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Garden Planning–How Will You Mix Ornamental Edibles With Perennials?

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Pumpkin Growing

Pumpkin growing on my front porch

Winter is the perfect time to plan for the upcoming garden season. You can find me, quite often, sitting with a cup of tea, eyes glazed over in full garden fantasy mode. This season my basic garden design ongoing goal continues – to mix perennials and vegetables together in a sustainable and ornamental way.

Vegetables can be beautiful, especially when they are mixed with perennials. Above you see a still life of ferns, beet leaves in a vase, and a good-sized pumpkin growing on my front porch. Yes, the pumpkin leaves have some mildew on them, which did not stop the pumpkin’s amazing growth, and the garden is imperfect. However, the mix of all the leaves and plants is priceless to me and the vegetable plants mixed in mean I can feed my community a few more veggies. Always a good thing.

For 2011 I would like to expand my shade growing capability and bring more shade-loving veggies into the lay-out. What plans do you have this season to mix perennials and vegetables? Leave a comment below – also leave your questions and ideas – I can always use the help!

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  1. Shawna, you have inspired me to branch outside the box so I hope to grow beans up the picket fence or along the arbor maybe both…I will lao be adding many to containers to increase my veggie garden area..thx for the inspiration

  2. Hi Shawna – This has been my main gardening goal too. We started a couple of years ago by turning the front yard into a potager. This year I'd like to add more of flowers – the garden is lacking in some color and could use more polinators. I'd also like to use more blueberry bushes as shrubs and experiment with deciduous blueberries as well.

    PS – I was born and raised in Colorado – it's a beautiful place to live!

  3. Mixing edibles and perennials is the way I have gardened my whole life! I'm so happy to see others moving toward this way of gardening. Just because it is an edible doesn't mean it has to be segregated to another part of the yard.

    I love it when someone visits my garden and says, “Wow – what is that unusual plant?” and I say “celery”. They always look at me like I have broken some rule or something.

    Love it!

    Keep up the great work Shawna.

  4. Shawna,
    We “re-invent” edible landscaping again and again, mostly because homes are being built right on top of each other. Lots are getting smaller by the “cul-de-sac”. My peeps are getting in tune with what I do in their gardens. You can't walk in my yard without eating something. This year I will add something my Grandfather did. I will sow Canteloupe to the Azalea beds. Funny how your article made me remember! Saltshaker in my pocket…..

  5. This is one of my favorite topics and it's great to see so many others on board too. I got a copy of Rosalind Creasy's “Edible Landscaping” for Christmas, but it's on back order so this conversation will help me bide the time. 🙂

    I just put in two new beds right in the front of my yard and can't wait to fill them with a mix of edibles & perennials. One bed will contain blueberry and raspberry bushes with some sort of groundcover (maybe alyssum?). In the other bed I want to grow a mix of pumpkins and winter squash, but am not sure what else to combine them with. Any ideas?

  6. Shawna –
    I had to set as background your image as soon as I saw it. Very inspiring on a drab, cold day here in Kansas City. I too have Creasy's book on back order. Must have been a popular initial printing.

    I don't know if you've visited our Powell Gardens here in KC but Creasy designed a guest garden as part of the Heartland Harvest Garden. The HHG is a 14 acre salute to growing fruits and veggies. Barbara Damrosch also has a garden. It's worth a trip to KC just to see the HHG.

    You referred to veggies that can be grown in some shade. I didn't know there was such a thing. Which ones can tolerate some shade?

  7. Patrick,

    Shade vegetable plants include lettuces, potatoes, spinach and many more – do a search on google for many lists. You've inspired me – I will write a post soon on shade veggies!!



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