Container Gardens, Edible Flowers, Companion Planting and Medicinal Crops

by L Matthews on March 11, 2013

kitchen balcony garden nasturtiums

The alkalinesisters know exactly how great nasturtiums are!

For my vegan kitchen container garden this year, I’m breaking a little with tradition and planning to grow some flowers. I’ve pretty much always maintained that if I can’t eat it I won’t grow it but having my own little apartment (free of people with allergies!) for the first time means I want to treat myself to cut flowers in the house.

I looked into sourcing organic flowers grown locally but it’s a little tricky unless you’re super rich or planning a wedding. Farmers’ markets will provide, I’m sure, but having my own beautiful flowers freshly cut from my balcony garden will make this little vegan a happy camper.

Why Grow Flowers in a Kitchen Garden?

There are also good reasons to grow flowers aside from the aesthetic value of the plants, namely the medicinal value of some, the fact that some are actually edible (and tasty!), and the companion planting virtues of a few others. I have previously grown certain flowers for all three such reasons, with nasturtiums, borage (starflower), violas, geraniums and calendula just a few of the things that I enjoyed growing in the UK.

This year, the flowers I’m planning to grow include:

  • High Scent sweet peas (sow indoors now!)
  • Sunflower Short Blend (grows to just a metre tall)
  • Nasturtiums (Empress of India)
  • Dahlias (because they remind me of my grandfather!)

Companion Planting Flowers and Edible Flowers

Nasturtiums are delightful additions to the vegetable patch and super tasty in salads and sandwiches. They’re quite spicy though, so beware! They’e also great sacriicial crops for companion planting with tomatoes and brassicas. The beauty of this is that they’re so abundant that they can soak up your pest problem and still leave flowers to munch on. I’ve gone for an heirloom variety, because I think it’s important to support these as much as possible, and because this one offers bright red flowers in “billowing 2 foot mounds,” who can resist that promise!

Sweet Peas on Your Balcony

My mother grew sweet peas when I was a child and so the smell of these flowers always makes me a little nostalgic for summer holidays from school and freshly podded peas that went along with that. The High Scent variety will provide me with fresh cut flowers for the dining table that retain their scent well even after cutting, and they’ll make my balcony look and smell wonderful. They will also help attract pollinating insects, which is pretty important for gardening!

Medicinal Flowers

In addition to these flowers for aesthetic and olfactory purposes, I’m tempted to track down some Calendula seeds, Viola seeds, Echinacea seeds and a few other medicinal plants as I used to grow these in the UK and make tinctures, facial cleansers and balms. I haven’t even started looking at the herbs I’d like to grow this year, although I know basil and coriander will be key features as I make a lot of pesto and could use a balcony just for these beauties alone. As my current total for seeds is running at over $50, I think it is wise, however, to call it a day! As I write this, the sun has come out in Vancouver and I’m excited to place my order at West Coast Seeds so I can get planting my vegan kitchen garden right away.

What are you planting this year? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to like TheTastyVegan on Facebook!

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