions – Sow direct into the soil from early spring. They do not grow well or grow at all during the winter months.


Planting and Growing

Winter squashes differ from the summer squashes, not by the season that they are grown in but rather by the stage that they are harvested and by the type of skin that they have. Both are grown during the warm summer season. Winter squash are left on the plant to mature and to develop their thick, hard skins (Butternut). Summer squash on the other hand, are harvested when they are still immature and when their skin is still soft and tender (patty pans and zucchini).

Squashes like warm soil and are very sensitive to frost so do not be in a rush to plant too early in spring.

Squash plants have both male and female flowers. The male flowers often blossom first, sometimes as much as two to three weeks before any female flowers start to appear. You will recognize the female flowers once they finally blossom as they form on the ends of the immature fruits and, once pollinated, then fall off as the fruit develops. Firstfruits can sometimes be wrinkled, turn black, or rot due to poor pollination.

Pests and Problems

Mounding soil around the base of the plants can discourage squash borers from laying eggs. Scan for pests every time you go out into the garden.

Mildew can also be a problem on plants. A copper soap spray or a homemade solution of 1 part milk to 10 parts water will help to keep mildew at bay.

When the stems turn a light green-yellow color the squash should be fully ripe. Cut, do not pull, the ripe fruit from the plant. 5 to 8cm of the stem must remain for proper storage. This may also help increase the sugar content.

Raise the squash off the ground by putting a piece of wood or similar under them to prevent rotting. Water roots generously in dry weather.

bearded dragon food


Do you grow your own food for your bearded dragon(s)?

Please be so kind to share your experience and tips so others can also benefit from your knowledge.

It would be much appreciated.

Thank You!


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