Don’t Just Plant Vegetables!

Don’t Just Plant Vegetables!

An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm

While the goal for most backyard gardens is to put food on the table, we also must consider some other very important non-food plants that are essential to the overall health and production of a backyard garden. Growing flowers in your backyard garden not only provides beauty, but it also invites many of the beneficial insects we need for a healthy garden ecosystem.

Without bees and other pollinating insects, many of our garden plants would be devoid of the fruits and vegetables that we can’t wait to enjoy. Pollination is essential for vegetables like squash, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins, and more. Without successful pollination, fruits will be either deformed or won’t form at all.

Attracting Beneficial Insects for Pest Control

In addition to encouraging pollination, flowers also attract beneficial insects that will eliminate harmful pests that can damage your garden plants. This not only creates healthier plants with more sustained harvests, but it also prevents you from having to frequently spray pesticides on your garden plants. The more beneficial insects you can invite to your backyard garden, the less you must worry about the “bad guys.”

Ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies are just a few examples of beneficial insects that prey on garden pests such as aphids, mites, and caterpillars. By providing these insects with a habitat rich in nectar, pollen, and shelter, you can encourage them to take up residence in your garden and help keep pest populations in check – without the need for harmful pesticides.

Furthermore, incorporating flowers into your garden can enhance its aesthetic appeal and create a more inviting environment for both humans and wildlife alike. Imagine strolling through a garden alive with the buzzing of bees, the fluttering of butterflies, and the vibrant colors of blooming flowers – it's a feast for the senses that uplifts the spirit and nourishes the soul.

What Flowers Should You Plant?

Some of our favorite flowers to plant in the backyard garden include sunflowers, zinnias, and marigolds. Bees absolutely love sunflowers and it’s not unusual for us to see 8-10 bees on a single sunflower head during the summer months. Be sure to choose a branching sunflower variety that will produce multiple flower heads, as some varieties have been bred to only produce a single flower head.

Zinnias are available in many different sizes and colors. More common zinnia varieties typically have blooms with a 2-3” diameter, but you can also find giant zinnia varieties with huge blooms. Some of our favorite colors include lime, rose, white, and coral, but there are a ton of color options on the market to choose.

Marigolds are another great flower that performs well in our summer heat here in south GA. As long as you remove the flower heads every few weeks, they’ll continue blooming throughout the summer months. And you don’t have to be delicate with this. Often, we take a set of hedge pruners and remove all the blooms at one time. In just a couple weeks, they’ll be loaded with blooms again.

Lastly, one of our favorite ways to attract bees is by planting basil. We always plant much more basil than we need for culinary uses, often an entire row or bed of it. Bees absolutely love basil flowers, and we love walking by the basil patch and hearing all the active buzzing in the morning hours.

Once you've selected the flowers you’ll be adding to your backyard vegetable garden, try to plant them in clusters or drifts rather than scattering them randomly throughout your garden. This makes it easier for pollinators and beneficial insects to locate them and increases the effectiveness of their visits.

In conclusion, adding flowers to your backyard garden is not only a feast for the eyes but also a huge attraction for pollinators and beneficial insects. By providing them with a rich source of nectar, pollen, and shelter, you can attract a diverse array of wildlife and create a thriving ecosystem that benefits both your garden and the planet. So, the next time you're planning your garden, don't forget to include some blooming beauties – your garden will thank you for it.

Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hot sauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published