Vegetable garden -v- flower garden

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

When I came to America in the mid-60's it was almost impossible to purchase organic vegetables, so I used what I learned as a child and grew my own.

Now that organic vegetables are available (albeit still not plentiful,) I'm thinking of turning my garden into a flowering showpiece!

Only problem: I know darn little about growing flowers or flowering shrubs!

Can anyone recommend some good books on flowering plants that will grow zone 7b?

Thanks ^_^

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I'm a big fan of Pamela Harper, who lives and gardens in Virginia. Though her books are older I rely on them.

http://www.amazon.com/Pamela-Harper/e/B001HCY93Y

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

A book that has come in real handy and I beleive every gardener should have is the Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening.

Original version
http://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-guide-gardening-updated-color/dp/0895778297

Updated version: http://www.amazon.com/Illustrated-Gardening-Editors-Readers-Digest/dp/0762102764

Most recent organic version
http://www.readersdigeststore.com/The-All-New-Illustrated-Guide-Gardening/dp/0762109998

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Are you planning on putting flowers in your vegetable garden? If so, I would keep ANNUAL flowers with ANNUAL veggies.

If you are going to do perennials, then you probably want to try and select things to stretch your bloom period over as much of the year as possible. When I was in South Carolina, azaleas were very popular - too popular in my opinion. A lot of yards didn't have anything going on once the azaleas were done. I preferred the crepe myrtle that bloomed in the summer when everything else was looking tired.

Now I am in Colorado and neither will grow here. Look around year round for ideas and Take your wish list to a good local nursery.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

The four heat waves last year, combined with the dive bombing crows attacking the tomatoes, along with the collapse of the mesh covered tomato room within the vegetable garden ended up with my husband, Jack, giving up the vegetable garden and it became mine (as though I needed one more!).

I had masons lift the straight path and now we have a nicely curved one. When it came to planting I moved all the Louisiana irises to the area so I could temporarily use up space without making a lot of wrong moves. I went slowly and bought one climbing rose (so it would be safe from the deer) and planted one clematis but have many others to move here. Then I divided some favorite plants that the deer would otherwise munch on and added some very basic annuals. A sweet friend sent lots of peonies. I planted dahlias for color August through October and added some Callicarpa for fall color and two shrubs, a viburnum and a coppertina. Then I added some Limelight and Quickfire hydrangeas.

My advice would be to haunt the nicest nurseries, see what appeals to you the most, take photos and notes. It's easy to rush the job but takes time to create something beautiful.

I do have red peppers, peas climbing one area, onions and shallots to fill space while the dahlias grow but they'll be harvested soon. Lettuce lined one bed and is now done. There are a few fennel plants because they have that airy look I enjoy and we do enjoy the fennel as well.

Going slowly, with some thought to color all or most of the year, seems the easiest on the gardener. You don't have to eliminate the idea of a few vegetables and some, like radishes, you'd be harvesting before the typical gardening season is in full gear, or spinach and the lettuce family.

Have fun and enjoy the job.

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Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

pirl - thanks for your input.

Your garden looks like what I have envisioned. Perennials, annuals, and vegetables all intertwined.

I've started a list of flowering plants/herbs that are also edible.

I'll probably add a couple more fruit trees to the fig, persimmon, and two pear that I already have.

I've always wanted to grow peonies, but fear they will not do well in this Carolina red clay.

pollengarden drobarr - do you have photos to share?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Yes, a potager! Why not?

It's much too easy to buy too much without a plan in mind no matter how long it takes. Going slowly is saving me from major mistakes. We do have a paperbark maple, a gift from a friend but I was hesitant to add anything that might overwhelm the area. I'm still hesitant to plant every spot just to be "done". That's of less interest to me than having it done right.

The only reason I keep the herbs out of this garden is because the deer won't bother them so they don't need the protection the area would give them.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Here are some pics:

http://davesgarden.com/showcase/images/user/drobarr

I prefer to compartmentalize...I dont have the talent to mix flowers with vegetables and so forth. I have dedicated areas for annuals and perennials and tree fruits, small fruits, vegetables etc. But this is just for simplicity and ease, particularly for controlling pests, fertilizing etc.

But I think its a great idea!


