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Garden Lifestyle

Growing Beautiful Food

Think of growing beautiful food as foreplay to dinner.

  • If you're growing food anyway, why not make it beautiful, too?   Photo by Jasmine&Roses under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
  • Does kohlrabi look incredibly cool (or is it just me)?   Photo by thebittenword under the Creative Commonms Attribution License 2.0.
  • 'Dragon Tongue' beans not only look awesome, but have fantastic flavor.   Photo by rubber slippers under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

While I have you sitting around with garden catalogs planning and creating next season’s vegetable garden, I’d like to remind you that there’s nothing wrong with making it lovely. Functional doesn’t need to exclude beautiful. While I enjoy planting for my sense of taste, smell, or my stomach, I prefer not to leave out one of my favorite senses: sight.

I’m not exactly unique in planting for the eyes, there are some gifted landscape designers out there that blow away any design I can draft up. Still, even if you have a small veggie garden you can make it a beautiful sight before it ends up on your dinner plate.

This is an especially nice idea if you have decided to say, turn the front lawn into a vegetable garden. Ideally, you’d like your garden-on-the-lawn to be a good steward for front yard gardens. I find that people are interested enough to come over and at least see what your front-yard (or back yard) garden is about and when it looks interesting and inviting, more people want to give it a shot themselves.

Make Your Vegetable Garden Beautiful

I know it’s very un-pc to talk about growing things in rows – practically blasphemous because it sounds stuffy. But there’s visual value in cleverly using rows. For me they give me some structure to work with. For instance, if you plant in running rows away from the house, it draws the eye out; making the garden appear longer.

Try planting in long curving rows alternating between veggies like chard, green onion, lettuce, and cabbage and companion flowers such as marigolds or coreopsis. This also lengthens the appearance of a border. The different textured of plant leaves and fruit becomes more pronounced when several of the same variety of plant are grown next to one another instead of completely interspersed.

Growing vertically, is always a tremendous visual impact – it changes everything about a landscape. Plus there are plenty of veggies you can train up things such as runner beans, small pumpkins (and other squashes), cucumbers, tomatoes, and peas (inter-planted with sweet peas). This also makes great use of small garden space.

Last, think about trying some different varieties of some of the usual suspects like some purple-striped ‘Dragon’s Tongue’ beans or red cabbage. And by “red”, I mean a gorgeous dusky purple. Don’t forget the unusual-looking veggies like kohlrabi or tomatillos.

Think of growing beautiful food as foreplay to dinner. I know that when I see colorful, healthy and different varieties in a vegetable garden, I can’t wait to get them into the room-of-romance; my kitchen.

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