Edible Gardening Tips and Plants

A vegetable garden can be more than straight rows and the same old tomato, lettuce and bean plants. In France, people combine flowers with vegetables in gardens they call "potagers." You, too, can create a landscape filled with edible flowers and ornamental edible plants such as Red Russian kale and many other unusual vegetable varieties.

Cover Your Yard

If you abandon any previous notions of what an edible garden should be like, you can create a different kind of vegetable garden that covers much of your property. Create border beds, raised beds, planter boxes and even edible-flowering lawn plants. Consider growing ornamental varieties of vegetables. All vegetables need rich, well-drained soil, so be sure to dig plenty of compost into your planting areas. For every square yard of garden space, add at least a one-gallon bucket full of any type of compost.

Include Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are good additions to any edible gardening scheme because they are attractive when they bloom, they produce healthful fruit and they also provide shade for some of your other edibles that don't need full sun. If you plant cool season crops such as lettuce, celery, kale, radicchio, cilantro and spinach in the partial shade of your fruit trees, the conditions will be right for these types of plants. Look for unique varieties of fruit trees, such as the variegated pink lemon tree. Think about creating circular beds around the base of your fruit trees where you can plant shade-loving vegetables and herbs. Be sure to make access paths so you don't need to step on your beds' soil or trample any plants when you walk through the area to pick fruit from your tree.

Ornamental Veggies

The choice of seeds available at the grocery store or nursery often doesn't include heirloom or interesting varieties of vegetables and herbs. According to the company Ornamental Edibles, you can easily grow hundreds of less common vegetables that will add color and interest to your garden. From Burgundy Splendor Amaranth to Sweet Scarlet Turnips, seeds for different types of ornamental vegetables are available from Internet sources (see Resources). Because they are ornamental, you might not need to buy flowers as bedding plants to give your yard color and beauty. Imagine a flowerbed full of different types of ornamental kales---ruffly, red, green and purple plants are just as attractive as any pansies or daisies.

Edible Flowers

Gourmet restaurants often include an edible flower or two as a garnish on the dishes they serve. Consider adding edible flowers such as fuchsias, calendula, nasturtium, stock, lavender and bachelor buttons. Some flowers, such as those of lemon basil, also make refreshing herbal teas that you can include when you serve your guests other edibles from your yard.

Keywords: edible plants, garden design, flowering ornamentals, kale fruit trees

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.