Vegetables Vs. Flowers - What's Your Ratio?

macgregor(6MA)July 7, 2012

I was in my potager today and, taking a look around, realized that the veggies have taken over.

When I started my potager I planted veggies, but I had much more of a focus on the flowers in the garden. Now, this year the reverse has happened. If anything, I have too many veggies! But the perennial flowers have come up, thankfully, to remind me of the beauty they bring to the garden.

How do you manage your potager? Lots of flowers, a few veggies? Or flowers and herbs? I am really curious to know how people's gardens start out and change in this regard.


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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I have 4x8 and 3x6 beds, but surround them with flower beds and/or planters.
My herb garden is about 4x12 and most of the herbs are in pots with pots of flowers and gnomes interspersed. There are nasturtium and creeping thyme in the ground throughout! Nancy

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 9:16PM
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My kitchen garden is based on vegetables, but I have flowers and or herbs mixed in with every planting. They are more accents than anything else. I do try to combine vegetable plants in a way that contrasts color and texture too.

I realize that I am not doing this to save money at the grocery store. It would be cheaper to mow a lawn and go to the farmers market. I do it for the creative aspects and to build an environment that is beautiful. So I want all of the plantings to be aesthetically pleasing. Some are more successful than others, but I am still learning. One of the things that I am happiest with is planting edging. A few beds are edged with curly parsley a few with lobelia. It works great. ( I'll try to get some pics today, now that they have grown in some.

I love this pic of cabbage and peas and basil with a Galardia poking over from an adjoining bed. There are small dahlias in this bed too, but they are just starting to bud. They all work together just like I want them to. Of course I will be harvesting them all pretty soon, but gardens are ephemeral beauty. That is a big part of their charm.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 6:23AM
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Nancy, your herb garden sounds beautiful. And Mandolls, your photo is lovely. I always wish I could visit others' gardens, they are such works of art.

I was thinking that the reason my garden is so veggie-heavy this year is that I tried "intensive planting" with them - and I'm not sure I would do it again. Although I have tons of plants, they are too close together for me. The flowers, which I put a lot of effort into last year, seem almost an afterthought in comparison.

More is not always better I guess, especially when you are trying for an aesthetically pleasing view.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 8:06AM
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I agree - I tend to plant to close together too. Those little transplants are so small, its always hard for me to believe they will spread out so much. At the same time, the cabbage/peas bed is packed and I love the way it looks. (though I have trimmed out some of the lower cabbage leaves to tame it down a bit.)

Here are a few more pics of flower/veg plantings

My beans are not doing well. I didnt know about inoculant and they probably dont get enough sun there. But I love the parsley and purple cabbage.

Lobelia with lettuce and cucumbers.

There was so much empty space between the tomatoes, that I planted impatience down the middle. I wish I hadn't planted it in a row.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:48AM
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I love the row of impatiens! To me there is something about a row that catches your eye. I put alyssum randomly between my tomato plants, and it helps keep down the weeds (I guess). I may do rows next year though.

What is growing on your arch? The cucumbers maybe?

Also, Nancy, any chance we might see your herb garden?

I know I should be posting photos but I don't know how.
Maybe I can get my daughter to help me do it!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 10:31AM
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MacGregor - Posting pictures is not that hard. I know you have posted images before. Just pay attention next time someone helps you. With the new set up you can post one per message just by clicking the box. I use photobucket which works easily enough for me. The pictures I have seen of your garden were impressive, so I definitely want to see more!

The arch with the lobelia has cucumbers. I started them late this year so I havent eaten any yet, but there are some beginning to form now.

I agree that rows can be striking, but I tend to be more attracted to asymmetrical compositions and to curves, and the nature of rectangular beds tends to demand symmetry. If I had had more impatience I think I would have planted them in a more complex pattern. I'll start more from seed next year.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 5:09PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I'll have to get on photobucket with my new i-pad and figure out how to post pics!
My garden is going very slow this year for some reason!
I think I had blossom drop due to a huge heat wave mid-June
You do what you can! Nancy

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 8:52PM
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Well with all my going on about too many vegetables, this weekend I saw that my two "new" veggies,-scallop squash and fairytale eggplant - are producing fruit! They are both so pretty, I'm so glad I planted them. I chose them just because of their appearances - a bright yellow scallop against a pale purple-streaked, tiny eggplant - and it's turned out pretty cool. Their flowers are also pretty. I would recommend these two plants for their beauty (and, I hope, for cooking!). :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 8:04AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I am trying to keep perennial flowers to the border beds. I had hoped to have more annual flowers in the main beds but I need to get better at starting them from seed or it can get quite pricey. Most things had seemed to be going slowly but the heat broke here last week and now things are starting to green up more and put on some growth, finally.

For me though, since the area I live in is quite brown, very little grass to speak of, just seeing a bunch of green, lush growth is aesthetically pleasing to me.

I had fairty tale eggplant last year and did enjoy the colors and the eating. I did get one lone survivor started from seed this year and it now has 2 fruit. I am thoroughly looking forward to it. I grew pattypan squash before but now mainly stick with Ronde de Nice round zucchini. It is easier to stuff and the plants are a bit more compact. I may have to trade some for some patty pan though, I love the shape.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 2:44PM
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I grew fairy tales my first year, Now I am growing "Millionaire" which are similar in size and shape, but a solid purple fruit. They are one of the prettiest vegetable plants. Mine however always get lots of insect damage to the leaves. It doesnt slow them down, but they are not looking like they should. I grilled up a few of them last week, cut them up with grilled peppers and onions, lemon, olive oil and basil - yum!

The scalloped squash are tempting. The problem is neither my partner or I really like to eat squash. I grew zucchinis last year, and ended up being relieved when they didnt do well and only put 6 zucchinis for 4 huge plants.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 3:40PM
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My veg-herb-flower ratio is probably 2-1-1. Although it seems everywhere I turn, I back into a stand of bee balm. I'll be doing some transplanting next spring. The very front of my garden is a flowering perennial border to attract pollinators. I also put in a border of winter-sown yellow alpine strawberries.

A long middle bed is herbs and a few blueberry bushes. Most everywhere else is veggies with a smattering of herbs and flowers. The picture below shows the nasturtiums from the squash bed mingling with the sage to completely cover the path between.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 5:46PM
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I like to have shrubs (including blueberries) and perennials in the outer beds, with the vegetables in the middle beds. It's prettier, when I add marigolds and other smaller flowers around the edge of the beds, with alyssum planted as a groundcover under the vegetables. The alyssum keep the weeds down and (especially the white) have a nice fragrance.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 3:21PM
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My potager is mostly vegetables with some flowers interspersed and at the ends of the rows along the brick walks. Herbs are in a separate bed but still in the potager. Asparagus and blackberries and raspberries and strawberries are also included, but they're in a block along fences and paths. I just put in 48 tomato plants on tripods, with irrigation tape running along both rows, and next I'll put in marigolds, basil, and Victoria Blue salvia in between the tripods to add color and some measure of protection (although the salvia is just because it's pretty!) I love the way the garden looks with that mixture.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 4:05PM
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My ratio is quite heavy on the vegetable side. We don't have trouble at all attracting pollinators, so I don't see the need to plant more flowers for that purpose. So many "vegetables" begin as flowers themselves, too - tomatoes, potatoes, beans, peas, raspberries, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, eggplant...

That said, I do have a strip of perennials at the front of the garden and a clematis over the entry arch. I plant nasturtiums as a trap crop in the garden most years. We have flowers in front of the house for the hummingbirds, but that's separate from the potager.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 4:03PM
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