Are vegetables and flowers allowed to live together? Among the gardeners I know, there are two extremes. One is a complete perfectionist and the other is a classical gardening philosophy. Her beds are exceptionally flat, always clean, and the plants are arranged in an orderly fashion.
The planting circle of trees is also perfectly shaped, without a single blade of grass. The decorative part resembles a French front flower bed. When visiting its section, one wants to button all the buttons, to pull in the stomach, to straighten the shoulders, and even to pull the feet forward.
The other is an organizer of very small size so that only narrow paths of turf are kept when planting. Everything was mixed up and only she could find cabbage in these bushes or potato bushes by herself.
The planting sites are like walking through a minefield, and you have to watch where you step every time. But everything grows well, and the ground is full of flowers and harvests all season long. I prefer this bright and festive informal variation, but with some tweaks.
In this article, I will discuss how to make my garden life more prosperous, while vegetables and flowers are healthy and easy.
HOW MY PERSPECTIVE CHANGED
At my parents’ house, I was used to the perfect order in the garden beds, where it seemed to me that even vegetables of the same height grew in harmonious rows. Neighbors said that not a single extra blade of grass came out from seedbed to seedbed (it just didn’t get washed out).
So I tried to achieve the same effect in the new place. Be clean! Nothing unnecessary.
Thanks to my mother-in-law’s patience, she didn’t interfere with my innovation but tried to save the chrysanthemum and perilla plants I had worked so hard to plant from my demise and transplant them to smaller places.
Meanwhile, I was struggling with the bed rails, but I soon realized that in the Far Eastern climate of wind and typhoon showers, the raised beds were salvation. However, the love of my life and I showed some stubbornness in this matter.
We found a compromise by making the beds narrower and the aisles between them wider so that it would be easy to mow the grass with a trimmer.
The turning point about foreign objects growing on the beds came when all the available space in the neighborhood was planted, leaving only the paths, aisles, and a few small meadows. And one still wanted to plant, especially flowers, but there was nowhere to plant them!
It was at that time that I met an acquaintance of mine, an organist. At first, her method of practice mixed with everything else confused me.
A kind of garden coma. Between the dahlias, tomatoes, peonies, spicy greens in the potato bushes, and autumn astilbe, a cabbage (in a giant bun) was growing, which somehow didn’t fit my gardening philosophy. But the results were obvious!
It turned out that it wasn’t so easy to change my perspective, but the lack of space was weighing me down. So, the change began.
ANNUAL VS. PERENNIAL CHOICES: THE SUCCESSFUL AND THE UNSUCCESSFUL
At first, I was careful to use only annuals. In the corner of the fence bed, I used to plant goldenrod. It is mostly compact and grows “caps”. This variant is very good for eggplants, peppers, tall tomatoes.
Especially my favorite variety, “Alaska”, has very mixed leaves. Both with and without flowers are beautiful.” The “hats” cover the corners of the hedge bed and the mottled foliage illuminates the deep green of the nightshade.
I liked the idea so much that I decided, instead of covering it, to plant amaryllis in the space between the eggplants and peppers. As an experiment, I planted long-leaved amaryllis at different times: on one plot immediately with seedlings, on another – two weeks later.
For eggplants, the experiment failed: in the first case the golden lotus overtook the eggplant and did not allow it to develop properly, in the second case – the eggplant overtook a circle of the golden lotus, unraveled and did not allow it to grow.
However, in the case of peppers, when the golden lotus was planted after two weeks, the results were excellent: the peppers developed normally, the golden lotus stretched its branches in a free place, had beautiful flowers all summer, and in autumn its green color protected the fruits on cold nights.
Also, started experimenting with tagetes, the color and general appearance of which I really liked. The smallest 6inch (15cm) is perfect for garden strawberry beds. Both when planted on the contour and when placed between shrubs.
Such a plant not only makes the bed look good but also repels insects and pests. It also fights against diseases caused by fungi. Under winter, the same strawberry plant in the bush is cut from the top and warmed up.
Tall specimens, 32inch (80cm) or more, flowering cabbage area. The main thing here is that the flowers have to grow a little faster than the cabbage, otherwise they will be choked by the cabbage’s lobelia leaves. The same is true for zucchini and squash.
Tagetes of various heights, colors, and stalk varieties are placed wherever possible: potatoes, beet beds, borders of tomatoes. I never planted carrots as carrots, because they grow with onions.
The deep burgundy Amaranth ‘Foxtail’, which has been living in the plot, wanders from place to place depending on where the seeds are spread.
