Growing Tomatoes and Peppers

The containers of tomatoes and peppers shown here are only a few of the many edibles that you can use to beautify your edible landscape.

What, tomatoes and peppers in the front yard! Of course, you can grow tomatoes and peppers in the front yard, and most other vegetables too. I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years. And I have a beautiful garden, a beautiful edible landscape, just ask my neighbors.

I’ve said it for years, “It’s not the plant, it’s how you use it in a landscape and how well you grow it that makes a garden beautiful.” If you tie up your tomato plants with old stockings and let them get diseased-they belong in the back vegetable garden. When you plant peppers and don’t prepare the soil with lots of good compost and manure, the yellow spindly plants aren’t suitable for the front garden either. Particularly, if you plant your peppers in straight boring rows and let the area get weedy.

The following photo gallery shows just a few of the many ways you can use tomatoes and peppers in your Edible Landscape. I’m sure you can come up with many more designs to help spread the word-Tomatoes and Peppers belong in an ornamental garden!

TOMATOES FOR YOUR EDIBLE LANDSCAPE

Indeterminate tomatoes grow on long trailing vines. (Determinate varieties grow into a compact bush.) To keep these tall sprawling tomato plants looking neat and to prevent the fruit from rotting on the ground you need to give the plants support. There are many options include: large wire frames, manufactured “tomato cages”, and training them to stakes.

Here I’ve trained two tomato plants on a flat trellis to screen off the street and give some privacy. A container of red geraniums, a planting of blue salvias, and a bench found at the recycling center now painted red, all give some color and style to the scene. The trellis was built using three 8′ tall green metal fence stakes to which we attached a sheet of 6′ x 6′ hog wire made with 3″ x 3″ squares between the stakes. The fence stakes were pounded in the ground 2′ so the trellis won’t fall over in a strong wind. The hog wire was attached to the stakes with numerous black zip-ties.

paste-tomatoes-on-red-bench

Even though you have no garden soil to grow your edibles, you can still grow tomatoes on a patio. Here I recycled a children’s plastic toy basket and made it a colorful part of the edible garden. I drilled a dozen holes in the bottom of the container to give the plant proper drainage and I chose a dwarf variety of cherry tomato named ‘Sweet Baby Girl’ for the container. (Most cherry tomato varieties are huge sprawling indeterminate plants that are hard to control in a patio container.) To keep the plant from rambling I used four bamboo stakes in the container and connected them with hemp twine to form an informal cage for the plants.

dwarf-cherry-tomato-in-trugMore tomatoes grow on my brick front yard patio. Here a large wooden recycled wine barrel contains an heirloom ‘Black Cherokee’ tomato plant supported with colorful twisted metal stakes tied together at the top to make a tomato “teepee”. (Available from Gardener’s Supply.) Behind the green chair is another trellis. This one is made with wood 2″ x 4s” painted green. There, two large indeterminate tomato plants are trained on sheets of 3″ x 3″ square hog wire. The harvest from the three tomato plants was over a hundred pounds of delicious home-grown, organic tomatoes-worth between $250 to $300 at the market!

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PEPPERS FOR YOUR EDIBLE LANDSCAPE

A bell pepper and two frying peppers happily grow among the flowers in my front border. Tall zinnias are in the back of the bed and are great for cutting flowers, the ‘Lemon Gem’ marigolds in the front of the border attract beneficial insects to help devour the pest insects, and of course, add lots of color.

peppers-in-border-marigolds

Here Italian frying peppers grow behind a planting of fancy-leaf red geraniums. Italian frying peppers are especially productive plants and the peppers themselves are versatile in the kitchen. Pepper plants in general are neutral-looking, medium–sized plants that combine well with most dwarf flowering plants such as petunias, marigolds, and zinnias.

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lettuce-sage-peppers-tomato

This is the view of my garden my neighbors see when they drive by. See, I told you my edible landscape is lovely. In the front bed there are three types of peppers—hot and mild. The border includes sage, red basil, thyme, garlic chives, rosemary, and a container with a kumquat. The non-edible flowers include black-eyed-Susans, geraniums, petunias, and gaillardias. The upper level includes a trellis of lima beans and a welcoming trellis of cherry tomatoes.

peppers-herbs-ros-garden

August 8, 2010 - 7:33 am

June - I’m in love with your garden. I’m sure with a garden like yours, you have a ton of gardening wisdom waiting to be passed on. I just happened on this site and I’m so glad you have a book coming out, I already pre-ordered it.

September 11, 2010 - 9:15 am

varsha - really nice to see all herbs growing. if we would have such type of gardens i am sure it will increase our appetite.

December 30, 2010 - 5:58 am

Lisa - Ms. Creasy, your garden is fantastic! I love the way you trellised the tomatoes across the two fence posts in the photos above. I will do that in my front yard this spring! I also plan to install a new keyhole garden out front for myself and the neighborhood to enjoy. Lots of work to get it started, but I’ve caught the gardening ‘bug’ and I am HOOKED! Thank you for your inspiration!

February 3, 2011 - 12:24 am

Akilah Littles - Your garden is just BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!! I’m totally into edible gardening. I started with containers and will graduate to a 13′X5′ in-ground garden tomorrow.
I can’t wait to order your book and discover how you’ve done all this! It’s so encouraging!