Foodscaping is all about growing edible plants in conjunction with your ornamental garden.
Like many other folks, we are vegetable gardeners as well as ornamental gardeners. While some people talk of those two types of gardening as totally separate, foodscaping merges the two together. Read on to learn what foodscaping is and how to incorporate it into your bulb garden!
What Is Foodscaping?
Foodscaping is all about growing edible plants in conjunction with your ornamental garden. It means you don’t have to sacrifice beauty or function—you’ll have the beautiful textures and colors of veggies interspersed with your prized flowers and foliage plants.
This way of gardening has been on the rise in the past decade or so, largely thanks to horticulturist and author Brie Arthur, who is a leader in the foodscape movement. Basically, her premise has gardeners wondering why plant rows of vegetables when you can plant them in your existing flower garden? It’s a way to maximize the space you have, no matter the size of your garden.
Foodscaping Ideas for Beginners
You can foodscape in your bulb garden by planting food crops among your bulbs. Another idea is incorporating edible bulbs into the mix, too!
We like to plant various types of lettuce in our flowerbeds. Lettuces can have such beautiful textures and colors—try growing unexpected lettuce colors like pink or red. Because they don’t grow too high, lettuces make wonderful shoes-and-socks plants for bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Plus, the interesting colors and textures of lettuce or kale will hide maturing bulb leaves.
In warmer climates, like where we live, you can grow cool-season vegetables all winter long. So we seed crops like lettuce when we plant our bulbs in fall, and the bulbs emerge right through these food crops.
Foodscaping by planting fast-germinating crops can also help control weeds in your garden. When you plant bulbs, you disturb the soil, releasing seeds of weeds. But when you plant a crop that germinates quickly, like lettuce or kale, they’ll come through first before weeds have the chance to grow.
Besides lettuce and kale, we also like to plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, beets, Swiss chard, and spinach when we plant our bulbs in the fall. One more favorite is parsley. This frilly green plant comes up around the same time as spring-flowering bulbs and adds color and texture to your garden right through summer.
One other benefit to foodscaping with spring-flowering bulbs is that edible crops can keep the garden bed dry. Many spring-flowering bulbs like to sleep in a dry bed during the summer. So to keep them dry, it can be helpful to have something growing on top of them. For example, melons, squashes, cucumbers, cantaloupes, or pumpkins create a wonderful carpet on top of spring-flowering bulbs. The canopy of these food crops will keep the bulbs dry.
Some spring-flowering bulbs are edible themselves. For example, the petals of tulips taste sweet and are excellent in salads or in cocktails.
To foodscape with our summer bulb gardens, we like to plant peppers, dill, fennel, and okra. While many people know okra pods are edible—try frying, stewing, or pickling them—the leaves are edible, too. Eat the leaves raw, or cook them as you would spinach.
Also, while some tomatoes may be too big to grow in flower beds, dwarf and cherry varieties work quite nicely.
Vegetables have a great place in the flower garden, and foodscaping is a way to incorporate edible plants with your ornamental bulbs. To make foodscaping in upcoming seasons even easier, let your edible crops get to the point when they go to seed so that they come up on their own!
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