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

drobarr - I saw your garden in the "Garden Showcase" and thought how wonderful it looked! Now I know who to complement.

I was particularly intrigued as to how you enticed a pineapple to grow in a pot!

You must spend a lot of time in your garden, because I couldn't see a single weed.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Honeybee, I have a potager. Here's the plan, and here are some photos from various viewpoints.

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Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

drobarr, you definitely have a gorgeous garden! Thanks for the link!

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Thank you HoneybeeNC and greenhouse_gal. I don't really spend much time in the garden...just a few minutes a day and a couple hours each weekend mostly mowing the lawn. I use a thick layer of hardwood much most everywhere which does a good job suppressing the weeds and holding in the moisture. With the rain we have had up to now I havent had to water much this year...but yesterday and today it is quite hot.

The pineapple has been alot of fun. Started out from the top of a store bought pinapple I ate last year. Has to be in a pot because it cant tolerate temps much below 50. I bring it inside along with my lemon and olive tree in winter.

The hardy pomegranate 'Russian 26' survived last winter as well as the hardy banana 'Musa basjoo'. The brown Turkey fig I have had several years now.

greenhouse_gal...Thats quite a nice garden plan. I can tell you must have an art background.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

greenhouse_gal
Those are lovely pics it shows how much you love your garden. I really like that sign!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

GG - love your photos!

I see you have raspberries and blackberries.

I tried growing them in vegetable gardens before (not here in NC) but the underground runners became pests! Are there some that don't produce underground runners?

Blackberries grow wild along the greenway, but we rarely get any because the deer get up earlier than we do. LOL

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

drobarr - does your hardy banana 'Musa basjoo' produce edible bananas, or is an ornamental?

We used to grow bananas in our Florida garden. I miss our mango tree (sigh)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Thanks, people. The sign is newly refurbished using Sharpie oil-based paint markers, which is so much easier than acrylics and brushes. I hope it doesn't fade, although it's in the shade much of the time. I did notice that the red I used for my tomato tags is beginning to pale a bit.

And yes, I'm an artist. I do commissioned portraits and also paintings for my own enjoyment.

You can just see in the third photo that we have a stone wall which we put up to provide protection for our fig trees, which are marked in the garden plan. So far that's worked well and we're actually getting ripe figs by summer's end - a real pleasure.

I plant flowers at the end of each row by the brick path, shown in red on the plan. And also I put in a line of flowers along one of the rows between the brick path and the fig wall. A number of them volunteer as well; a few years ago I planted a row of Ferry Morse mixed flower seeds and got some beautiful blue larkspurs, which have volunteered since then, to my delight. Lots of zinnias and coral nymph salvias and California poppies come up by themselves, too; in fact I have to keep pulling the small coral nymphs out because I only want them in a few places and not taking over the garden, which they did last year.

We have a bench under a peach tree in the central patio in the garden, by the greenhouse, and we love to sit there and watch all the birds and dragonflies and butterflies visiting our plants. It's a real joy! Flowers and vegetables make a great combination.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

I do not know of any blackberries or raspberries or any brambles that dont have the underground runners. But it is possible to contain their roots. I use a flexible thin aluminum flashing http://www.homedepot.com/p/Amerimax-Home-Products-10-in-x-10-ft-Mill-Finish-Aluminum-Roll-Valley-68310/100054269

If you dig a trench about 10 inches deep and only a few inches wide all the way around where you are going to grow them or even after you have planted them you can contain their roots. I have them around my raspberries, balckberries, fig and horsetail rush. It allows me to grow raspberries right next to the blackberries without them mixing. The flashing can be left exposed or hidden slightly an inch or less under a layer of much. Works great!

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Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

The hardy banana 'Musa basjoo' does not produce edible bananas :( Even though it is hardy I do wrap it.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Great photos, drobarr and GG!

Amazing that you spend so little time in the garden actually working, drobarr, since it looks so perfect. Thank you so much for the aluminum flashing tip. I need it for the 20' row of raspberries we have outside the official garden.

We had a 20' row of blackberries, too, but their branches kept layering and growing in the nearby 12' x 12' asparagus garden so I removed them a few years ago.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

no problem pirl. They have the flashing in several different lengths and widths but I have found the 10" width is usually sufficient. They also make them out of vinyl but my preference is the aluminum and it doesnt rust. Its also great to keep roots from trees and shurbs from going into a vegetable or flower garden as well. They cut with a utility knife. Make sure to use gloves. Home Depot has a better selection than Lowes in my area. The flashing can be used alone or also can be fastened to a board as you see above in my raspberries.

