Sneaking vegetables into the flower garden

lucille(Houston)January 21, 2014

I have a relatively small area for gardening, and am preparing the areas now where I will plant vegetables. The tomatoes do not seem good candidates for mixed planting as they are tall, gawky, and need significant support. But last year, the eggplants were pretty plants and the Ichiban eggplants attractive. I'm going to sneak some into a mixed flowerbed this year.
I might sneak in a few pepper plants as well.

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Lol, I was thinking the same thing. I tend a small-ish plot in our community allotment garden 5 minutes from our door. This will be our 5th year there, and have always kept the edibles in the plot, and the flowers at home. Well, as I sit here planning what to sow and grow in each garden, I find myself planning a squash bed beside the house, cucs behind the garage, and peppers planted where I used to fill in with annuals. I was raised with a "veggie gardens are messy" attitude, but the more I grow, the more I learn, the more beautiful it all becomes! With the right support/trellis, even the gangly tomato can be attractive in the garden...;)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 1:38PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Depending on what you want to grow, there are a lot of possibilities ; You mentioned eggplant. Also small pepper plants, basil, cilantro .. can be co planted.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 3:24PM
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Chard can be quite beautiful, particularly the varieties with red, yellow or pink stems. Also many kales can be quite pretty, particularly the purple types.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 5:03PM
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Kale, flowering kale, chard, lettuce of mixed colors, carrots for borders, all cucurbits but specially zucchini bush, corn for a tall grass effect, will all contribute. Beware basil which is pretty until you start harvesting, and then becomes ratty. Agree that peppers and eggplants qualify.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 5:50PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

I used to just "sneak" vegetables into the flower garden out front. But little by little (a process of over 15 years), I've now taken out all of the front lawn, built 2 cobblestone raised beds (each are 6' x 20" flanking the front driveway), and have planted edibles: blueberries, gooseberries, aronia berries, a plum and an apple tree, and have left all other available space to vegetables.
I have left one small patch of grass in the backyard (approx. 10' x 50'); that one will stay as it provides greens for my 9 chickens to munch on.
My grass never looked great, it was mostly moss & clover probably because I don't use any pesticides or fertilizers on it. But I believe any vegetable can be attractive, even in the front, if properly maintained. If it gets diseased, I get rid of it. If it starts to outgrow the container, I prune it a bit. Maybe I have overly polite neighbors, but I only get positive comments about my front yard garden.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 11:08PM
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Shermthewerm (great name, by the way) I think that your comment 'properly maintained' is the key.
For me, anyway, I want to keep my front yard attractive. Vegetables and flowers and so on qualify as attractive in my opinion if maintained, I'm not one of those people who insist on nothing but lawn in the front. My wildflower area was cut down at the end of the season so there would not be beds full of spent dead plants.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 7:45AM
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Every year, my wife and I plant edibles among our landscaping plants. Our landscape plants consist of pomagranite bushes, bush cherries, a blackberry bush, boxwoods, azaleas, roses, box shrubs, flowers of many types. We plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, sage, rosemerry, and strawberries among them. They look very nice and we get to eat them, when the squirrels are not too greedy.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:37AM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

I remember reading somewhere that garlic thrives when planted alongside roses, and vice versa. The book I read that in also claimed that the roses and garlic will both smell/taste nicer this way.

I haven't tried it, but may just do so this coming Autumn!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:36AM
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Here in the South, sweet potatoes always do well in the heat of the summer! They are very pretty and will often flower near the end of the season (depending on the variety). They grow like ivy and are well worth growing in a flower garden (along an outside border).

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 2:15PM
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I like to pop radish seeds everywhere. The greens are small and pretty, I get the good roots and my pet rabs love the tops.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 2:45PM
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I like to put Thai basil in the back of my flower border and let it go to flower. Unlike regular sweet basil I don't find that Thai basil gets bitter if if flowers. I pinch it back early in the summer so that it gets bushy then let the light purple flower stalks go and just harvest leaves from the bottom as needed. It makes a nice vertical filler in the border and attracts tons of bees and butterflies.

I also plant purple royalty bush beans throughout the front of my flower beds. They are nice small plants with pretty lavender flowers and then I get handfuls of purple beans too. I like to think they are improving the soil in my beds too.

Last summer I really enjoyed growing pepperoncini (sp?) peppers which made nice bushes covered in white flowers. I was also thinking of sneaking them into my flower borders this year. They were really prolific and seemed to love the hot steamy weather here in Virginia. Now I just have to perfect my pickling method. My neighbor had Black Pearl peppers in her front yard and the dark leaves were really dramatic.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:37PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I have a sinking feeling that I may lose a fair number of perennials in my front ornamental border this year because of the sustained cold spells we have had this year. If so, I am planning to try mixing some vegetables into that border. Ones I am considering are
Burgundy Okra (to replace Elephant Ears),

eggplant (Sandhill Preservation has all eggplant seeds on sale for $1 a packet this year. What a great chance to try some new ones! They even have ornamental ones listed.),

and Fish Peppers (white variegated leaves).

I love the idea of the purple beans.

If you live in a milder summer area, there's no end to the loveliness of various colors of lettuce. They would make a great front edge in a bed.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 5:40PM
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Campanula UK Z8

ah, the potager garden. A cautionary note - my friend lovingly planted a great many ornamental herbs and lettuces in a potager a few years ago.....and found herself unable to harvest said veg because 'it made the whole thing look ratty and gappy'. If you don't care about that sort of thing (and I don't) then you may even find yourself sneaking flowers into the vegetable beds.

Parsley - top edger. Best of all, leaving the umbels and alliums to flower - parsnip flowers are stunning.......along with chives, leeks, fennel and caraway.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 9:56AM
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I have a bed against the south foundation of the house that I've used for peppers. Between the plants I put lemon gem marigolds (wonderful airy lemon-scented foliage) and regular marigolds. Calendula might also be nice. I have some self-seeded annual poppies with a dark reddish purple blossom that sometimes appear but they need to be pulled out when the flowers are gone since the plants die soon after. Thai basil would be a lovely addition.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:04AM
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I just bought some Rhubarb Red swiss chard seeds. I'm thinking that the red stalks and big green leaves will be beautiful in the front of the flower beds.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:39PM
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Campanula UK Z8

yes, done that - they (chard leaves) look terrific with orange tithonias, bronze fennel and atriplex hortensis. Can look nice with borage too, if you are keen on it. Less keen on the mixed colours of rainbow chard (Bright Lights et al)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 5:42PM
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I think the key is the structures and the mulch. It you have nice structures and if you put in mulch over where you harvest it looks nice and tidy. I also think geometry helps if you're going large scale with veggies. Pepper plants on a border, radishes hiding with the flowers won't be noticed much one way or another, but if you want to really eat out of your front yard I think a good strong pattern, nice trellises, and keeping things trimmed and mulched is key. I'm using blackberries as a hedge on the "busy street" side of the house, blueberries around the foundation. I have a couple of cherry trees that I keep pruned very open and under them strawberries. Fruits are pretty easy to blend into your front yard.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:26PM
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Campanula - The way to prevent a shaggy looking garden after harvest of the edibles is to place potted plants in the gap. My wife uses gladiolas that are normally on our patio.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:21AM
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