Thursday, July 11, 2013

FLOWERS AND FOOD: EASY Perennial Gardens for the Suburban Homesteader


 So you love flowers but you also want to grow some veggies too! No problem. Gone are the days when one would separate growing space for vegetables, herbs and flowers. These days suburban homesteaders are tucking in fruits and vegetables amongst the flowers to make the most out of their growing space and season. This makes good sense because sun loving flowers and some of our most common vegetables ( and some fruits)  have similar growing requirements. Good draining soil enriched with compost or organic materials, at least 6 hours of sunlight and room to grow! 

 

What you don't see in the above photo is my zucchini, rhubarb, cucumbers and blueberry shrubs, but  they're right at home they're tucked into the flowers. Did you know that this is National Blueberry Month?  Blueberries are ripe for the pickin' here in New England from Maine all the way down to south coast. Blueberries are one of my very favorite summer fruits.Who doesn't love blueberries? If you don't please leave me a note. We need to talk! Seriously.  I love them sprinkled on top of yogurt, oatmeal, in smoothies, pies, and crisps and of course  muffins and pancakes! As you can tell, I love them mostly for how they taste in just about everything. Did I mention Blueberry Jam swathed on top of a crisp piece of sour dough toast? I'll be back in a minute... I'm hungry!

THAT'S BETTER!

  When I saw that our local Home Depot had Blueberry Bushes for sale this year I bought three of them and put them in an unfinished section of my largest perennial garden knowing I would be completing this week which I did at dusk last night! Oh, was I ever a site what with the sweat, dirt and black mulch stuck to my body and in my hair but anyway... I was in FARMGIRL heaven!


Right about mid photo where the roses in the green tubs are is where the unfinished part of the garden started. Can you see the three little blueberry bushes right below them? I placed them at the back of the border. They will get between 4 and 6 feet high eventually.  If you look down the center of the photo you'll see that there is a color pattern ( albeit a loose one) that I aimed to repeat in the new section.  Because the lower section of the garden is narrower than the top half I planted shrubs and flowers that will be about the same height through out the entire garden.

 
I added more Double Red Knock Out roses and Cat Mint ( Walkers Low ) but I used different plants in the new section for splashes of yellow, pink and orange. In the top photo I planted Yarrow, Black Eyed Susan,  Pink and Orange Cone Flower for splashes of bright sunny colors in mid to late summer. All sun loving herbs and perennials that come back every year!


To continue with the pinks I also planted some Phlox. 
Happy Returns Daylily
And Daylilies for more yellow... This variety has a soft yellow flower that smells very much like a gardenia and it also a variety that re-blooms if you pinch off the old flower head. I like that! 

Catmint (  Nepeta ,Walkers Low ) will bloom all summer and if you cut  the dead stems it will bloom again into the fall.

 I topped off the finished design with 3 inches of Cape Cod Black Mulch. Planting in mid-summer can be stressful on new plants that need to be watered more regularly. The mulch will help keep those tender roots moist and I just love the way the colors pop against that dark background!

Well, if you made it to the bottom of this post, THANK YOU for reading. Your reward for making it through are a few garden tips from little ole' me.

 Some gardeners doubt themselves when choosing plants and worry too much about companion planting, color combinations, what goes with what etc. I say phooey to all that!

  • Plant what you love! I truly believe your plants know it when you love them and will perform better for you.
  • If you fall in love with a plant at the nursery, study the labels for plant requirements before you get to the cash register.
  • Key things to look for: Soil and sun/shade requirements and size at maturity. If you are still unsure ask for help. I've been known to ask other shoppers if they know something about a particular plant I am coveting! Just yesterday a woman saved me from buying Cleome which is a major re-seeder that I didn't want in my garden scheme. Not the one I just finished anyway!
My final tip is this:
Have fun! 
It's YOUR GARDEN and the only person it has to please and fortify is YOU! 

Love and happy gardening!
Deb ( who needs to go take some Aleve now )




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