North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

I would keep the veggie garden. Organic is very expensive and nothing beats fresh from the back yard.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Drobarr,
I saw a picture of your Meyer Lemon. I recently got one, and have no clue how to care for it.

Any tips would be most appreciated. It's in a 3.5 gallon pot on the edge of my patio under the cover. Right now, it has 4 small lemons that are turning yellow. I've been watering it frequently, and was told not to transplant it to a larger pot until January in my Zone 9a.

Should I fertilize it at all?

Thanks!

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Gymgirl,

If the lemons are very small and turning yellow they wont make it. Its normal for some to fall off but most lemon bushes are constantly flowering, have some fruit on them and are putting on some new leaves.

I would move your lemon to where it gets at least 6 hours of light per day..not necesarily direct sun but bright light would be good. Some direct sun would be good too as much as it can tolerate in a pot.

You want to keep it moist but not over watered. If it drys out to the point that it starts dropping leaves you know you arent watering it enough. Its imporatnt to not place a saucer to collect the water that drains out the bottom of the pot. Let the water run out. This is especially important if you are using tap water. Salts can accumulate so drainage is important. Some think that plants will do better and need to be watered less frequently with a suacer below...but its important to not let water accumulate that way for citrus.

Yes I would fertilize. I use Vigoro Citrus and Avocado Plant Food http://www.homedepot.com/p/Vigoro-3-5-lb-Citrus-and-Avocado-Plant-Food-133244/203105913 found at Home Depot every 2-3 months. I think it recomends about half a cup or so on the package.

I dont think you need to wait till January but would be better to transplant when temperatures cool down in the fall. Use some of this special citrus planting mix. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Miracle-Gro-Cactus-Palm-and-Citrus-Soil-73078300/100618799?keyword=citrus+soil

Hope that helps.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Bro Dro!

BTW,
What size container should I be shooting for, ultimately? I'm hoping to keep the Improved Meyer Lemon in a container. It's currently in a 3.5 gallon, tall pot.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

here's what size I have mine in:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_397475-18911-HHP1104B-16_4294730925__?productId=3831207&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1

In reality it only needs to be a little bigger than the current pot you have it in. Maybe a 5 gallon pot.

For long term you could consider a half barrel. The problem is the weight if you need to move it. The size I have now it fairly easy to move. Of course they sell those little wheels you can put under heavy pots.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I have a Meyer lemon, too. I don't have a photo handy -I will try to do photos this week.
I have it planted in "cactus mix". Outdoors summer I water it 1-2 times a week. Indoors winter I water it about every two weeks. I add dilute liquid fertilizer with trace minerals ("tiger bloom") about once per month. PS: this is fairly low water usage in Colorado - I rinse the leaves off more often than I water the roots.
It prefers temps 60 & up, and is prone to root disease at temps below 50. So I carry it indoors and out during Spring and Fall.
The first fall I set it in a south facing & didn't have supplemental light. It wasn't evergreen - The leaves changed color and fell off, I had more lemons than leaves. Then it didn't bloom well the next spring. It turned out to be insufficient light - it needs about 12 hours in the winter. This past winter I gave it 16 hours, which must have been too much because it bloomed too early this spring.

This message was edited Jul 16, 2013 6:14 PM

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

drobarr? Pa cools off-if it ever really gets hot. S Tx stays hot til Christmas. Citrus can turn yellow and still be green, like oranges. Wait til they almost fall into your hand to pick, But these were raised there and have prob been producing for a couple years in this pot. This is one I am trying to keep alive til we figure out where to plant it. One year the top froze on mine, so I've been retraining one of the other branches to go up. Last year the grasshoppers ate every leaf on the poor thing, but it still produced lemons and leafed back out as the weather cooled.

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Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Quote from Gymgirl :
Drobarr,
I saw a picture of your Meyer Lemon. I recently got one, and have no clue how to care for it.

