Hi! I’m Barb from A Life in Balance and Frugal Local Kitchen, mom to 5 kiddoes, avid gardener, writer, runner, and photographer. I’m really excited to be guest posting for Krystyna today, sharing my family’s plans for this year’s vegetable gardening which reflecting a change in philosophy and lifestyle. Over the course of 14 years, we have turned a significant portion of our side yard into a large vegetable garden consisting of 12 raised beds. We also have several beds in our other side yard along with fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and fruit vines. It’s a lot of work for me since my oldest son has other interests and my younger ones aren’t big enough to help with the more physical labor. With our oldest turning 5 this spring, my husband and I find ourselves tied down to garden maintenance when we would love to get our small brood out and about on day trips. Difficult as it was, we decided to reduce the size of our main vegetable garden by half. Still, I love growing vegetables and enjoying fresh, homegrown, organic vegetables year-round. I’ve decided to expand a strategy I’ve used in the past to fill in bare spots in our flower beds; I’m going to incorporate vegetable plantings into the beds. Money spent on annuals can be spent on plants that can feed our family even if it’s just for a few months in the summer.
Green Beans and Petunias Border Plants Many easy to grow vegetables make for great border plants. I’ve had great success growing bush beans, lettuce, and spinach. They grow quickly from seed, needing very little room to grow. If you look beyond the standard greens to purple and yellow beans, red leaf lettuce, radicchio, you can add visual interest to your border at the same time. Kale, Parsley and Daffodil Bulbs One to Two Foot Plants in the Middle Use peppers, Swiss Chard, broccoli, and kale to fill in spots in the middle of your beds. Make sure you can reach them from the edge of the bed when it’s time to harvest. You may want to stake the peppers since they will be closer to other plants in your flower bed. Depending on your winter, Swiss Chard and Kale may overwinter and provide a fresh harvest the following spring. Bush Pumpkins, Peppers, and Basil Taller Plants along the back Cherry tomatoes are one of my favorite vegetables to include at the back of a flower bed. I love the lacy look of the plants cascading over the side of a tomato cage. Be aware that cherry tomatoes falling on the ground are next year’s plants. Sunflowers are another great back of the bed plant especially if you have areas of your home you want to cover up like me. If you have a fence along the back of the bed, you may want to try grow cantaloupe or watermelon. Herbs Don’t forget to include herbs, annual and perennial. I have a rosemary bush anchoring one bed below a butterfly bush, and lavender plants scattered around the other beds. Basil works well as a border plant as long as you prune it carefully when harvesting. We have thyme planted under our grape vine arch to prevent weeds from growing around the bottom of the grapevine. The sky is the limit when it comes to including vegetables in your existing flower beds. Start with some easy to grow plants like green beans, lettuce, and peppers, and move to experimenting with tomatoes, cucumbers, and other more space-intensive plants.
Barb is a mom of 5 kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a 4 year old when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance or Frugal Local Kitchen.