Integrating vegetables and herbs in your garden means a visually interesting, edible landscape all year round. ‘The easiest way to do this in an existing garden is to use the available vertical spaces,’ says Jane Griffiths of Jane’s Delicious Garden.
‘A pool fence or an unused sunbaked trellis can support any plants from beans and granadillas to cherry tomatoes,’ she says. Jane suggests combining existing climbers, such as roses on an arch, with a vegetable variety. ‘Beans will happily scramble through the roses to get to the sun and when your vegetable crop is over the roses will just be coming into bloom again.’
Jane advises planting perennial vegetables in existing flowerbeds, especially sculptural varieties such as artichokes, which are both beautiful and edible. ‘Perennial herbs such as lavender, rosemary and oreganum work well too. Consider each plant’s watering requirements so don’t plant a thirsty lettuce next to succulents.’
When choosing vegetables look for interesting heirloom varieties such as purple broccoli or red cabbage. ‘These are pure edible beauty. They’re open pollinated rather than hybrids and, by incorporating these in your beds, you’re keeping alive a long tradition of seed keeping,’ she says.
Many herbs have beautiful flowers, so opt for dill and fennel instead of Queen Anne’s lace. ‘I’d also include plenty of edible flowers such as day lilies or violets. It goes without saying that you’ll need to avoid any form of chemical fertiliser,’ says Jane.