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Semi-ornamental edibles...

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Fat Controller, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. Fat Controller

    Fat Controller Cuddly 'NEW SHED' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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    Not being as able to keep up with all the annual flowers as well as general garden maintenance, I have arrived at the conclusion that I need to have a different approach next year.
    Admittedly, we were late starting this year, mostly due to replacing the shed, but I think the simple truth is that I work a hell of a lot slower than I used to and that knocks on into overwhelming me. Even our tomatoes and cucumbers were a complete disaster this year. Coupled with the fact that we never really sit and look at the flowers at the back end of the garden, leads me to wonder if I am putting too much upon ourselves for too little return (I haven't worded that as well as I might have, but hope you can get my meaning?)

    During our visit to Beaulieu a few weeks ago, we spent some time in their gardens, and noted that they had a lot of edibles (being grown for the estate kitchens) that could also be considered ornamental to a degree.

    So, all of that considered, I am thinking of turning a couple of borders over to some sort of edibles.

    We have a sunny border (maybe 10ft x 3ft) that has some recurring stuff, but can be planted around. I did direct sow some calendula, crysanthemum and nasturtium this year and not one of them did anything (the nasturtium being a particular surprise). I did, however, lob some butternut squash seedlings in there out of disgust with myself that I hadn't planted them on in time for them to come to anything (thinking they would at least give me some greenery), and they have gone utterly rampant! If I had planted them much earlier, I probably would have had some success with them.

    So, I am looking for suggestions for edibles that I can plant in amongst flowers, that may also have some ornamental value. Height of plant is not an issue (so sweetcorn etc is potentially in), but I would prefer stuff that I can store/freeze/preserve and use through the winter also.
     
  2. longk

    longk Total Gardener

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    Salvia officinalis (culinary sage).............
    [​IMG]Salvia officinalis by longk48, on Flickr

    [​IMG]Salvia officinalis by longk48, on Flickr

    Nigella (for the seeds which are great for all manner of dishes).............
    [​IMG]Nigella by longk48, on Flickr

    If you're prepared to try Butternut squash (which always produce nowt of significance for me) you could replace them with one of the round fruited courgette varieties which I find prolific.
    Swiss chard.
    Broad bean alongside nasturtium (which keep the beans blackfly free and are also edible).
    Amaranthus (a spinach substitute). Grow the red forms as it self seeds and the seedlings are easier to identify.
     
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    • Fat Controller

      Fat Controller Cuddly 'NEW SHED' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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      Ooh, nigella! That looks good. I have tried broad beans in the past with no success, but I thought that was caterpillars that had done for them, never thought of blackly.

      I like the look of the Salvia officianalis too, but wonder if they might be happier in one of my large tubs?

      Thanks @longk
       
    • Sandy Ground

      Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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      @Fat Controller you brought back a memory for me....Back when we moved into this house, the vast majority of the garden was used for growing edibles. Like you are finding now, even if in your case its flowers and not fruits, it was just too much to do. We couldnt keep up.

      So, to add to the suggestions. An old fashioned thing is to use strawberries as edging plants. First the flowers, then the fruits add a bit of colour. If height is not a problem, try a couple of Aronia bushes. Their berries are classed nowadays as "super berries" as they contain a lot of vitamins. The leaves turn a glorious red in Autumn also. Very colourful.

      If you go the strawberry/aronia route, then its easy enough to make a kind of tart from them. you'll be surprised at the positive effects of it.
       
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      • ricky101

        ricky101 Total Gardener

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        Hi FC,

        Depends on your definition of semi-ornamental, but our #1 choice would be runner beans.

        The ideal tall plant to cover any not so nice fence or structure and apart from snail protection with copper tape during its first few inches of growth, it can be left to itself , yet reward with loads of beans though out summer+, still picking ours today.

        Can be a compact wigwam of canes or a row to make picking easier.

        4-6 plants will keep 2 folk in good fresh supply plus plenty over to blanch for 1 minute then freeze for the winter months.
         
