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Alabama Gardener

Alabama Gardener
February 21, 2022 |

The combination of inflation and supply chain issues makes growing vegetables and herbs at home attractive these days. Luckily, most of us can prepare a spot in the backyard to tend as time and weather allow or put containers in sunny spots on a deck.

For those who live in developments where covenants address concerns about the look of a vegetable garden, growing food requires more thought. It’s important to grow herbs and vegetables in attractive ways. This could mean mixing them into the landscape so they blend naturally into a flower bed. For example, a basic snacking pepper or chili pepper with handsome green foliage and colorful fruit can be just as attractive in a flower border as flower color. Some pepper plants are sold as ornamentals.

Another example includes parsley as a handsome green contrast for pansies or marigolds; lettuce or kale fit the bill, too. You can also enjoy snips of foliage or flowers from a clump of colorful chives with its lavender spring blooms and nearly evergreen foliage. Mint may be used as a ground cover in shade or as a green filler in containers. Rosemary is a woody ornamental in central and south Alabama in the ground or in containers.

You get the idea. Carefully placed and tended vegetable and herb plants can be just as attractive as ornamentals and easily blend with flowers and shrubs. Before applying pest or weed suppressants, make sure they are safe to be used on all plants in the area — edible and ornamental. 

If building raised beds in the backyard, it’s also possible to screen the area from the street with evergreens. Some gardeners screen their raised bed garden from view of the house, too. Some vegetables have down times near the end of production, so grooming is important to keep a garden looking tidy. You can also grow herbs and vegetables within an evergreen shrub outline of a parterre garden.

Another possible component of growing herbs and vegetables at home is to grow them in ornamental containers. A shallow, wide bowl or iron hay basket planter is perfect for lettuce plants. Compact tomato plants may be mixed with flowers and green basil in a large, ornamental container. Peppers and eggplant are also perfect for containers. Garden designer Pamela Crawford of Big Canoe, Georgia, suggests growing vertically to maximize space. In her book, “Easy Patio Veggies and Herbs,” Crawford offers first-hand experience creating attractive combinations. The book includes practical details about variety selection and yield that can help new gardeners choose the most productive varieties.

By thinking about vegetable and herb plants for their individual beauty, these plants may suddenly become more adaptable to multiple places in a landscape. 

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