Growing fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs brings the wholesome goodness of these tasty treats right to your table. Many of us don’t have time or space for a full-fledged vegetable garden and orchard but we can still incorporate our favorite edibles into existing gardens or containers on balconies, decks or patios.
Several culinary herbs are as attractive as they are flavorful. Consider the beauty and fragrance of lavender, rosemary and lemon thyme. Also striking in borders is the smoky, filigree foliage of bronze fennel, the pebbly-textured, aromatic foliage of sage in green, purple, tricolor or golden hues and the glossy purple foliage of Red Rubin or Purple Ruffles basil. Parsley and cilantro, so tasty in many recipes, make lovely clumps of finely-cut green foliage with interesting texture. Chives bearing fluffy purplish-pink flowers above grassy-looking foliage and garlic chives, sporting starbursts of white blooms in late summer, can provide lovely cut flowers as well as flavor to many dishes. Mints of many varieties are great in pots, keeping their spreading tendencies in check. All of these herbs look fabulous in pots or as deer-resistant accents in your gardens. Try a few pots of your favorite culinary herbs near your kitchen to snip as needed.
Vegetables can also be visually appealing. Plant a pot of colorful lettuces of lime green and red shades or add as edging to gardens. Rainbow chard bears bold foliage with strikingly colorful stems in pots or garden beds. Kale is a super nutritious and tasty vegetable with often ruffled or textured foliage in blue-green to red tones. Plant bold silver-leaved artichokes with architectural foliage as accents in a border. Add vertical interest by growing peas or pole beans up teepees of bamboo stales. Grow squash, cucumbers, pumpkins or melons over an arbor or trellised on a wall or fence. Determinate tomatoes can be kept smaller than indeterminate ones so are your best candidates for growing in pots if your space is limited. A pot with a paste tomato, your favorite pepper and basil could be the start of many tasty meals. A raised bed or galvanized feed trough can let you try all kinds of healthy fresh vegies. Check out square foot gardening in books or on line for lots of great ideas.
Fruit trees, pruned well, can be very attractive, bearing beautiful flowers in spring followed by delectable fruit in summer or fall. If space is limited consider espaliered fruits along a fence or wall. Columnar apples like Golden Sentinel, Scarlet Sentinel or Northpole form vertical accents in gardens or containers.
Blueberries are very ornamental, offering white or pink flowers in spring, followed by deliciously nutritious blue berries, stunning red fall foliage and colorful gold or red stems in winter. Many can be grown in containers, including the Brazelberry collection (Jellybean, Pink Icing, Peach Sorbet, Blueberry Glaze and their newest introduction, Perpetua, a shrub that bears once in summer and again in fall) Also in this collection is Raspberry Shortcake, a compact raspberry perfect for containers.
Think vertically, growing grapes or kiwi vines on an arbor, fence or trellis. Gooseberries, currants, goji berries, raspberries and blackberries bear abundant, tasty, nutritious fruit along a fence or trellised on a wall.
Strawberries, so sweet and good for you, are easily grown in pots, window boxes, raised beds or as ground cover in existing beds.
If you have sunny rooms or a sun room or greenhouse you can grow a wide array of sweetly fragrant citrus plants (lemons, limes, oranges, kumquats, etc.) in pots that move in during winter and out for the summer.
We all know fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and are such a big part of creating the most delicious meals. All of us can find a way to experience the delight of harvesting at least a few of our favorite edibles.