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Decorating Your Edible Garden with Alyssum!

August 19th, 2010
See our gardener Pat Stoeffel trimming the white alyssum border around our tomato plant bed.

We get great feedback on how beautiful our edible garden looks. (THANK YOU!  We love to hear your feedback!)  We have our campus senior landscape designer Christina DeMartini Reyes to thank for her excellent planting plans!  She likes to use borders of different types of flowers to achieve a variety of goals.  Planting flowers around your edibles not only attracts pollinators, the colors of the flowers provide contrast to the greenery of the fruit and vegetable leaves, they are excellent around the bed borders because they define the space, AND they can act as a type of ground cover.  All of this is great for the garden, but how do you keep it looking good throughout the season?  It isn’t easy!

Today when I visited the garden I noticed that our new Good Life Garden gardener, Pat Stoeffel, was trimming back a border of alyssum that was looking particularly rangy.  She had given it a trim a couple weeks ago, but here it was leggy again!  She wants to keep the area looking nice so she is shearing it back by about half to reveal the new bloomers beneath the old!  (See the photos below.)

Do you plant alyssum to attract pollinators to your garden?  Do you use it as a border?  How do you keep it looking fresh and healthy?  Let us know!

Pat trimmed this alyssum back just a couple weeks ago, but now it needs more pruning.  This photo shows a patch of half trimmed, half untrimmed alyssum.  Note how she is trimming about half of it back to reveal the newer growth underneath.
This photo shows a detail of what the new growth underneath looks like.  It looks compact and fresh doesn’t it?  We want to get rid of the brown, leggy, rangy stuff to reveal the fresh flowers.  It’s kind of like exfoliating your skin to reveal a new fresh layer underneath!  (Okay…maybe not!)
Pat laughs here because she’s feeling more like a barber than a gardener!
This is a different patch of alyssum in the garden which nicely frames our bay laurel trees.  This patch has not needed any pruning, yet.  We think maybe it’s because the fertility of the soil may not be as high as our tomato bed. 
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The new plants are sprouting!

June 3rd, 2010

I went out to the garden today and everything looks lovely! All of the new summer plants Arlene started from seed are beginning to sprout – the Kentucky wonder pole beans, dark star zucchini, arava and sharlyn melons, bush beans and cosmos are all taking off. The Cherokee purple tomatoes have even begun to bloom!

The hops also look very happy and the hidcote blue lavender in particular is stunning. The alyssum also looks much happier since a sprinkler head problem has been fixed. Check out the rainbow of colors we have right now. I’m so glad summer is finally here!

Kentucky wonder pole beans greet the sun

the angel red pomegranates are blooming
the purple alyssum is doing well after fixing the sprinkler head
the brilliant pink of the rosa prostrata is a bright addition to the wine aroma garden
the Cherokee purple tomato is the first to bloom

The humming of bees is audible if you visit the hidcote lavender bed
the chinook and cascade hops are thriving (apart from the one that was ripped out of the ground by vandals!)

Want to see more photos? We’ve finally updated our flickr page so check out the progress of our plants this year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodlifegarden/sets/ We still have a few more sets to upload too, so be sure to check back soon!

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Including Flowers in Your Vegetable Garden

April 22nd, 2010

If you have a small plot, sometimes you just plain don’t want to give up the space to plant flowers for the sake of a few blossoms, but you should try it out this season! They don’t really need much space and the benefits of having them there for the purposes of attracting pollinators and beneficial insects may just amplify the production of the common edibles that you do grow. Plus, it’s just nice to diversify your garden texture, design and color.

Below are some of the flowers we grow to mix things up a little; some of them are even edible!

YARROW
It is quite drought tolerant and known for attracting butterflies. In the middle ages, before the use of hops in beer, yarrow was used to flavor beer.


SUNSET CRIMSON SNAPDRAGONS

SWEET ALYSSUM

RUDBEKIA (Black-Eyed Susan) These can grow between 18 and 36 inches high in full sun and will tolerate dray conditions. Let the bloom dry out on the plant and after the petals fall off, pick the seen head. Running your thumbnail along the seedpod will give you tiny rudbekia seeds.

CALENDULA
These are profuse bloomers if constantly deadheaded. It is edible and known as “poor man’s saffron” because its color and mild peppery taste make it an inexpensive alternative for the Spanish condiment.


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