Gardening

Another Reason Why I Grow Flowers with my Vegetables…

IMG_0037There’s no doubt that the best tasting tomato or pepper is the one you pick out of your own back yard.  Herbs from your own garden make food taste better than herbs from the grocery store.  Some people, myself included, are mixing in flowers with their veggies.  Why?IMG_3608

Once a new gardener has grown tomatoes and peppers, parsley or basil, they’re thoroughly hooked.  Usually the next thing to try is squash or cucumbers, which are usually either a bumper crop or a complete disaster.  The difference can be the weather (a good mix of sunny days and plenty of water works best) or the soil condition (mulch and natural fertilizers help, but if you add too much of a chemical fertilizer, you get leaves instead of fruits and vegetables, or you may burn/kill the plant).  But one of the major tricks a new gardener needs to know is Pollinators are our Friends!  antenna beautiful bloom blossom

Whenever I have just planted vegetables, the crop has been poor, but a little better when the roses were in bloom.  A few years ago, at our previous house,  I sowed a few packets of zinnia seeds along IMG_0048with the basil, parsley and dill I always planted, and the oregano, sage and thyme in pots, watering well, with lots of help from the clouds.  We had a bumper crop!  Every garden since, I’ve planted zinnias, never in early March as I plan, but by April they’re planted, attracting butterflies, bees and other pollinators, visiting the tiny flowers nearby and helping them turn into vegetables!

Some other plants that attract pollinators are cone flowers, lemon and garden balm, sage, black-eyed susan, mint, coreopsis and goldenwave.  Some states, including Georgia, and organizations have wildflower programs, distributing free seeds.

This year, I also planted a few dahlia bulbs, a perennial I had always wanted, which also attracted plenty of bees, butterflies and a couple of hummingbirds.  IMG_0050With the dahlia bulbs, I found an added benefit, pictured at the top of this page.  I took the longer-lasting bits from a grocery store bouquet, one I would have thrown out before, trimmed the stems shorter, added dahlia and zinnia from the garden, and very quickly I had a cost-free new arrangement for the week.  (The neighborhood deer do not consider dahlias or the bright caladiums as tasty snacks, another advantage to having them in my garden.)

http://www.dot.ga.gov/wildflower

A source for seeds:  Native American Seed, Junction, TX  http://www.seedsource.com

 

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