Mixing Up Your Garden – Flowers & Vegetables
In the past, we have had a separate vegetable garden, traditionally planted in rows and designed so that we can weed, water and harvest with ease. but land is becoming more and more scarce as the regular suburban block shrinks and apartment style living becomes the norm. There is less and less room for the traditional block set out of the vegetable patch.
Instead of planning flowers to edge a sidewalk or a garden bed designed specifically for roses, why not mix it up a little? Planting your vegetables in amongst your plants can be an effective and even beautiful option. Many vegetables require similar conditions to your plants, for example roses and peppers grow in very similar conditions. Eggplants are very ornamental vegetables, and their contrasting purple and lime green leaves can look stunning when planted out in your sunniest garden positions.
Mix Up Your Lettuce
Lettuce like a bit of shade in mid summer, but watch that they don't bolt if you leave them in the garden bed once the season is over. Consider planting out some romaine lettuce in a shady spot in your garden. Have you planted columbines and some johnny jump ups as a border somewhere? Add a few Romaine lettuce and you'll find that you have extended the lettuce growing season. Got some perennials growing? Add a few heads of lettuce here and there. They will benefit from the light shade in the summer and they will add a contrasting color too.
You say Tomato
An individual tomato or pepper plant placed strategically in the sunny spots in your garden can bring you big rewards. They grow especially well when planted out with roses. Remember to ease back on the watering after the fruit has set to develop a fuller richer flavor in your tomatoes. Planting out a few pepper plants in your garden can be used as ornamentals. Their leaves are richly contrasting, and so is their fruit with bright reds, oranges, greens and even yellows. You can have beautiful leaves mixing in with your existing garden bed as well as the benefits of fresh vegetables.
They go together like Beans and Carrots
Beans are an often overlooked vegetable, but they can make a beautiful edging plant or border along a pathway. You don't necessarily have to string them up, they will vine along the ground. Be aware though, that you may have to keep a closer eye on diseases when you do this. Don't forget that beans will also add nitrogen to the soil – a boon for any gardener.
Carrots with their fluffy green leaves make a pretty border in front of your other plants. No one knows that they are carrots until you harvest them. Up until that time they are looking ornamental in your garden beds. Create an ornamental garden with delphiniums which are water lovers like carrots.
Even more reasons to open up your flower gardens to vegetables
If you plant out some of your smaller vegetables in your flower beds, you also have the added benefit of opening up the space of your vegetable garden for the larger, more sprawling vegetables. Things like your squash and pumpkin need room to grow, and if they aren't competing for space with beans, tomatoes, carrots and peppers there is going to be more room in the traditional bed to let them grow to their full capacity meaning more produce for you. While these vegetables are larger and use up considerable space, making more effective use of available space in your garden can make it highly worthwhile.
Companion planting in a mixed garden
Many of the flowers in your garden will actually work as companion plants, helping you to ward off common pests and diseases. Planting out nasturtiums close by to your cabbages can help deter the white cabbage moth. Raspberries can make a great hedge and strawberries will act as a ground cover. Planting out marigolds near your tomatoes will help avoid pests and diseases and many self seeding perennials like Queen Anne Lace will attract micro wasps and ladybugs to help deter the pests and diseases which often decimate our vegetables unless we spray with chemicals. Its a win for the plants, growing organically and the micro environment that foster our tiny helper bugs.
Experiment with your garden. You know which vegetables you love to grow and which you could possibly plant out in your garden. its potager gardening but in a slightly less structured way than normal. Mixing up your gardening is a beautiful idea, and the best part is that you can mix it up every year. This way its easier to rotate crops so that pests and diseases don't accumulate in the soil and decimate your crops if they are grown in the same spot too long or too often. You will soon have a colorful, vibrant contrasting garden which is both useful and producing organic produce.