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Mix some veggies in with flowers

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Not everyone has space for a vegetable plot. And not everyone even wants a vegetable plot. But most of us love fresh home-grown veggies. If we’ve grown them ourselves, they just taste better.

If you don’t have the space or inclination for tending an official vegetable garden, but would enjoy a couple of fresh home-grown veggies, not to worry. Veggies will grow just fine in among the flowers and small shrubs in planning beds. This is ideal if you want a sampling, but not a harvest that will lead to preserving the veggies in some way.

Key to growing vegetables is adequate light — a minimum of six hours a day of full sun is essential. Also consider watering. Most vegetables require a steady supply of moisture.
Think favourite vegetable first, and then think of about physical characteristics of the plant.

How will it fit in with the existing shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses? You want tasty edibles, but you want it to fit nicely into the overall look of the bed. Corn, kale, and Swiss chard are going to add drama. Beets, carrots, lettuce, and radishes are good fillers.

How are you going to reach the plant for watering and harvesting? Put them within an arm’s reach of the front of the bed, or in large beds, add some stepping stones through the bed.

Corn and sunflowers towards the back of a bed will add height and surprise, but you don’t want to add a compacted trail of soil through the bed.
An obelisk is a way of adding a bit of tall narrow height, and can be fit into most planting beds.

Climbers such as indeterminate tomatoes (continue to grow longer throughout the summer), cucumbers, pole beans, and peas will happily fill it with greenery. Keep in mind that peas finish up early, so either sow a second crop a few weeks later, or combine the peas with the tomatoes.

Peppers and determinant tomatoes (grow to a certain height and then stop getting bigger) can fit nicely into the bed in much the same way larger flowers do. Give them a half a meter or so of growing room, and their leaves will add a medium textured, medium green to the overall bed for most of the summer, and some bright reds or yellows later on.
A patch of chives, garlic, or onions adds simple fine texture in lush greens. Lovely!

Carla Keast has a master’s degree in landscape architecture and is a Winnipeg-based freelance landscape designer. She can be reached at contact@carlakeast.com.

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