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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Decorate the Vegetable Garden With Some Flowers

Make sure to decorate your vegetable garden with some flowers.

I like to include some flowers in my vegetable garden to add some color and interest at about the time that some of the vegetables in the garden are starting to look a bit tired and the garden itself has some bare spots where I've removed "spent" crops.

Most years, I direct sow zinnias and marigolds in a few of the smaller beds. These are both easy flowers to grow from seed and provide a lot of bloom in a short time. Plus the zinnias have the added benefit of being excellent cut flowers.

Another good flower for the vegetable garden is old-fashioned sweet peas.

For fragrance, is there any flower, other than a rose, that smells as good as an annual sweet pea? Sweet peas do take a little more “attention” when you sow the seeds, and some support to grow on. I’m not ambitious enough every year to grow sweet peas, but I have decided I am going to plant some this year.

I’ll have to refresh my memory on the best way to start the sweet peas from seed, but I think I’ll start them inside a few weeks before I want to plant them in the garden, which will be before we are frost-free. I’ll probably use some small peat pots so I don’t disturb the roots when I plant them in the garden. I might also soak the seeds over night before I sow them because the seeds have a hard seed coat. I’m using words and phrases like “I think”, “might” and “probably” because, like I said, I need to refresh my memory on these seeds.

Other flowers that I’ve planted in the vegetable garden include:

Gladiolas – These are also good flowers for cutting, and since the plants aren’t all that attractive and the flower stems generally need support, rowing these up in a garden bed is a good way to grow them. Some people call these “funeral flowers” because they are frequently used in flower arrangements for funerals, but that hasn’t kept me from growing them.

Nasturtiums – It has been awhile since I’ve grown nasturtiums, but I’ve read about some varieties on the Gardening Gone Wild blog that have me wanting to plant these again this year. These flowers have the added benefit of being edible.

Sunflowers – Who can have a vegetable garden without a row of sunflowers reaching up to the sky? Well, some years, I can, but most years I find a little spot for a few tall sunflowers. This year I am planting ‘Monet’s Palette Mixture’. I just ordered the seeds this past Sunday when I placed my second seed order.

What flowers do you grow in your vegetable garden? Maybe I’ll want to grow some of the same in mine!

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After writing this post, I started thinking more about flowers in the vegetable garden and I'm all "jazzed up" to add more flowers this year. I think I'll tuck some in every bed and let them spill over the sides. That ought to be very pretty or look like a big mess. We'll see.

32 comments:

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Funny, I've been thinking that I need to grow vegetables in my flower garden.

When I go to Shipshewanna, I enjoy seeing the vegetable gardens of the Amish. There are usually flowers planted.

Marie said...

Beautiful photo and interesting post!

Jean said...

Mama always planted flowers in her vegetable garden -- "You need food for the soul," she said.
I have sweet peas about six inches tall. Here we plant in November and they survive 20 degree temps. Try species gladioli with exotic names like Abyssinian glads and Byzantine glads. They are hardier, smaller, more interesting.
Deer danced among my sunflowers last year and then they dried up in the drought. What did really well was Mexican sunflowers (tithonia) which were at the end of the veggie plot.
Three 'new' plants I tried last year were verbena bonairensis, agastache and globe amaranth. All were super in the drought.

gintoino said...

Nasturtiuns, calendulas and marigolds, those are the flowers I grow in my vegetable garden. Also jerusalem artichokes have great flowers.

Meg said...

I love seeing flowers among the veggies! We grow nasturtiums near our cucurbits, because they help deter squash bugs. Ladybugs like Queen Anne's Lace, but we haven't tried that yet. Oh--and we grew Cardinal Cimbers along our back fence and had hummingbirds all the time. They were great to watch.

We grow some random other flowers, too, but I feel like I've earned myself extra gardener points when I find plants that bring some beneficial critters to the garden!

Jan said...

Down here in the Deep South, we have to start our sweet peas in the fall. I always soak mine overnight. The ones I planted in November are about 12 inches high. By the end of April, we pull the plants up - too hot.

Jan Always Growing

Kathy said...

Graham Rice wrote a book on sweet peas.

My daughter likes to grow annual poppies in her vegetable garden. You can see photos of them in this post.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

The question to me should be 'what kind of veggies will I plant with my flowers??' I am really a flower gardener but IF I was to have a veggie garden I would like one like yours. Raised beds just seem to be the best thing ever.

I think you should have your flowers flowing over the edges of your raised beds. Just think of it this way... maybe those rascally rabbits will eat the flowers instead of your precious veggies.

I think people are no longer thinking of glads as funeral flowers. The florists now days have so many more flowers at their disposal that they use anything that is in season and is reasonably priced. I was one of those people that thought of glads as funeral flowers until I saw an old gentlemans flower bed that had rows and rows of them in all different colors. It was one of the prettiest sights I had ever seen and the butterlies, moths and bees were busy busy.

Leslie said...

My sweet peas went in last fall too...they're about twelve inches tall. I've got dahlias in the back of one of my vegetable beds, against the fence. They're not up yet tho...

Dave said...

Planting flowers around the veggie beds is an excellent idea. It really helps to attract those pollinators and makes your garden look good too! Some of those flowers have repellent properties to them against some of the bad bugs.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

I grow what you grow in my vegetable garden plus cleome.

theysaywordscanbleed said...

what a lovely flowers

Mary Beth said...

I've often planted zinnias in my vegetable garden but I think I need to add a few more annuals to the beds! I can picture the abundant blooms now! Thanks for the idea . .

Gina said...

carol - great post! i had decided to try flowers in my new veggie beds this year but wasnt sure which to go with. I love Zinnias but the ones i grew last year were entirely too tall go to in the veggies. I'm looking for something shorter that might spill over the edges. Any suggestions?

Meems said...

Hi Carol: As you might know I am just getting initiated into the veggie gardening realm with some raised beds- starting small with two 4 x 8 boxes. My dirt is being delivered tomorrow- I'm sow -errr... so excited!

On instinct I ordered some Zinnia seeds to mix in with the vegetables. I didn't think I could stand it if there weren't some flowers among the veggies. Not sure what else I might add but I sure like the image of something spilling over the sides... I'll have to think about that. Thanks for the great ideas.

Pam/Digging said...

I love old-fashioned vegetable gardens with nasturtiums and sunflowers spilling out of them. I have no veggie garden, alas, but perhaps I could do it the other way around, and add a few veggies to my flower beds.

Laurie and the rest of 'em said...

I may have inherited some of your zinnias great grandchildren, as Sherry gave me some of her dried up ones to plant this year!!
I loooove a good garden...how to get one is just a mystery to me.
What does one do about those pesky rabbits? They eat thru all that wire-y stuff we've put up and planted those "rabbit-proof" plants but they still get in and chow on my tomatoes...
I might need to pick your brain! You are my hero!

Chris said...

Really enjoyed your post :-) We grew Nasturtiums and sweet peas last and this year I plan to have Marigolds - I understand they are very good for the soil. Also we edged our allotment with small Geraniums and Sweet Williams to give some colour. Not much work done on the allotment yet this year however - I really must get myself sorted out :-)

Crafty Gardener said...

For the past several years I have grown flowers mixed in with veggies and veggies mixed in with flowers. It works well and looks great.

Genie said...

I've done four o'clocks, marigolds, nasturtiums and blue browellias, but this year I think I'm definitely going to try zinnias -- your picture is inspiring me!

jodi said...

Scarlet runner beans for me...gotta have em; but I don't plant a proper vegetable garden as such, not for a few years. I keep saying I'm going to create a potager, but the site where I plan to do this is still not goutweed (Aegopodium) free, though most of a year under heavy silage black plastic oughta discourage it quite a bit....

WiseAcre said...

Every year flowers take up more space in my wife's vegetable garden. Flowers that seed themselves such as black-eyed susans, globe thistle, lupines, coneflowers and chives make their way to the good life in the vegetable garden. They are the pioneers that establish new 'mass plantings'. Of course I have to extend the garden borders every year so my wife has enough space to continue the vegetable growing. This year I'm going to build a 'gated community' for her. Raised beds are in the plans.

Meanwhile my flower gardens will always have room for egg plants, peppers, herbs and cherry tomatoes. I think they add real color and interest.

Nicole said...

Oh Carol I sowed all those very flowers last week but so far nothing germinated. I suspect the seeds got zapped by some heat we had a few months ago. Will have to try again.

Nancy J. Bond said...

My Dad always did "companion planting " in his vegetable garden -- always had certain flowers for certain vegetables, mostly because they (hopefully) repel insects. I know one combination was marigolds with the tomatoes, and I believe he planted quite a few nasturtiums as well -- I believe they work well against aphids. Good luck!

Matt and Jen said...

Thanks for doing this post on flower companions to your veggies. It's going to help when we get our garden going this year. -Jen

Weeping Sore said...

As a stubborn organic veggie grower, I suggest calendulas, aka marigolds, since they're supposed to deter pests by their slightly musty smell. These days however, I've found these flowers to be bred for nicer scents and though they look better, they deter less.
I've long since combined my flowers and vegetables. This year, I'm emphasizing sunflowers, hoping they'll be big enough to offer some shade by the time things heat up

kate said...

Sweet peas are my favourite growing among veggies - because they bring back good childhood memories. My dad grows calendulas mostly in all of his raised veggie beds along with whatever else self-seeds there. (I've been known to throw hyacinth bean vine in and they do great - my dad still doesn't know it was me and now he religiously keeps the seeds).

Mary said...

Yes, and remember, your hummingbirds will thrive on zinnias... need plenty of them :o)

janie said...

I love flowers in my vegetables. And vegetables in my flowers.

This year, spouse is giving over his pepper bed, in return for the pleasure of planting his peppers in my flower beds. Some of the peppers are gorgeous plants, and the peppers are as good as a bloom.

I have sweet peas in my garden now, but I also have them growing in other places about the garden. I can't leave them long enough in the vegetable garden to get seeds from them, so I always have 2 or three patches of them. That way, I can pull the SP vines to replace with vegetable vines- beans or cucumbers. I always wrap them in wet paper towels, and stick them in a bowl or mug, so they don't dry out, and leave them until they have roots. That way, every seed I plant is a 'good' seed, since it is already germinated.

I LOVE Laura Bush petunias in my vegetable garden! She is elegant, faithfully reseeding, and just beautiful.

Calendulas are herbs, and they grow very well at the base of the green beans. The thing about plantings such as marigolds to enhance the soil is that you have to plant a lot of them. One or two don't do much. Calendula is also known as 'pot marigold'.

I plant Mexican mint marigold, which has an exotic licorice fragrance and beautiful yellow blooms, late in summer or in fall.

Also, something which is pretty in the garden is Swiss chard 'Bright Lights'. It has stems that are bright yellow, or pink, celery green or red. It is VERY pretty.

Also zinnia, but I have found they are easier to keep if I grow the smaller flowers.

Goodness, I should be posting this on my blog, with a few pictures.

LOL

UKBob said...

I like to grow veg and flowers together, after all they're all plants aren't they. I wanted to do that here at the big house but they are too set in their ways so didn't want to even let me try it. However all is not lost because the odd one keeps on sneaking in here and there, I've no idea where they come from - must seed themselves LOL! The only trouble I have growing sweet peas are the mice, its important to protect them somehow if there is a chance mice can get at them. I never soak them unless it says so on the packet and they all seem to come up okay. Sowing one in a peat pot sounds a good idea to me although I never tried it. I usually sow one packet to a 6" pot and then transfer them to individual pots. It would be better to not have to transplant them but as I say I have to protect them from mice until they come up and it's easier to protect one 6" pot than twenty 3" pots if you see what I mean. As far as I know Sweet Pes are hardy so unless you are likely to suffer really low temps I wouldn't worry to much about the cold. Bob.

Leslie said...

The "mint wandering" comment is true...I have mint, too...forgot about it in my earlier comment...but have it in a pot. It is really invasive here if you plant it in the ground. But my lime tree started bearing this year so I need the mint for mojitos!

Carol said...

Wow! Lots of thoughts and comments on flowers in the vegetable garden. And some wonderful suggestions, too. I'll have to add to my list of flowers to include!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens