Gap fillers...............less weeds
What better reason do you need to plant them?
What better reason do you need to plant them?
What do we mean by gap fillers? Take a look at the gaps between your vegetables, usually where those annoying weeds grow.
Being a time-poor gardener, I'm always looking for ways to spend less of my time pulling the weeds out of my garden and I know I'm not the only one. I'm always plucking the little nasties out when roaming around the garden or popping out for a bit of parsley or chives.
This method of "gap-filler" planting is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with growing things you have not tried before. I've found a few herbs in particular in this way, that have now made it into my annual list.
Remember that the less ground you have exposed to the elements, the better water retention you will have in your garden. Planting more requires less mulch and is a natural way to save precious water.
FLOWERS IN AMONGST THE VEGETABLES
Why not plant flowers in your vegetable garden? I used to believe this was wasting precious space where I could grow another crop of vegetables, but then I realised edible flowers were gaining in popularity, so why not try those. See our previous blog about edible flower varieties. What a great way to utilise all the space. Try viola, cornflower, calendula, nasturtium or borage. If you would like to search easily for edible flower varieties on our website, we have a category under flowers that lists some suggestions.
If eating flowers is not your thing, then you can plant flowers for other reasons. Bringing in the beneficial insects including the pollinators. Creating borders around your vegetables. Maintaining soil health.
Annuals are a good suggestion because you can clear them out when your summer crop is finished. Marigolds are always a great option for keeping the soil healthy around your vegetables. In a previous blog about Marigolds we discuss this further.
Ensure you consider the height you want these flowers to grow. My personal pick are the shorter varieties and we provide the approximate height of each variety in the information bar, both in our catalogue and on the website. Some of my favourites are Asperula Woodruff, Candytuft, dwarf Cornflower, Cosmos Kaleidoscope, Nemophila, Sanvitalia and Zinnia Soleado or Raspberry Lemonade. This year I thought I might try Stock Night Scented for a lovely fragrance and Corn Cockle and Linaria for a bit more height. It's lots of fun experimenting with all the different flower varieties when your garden is primarily reserved for precious vegetables.
The other bonus for planting flowers in your garden is that the colour and nectar attract bees and increases pollination. I always have a patch of Bergamot Bee Balm or Borage which keeps the bees and bumble-bees happy and fed but the addition of other gap filler flowers seems to improve the pollination process. I am very keen to do my bit for keeping those all important bees and other pollinating insects alive and healthy. Not having them in our world is too scary to consider, so this has become a priority consideration for me when choosing what to grow each year and all of the above meet that criteria.
Create a lovely border of flowers in your vegetable garden. Flower varieties that attract the beneficial insects will help to keep all the pests out of your garden, which in turn keeps your plants healthy, requiring less pesticide. A perfect option if you are growing organically and want to keep the bees alive. Some varieties that fall into the beneficial category are borage, dahlia, lavender, marigold, nasturtium, petunia and sunflower.
Not only does all that colour look great, it minimises where the weeds can put down roots. It also puts a smile on my face every time I head out to the garden to see such a kaleidoscope of colour. You could also consider keeping the colour palette to just one or two if that is your preference. In my herb garden I like to experiment with just one colour and a bit of white each year. I see the change of colour each year as repainting your outdoors room.
TURN IT AROUND
Swap this idea around and consider planting vegetables in your flower garden. I have seen corn growing against the fence in a flower garden. Now that's a good idea because the fence provides shelter and support for the corn. The other idea if you have fencing is to grow runner beans or peas at the back of a shallow flower garden. Or why not train your cucumbers up the fence on a bit of netting.
You may have noticed how the councils plant decorative cabbages or endives in their flower gardens? Why not do the same. Coloured lettuces is another great option. Or how about some of the stem broccoli? The range of herbs that have lovely flowers is endless so you could try Echinacea, Borage, Black Cumin, Calamint or Chamomile. The options are endless.
Here's hoping you have been inspired to try something new to fill up the gaps and enjoy. The warmer weather we are now experiencing is conducive to putting a few more seeds in, so happy planting.