Top Tips for Planting Vegetables in a Landscape Garden
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a sustainable and cost-effective way of reducing your food bills, but how do you combine this with a beautiful garden? Compass Garden and Landscape Design provide a planting consultancy service in Tetbury and other parts of Gloucestershire, as well as across the entire southwest of England. Here we provide some top tips on the subject.
Vegetable or Edible Landscaping
Vegetable landscaping is not a modern phenomenon, being commonplace in monastic gardens dating back to Mediaeval times. Here flowers were grown together with medicinal herbs and vegetables. The monks also had orchards and sometimes vineyards, which helped the monasteries to be self-sufficient.
The bleak economic outlook today means that this type of garden is coming back into fashion under the term ‘edible landscaping’. This means you don’t need to have a separate vegetable patch (which can stick out like the proverbial sore thumb), but can combine flowers, fruit and veg together in a seamless and beautiful way.
So how do you know which plants go well with which vegetables? Firstly, you will need to learn a little about so-called companion planting, which involves planting two different species together for a natural benefit.
For instance, some plants produce chemicals from their foliage, leaves or roots that can help protect other species. Horse radishes exude such a substance, which protects potatoes from root diseases.
Some plants are so-called ‘nitrogen fixers’. For example, plants and trees in the legume family, which includes many peas and beans, have root nodules which provide a home for rhizobium bacteria. These bacteria take nitrogen from the air and fix it into a form that the plant can use as fertiliser, which benefits neighbouring plants too.
Several herbs make good companion plants because of their scent. This is because the smell can put off or confuse potential predators or pests. For instance, French marigolds can deter whitefly from attacking nearby tomato plants, while thyme’s scent can discourage blackfly from damaging nearby rose bushes.
Sometimes companion plants can be mixed and matched due to their appearance as well as their smell. This is because some pests identify their target species by the physical outline of the plant which can be masked by a similarly-shaped pest-repellent species.
Stacking can also be effective. This is when taller growing plants that need more sun provide supportive cover for lower growing understorey plants that need more shade.
Not All Plants Make Good Companions
Just as there are plants that grow well together, there are also combinations that will have negative effects on each other.
Some plants are believed to have allelopathic properties, which means they release chemicals that inhibit the growth of others growing nearby. For example, walnut trees are believed particulary bad offenders and should therefore be planted well away from any other species.
Anecdotally, there are other examples too. You shouldn’t mix garlic and onions with beans and peas, and mint or onions with asparagus. Additionally, according to experts, cucumbers, squashes, radishes, sunflowers and tomatoes shouldn’t be mixed with potatoes.
It Can be Flowers or Fruit and Veg
It doesn’t have to be a mix of plants, fruit and veg (although most companion planting takes place in the vegetable patch) – you can also mix up your flowers in the same bed. Again the trick is knowing what goes well with what, what their flowering seasons are, along with their soil and climate preferences.
For instance, if colour is the primary concern, then bright pink roses make a stunning counterpoint for purplish-blue irises. If your garden doesn’t get much sun, then ferns combine well in borders with other shade-loving plants such as hostas, caladiums and astilbes to create a lush display of foliage.
Planting Consultancy in Tetbury from Compass Garden and Landscape Design
This is where professional landscape garden designers like Compass Garden and Landscape Design come into their own. We can give garden advice to customers in Bath, Bristol and across the south-west.
We provide a comprehensive landscape design service, so we can design your garden from scratch to get the maximum benefit from all of your plants. If you would like to know more, you can contact us by clicking on this link and filling in the online form. Alternatively, you can call us directly on 07920 051549.