Plant Ornam-Edibles This Year!
Finally, it’s May. It is time to be sure your edible gardens are well underway. Local nurseries will provide edible starts well into fall, so get crackin’!
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If you haven’t set aside a specific plot in your garden for edibles, consider integrating edibles into your decorative beds as ornamentals. Several food crops–both annual and perennial–look fantastic mixed into existing garden beds and seasonal containers.
So, what if you need some evergreen interest? Consider adding native Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) plants instead of stinky boxwood. You’ll find it supplied by most local nurseries. It’s a slow grower, so pay a little more for a larger shrub or wait a long time for fruit.
Perhaps you like to use annuals to add color and interest to the edges of paths or the front of borders. Perennial herbs like thyme and oregano offer low-growing varieties in beautiful colors ranging from red-pink to chartreuse yellow. Consider them for finishing the front of a bed or as trailing plants in your seasonal containers.
Maybe you’re looking for ways to mix veggies into your garden. A tomato or bean pole in the middle of a sunny bed provides artistic structure and form as well as fantastic food. Consider putting in lettuce starts or seeds to add a colorful ruffled edge to your patio or pathway. Try training squashes to wind through fences.
Some other considerations when taking the ornam-edible approach:
When we harvest from our gardens, we ask a lot of the soil. Make sure you test it to be sure it will support your food crops.
Be sure you’re putting the right plant in the right place. Crops like lettuce can bolt in too much heat.
Do animals use your garden areas as a toilet? If so, consider growing foods in raised containers.
Food crops need consistent watering, so they might not work well in your drought-tolerant beds.
Know your crop pests – seasonal and long term – so you don’t create problems for your garden.
And, finally, consider your fertilization choices carefully. Slow release, natural organic is the way I prefer to go!