Heterogeneous beds

I have decided to grow vegetables in the ornamental beds in my front yard this year. I have a perfect spot for vegetables along the south side of the house, but the entire length of that side is planted in liriope, which I want to transplant. However, I can’t transplant the liriope until the mowing strips are ready to receive it, and turning those ribbons of soilless hard-pan into planting beds is such a brutal chore that I always find something else to do instead. Maybe I should just rent a Bobcat and get it over with.

In any case, I don’t want to allow another growing season to pass without vegetables from my own yard, so I’m starting small. The day after St. Patrick’s Day I planted as many sugar snap peas as would fit along the trellises against the brick wall in the bed by the front porch. I usually grow ornamental hyacinth beans on those trellises, but I can’t plant them until the soil warms up a bit more. The peas should be done by the time the beans get to be any size, though I secretly hope that the beans will provide just enough shade in early summer to extend pea season a week or two. That, by the way, is an example of both succession planting and companion planting, for those of you keeping score at home.

I have also requested some fish pepper seedlings from a gardening friend for the planting bed along the driveway and sidewalk. Fish pepper is an African American heirloom hot pepper from the Chesapeake Bay area. The plants have beautifully variegated foliage and fruit; I fell in love with them the first time I saw a picture of them.

Perhaps my most daring move involves one of those upside-down tomato planters, which I plan to hang from a wrought iron shepherd’s crook. With cascading nasturtiums (edible flowers and leaves — great in tuna salad!) in the top of the planter, it may look like an elongated hanging basket. I should probably stick this contraption in the liriope bed along the south side of the house, just in case it doesn’t end up looking all that great, but I’m feeling a little reckless these days — I’ll probably put it in the middle of the front yard to signal my defiance against the norms of suburban lawn culture.

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