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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Designing Your Vegetable Garden with a Space for Perennials: Bring in Pollinators and Good Insects!

Designing Your Vegetable Garden with a Space for Perennials: 
Bring in Pollinators, Birds and Good Insects!

A vegetable garden is my place of serenity.  I enjoy working the land, planting, tending and watching my efforts grow into something I can eat and share. It is were I feel at home and find purpose. I am lucky enough to have found a way to mix it both into my life and around a full time job. For that I a grateful.

I have done a lot of videos hoping to help other gardeners find the rewards that I do in the garden. Another side to vegetable gardening is battling pests, disease and hoping your crops produce fruit and vegetables. One huge ally to pests and production are perennial flowers. They not only are beautiful, they attract a host of good insects, butterflies and even birds. I chose perennials because they will come back year after year. They are beautiful and save you money.

You want to have bees and pollinating insects hovering all through your vegetable garden. A great way to do that is to plant a perennial bed right in the middle of your vegetable garden. Let them fly over your garden vegetable plants as they are attracted to the flowers. They certainly land on your cucumber's flowers. This is a video of one of my beds. All the flowers in there are perennials I started in my grow closet.

Last year there was a point where a neighbor and I counted nearly 50 butterflies in the garden. This was unusual. Due to the temperature and rare circumstances a lot of butterflies in the Swallowtail family hatched. The flowers attracted many many of them to my yard. Some plants bring in sparrows that eat seeds, hummingbirds and other birds that will eat slugs and snails. Most of all they will bring in the beneficial insects that will eat those bad bugs like aphids. A web search will find lists of all kinds of beneficial insects from pollinators to bugs that eat bugs.  Here are some good bugs:

Minute pirate bug
Big eyed-bug
Assassin bug
Damsel bug
Praying Mantis
Mealybug destroyer
Soldier beetle
Green lacewing
Syrphid fly
Tachinid fly
Predator wasps

Now there is really no specific flower that is better. I recommend planting many kinds in a small mounded space like in the above video or put them in containers or tuck them into corners of your raised beds. Or even better... do all three. If I had to recommend one perennial to include in your plants that would be the Purple Cone Flower. Butterflies love them. It is very easy to start perennials indoors.  One way, is just to make a plug of flowers. Plant it outdoors and let the strongest survive. This will allow the perennial best suited to your conditions prevail.

You can really start most any perennial indoors along with your vegetables. Some perennials need to be started 10-12 weeks before last frost, so it is something you can do to pass the winter blues come January in colder areas. Here are some videos of perennials I grow and plant.

I highly recommend that you consider a perennial bed in your vegetable garden design. It not only is rewarding but it brings in some wonderful  insects and wildlife. Here are some of my videos from over the years that show you what the perennials bring to your garden. Notice all the Purple Cone Flowers.

Good Luck in Your Gardens

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