Begonia, Coleus and Kale

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

KaleKale in the flower beds? Yes, precisely. Kale belongs in your flower beds as it will do double-duty as a good foliage plant, if sown early enough, and in winter (no, not when all the birds have flown) when the flowers have gone you eat the kale. And while it is still in there after the flowers and before you've eaten it all it also adds color to the otherwise bare beds.

But kale is not the only cruciform vegetable that you should grow with you flowers and other leafy veg can also be included, such as Swiss Chard, especially the red veined one, as can so-called ornamental cabbages and kales (both are edible though their taste may be different of the “normal” ones). Furthermore there is walking stick kale, also known as Jersey cabbage, which makes for a tall plant and which, I understand, is also, more or less, a perennial.

Those walking stick kales can add height to your beds out front but a word of warning: they grow up to ten feet tall given the chance. Once they flower – which could take a year to three – they will self seed new and the stalks can be used, as they traditionally were in their original home, the Channel Island of Jersey, to make walking sticks. The sticks need to dry though first for two years before they are ready for being made into such sticks.

And, while kale, and colorful leaf veg, should be in your flowerbeds flowers should also be in your vegetable begs. In the latter case those that are companion plants to your veg, such as marigolds, for instance, but they are not the only ones.

In many places in the USA, for instances, it is against local ordinances and, it would appear, even state laws, to grow vegetables in the front yard. Only lawn and flowers are permitted.

I agree that such ordinances and laws are stupid and worse but I am sure it is possible to circumvent, as they should be, such legislation simply by growing edible flowers and among the flowers foil age plants in the form of vegetable such as kale and other brassicas, as well as some other vegetables, especially colorful leafy ones. Strawberries and tomatoes can be grown in hanging baskets, together with flowers.

As far as you flower beds, or tubs are concerned, the ones with the begonias et al, take cuttings of the begonia and coleus for overwintering frost free and when the frost has killed them, eat the kale. And the same goes for the other brassicas that are frost-hardy.

As far as I am concerned flowers and veg belong together and often times they compliment each others, not just by way of colors and such but also that one is beneficial for the other by keeping away pests and such.

When growing food you want every available space and any and every help you can get.

Beans and peas where, in the early days when they came to Britain, not grown for their food value but for their flowers and I must say that I do like their flowers and they do last for some time too.

Be a rebel! Plant flowers and veg together.

© 2016