A casual visitor strolling through my yard may notice only a well-kept lawn and many flowers.
An experienced gardener’s eye will spot a row of fern-like foliage just back of a border of dwarf marigolds. Looks like carrots, they’ll think, and be right.
Down the perennial row, they’ll notice a plant with huge tropical-looking leaves resembling rhubarb. And they are rhubarb leaves!
As they stroll toward my small seven-bush rose garden, no second glance will be necessary to identify the border around it as strawberry plants, especially during the summer months when bright red spots are peeking out here and there through the luxuriant foliage.
And so it goes throughout my flower plantings. Most any month of the year, almost any place in the yard, there is apt to be some table fare growing unpretentiously toward maturity and tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
Perhaps my urge to raise food has been inherited from my mother and grandmother. Their gardening activities of necessity were directed almost exclusively toward producing, with the lowest possible cash outlay, food for their large families.
But, whatever the reason, I find much enjoyment and good eating comes from the procedure of gardening I follow. And neither is there any loss of floral beauty.
One of the planting schemes that affords the best opportunity for combining food and flowers is planting rows of quick-maturing vegetables between rows of slower-growing flowers.
Radishes, lettuce, and green onions are excellent examples of the vegetables in this class.
Plant them between rows of annuals or perennials being set out the first year.
When the flower plants need their full quota of room, the vegetables will have been harvested.
Plant Quick-Growing Vegetables Like Beets
Quick-growing vegetables can also be planted as in-between-season crops in many instances in geographical locations where all-year gardening is possible.
I often use beets for this type of planting. When the tiny plants are an inch or 2″ inches high, their foliage adds a colorful note, especially when used as a border.
When the small plants are 6″ or 7″ inches high, the row should be thinned to allow the roots of the remaining plants’ plenty of room for development.
Use the thinned-out plants for zesty, vitamin-packed greens. (Wonderful served with a slice of fried ham!)
Later, as the beets grow to table or pickling size and are harvested, the tops still make excellent greens.
It’s easy to can pickled beets to preserve any seasonal surplus.
In late spring or early summer, when borders of pansies or violas (or similar flowering annual borders) grow old and straggly, I take them out and sow a border of beets.
Toward the end of the beet season, I manage to have the beets pulled so that I can put in the plants of some flowering annual at regular intervals in the row so that they are well established at the time the last beets are finally used.
Naturally, this double and quick-succession planting requires that your soil be kept in a state of high fertility by applying good fertilizers and humus builders.
Aerial “Vertical” Gardening
Don’t discount the possibilities of aerial gardening in your plan to raise food with your flowers.
Pole or climbing beans planted along a few feet of fence will not only afford background foliage and yard privacy but, at the same time, will provide many meals of vine-fresh vegetables for your summer meals.
Add a spark of color to your vertical bean garden by planting one seed of an annual flowering vine such as morning-glory or flowering bean for every 8 or 10 bean seeds planted.
Fences afford a chance for the home gardener to experiment with perennial food-producing plants, such as the following:
- Espaliered fruit trees
Besides the background patterns these plants provide for lawn or garden, they’ll be furnishing food for your table in a few seasons’ time.
Food-Producing Flower Gardening
Naturally, the introduction of food-producing plants into the decorative plantings around the ordinary home is limited, and the yield cannot be expected to feed a big family.
However, a household of 2 or 3 will find that their fresh-vegetable costs can be lowered considerably by scheming to grow various food items and flower plantings.
And, whether or not the saving is of interest, the home-produced food’s delectableness cannot be denied.
And, home garden-raised food is handy, too. Meals can be planned around whatever foods are in season, and half an hour from the time they are picked or pulled, they can be on your lunch or dinner table.
Things like parsley, green onions, and chives, which you need only in small quantities, can be picked as needed.
There is no need to have big bunches losing vitamins and crispness as they grow old in the refrigerator.
A few plants nearby flower beds will afford a fresh supply whenever needed.
If flower gardening is fun for you, growing a little food right with your flowers will make it twice as much fun.
Read seed catalogs and the information on the vegetable seed packets for planting and growing instructions.
Watch your favorite gardening magazine for new varieties of vegetables, especially adaptable for the home gardener.
Keep your soil fertile—a few seeds planted wherever there might otherwise be a bare spot will give you a succession of home-grown vegetables for your table.
44704 by Frances Mueller