Subsequently, getting rid of all the unnecessary stuff, I just left it there, where this huge 60inch (1.5m) plant was undisturbed and looked organic – in the flower beds, on potatoes, zucchini, and squash, near cucumbers and corn.
Since late August, these monumental plants with maroon leaves and thick crimson “tails” in the middle of squash and zucchini have been making a big impression.
I tried combining peppers with various Amaranth and the results were very pretty and bright, but the peppers didn’t like it: the Amaranth shaded it out.
THE COHABITATION OF BIENNIALS AND PERENNIALS – ALSO DIFFERENT
Combining vegetables and flowers at first proved to be impossible to accomplish: appetizing and with many options. Perennials are also used.
Dame’s Rocket (biennial) has been living in the plot, sprouting in many unexpected and unanticipated places.
At first, I mercilessly yanked it in the cultivation area, but gradually warmed up to it (very nice it was in the masses and smelled amazing at night) and left it in the flower beds first, then let it grow freely near fruit trees and shrubs.
Even at the border of the potato and gourd plots, its presence is quite appropriate.
Lily and Daylilies are firmly established along the contours of the pumpkin patch, Daylilies are thinned by peonies and covered with the bright green of peonies on peony stumps after flowering. Hybrids of Oriental lilies took root in the non-renewing bed of garden strawberries.
An experiment on joint planting of tulips and tomatoes turned out to be very interesting. In the fall, tulips were planted in a staggered sequence of 5-7 pieces in prepared beds.
In May, when the tulips were in bloom, a defined variety of tomatoes was planted between them. When the leaves of the tulips dried, the mess was covered with cut grass over the beds with tomatoes.
In the fall, the bed was covered with more grass again, and so it went into winter. I don’t dig the tulips every year: when the summer is hot, the floor heating is good and the buds are usually laid.
The next year early cabbage grows in the garden on the same principle. However, in the summer the “cabbage” is cold and wet, and the tulips have to be dug up to warm and dry.
The good thing is that the cabbage was eaten early, in July, and the tulips were dug up without hurting the plants. A variant with tulips was later tested on bell peppers – and it also turned out well.
On one side of the potato, the patch is a bed of chrysanthemums. A 6inch (15cm) deep cut sheet was dug to prevent root penetration into the plot.
Roots of Agastache (Giant hyssops) were rooted on a bed of perennial onions. As a spice, I did not have time to use it, a very strong spicy aniseed flavor. But as an ornamental plant, it impressed everyone.
Both the orange-yellow-green tones of early spring foliage and the lime shrubs of summer, decorated with blue-purple candles. Agatha gives abundant self-seeding, and its progeny can be sown in spring.
PROS AND CONS ABOUT COHABITATION OF VEGETABLES AND FLOWERS
Not all flowers are suitable for vegetables. Vetch, for example, cannot be planted on cabbage: they belong to the same family and pests and diseases they share. Therefore, it is better to combine plants that are botanically distant relatives together.
Asteraceae – Tagetes. there are only artichokes in the vegetable garden – and they are very few. So you can add them to most vegetables, especially since the pungent odor characteristic of greens and flowers scares away many pests and root excrement destroys nematodes in the soil.
The dried petals of marigolds are saffron (the real saffron is the stigma of avocado buds), a spice that Georgia cuisine cannot do without. By the way, canning helps improve the elasticity of the vegetable.
Golden lotus is a fairly distant relative of cabbage, about the seventh water on sourdough, so you can plant it on cabbage, radishes, turnips, and it scares away pests everywhere by its smell. By the way, if you collect the golden lotus flower seeds and pickle them, you can get something like chili peppers.
Amaranth, which has nothing to do with anyone in the vegetable garden, apart from its wonderful decorative, fodder, and edible properties, lifts useful substances to the surface with its deep penetrating and powerful roots, making them available for vegetables.
Chrysanthemum is also adept at repelling pests, not only from the “top” but also from the “roots” – which secrete substances that most nematodes cannot tolerate. In addition, chrysanthemums, like marigolds and many petunias, are unusually attractive to aphids – they all congregate on these plants, where they are more easily killed.
Petunias, pyrethrums, sage, marigolds, and pelargoniums also have significant insecticidal properties. By the way, I have grown potted plants from rooted cuttings. Varieties with burgundy foliage and fire-red flowers look great as a border near cucumbers.
All these variants were tested in continental climates. The vegetation period there is not very long, so I wanted to decorate the short summer with bright colors. It’s much more pleasant to work when the garden is bright and cheerful. And the vegetables seem to taste better…