The flowers in the garden with the names

Date: 22.09.2018, 13:20 / View: 71394

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can reduce pest problems and improve biodiversity. Here are the six best flowers to grow for healthy garden crops.

Flowers in the vegetable garden can reduce pest problems and improve biodiversity. Here are the six best flowers to grow for healthy garden crops.

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Why Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden?

Many experts encourage gardeners to plant a border of flowers around the perimeter of the garden. I do this, too, but I also encourage you to plant the following flowers among the crops. This can attract beneficial insects directly to where they're needed.

That's because in the permaculture garden, this practice is integrates different aspects of the garden to make the overall ecosystem more biodiverse, efficient, and low maintenance. This integration increases the chance that beneficial insects will locate pests on your crops and keep things in balance.

Read more about permaculture.

Further, it's not only the above-ground pests that flowers can help with. Flowers also help to maintain a healthy garden ecology by holding the soil in place (less erosion) and by feeding the beneficial soil organisms when their roots die back. (See: 5 Ways to Prevent Soil Erosion).

 How to Use Flowers in the Vegetable Garden

I use annual flowers in the vegetable garden. Although many annual flowers self-seed in following years, each year they can be sown anew within the garden wherever it makes the most sense for that particular year's arrangement of crops.

Rows of flowers can be alternated with rows of vegetables, or sown every couple of rows. Sprinkle flower seeds in the spring when the rest of the garden is being planted. Flowers used in this way are considered a living mulch. Read more about using living mulches in the permaculture garden.

How you alternate your flowers and vegetables depends on many things such as the size of the bed, crop selection, and the types of flowers you choose. The height of the crops and the flowers, as well as sun exposure all play a part.

In a 3-foot-wide garden bed, there are typically three rows of crops. Here are some examples for a bed with the long side facing south (northern hemisphere):

Example 1: Tomatoes are grown as the tallest crop in a bed. To do this, plant tomatoes along the north side of the bed, with medium-height flowers in the middle, and a shorter crop, like carrots, in the southern-most row.

Example 2: Lettuce is the primary crop of a bed. Plant lettuce in the middle row, with shorter flowers in the southern-most row, and a taller or similarly sized crop behind it on the north side, such as radishes. Or, plant taller flowers behind it on the north side, with a similarly sized crop in front of it on the south side, such as onions.

The 6 Best Flowers in the Vegetable Garden

Although there are quite a few flowers that can benefit the vegetable garden, the following are my favorites because they are annuals, which means that I can rearrange them every year to correspond with the crops I intend to grow.

All of these flowers work well in the edible landscape, too. Get more edible landscaping tips here!

These selections are also especially good at:

attracting beneficial insects holding the soil in place

They are edible and aren't too tall.

I reserve tall flowers and perennial flowers for the outskirts of the garden, which I do not cover in this article. See: How to Grow Perennial Sunflowers.

Wanna know what weeds I let grow in my garden? See my article 5 Weeds You Want in your Garden.

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can improve biodiversity and reduce the incidence of pests. There are plenty of flowers that can be planted throughout the vegetable garden, but here are my six favorite flowers chosen for their ability to support vegetable crops.

calendula growing with carrots and lettuce

1. Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)

Calendula might just be my favorite annual flower to grow in the vegetable garden, but don't tell the other flowers!

This annual herb with a cheerful, yellow daisy-like flower can grow 18-24 inches tall. It exudes a sticky sap that traps pests like aphids and whiteflies, and keeps them off of nearby crops.

It distance many types of pollinators and beneficial insects like ladybugs, hoverflies, and green lacewings who enjoy not only the flower nectar, but also the buffet of their favorite pests.

Calendula can even be grown like a crop cover over the winter to hold the soil in place.

For more information about calendula, see my article 7 Reasons to Grow Calendula or buy calendula seeds.

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can improve biodiversity and reduce the incidence of pests. There are plenty of flowers that can be planted throughout the vegetable garden, but here are my six favorite flowers chosen for their ability to support vegetable crops.

California poppies

2. California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

I recently planted perennial flowers in the front yard flower garden that were going to take a year to establish and develop flowers. In the interim, I sowed California poppy in the empty spaces of the bed because it is quick to bloom.

I was fascinated by the deep roots of this plant that mine the clay soil and soften it, as well as the bright yellow flowers that tell you when it's going to rain by closing up. (They also close up at night).

