Forget about neat rows and perfect plots, try ornamental vegetable gardening this year to add colour and interest to your garden. This can really make cooking for friends, family and kids a fun and sociable outdoor activity – ingredients picked fresh from the garden to the kitchen or barbecue!
Sometimes we’re so blinded by the necessity of vegetables – doting on them until we can reap our rewards in the kitchen – that we forget that there are lots of varieties that you can grow to add something different to your plate… or why not just plant them to look good amongst your bedding plants?
If you are starting from seed, stick to planting your seeds in rows so that there will be adequate spacing between your crops. Otherwise, you can plant in the greenhouse and split later once your saplings have grown or buy strips of ready to plant veg from our outdoor plant departments.
Companion planting is a method of arranging your flowers and crops so that they can benefit each other to maintain strong and healthy growth without the need for pesticides. Marigold have forever been seen in vegetable plots, but you can also try basil, garlic and nasturtiums for eco-friendly pest control – all of which are edible!* A mixture of strong smells and bright colours help to lure away and confuse unwanted beasties from your delicious plants, but they also benefit in tempting garden friendly bugs such as bees and ladybirds to help control mites and increase pollination.
Height and density are also qualities to consider. Think about how certain crops support each other by helping to protect from gusty winds and bright sunlight, or to create climbing support. Rainbow chard and purple kale can grow between more delicate crops and will flourish as you continue to cut them back through the season. Keep in mind that some colourful vegetables will need full light to encourage the best colour.
*Please be aware that inducing large quantities of edible plants can sometimes be toxic, click here for more information.