Holy hotness! The summer heat is starting to take its toll. Grass isn’t quite as green as it was, flower beds appear a bit droopy, and working out in the garden is like doing labor inside a dry sauna. The heat of summer is always the toughest time for landscapes. However, it is also when we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor from our vegetable gardens – tomatoes, melons, peppers and more!
Although I love to grow my own fruits and vegetables, we have always struggled on where to grow these goodies. Our yard has a lot of shade and we reserve the sunny areas for a nice stand of turf for the kids and dogs to enjoy. The idea of putting a garden right smack in the middle of that didn’t fly.
And when we did find a spot in the backyard for a garden, we’d get all sorts of critters that have the uncanny ability to destroy our goodies minutes before they were ripe enough to be picked. Our solution – container gardening. We set up a container garden off our deck, which has full sun and dogs that would make any critter think twice about ruining our produce. It has been wonderful and given us a ton of veggies throughout the years.
However, we haven’t been able to do fruits and veggies with vines up there. And I have a daughter that would eat a cantaloupe a day if given the chance! So this year, I tried something new. We planted cantaloupe as groundcover in my landscape bed in front! I usually fill this space with annuals, which is pretty but also a bit pricey as it’s a large area. So this time I used a combination of annuals, cantaloupe and zucchini to fill the area.
The annuals provided color and interest while the vines were babies. As the vines start to grow, they get their pretty delicate yellow flowers and fill the space with nice green leaves, providing beauty in their own right. And now we have nice big fruits that are forming and getting ripe! The annuals still pop through with color and the fruit aren’t getting eaten by raccoons in the middle of the night. Win, win!
In addition to cantaloupe, I have strawberries, lettuce, rosemary and thyme tucked into my flower beds. I have also integrated containers of peppers and tomatoes in landscape beds before! I try to put them in areas with late blooming perennials, as veggie and fruit plants tend to turn quite ugly at the end of their growing season. The other “pretties” help to disguise them until their production time is done and I can pull them from the ground.
It has been a multi-year process on trying to figure out the best way to get home-grown produce into our lives, while still keeping everything looking pretty and being functional. However, it is so worth it when we get to eat a yummy tomato or piece of juicy cantaloupe that we picked from our own front yard! We’d love to help integrate fresh produce into your landscape too! Let us know you have an interest and we’ll see what creative options we can come up with to make it happen.