Tips for Combining Vegetables & Flowers in Home Garden Beds
Flowers, Veggies, and a Lot of Fun
Mix Flowers and Veggies For a Novel Artsy Look
There is NO reason to segregate flowers and vegetables for appearance's sake. Vegetables frequently have flowers; flowers often bear fruit. All have leaves. Discounting the few species which thwart each other if they stand hip-to-hip in the garden plot, the plants I grow in my front yard constitute a gorgeous and peaceable kingdom.
While a veteran of flower nurturing, I am a newbie at growing potatoes, broccoli, corn. Undaunted, I immersed myself in suburban victory/grow locally/love Mother Gaia gardening this year. I am in a small family, so modest vegetable yields will meet our needs.
I used very low fences and 2-foot tall chicken wire in some spots to make the bunnies work harder if they want to raid the growing food. The problem with our rabbits is that they do not know how to share. They eat it all. So far (knock on wood), neighbors have not objected to my subtle, nearly invisible, fencing. I like to think my garden arrangements are tasteful or so surprisingly creative that they can be discounted as yard art by the crazy cat lady.
July Progress Report for My Garden
The big success story is the broccoli. Artistically, the grayish-blue tinge of broccoli leaves provides a nice color contrast with my daisies and gaillardia. Equally important, it is so easy to grow! I am delighted to walk outside to harvest my front yard broccoli for salad. Sometimes I also add mint leaves and bee balm leaves from our gardens for unusual flavor accents.
Peas, Carrots, Tomatoes
Regarding some of our other crops: our sugar snap peas came in earlier and I enjoyed them. However, the carrots continue to mock me. Every few years I try to grow them and they are reliably tasteless, no matter what variety of seed I buy. Since they do not contribute to my meals, I resent all time they take to mature and all the greenery they put out. I abandon them for another several years, then try again. At the other end of the spectrum, my cherry tomatoes are consistently great. Usually, I have no will power to carry them in to the house: I just gobble all the ripe ones as a snack every day as I make my garden rounds.
The Drought and Heat Wave
In our yard (which is the place that matters) as of the end of July, we have not had rain for 4 solid weeks. That is very unusual for our area and very challenging for the plants. I try to use prudence and good judgment about watering sparingly. Since the gardens combine food for the soul and food for the body, I will not desert my plants and abandon them to find moisture for themselves (even if that might be the ecologically correct stance.).
Neither Potatoes nor People Do Well in 106 Degree Heat
I had been totally frustrated with my lethargy this past week – even walking to and from the car felt like I was being scorched and crushed on the surface of Mercury. I blamed aging, and was not at all happy that my tolerance of summer heat was not matching my earlier years. Gardening renews my soul, yet I was depleted of energy. Then, I learned that the temperature here had reached 106 degrees Fahrenheit ( 41 degrees Celsius.) Well, no wonder I was “under the weather!” We have had many consecutive days over 100 degrees F, yet our normal temperature for this time of year is 85 degrees. I don’t know how my son in Minnesota handles all the temperature swings that they have!
This heat wave and drought explains the poor reaction of my potato plants. I admit I got them out too late in the season. The few plants mixed among bushes, therefore sitting in partial shade, are limping along. Unfortunately, the patch in total sunlight gave up and died on the 106 degree day. All color drained from the leaves within hours. They looked as if someone had focused twelve hair blowers on each of the, and that BUNNICULA finished them off. * (See below.)
Crops waiting for harvest are beans and corn. My short-maturity-period corn loves the heat as long as I water it (which I do.) The beans need to withstand the bunny nibbling, but their spade-shaped leaves are a lovely accent against the long ,thin spikes of daylily leaves.
Since it is a hoot to eat food from our kitchen garden, that will continue. I would like to learn how to freeze veggies for the winter. I won’t bite off more than I can learn in a season, thus other food preservation skills will need to wait for future years. The Home Owner Association neighborhoods which try to enact anti-vegetable rules are SO clueless. Veggies and flowers can live together and look fabulous!
What is in your garden?
If you are gardening this summer, please describe your plantings:
© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan