Flowers in the Vegetable Garden
By Rick Gush, Urban Farm contributor
Friday, November 5, 2010
Photo by Rick Gush
I'm starting to incorporate more flowers, like these marigolds, in to my garden for a splash of color and plant diversity.
The flowers in the garden look pretty nice this week. We've had cold nights but very sunny days, so not only are all the broccoli growing really well, all the fall blooming flowers have started their show, too. The big splashes of color are particularly welcome at this time of year, when the crop plantings are no so spectacular yet.
Another reason I like the flowers is because they're good for cutting. We like to have fresh bouquets of flowers on our table, and I think it's a great luxury to be able to go out whenever I wish and harvest a big handful of colorful blooms. My mother-in-law is also appreciative, and we often take bouquets when we go visit friends.
Photo by Rick Gush
I'm separating a lot of my flowers into different parts of the garden so I don't have to buy new flowers.
One thing that is sort of odd here is that Chrysanthemums are used just for the cemeteries. Lots of farmers and gardeners grow a patch of Chrysanthemums to take to the cemeteries during the last week of October. Instead of growing our Chrysanthemums in a flat bed, I've got them wegded in here and there on the slopes, in such a way that the plants can sort of cascade down the slope. The effect is nice, and I'm forgiven for growing so many Chrysanthemums. (Everybody assumes we're growing them to decorate our relative's graves.)
We grew some very nice long-stemmed white and red mums this year, and a big bunch of them has already made a trip to the cemetery, so I suppose we are following local traditions.
In the past years, I worked mostly on building up the fruit- and vegetable-planting areas of the garden, but lately I have had the time to push for more flowers. They add to the mix of plant species and help attract both predator insects and bees to the garden.
Although the photos I posted today are of annuals, I think the perrenials and self-seeding annuals give the most bang for the buck. The Euryops are in full bloom now, and in another month, the Tritoma spectacular will begin. I separated a lot of plants last spring from my one big clump of flowers, and I now have six healthy clumps spread across the garden. Can't wait to see the flowers this year!
In general, my strategy is to propagate and spread the plant species that I already have growing well in the garden, instead of buying a lot of new species. I used to have one of this and one of that, but now the the Euryops, chrysanthemums, hollyhocks, Tritoma, Gazania, alyssum, marigolds, violets, poppies and rosemary have all been propagated from seeds or cuttings, and these species are now scattered across the garden. I think the results will be impressive in another year or so.
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