Many gardeners compartmentalise in their heads. They put edible crops into one category, and ornamental, flowering plants in another. But there can actually be a lot of overlap between these two categories.
In a permaculture garden, we integrate don’t segregate. We grow plenty of flowers as companion plants in our polyculture vegetable beds. We consider the edible potential of plants usually considered to be only ornamental. And recognise that food crops can be beautiful too.
There are a wide range of flowers that make excellent companion plants in a vegetable bed. In this article, you will discover just some of the options. But there are many others to consider that can have beneficial impacts on the system as a whole.
Edible flowers are numerous and include this in this article. In that link, you will find examples of common ornamental flowers that are edible, as well as edible flowers from commonly cultivated crops. Another interesting flower to mention is the dahlia. Dahlias not only have edible flowers. Dahlia pinnate varietals such as ‘Yellow Gem’ also have edible tubers. Which could make them a very interesting edible in their own right as well as a companion plant.
Turning things around, it is also worth considering how common food crops can be cultivated within an ornamental border. Food crops can be beautiful too. Peas and beans, for example, can be beautiful while in flower, and some also have beautifully coloured pods. Kales and other brassicas can come in beautiful shades of green and purple, and lettuces can be varied yellowish, green, pink-tinged or reddish leaves…Radishes, for example, when left to go to seed, flower in prolific tangles that can look great in a mixed border. And those examples are just the beginning…
Don’t think that plants have to be either edible or ornamental. Many can be both.
If you need some help to create a beautiful and productive garden, please get in touch.