Growing annual flowers from seed
Try growing annual flowers from seed together with your vegetables. This will save you some time and also add some aesthetic appeal to your vegetable garden.
Most of the annuals in my kitchen garden can be sown directly in the garden beds during spring/summer. This saves me some work early in the season, since I don't have to repot as many plants. Here are my best tips on how to start growing annual flowers from seed together with the vegetables in your garden beds.
Monks cress - A lot of flowers grow straight up, but the monks crass has trailing stems that spread out on the ground. It's the perfect choice if you have holes in your garden bed that you would like to cover up. I fell in love with the variety Purple Emperor last year. It's a beautiful variety with yellow/pink flowers.
Godetia - A beautiful flower in many shades of pink and white. This is a big and sprawling plant that I enjoy growing with vegetables that allow the colorful flowers to pop up wherever they please. Low-growing beans is a good option. The godetia produces quite a lot of plant material that I can use as mulch later in fall.
Marigold - We usually think about bright orange flowers when we talk about marigold. But there are actually many different shades to choose from. I especially like the rusty pink varieties. There are of course also many different sizes of marigold flowers. Some are low-growing and others can grow up to 2 feet tall. Sow the seeds quite close together and move the plants further apart when they've grown too large.
Cornflower - These tall and bright blue flowers work very well with vegetables with a lot of foliage, like for example parsnip and fava beans. There are also a few cornflower varieties that only grow around ten inches tall, they're perfect for the edges of the garden bed. Allow your cornflowers to self-seed where they're planted. This will hopefully lead to new plants that you can overwinter and move to a different spot next year. Doing this will save you a lot of time later.
Garden cosmos - This is by far my favorite summer flower. It's the most beautiful flower in my garden! It comes in many different shades of pink, yellow and white. Garden cosmos is a tall flower that looks lovely with other tall-growing plants. Try planting it together with artichoke, cardoon and tall cabbage varieties. Remember to prune your garden cosmos so that it grows a lot of side shoots.
Baby's breath - I always buy plenty of seeds when they're on sale. What a lovely flower! I sow the seeds in a tight row between two other rows of vegetables, for example beets. The flowers spread out like a large white mat in the garden bed. Baby's breath is ideal since it bolts early in the season, which makes harvesting the vegetables in the next row a pure delight. Simply remove the old flowers when they have bloomed and sow a new batch. The flowers are of course white and the plant is quite low-growing. I've planted baby's breath with asparagus and a white/yellow cress in the top picture.
Purple tansy - You can grow these beautiful bright blue/purple flowers basically anywhere you have the space. This flower is really good at attracting pollinators. It will self-seed so if you don't want that to happen, make sure to cut the flowers down before they develop their seeds. They will bolt a second time after a few weeks.
Annual mallow - A perfect choice if you want to put flowers with your vegetables. There are some varieties that can grow as tall as fava beans during summer, but some are low-growing too. I like growing them between the vegetables in my garden beds rather than along the edges of the beds. I think they look their best this way.
Sunflower - It's a must i my garden. Sunflowers are not only beautiful, the kids love them too and they also produce a lot of plant material I can use to construct new garden beds. The stalks are quite thick (I sometimes need to use an axe in order to chop them off. The kids love it) and I often put them at the bottom of my pallet collar raised beds.
What you need to know
If you're planning on growing annual flowers from seed together with your vegetables, there are a few things you need to think about:
Height: Try growing flowers that are as tall or slightly taller than the vegetables so you're actually able to see the flowers. You could also try low-growing vines that are clearly visible on the ground level.
When they bloom: Make sure that the flowers have time to bloom before you start harvesting your vegetables. You can find more information about when to start sowing on the back of the seed packet. Use that information to figure out the right time in relation to your vegetables. If you're planning on planting slow-growing vegetables, pair them with flowers that have a long flowering season.
Sun and shade: Vegetables and flowers both need enough light to grow. Think about how you place your plants so that they all get the light they need.
Safety: Don't grow poisonous flowers! Children will eat basically anything in the garden and if they find out that some flowers are in fact edible (like corn flower, marigold and pansies) they might very well think that all flowers are equally edible.