The gardens I knew as a kid had a definite boundary between vegetables and flowers. Each had its place and they never co-habitated.
But there are good reasons to grow flowers with your vegetables, chief among them attracting native bees and other beneficial insects. Without bees rummaging through your garden for pollen, your crops will be less than their potential.
Planting bee-friendly flowers near your vegetables supports struggling pollinator populations and biodiversity. You can also plant flowers specifically to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other desirable species.
Some flowers repel pests. Marigolds control nematodes in the soil that destroy the roots of melons, for example. Their pungent odor is repugnant to many undesirables in the garden.
Personally, I like to grow edible flowers. They make a splash in a salad or as a garnish for a gourmet meal. Besides the “veggie” edible flowers like broccoli and cauliflower, my favourites include Nasturtiums, violets (and pansies), sunflowers and roses.
by Shelley Goldbeck
Learn how to grow your own food, including edible flowers by attending Grow Food Calgary, starting on Earth Day, April 22. Register