Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Argument for Flowers

I've been making difficult choices lately.  Gardeners will know right away what I'm talking about.  There's a pile of seed packets and only so much space.
So how does one decide what to plant and what to save for another year?  Food is always a priority in my garden.  I love vegetables, feeding myself and my spouse with organic fresh food.  There's nothing better than pulling corn from the garden and throwing it straight into the pot to cook.  This year particularly my priority is vegetables as I intend to grow out seed for sale.  Home gardens have taken off in the last couple years and there's a lot of people looking for vegetable seed. 
I remember my mother telling me that when she grew up on the farm flowers were a luxury.  Food crops got the high priority space and flowers were an afterthought.  It was always more important to feed your family and her family considered flowers wasted space that could have grown food.  Yet I'm still attracted to flowers.  Their beauty lifts the soul, they invite you to look and they attract insects.  Yes you read that right.  They attract insects.  That's a good thing.

It's true mosquitos make me itch, and I get queasy at the sight of a june bug but the reality is that vegetable gardens require bees and beetles and all manner of flies in order to bear fruit.  If we don't plant flowers what will attract the bugs that pollinate our food?  So in addition to zucchini and tomatoes I will be making room for flowers.  Between the tomatoes and the corn there will be simple flowers with open faces to attract insects.  Double blooms are too difficult for many insects to access so I will plant single poppies, cosmos, and borage.  Borage particularly attracts beneficial insects such as honeybees and beneficial insects such as ladybugs.  Bees and butterflies love poppies.

My sea holly is always full of bees and hover flies.  By drawing these insects in I am ensuring a good harvest and my garden will also be a thing of beauty.