Monday, February 27, 2012

Blended Gardens

My raised beds are surrounded by all kinds of irises, red twig dogwoods, mint, primroses, lovage, fennel, yarrow, gladiolus, chives, and more! They are one big happy family.

Day 40
The Daily DuBrule

Wednesday night I am speaking at Elizabeth Park on blended gardens. Another name for this is "edible landscaping" but that sounds too formal to me. I have been gardening this way for many years. It wasn't a plan that I implemented. It is a style I developed. 

I lived for over 15 years in a beach community where I had almost no sunny garden beds. Water was scarce and so was soil- I essentially live on rock ledge. I couldn't grow much in the way of food except a few greens and herbs. 
I love my new yard because it is open and sunny. It used to be a turkey farm many years ago. The soil is fertile, thick, and rich. Except for poor drainage, which I deal with by having 14 raised beds, it is an ideal food growing environment. BUT I just can't grow food. No way. Too plain. Too easy. I MUST mix it up. 

There are many reasons why this is such a good idea. First of all, it encourages lots of beneficial insects. It offers nectar flowers for them and for butterflies. It fools the bugs a bit, unlike acres of the same crop which is like an enormous bullseye target. It is much more fun to garden this way. I can ramble around, munching on food, picking and rubbing and smelling herbs, picking flowers for bouquets. It's just the way I like it.

Morning glories ramble through my asparagus patch.
Gardening this way should be the easiest thing you will ever do. The only rule is put things together that grow at about the same rate and take the same conditions. Weave in annuals and biennials and tender bulbs to your heart's content. Play. Have fun. Don't take the "design" of it too seriously. If you have a small yard, or only a deck or patio, mix it up in your containers. Nasturtiums underplanting butterfly bushes. Parsley at the base of tropical hibiscus plants. Windowboxes of lettuce and pansies. You get the idea. The barriers between whether something can be eaten or not really doesn't matter any more. Just grow plants. All kinds of plants. And have fun doing it.

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