Planting and growing garden vegetables allows you and your family to enjoy fresh produce on your kitchen table. Another type of garden, a food plot, provides area wildlife with a source of nutritious forage. Planting this type of wildlife garden encourages furry and feathered visitors to picnic in your landscape, allowing you the opportunity to observe and photograph these nearby neighbors. Your choice of crops for your food plot depends on the types of wildlife in your area, as well as your climate and soil conditions. Provide a variety of tasty treats to guests that visit your food plot.
Soybeans flourish in average soils with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. These small, bushy plants provide a nutritious food source for small rodents, rabbits and quail. Soybean crops require bright sunlight and adequate levels of moisture. These grow well in food plots that receive about an inch of rainfall every one or two weeks. Plant your soybean crop after the soil begins to warm in the spring, around the end of April or the beginning of May.
Clover plants provide highly nutritious food for deer and other wildlife. Plant a variety of clovers in your food crop to supply a range of nutrients over the majority of the growing season. Select annual clovers, such as Arrowleaf clover and crimson clover. These annuals provide high-quality forages that thrive in well-drained soils with pH levels around 6.0. Till the soil and replant your annual varieties every year for quality crops.
A wide variety of wildlife thrives on different types of grains. Encourage songbirds, squirrels and deer with grain crops. Oat crops attract deer and provide a good source of protein. Although a cool-season crop, oats won’t tolerate hard freezes during the winter months. Plant this type of grain in an area with a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Grow wheat in your food plot to supply grazing wildlife with a palatable source of protein in spring, while encouraging feathered visitors to feast on the seeds during the late summer and fall. Plant summer and winter grain crops to provide a long grazing season.