Mixing flowers and vegetables

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The majority of people, even gardeners, always think of flower gardens and vegetable gardens as two separate entities, but there is absolutely no reason to think that this is the way it has to be.

flowers&vegOn the contrary. Think about the kitchen garden of colonial days in the United States and the cottage gardens of England. It was a mix of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs.

While some see this as companion planting it is not, necessarily thus, as the plants may not be chosen for the companion value. Companion planting, on the other hand, is something that would make such a mixed flower and vegetable garden even better.

Such a vegetable-flower garden can be seen as an artistic palette, strictly for appearances and enjoyment. And with proper mix there is no reason, other than idiotic ordinances in many parts of the United States (and Canada) to have such a garden also in the front yard. Apparently, however, the powers-that-be in some town halls and such demand that the front yard is but lawn and maybe, just maybe, some pretty flowers.

Your vegetable-flower garden can be orderly or not so orderly. It depends on your personal style and choice. As a front yard food and flower production area it might be best to have it rather orderly as to not to upset some town hall folks.

You do however need to take into account the growing style of the vegetables and flowers. Pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash need lots of horizontal room to grow so you want to avoid planting flowers too close. Unless, that it, you train those plants to climb trellises, which most will quite readily do.

Think about plant forms and foliage too. Peppers are upright and shrub-like. Corn is tall, vertical, and leafy but would look terrific mixed with sunflowers. Or, concentrate on color combinations such as white, purple, and pink for earlier flowering vegetables and flowers, or yellow, red, and orange for late summer crops and blooms. The gold color of marigolds and the dark green of spinach for example or red flowers of nasturiums next to those bright red chile peppers.

You could also add some colorful brassicas into the equation. Despite the fact that some people see them just as, as they are also referred to by seed merchants, ornamental cabbages, they can be eaten and thus make for a great color combination, even still giving color in the depth of winter.

When it comes to planting corn why not follow the Native American approach and plant the Three Sister, that is to say corn, bean and squash together. The corn then acts as a trellis for the beans and even the squash to climb up and they seem to love to live together in perfect harmony.

© 2013