Edible landscaping

Spinach, pansies and begonias harmonious in a container garden.

Edible landscaping can be practiced in several ways. On a small scale, window boxes, containers and hanging baskets are some methods for growing ornamentals and edibles together. Raised beds and planting in the ground are not to be overlooked if space is available. Keep in mind when planting that all your plants should meet the same requirements for sun or shade. For example, if you are growing plants that can take full sun, the other plants you put in with them also need to be able to handle full sun. The same applies if you place plants in the shade. Edible landscaping can also be thought of as what is called “companion planting.” Many gardeners utilize companion planting when they plant different plants close to one another that benefit each other. Planting ornamentals with edibles can attract beneficial insects to the garden that wards off pests and curbs plant disease.

Some suggestions for planting ornamentals with edibles:

  • Lavender is an excellent companion plant with roses in a border planting.
  • In a sunny garden plot, team red sweet peppers with a colorful mix of zinnias.
  • Do a duet in the sun of golden sunflowers and tomatoes.
  • In a container, shades of pink, blue and white lobelia and Swiss Chard can brighten a shaded perennial bed. A mix of ruffled leaf lettuce and ruffled flowers on petunias complement one another in a container set in the shade.
  • Vibrant orange and yellow nasturtiums and a mix of colorful peppers and chilies liven up a container garden in full sun.
  • Small-sized plants such as cherry tomatoes, sweet basil and golden yellow dwarf marigolds become a mini edible garden in a hanging basket or a window box located in full sun.

Today’s vegetables come in a myriad of colors. You will see purple-veined kale with dark blue leaves, tomatoes with stripes, blueskinned watermelons and if you like purple in the garden, try purple radishes, shocking purple broccoli florets on dark green stems, and then there is purple cauliflower.

So there is no shortage of selections for mixing your favorite flowering ornamentals with colorful edible plants and for enjoying the best of both worlds of gardening.

Carole McCray is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, The Potting Shed, for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine.

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