Greenspace: Plant a veggie salad in your flower containers

Jim Hillibish

Imagine the shock. There amid flowers in your patio planter, can it be — eggplant.

Pamela Crawford is one of our favorite writers. With more than 10 books and having designed 1,500 gardens, she has established herself as the nation’s go-to on container gardening.

Her new book, “Easy Container Combos: Vegetables and Flowers,” will be inspiration for your perspiration this springtime. This is one gardening book sure to get dog-eared and muddy.

The surprising thing is it makes so much sense. Why not share your flower pots with vegetables? Why didn’t I think of this?

Edible decorations are more than good sense. You can get a payback in produce that exceeds the cost of the flowers. In a couple of years, you’ll pay for your container, too. Our retirement plans should be as good.

Combining vegetables and flowers in one pot requires more effort than simply growing one or the other. Here’s where the book soars. It is teacher Pamela front-loading us with tips and information. Plant the beans first, then the coleus.

She isn’t shy on naming names, from pot providers to the latest in deck-friendly vegetables: the Scarlet Runner bean plant, a climber with startingly red flowers; dwarf cucumber melon; rosemary, kale and ever-bearing pansies.

Given the cost of the large decorative pots she prescribes, one is tempted to stop right there. Not so fast. She has the word on pots less than $5 and trellises less than $8. If you do your job, the plants will totally disguise the pot, mooting its questionable source (the trash).

One of Pamela’s many hallmarks is her plants on posts. She lines walkways with growing baskets on columns. When you have little space, plant aerially.

The side-hole container is perfect for mixing veggies and flowers. Plant the tomato on top and lettuce on the sides. Or plant the tomato upside down and the flowers on the top and sides.

The book’s value is rooted, so to speak, in her experience. She has grown almost everything, 1,768 plants mentioned, and is not bashful about detailing her mistakes. Not every garden writer can claim that.

Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at