Create your own ornamental kitchen garden

Posted on: 11 January 2010 by Mark O'haire

Following in the footsteps of the Obamas, the Queen and the Prime Minister, planting a kitchen garden is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to start the New Year.

Fancy growing your own veg but want some pretty plants too? An ornamental kitchen garden gives you the best of both worlds…

Try to mix things up

Veg doesn’t have to be purely functional. Some varieties are easy on the eye and, provided the site suits all your plants, you can grow most ornamentals and vegetables side by side. Just ensure neither  overshadows the other.

Pave the way for style

For a classic look, use natural materials – ideally brick pavers – to form any necessary pathways. They will withstand wheelbarrow traffic and still look attractive.

Think outside the box

Choosing your bed edging can make all the difference. Box plants  can be neatly clipped to create a classic and stylish parterre look for your garden. That said, they also act like slug hotels so take care what you put next to them.

Pepper it with colour

Add colour, interest and height by putting good-looking veg like chillis, sweet peppers and tomatoes in decent-sized, attractive containers.

Cover all your bases

Some plants – vegetables in particular – benefit from a bit of extra protection. A classic Victorian-style lantern cloche works quite well but, for a less costly option, try out a bell cloche from Haxnicks.

Think of bright ideas

To attract beneficial insects to your garden, make sure you plant plenty of their favourite flowers – bright orange or yellow marigolds are quite stunning and help keep pests at bay, too. Mixed planting also makes crops less obvious to passing pests that would normally stop to feed on them.

Create a bit of buzz

Sunflowers can be a brilliant source of colour for any garden and also do a tremendous job of attracting bees. Not only that but their seeds make for a very healthy snack. If they’re not to your taste, just leave the flower-heads to fade and, as the seeds ripen, they’ll be consumed by some extremely happy birds.

Find a nice flavour

Herbs like well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight – so, if you place them in a planter full of suitable compost, they will thrive in your garden. Using coloured labels adds to the fun and helps the non-gardeners in your family pick the right ingredients for the dinner pot.

Take a pot shot

Terracotta pots and forcers not only look great, they also provide plenty of insulation and create the perfect, dark environment that forced crops need. And, as they look so good in the garden, you may even decide to leave them in after they’ve done their job for the year. However, snails do tend to move into them as winter approaches so, later in the year, clean them regularly.

Get glowing reports

Give your garden a distinct glow by introducing colourful plants, such as ornamental cabbages in cream, white, pink or purple – they look amazing, even in the depths of winter, but can be rather tough to eat.

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