Any tips would be most appreciated. It's in a 3.5 gallon pot on the edge of my patio under the cover. Right now, it has 4 small lemons that are turning yellow. I've been watering it frequently, and was told not to transplant it to a larger pot until January in my Zone 9a.

Should I fertilize it at all?

Thanks!


Gymgirl,
The ones turning yellow are full sized and reaching maturity? Or about thumb sized or smaller? I had the impression they were tiny ones. If they are small and turning yellow they will drop. And they may be dropping if they arent getting enough light. If they are large and turning yellow that is great!


This message was edited Jul 16, 2013 8:53 PM

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Pollengarden,
You are right cactus mix is good for citrus in a pot. The one from Miracle grow is good because it does hold water well and there isnt too much sand. Actually, if you want to use that soil mix for growing cacti you would want to add more sand to it. I also water mine about 1-2 times per week in summer and maybe once a week in winter inside the house.

Indoor lighting can be a difficulty in winter months. I have a south facing bay window where I keep mine and it gets min 10 hours of light a day which is enough to keep it going. Citrus are pretty hardy down to 32F or lower if its for short periods, but I bring mine in anytime the temps get below 40 or so and I havent had any problems. In Florida its not uncommon for temperatures to drop into the 20's in some citrus producing areas and when that happens some trees are killed or branches die. They sometimes will spray the trees with water to form a layer of ice around all the leaves and branches which act as a "jacket" againts temperatures below 32F.

Dilute liquid fertilizeres are good for pots, probably better than the granular products but has to be applied more frequently than granules .

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

Quote from kittriana :
drobarr? Pa cools off-if it ever really gets hot. S Tx stays hot til Christmas. Citrus can turn yellow and still be green, like oranges. Wait til they almost fall into your hand to pick, But these were raised there and have prob been producing for a couple years in this pot. This is one I am trying to keep alive til we figure out where to plant it. One year the top froze on mine, so I've been retraining one of the other branches to go up. Last year the grasshoppers ate every leaf on the poor thing, but it still produced lemons and leafed back out as the weather cooled.



kittriana,

I used to live in South East Texas! While I was a student at Texas A&M University, I did research in the rice frields near Beaumont to the east and over in Katy/Eagle Lake/El Campo areas to the west of Houston. The heat and humidity can be unbearable. I also lived in Florida and grew up in California so I have experience growing all types of citrus...just not in pots!

Thats a good looking little lemon bush. Thanks for showing the pics. Its amazing with the freeze and grasshoppers its come through as well as it has.

Good job!

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I did forget mine outside one night when it dropped down below freezing. It sulked a little but wasn't damaged. But from what I've read, the roots have problems fighting off disease (fungal disease?) when they are cold for prolonged periods. I would also assume they would have trouble taking up nutrients at colder temps.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

They do have, though Meyers do better than Ponderosas in containers, they are extremely forgiving otherwise, but mine have always bushed more than tree'd, chuckle, One I had did best planted on the southwestern edge of a huge ol oak tree as far as soil conditions, but didn't get the wind protection it needed in temps at 32* when I left, nor watered, sigh. And that was in Huntsville-118m north of Galveston! Yup, though Rice in B'mont/Orange is rare, and Katy area/Wharton is prairie & army corps of engineered 'reclaimed?' swamps. You must enjoy Pa- I can't say I am fond of the area unless around Altoona.

I can't imagine a flower garden without hiding veggies in them, will have to look up the word potager, my brain is a jumble tonite...

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

We are getting a little sidetracked from mixing flowers and veggies, but here is my Lemon tree, purchased spring 2011.
1) December 2011, not enough light sitting in front of South facing glass door
2) February 2013 - too much light. It is sitting outside the same door as pic 1 on a rare warm day. It is covered with blossoms and bees
3) July 2013 - this morning. Most of the fruit from the first bloom dropped. This is fruit from the second bloom. They started turning yellow just the past few days. Possibly too much water - or the water flushed out the nutrients and it is time to add trace minerals again.

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SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I just scored a perfect 21"w x 20d" pot for my Improved Meyer Lemon tree, 1/2 price at Sam's Club. It was the LAST one!

And, the coolest part was that I was only there to buy soup and juice for a co-worker who is so afraid of losing his job, he's working with bronchitis, and ear infection, and strep throat...

God is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!

I'll post a pic tonight!

Linda

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