Friday, 12 August 2011

Diversity through blossoms

by Francesca @ FuoriBorgo

flowers in my garden1

Do you grow flowers in your vegetable garden? I always vaguely meant to, but in the past, when spring came I was so busy planning my vegetable garden and sowing vegetables that I forgot all about the flowers.

But since moving my garden closer to the house (here) - one of the best gardening decisions I ever made - I've actually seen my garden more often, and now think of it more in terms of aesthetics, design and overall scope, and not just about what vegetables I want to grow there for my family.

I realized, in fact, that I was growing dissatisfied with the usual concept of the garden plot arranged in long, tidy rows of single crops. Instead, I became more and more attracted by the general principles of biodynamic agriculture and permaculture. And following these principles, since last year I've started to create a garden that's becoming a diverse little ecosystem, harmoniously integrated with the surrounding nature. As part of this strategy, I finally started planting flowers among the vegetables.

flowers in my garden

flowers in my garden

flowers in my garden

I started small, sowing one of three types of flowers: edible (it's a vegetable garden after all!), medicinal (you've got to love flowers with a purpose!) and purely ornamental (because flowers make me happy, and a happy gardener is the best kind of gardener, right?).

As edible flowers, I sowed borage, which grows in the wild around here. I planted it close to my tomatoes, green beans, and basil, because I'd read it's a good companion plant for these vegetables, which so far has proven correct, especially in the case of basil: my basil has never been so lush!

filling 7

Besides the cobalt blue edible flowers, which we add to salads (they make such a pretty addition to a green salad, here), we also harvest borage leaves, which make good cooking greens. Last year, I used both the borage flowers and the leaves to make "floral ravioli" (see here), a recipe that I whipped up as I went along, and which made me feel like a very creative Italian cook - if only for a day.

flowers in my garden

In the medicinal category, I choose Calendula. They're a little behind, still at the budding stage, which is actually fine, since I need a little time to research how they can be used - any suggestions?

flowers in my garden

And for the pure visual joy, I planted a variety of Dahlias in different shades of pink and purple. Yes, a harvest of flowers in my diverse and colorful garden makes me very happy indeed!


share braids

Don't forget to share your photos of onion and garlic braids (read my previous post here) by emailing them to me: fuoriborgo @ gmail dot com

Thank you!


Elizabeth said...

Calendular can be used for salve. I've just started some. Infuse the petals it in olive oil for two weeks in a sunny window, strain it and mix it with a little melted beesax and lavender essential oil (as preservative and it's calming scent) and you have made a salve. It's good for scrapes and burns. it's my first time making it and I will document the process when it's done.

Joyce said...

You garden is over flowing with abundance of TLC. xo

Francesca said...

Thanks Elizabeth - salve sounds just like the PERFECT answer, and we do have lots of olive oil around here :)

Sadge said...

I pluck, then dry my calendula petals before putting them in the olive oil, to prevent mold from forming. I'm laughing while reading your post - besides edible, medicinal, and ornamental, what other kinds of flowers are there?

Francesca said...

Thank you so much for the tip, Sadge!
About the different uses of flowers - I originally intended to grow flowers for natural dyes (I still want to do that at some point!), then I considered flowers for essential oil making ... but in the end, I started with what seemed more manageable for me at this moment in time!

Anonymous said...

That is the prettiest pasta I have ever seen. You are so creative. I'd want to frame it on the wall.

brenda from arkansas

Sadge said...

Cool, Francesca! I get to learn something today :-)

Cher said...

We just started growing edibles in our Rose Garden. My Rose's have never looked so good! With Onions and Garlic Growing near by and Cucumbers growing over the fence the bugs have stayed away and I only had to treat for bugs 1 Time! Not to mention it looks so pretty!

viggie said...

I went with all edible and medicinal flowers so as not to "waste" any growing space. Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Cockscomb, Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranth), Marigold, and Sunflowers so far.

Rachel said...

We have borage volunteering every year (sometimes not in the most convient spots - but we just adjust our plans!) and we always let the dill flower and go to seed. The borage attracts bees for my egg plants which would otherwise do nothing all summer and the dill attracts the most beautiful butterflies. Chamomile is new to our garden this year. We are looking forward to tea!

The best part is all of the new diversity in the yard. Now that it is not just tomatoes and grass, we've seen tons of bees, worms, katidids, grasshoppers, and even a praying mantis. The kids see something new each day.

Great post and pics!

Amy said...

Yes! I grow flowers in my vege garden because they are beautiful and functional. And I must admit that gardening brings out the planner and the random in me, all at the same time! A strange combination which results in the pouring over of seed catalogues for months on end, but then plants being popped in wherever there is a gap come spring time! Borage and calendula now self-seed themselves and spare me having to do any work at all. Amy