Flowers in a vegetable garden? What's that all about? For centuries, flowers have been an important part of any self respecting vegetable garden, and for an organic one, doubly so.
Historically, many potager gardens in Europe combined beautiful flowers and gorgeous vegetables to create a lovely tapestry of color and texture.
Flowers play an important role in attracting pollinating insects.
If you like tomatoes and many other insect pollinated crops, you'll want to attract them.
The pollen and nectar provides food while they're waiting for your crops to flower, so they'll be right on scene to do their crucial work; pollinating them.
Some flowers are edible, so growing some
nasturtiums and borage can not only provide color, attract pollinators
and be beautiful, but you can eat them too.
Even the seeds of Nasturtiums are edible - as a substitute for capers, with their tangy pickled taste they are a condiment of choice for many.
The leaves are unmistakable - who among us that was ever a child doesn't remember the fairy umbrella shape, and the little perky hat of the flowers?
Nasturtiums are easy to grow and flower profusely, and as an added incentive, they are also edible. What a fabulous addition to a fresh salad!
As if beauty, pollinator attracting and as an addition to our meals weren't enough reasons to grow flowers in a vegetable garden, they also can be a pest repellent or a catch crop, enticing the pests to stay on them instead of your crop of vegetables.
Marigolds, also known as Tagetes, are renowned for their ability to repel nematodes, one of the most debilitating pests for many crops.
These bright orange and yellow flowers happily reseed, somehow always picking the exact right spot. If they're not wanted, they're easy to pull out or replanted somewhere else.
They can also be used as a green manure cover crop, when they are required to repel nematodes from a particular area. Dig the stems, leaves and flowers into the soil at the end of the season to protect the crops you plant next season.
If you have issues with these pests in your garden, a package of marigold seeds are well worth the price.
Other annual flowering plants that do well in a vegetable garden are cosmos and zinnias, adding their bright blooms as a foil to your healthy green vegetables. Dill and many similar annual and biennial herbs attract pollinators to their umbelliferous flowers.
Calendula are easy to grow, and also have many medicinal properties as well as attracting beneficial insects.
Other commonly grown flowers are bachelor buttons (pollinator attractant), many herbs such as Oreganum, Lavandula, Mentha, Monarda (bee balm), and other perennials.
The pollen and nectar of plants like these will sustain a lot of predatory insects like lady bugs and syrphid flies. They also attract hummingbirds, which stay close by and feed their young on mosquitos.
These are best planted where they can be left indefinitely and undisturbed when weeding your crops or replanting beds, such as at the end of the row or bed.
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