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        • Fat Controller

          Fat Controller Cuddly 'NEW SHED' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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          @Sandy Ground - much as I love strawberries, we have to keep our up as we have a dog who would either pee on them or nick them. In fact we have squirrels that are equally adept at nicking stuff...

          I do like the sound of the Aronia though.

          I might try runners again @ricky101, but for some reason we don't seem to have a lot of luck with them - in fact most beans and peas seem to come to grief in our hands (I have never had any success with sweet peas either!)
           
        • Marley Farley

          Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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          Get some super fruit bushes going then @Fat Controller ..Adonis or Choke berries are great,
          I also have a thornless BlackBerry
          2 Blueberry,
          1 Honey-berry which is a Honeyysuckle with yummy edible berries Lonicera cearulea kamtschatica,
          1 A Goji berry bush..
          Mulberry tree.
          You could also put an Artichoke in there as they are a bit smaller than a Cardoon...
          You could put some Patio fruit trees in as well..
          All these are very low maintenance as well...
          I just sow herb seeds in spaces in between.. Wotcha think.?
           
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          • Sandy Ground

            Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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            One I forgot, often grown here as an ornamental plant... Quince. Cant remember the variety of the one in the photo though...

            DSCN2830.JPG
             
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            • Steve R

              Steve R Soil Furtler

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              As Longk mentioned, Swiss Chard is both beautiful to view and eat, variety "Bright Lights"

              [​IMG]

              Dot these easy to grow plants through the beds and you have instant "lift", They are cut and come again so excellent value.

              Cavalo nero can be interesting to view also..so would go well in a mixed border. And they are a delicacy.

              [​IMG]

              Sweetcorn are a given due to being statuesque and delicious!

              Leeks and spring onions can be dotted about to for a change of texture/look/feel..and taste!

              Lettuce "Freckles" is an interesting leaf along with Mizuna.

              There is so much you can do with borders and edibles to make them look good..its simply endless.

              If you can find it, look at Geoff Hamiltons "Ornamental Kitchen Garden" I think it is called.

              Steve...:)
               
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              • Fat Controller

                Fat Controller Cuddly 'NEW SHED' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                Ooh, now I like cavalo nero, so that is a definite one to try. I've grown leeks with some success in the past too, although never been just as successful with spring onions.

                I will have a look on Amazon/Music Magpie for that book, as they often have used ones - thanks :)
                 
              • noisette47

                noisette47 Total Gardener

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                Not sure how this suggestion will be received but here goes ;):biggrin: We struggled to grow runner beans in Northants, but found French climbing beans much easier and more prolific. There are green, purple and yellow varieties, as well as green and yellow 'flat' types...all stringless and quite decorative :)
                 
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                • Fat Controller

                  Fat Controller Cuddly 'NEW SHED' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                  All suggestions gratefully received :) - Can you remember what type of soil it was in Northants @noisette47? I am on a clay type here, but have also tried them in pots/planters/barrels of compost with little success. They might do well up the seven foot fence that is at the back of the border, assuming I give them something to climb up - do they freeze well? :)
                   
                • noisette47

                  noisette47 Total Gardener

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                  Yep, clay there too. A row of canes with a 'crossbar' along the top, tied in to the fence, or a trellis, or even large-mesh chicken-wire would all be OK for support.
                  Yes, they freeze well, although once I filled three big upright freezers, I had to go over to bottling :biggrin:. Will have a look in the seed box tomorrow and if I've got some decent seeds, I'll send you some.
                   
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                  • Fat Controller

                    Fat Controller Cuddly 'NEW SHED' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                    Bottling? Is that pickled or in brine?

                    Thanks, but only if you have some to spare :) I am only at the ideas stage at the moment.
                     
                  • noisette47

                    noisette47 Total Gardener

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                    Moaning I went through a phase of bottling and sterilising all the surplus fruit & veg. Some things work better than others but it's never the same as fresh. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are particularly horrible
                     
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