Don’t Banish Those Veggies To The Backyard!

     Have you ever thought, “I’d love to have a vegetable garden, but I just don’t have the room”?  Well, it’s time to think outside the box a little…

    When most people think about adding a vegetable garden to their homes, they turn their attention to the backyard in search of an out-of-the-way place where they can eek out a few square feet for a bed of tomatoes and squash.  Well, I don’t know when or why vegetables got banished and forced to live like lepers in their own separate colonies, but I’m here to tell ya that there’s more than one place to plant a tomato…or squash…or lettuce…or [insert vegetable of choice]!

     Have you ever thought about planting some veggies out amongst the shrubbery, roses, perennials, and annuals in your existing front, side, and backyard flower beds?  …”How daring!” you might think, or “How unexpected!”, or even “How absurd!”  “Everyone knows that front yards are for flowers and vegetables go way out in the back!”  Well, I don’t know the person who made up this rule, or the ogre who now says that we are bound to follow it, but I’ve never seen a single law enforcement officer arrest, much less write a ticket to the  lone ranger gardener who dared plant a row of spinach instead of marigolds or alyssum along the walkway to their front door — so, what are we waiting for –written permission from the county extension office?  We are free to intersperse garlic among our roses, and line a pathway with broccoli and cabbages instead of boxwood, and edge with chives as well as dianthus!  Our pots and hanging planters can be filled with lettuce and strawberries as well as nasturtiums and mums. 

     In my own front yard I have a variety of vegetables and herbs that are mixed in with the standard front yard fare of daylillies, cosmos, calendulas, geraniums, iris’, roses, etc.  Sugar snap peas clamor up trellises along with hollyhocks and clematis, as does a grape vine with a climbing rose.  The pretty, red leaves of beets line a pathway leading to my backyard, as does spinach along the pathway to another seating area.  Thyme is strategically positioned at the edge of a frontyard walkway to perfume the air as passersby gently brush its cascading stems and leaves.  I have numerous other examples of front yard edibles that I could tell you about, but the moral of the story is that when we think outside of the rectangular 6′ x 8′ box located somewhere at the edge of our backyard and designed to raise only vegetables, and turn our attention to the possibility of adding fresh, nutritious veggies into our existing garden beds, we suddenly and certainly have a lot more room to work with and get things growing!

    If you are worried about how tomatoes or peppers might look in your front yard, let me tell you that the way your garden looks will be completely up to you.  My style is “cottage garden” – a mixture, or hodgepodge of plants that are informally designed.  I don’t live in a neighborhood where I have to “fit in” with everyone else, so I tend to take more of a free-form styled approach to my gardening.  However, if you desire a more formal look, I highly recommend that you view Linda Allard’s potager (kitchen garden), it is an amazing display of what a well-thought-out, edible landscape can look like and, in  my opinion, is truly inspirational!  It can also be a little intimidating;  but it’s a great place to brainstorm for ideas that you can incorporate and adapt to your own level of expertise. 

     Isn’t it wonderful to know that, no matter how much land you live on, by moving the vegetables out of the traditionally designated backyard box, and out into places where they’ve never gone before, you, literally, CAN have your long-awaited veggie garden and plenty to eat from it, too!


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