The lacy foliage is a favorite of beneficial insects.

For all of these reasons, I started sowing it in my vegetable garden and enjoyed the beauty and healthy vegetable harvests.

It will grow to about 12 inches.

Buy California poppy seeds.

6 Flowers to Plant in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can improve biodiversity and reduce the incidence of pests. There are plenty of flowers that can be planted throughout the vegetable garden, but here are my six favorite flowers chosen for their ability to support vegetable crops.

chamomile in the vegetable garden

Photo by Dana via Flickr

3. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla or Matricaria recutita)

These cute-as-a-button dainty flowers with their lacy foliage attract pollinators and beneficial insects.

Growing to about 12 inches, chamomile is a prairie plant that has deep roots which dredge up nutrients. When the season is finished, cut the plant back to allow the nutrient-rich plant matter to fertilize the soil.

Buy Chamomile seeds.

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can improve biodiversity and reduce the incidence of pests. There are plenty of flowers that can be planted throughout the vegetable garden, but here are my six favorite flowers chosen for their ability to support vegetable crops.

Flowering cilantro shown here growing in the strawberry bed.

Would you like to learn more about using flowers in the vegetable garden to improve biodiversity, reduce maintenance, and increase yield?

You'll find loads of information just like this in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.

The Suburban Micro-Farm Book

4. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

It seems everyone has a strong opinion about this herb—you either love it or hate it.

Whether or not you enjoy eating cilantro, it can still be a useful herb in the garden. That's because its strong scent will actually repel pests.

As a member of the carrot family, its roots reach deep into the soil, loosening as it goes (nature's tilling a free service!). Read more about the no-till garden here. Also as a member of the carrot family, the flower and lacy foliage attract a wide number of beneficial insects.

Cilantro/Coriander will grow to two feet tall. Although this is at the tall end of flowers for the vegetable garden, I find that its upright growth habit allows sunlight to get through to shorter crops around it.

Buy cilantro seeds.

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can improve biodiversity and reduce the incidence of pests. There are plenty of flowers that can be planted throughout the vegetable garden, but here are my six favorite flowers chosen for their ability to support vegetable crops.

Yellow nasturtiums growing trellised with sweet potatoes

5. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Nasturtium is an annual plant that has peppery leaves and flowers. Giving off a strong scent, it repels pests.

Its dense, low growing habit (12-18 inches) makes it an excellent living mulch as it covers the soil underneath crops, and feeds the soil as it dies back.

The showy flowers and foliage are a favorite in the edible landscape.

Buy nasturtium seeds.

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can improve biodiversity and reduce the incidence of pests. There are plenty of flowers that can be planted throughout the vegetable garden, but here are my six favorite flowers chosen for their ability to support vegetable crops.

Sweet alyssum growing with Swiss chard

6. Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Sweet alyssum is a low-growing plant that is popularly grown in the landscape borders. It has a pleasant scent.

Although there are many colors to choose from, the white flowers attract the most beneficial insects. I have never seen so many hoverflies as when I've planted sweet alyssum in the garden.

It is effective as a living mulch because its shallow roots hold the soil in place.

My favorite way to grow it is in the edible landscape with Swiss chard. Find out more about this winning combination edible landscape!

Buy sweet alyssum seeds.

What to do at the end of the garden season?

Using flowers in the vegetable garden is a really great idea, but you might be wondering how to clean up your garden beds at the end of the season. For one thing, you can improve the ecology of your garden by leaving the roots of the flower plants intact. Cut them at the base when you're cleaning up your garden at the end of the season, instead of pulling the spent plants.

The plant matter can be chopped and dropped in place to act as a mulch. Roots left intact will decay and feed the soil life, becoming rich soil. For more soil improvement ideas, see these articles:

The Following Spring

The following spring, these old roots may still be present when you go to plant. No worries, simply adjust your planting a little to the left or right to avoid the root. Your row might not be the straightest line, but the plants sown directly next to the old root will reap the benefits of the biological activity and richness of the decaying root.

Need more ideas for growing a permaculture garden?

READ NEXT:

Do you grow flowers in the vegetable garden? What are your favorites?

6 Flowers to Grow in the Vegetable Garden: Flowers in the vegetable garden can reduce pest problems and improve biodiversity. Here are the six best flowers to grow for healthy garden crops. #gardening