Add Some Color to Your Garden

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Iris and Blue Bells

This year I’ve decided to try some flowers in my vegetable garden. Why not? While I usually include some marigolds here and there to add a bit of color to an otherwise green palette, I’ll be trying a few other varieties this time around; Cosmos, Calendula, Bachelor’s Buttons, and Zinnias (all from Ferry-Morse).

Aside from adding interest to the vegetable garden, some flowers are excellent for attracting beneficial insects and pollinators. Pollinators (like bees) are essential for the development of fruit in zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. And who wouldn’t like some help in fending off Aphids, Mexican Bean Beetles, and Colorado Potato Beetles?

I’m also hoping to use this experiment to get some experience with cut flowers. Why only harvest fruits and veggies? Wouldn’t it be nice to bring some of the outdoors in, and fill your home with fresh, summer flowers, without having to pay an arm and a leg? (This should also go over well with the missus).

The varieties that I chose are considered beginner-friendly, I think. They can be direct sown outdoors at about the same time you would sow zucchini, squash, and cucumbers or transplant tomatoes and peppers. All, but the Cosmos (which will about 36″), should be about 12-24″ at maturity, so they probably won’t need much additional support. I don’t anticipate many major problems with these, aside from possible foliar diseases, if moisture isn’t properly controlled.

Growing these flowers is just the beginning, however. While you can simply leave them in the garden and enjoy them while you work, you can also harvest them for use in arrangements, but there are a few things to consider:

1.) Each flower has an ideal harvest time. Some should be harvested at the bud stage, while others should be harvested just before they fully open.

2.) Flowers should be cut early in the morning or in late afternoon/evening and immediately placed in a bucket of warm water.

3.) After you bring them inside, re-cut the stems at an angle, under water, and add some floral preservative. Let them sit and soak up the mixture for a while before arranging them.

These are just the basics. If you want a more detailed guide to harvesting cut flowers, check out this article.

I’ll be providing some updates and pictures throughout the summer on this little project. Let me know if you decide to experiment with flowers this year and what your results are!

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