Guest Post: How to Plant a Food and Flower Border (and a Pin-tastic Bonus Giveaway!)

This is my friend, author/blogger/gardener Chris McLaughlin:

And this is an excerpt from her new book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Small-Space Gardening”–February’s  featured giveaway here at

Here’s an excellent solution for anyone who wants to grow flowers and food in a small area. It’s easy to plant and easy to maintain. All you need is a 2′ X 5′ border that’s in a lightly shaded area of the yard. It doesn’t have to be that exact size.

I’m referring to a border that often runs along side a cement driveway and the boundary fence or one that’s been created with thin boards, brick, or other material next to the lawn. Head to your local nursery in early spring and pick up: six onion sets (baby onions already growing) and four butter-head lettuce plants. Also pick two 1-gallon pansies or impatiens, fifteen 4″ Johnny-jump-ups, and five 4″ sweet alyssums.

Before planting the border bed, add a little bit of fresh garden soil or compost. First plant the onion sets in the back, 6″ apart. Then plant the two pansies or impatiens in the middle area, about 18″ apart. Place the four lettuces at the front of the bed, 8″ apart. Now fill in the rest of the bed by planting the Johnny-jump-ups in groups of five in random areas of the bed, and the alyssums spread out at one end of the bed 6″ apart. You could also intersperse the alyssums throughout the bed if you’d like.

All of these plants grow well in light shade and enjoy the cooler temperatures of spring. Harvest the lettuce leaves by taking the outside leaves first, leaving a few in the middle to continue growing. Harvest time for the onions will be determined by your zone as well as the variety that’s available in your area.

Explore More:

Chris is checking out the forces of Pinterest for book promotion and has come up with a super cool giveaway. (Yes, this in addition to the giveaway here this month.) Read all about the new prize package over on her blog. You want do it, believe me, because THIS is what one lucky Pinner winner is gonna get in the mail for creating a special Pin board:


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