Tuesday, June 20, 2017 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Explore Edible Landscaping--Its Fun and Productive

Explore Edible Landscaping
Bill Sevier: Ask a Master Gardener
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Q: I don’t have much gardening space and am interested in planting some vegetables in with my flowers. Is there any problem with doing this? Fran, Tulsa
A: There is no problem whatsoever with putting veggies in amongst your ornamentals. In fact, for those with no vegetable garden or who have restricted space, it is an excellent idea. What and where you may plant is limited only by the growing requirements of the veggie and your imagination. Many vegetables not only have attractive fruit, but also interesting colors and designs of their leaves that fit in well with a flower garden.
The process of growing vegetables and herbs in amongst your ornamentals is called “Edible Landscaping” and has become popular with gardeners. A lot has been written about the concept. One of the experts is Rosalind Creasy, who has published a series of books about this type of gardening.
Vegetables can be used effectively, not only in your standard flower bed, but also in raised beds, window boxes and many different types of containers. They can be worked in with your flowers to create a visually pleasing effect.
Plants such as lettuce, cabbage, kale and others come in several colors and can be used as a substitute for ornamental border plants such as vinca, begonia and Joseph’s Coat. Swiss chard, with its bright red stems and veins, could be an attractive addition as an edge or within the flowers.
A mix of different varieties of the same vegetable, such as purple and white cabbage, is one of the many combinations that may be created and used effectively. Other plants to consider are rows of onions and most of the herbs for the bed border.
Tomatoes and colorful peppers do well, especially cherry tomatoes. This adds greenery and the continuous production of red fruit to create a pleasing effect. Tomatoes probably perform better in the flower bed than they do in a conventional vegetable garden. In the flower bed, they are separate from other tomatoes and are less likely to develop disease and pest problems. In addition, tomatoes, which need to be rotated in the vegetable garden to prevent disease build up, can easily be moved from one area to another each year with the flowers.
Other ideas are to plant blueberries, blackberries and raspberries into the landscape. There are some ultra-dwarfed apple, peach, plum and other fruit trees that may be used in place of a shrub. Another idea is to grow a grapevine on a trellis, which works as a decorative plant and fruit producer.
Garden tips
·        Excessive rain can complicate fertilization of vegetables, ornamentals and lawns. If a quick-release fertilizer was applied before the excessive rains, much of the nitrogen may have been washed into deep soil or drain water. Nitrogen, the first of the three numbers on all fertilizer, is water soluble. The other two nutrients — phosphorus and potassium — are not soluble and remained fixed in soil where placed unless the soil particles themselves are washed into drains and streams.
·        Consideration should be made to reapply a nitrogen-only fertilizer if the above situation applies to you. Don’t over fertilize. Too much nitrogen may be worse than too little. Most plants, such as tomatoes, grow tall, spindly and produce few blossoms and fruits when too much nitrogen is used.
·        Also be aware that too much water in the soil may suffocate roots and cause plants to develop yellow leaves, which may fall from the plant. This can easily be wrongly confused with a need for more fertilizer.


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