Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
Many people are now growing ornamental and edible plants together in small spaces today on Southern Gardening.
Besides making your garden look beautiful, growing edibles and ornamentals together can have a synergistic effect on vegetable production and make better use of the soil available; and adding diversity to the landscape is good for garden health. Having a variety of plants lessens the chance of a disease or pest wiping out your entire garden. Besides, flowers attract pollinators. Just as we can’t resist the fragrance of some flowers, insect can’t either. This is good for yield because more pollinators in the garden can mean more veggies. Companion planting may benefit certain plants. While much of the information is anecdotal, there seems to be plenty of gardening evidence that mutual benefit is derived from pairing plants. Do chives protect roses from insect pests? Do hornworms avoid tomatoes if paired with basil? Does catmint guard eggplant from flea beetles? Or do cucumber beetles dislike nasturtiums? Who knows but what can these pairings hurt? At best you can have a beautiful, pest free garden. At worst, you will have appealing companion plantings. Try using lettuce as border edging. With all of the different leaf lettuce varieties available your bed edges will not be boring. Or mix bell peppers in with your perennials. For the adventurous many of the extremely hot peppers like habanero come in a variety of colors that can add interest and heat to your garden. An old garden adage says, “Vegetables feed our bodies, and flowers feed our souls”. Why not have a garden that accomplishes both at the same time? I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.