The benefits of planting flowers in a vegetable garden
March 28, 2016
This months Garden Share Collective post is themed “colour”. The Garden Share Collective is a group of passionate gardeners who love to share the progress of their productive gardens online. Some have large gardens and some very small. The variety and diverse locations of participants means that you are sure to pick up a great tip of two that is relevant to your growing area and space. If you would like to join us you can do so via the link at the end of this post. It is open on the last Monday of each month.
Autumn is traditionally the time that the garden starts to develop and reflect wonderful rich hues of the surrounding leaves. Our trees are not yet beginning to turn but the garden has a splendid array of colour from the flowers I have planted among the vegetables and herbs to encourage bees to visit and pollinate the plants and to attract a variety for beneficial insects.
Take a wander around my autumn garden:
The cucumber plants are not looking like slowing down. They are continuing to produce new growth and flowers….
Zinnia, dahlias and cress attract the bees and insects – they look gorgeous too don’t you think?
Zinnia require no special care. They flower prolifically and are long lasting. They are said to attract lady birds.
Dahlias are said to repel nematodes that can damage plants by preventing them from taking nutrients from the soil.
Nasturtiums (shown below with chives) are believed to repel aphids. This is a good reason to keep up the constant thinning and cutting back of the plants to have them doing battle in your garden. When planted around apple trees, chives and nasturtiums are said to repel codling moth. Cabbage white moth is also said to be attracted to the nasturtiums, leaving the brassica alone. I am planing to move some to sit next to the winter plants when I put them in to test this theory. The flowers are edible and may be added to salads, they have a peppery flavour.
Marigolds are a valuable addition to the kitchen garden to encourage beneficial insects. They are also said to attract slugs and snails who will come to them rather than attack your kale and brassica.
Alyssum attracts bees and I have read somewhere it works well planted under apple trees but I couldn’t locate the reference to that information to add it here and have not yet tested it myself.
My favourite of all of these plants is borage.
Borage is prolific once it has been planted and continues to self seed each year. As with nasturtiums the borage needs to be monitored or it will take over a whole garden area. The bees adore it. I plant it near zucchini and pumpkin to encourage fertilisation and abundant crops. The flowers are edible and can be added to salads or cakes.
While I am yet to come across an article that scientifically proves these benefits of adding flowers to a vegetable garden I do know from personal experience that my garden has flourished, had less pests and has never looked better since I began to add flowers to the garden.
For an easy way to move flowers around your garden to protect the plants that need it you can try using pots to grow them. Simply move the pot(s) to sit beside the brassica, or other plants that are showing signs of attack.
Other areas of my garden showing off their colours now include, the last of the tomatoes – now a little slow to colour.
The lemon tree is already ripening a new crop. It feels like it only just finished.
One of my favourite colours in my garden is the bright green of new growth in the garden as you can see below on our little mandarin.
The capsicum are particularly abundant at the moment and the eggplant are developing fast to soon also soon be contributing to many family meals.
These are the things I will be doing at the start of this month.
References and further reading:
What are you planting in your Autumn vegetable garden? Do you plant flowers in your vegetable garden?
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