Foodscaping — it’s what they are calling the trend that has so many of us sneaking edibles into our landscapes. And if you haven’t joined the ranks of gardeners practicing it, now’s the time. It couldn’t be any easier and better for you, too.

Grow beautiful blooms, foliage, and food too. Many edible vegetables, fruits, nuts and berry plants are attractive, and growing them not only helps to cut the family food bill, but also can provide plenty of organic food for the table. Edible flowers can do triple duty providing beauty, food and necessary food for pollinators. It all sounds great, but if you are hesitant to get started, here are a few tips:

First, recognize the basic needs of anything you plant. Most food-producing plants and trees require being situated in locations with full sun, good drainage and healthy soils. That means put sun-loving species in your sunniest locations and combine them with ornamentals with similar sun and water needs. Doing this not only helps to insure healthy, productive plants, it also can help cut down on maintenance issues like plant watering.

It goes without saying, but we’ll state it anyway: Do not use pesticides on any companion plantings. Doing so will make it impossible to enjoy the edible flowers, vegetables, berries and fruits in your combination plantings. Not only can pesticides harm beneficial insects, but the food also won’t be safe for human consumption.

One of the quickest ways to ease into companion planting for food is to incorporate salad greens into ornamental gardens. Instead of framing a sunny bed or framing a walkway with pansies or alyssum, consider colorful leaf lettuces, greens like totsoi or dwarf kale varieties. Start plants from seeds or get a jump start with six-packs of these leafy favorites.

Swiss chard can make a striking and colorful display on its own, with a beautiful, vase-shaped structure and brilliant, colorful stalks. Cutting varieties of lettuces or greens can present an ongoing, re-growing display and harvest. Match cool-season greens like these with flowers that can also withstand a chill: violas, pansies, sweet alyssum, snapdragons, and spring phlox. Nutritious, easy, colorful and handy — your companion planting will amaze and produce.

Bright purple and ruffly kale and chard are standouts in this ornamental bed. Photo by Lynette Walther.

As the season progresses, look to flowering selections like nasturtiums, borage and marigolds which make pretty, tasty additions to salads. These easy-to-grow annuals also attract pollinators to help boost harvests. Not only that, but nasturtiums are also considered trap crops for pests, while marigolds and flowering basil attract beneficial insects that feast on pests, like aphids.

One of my favorite vegetables to mix into an ornamental sunny bed is zucchini. Compact “Astia” zucchini can be grown in a container, or in-ground. Big tropical-looking foliage of this tightly-packed variety adds great textural contrast when paired with perennials. This variety also produces extra early and continues to produce until frost, making it the perfect season-long choice.

Yes you can plant your tomatoes next to your roses or daylilies if you want to. Just remember, there are two basic types of tomatoes — determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes tend to be smaller and more compact in growth habits and produce fruits pretty much in one batch. With this type of tomato, if you time it right, you can harvest and process all of your tomatoes before you go on vacation.

Indeterminate tomatoes will produce fruit throughout summer and into fall, but take note their tall vines can be unwieldy because they continue to grow all summer until knocked back by frost or freezes. Indeterminate tomatoes will require sturdy staking. Consider planting them in the middle of the bed — or towards the back, if the bed is against a fence — then surround the tomatoes with shorter vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Bush beans produce shrubby little plants that can be worked into ornamental beds and borders. Climbing bean varieties and peas require staking or netting on which to climb. However, climbing beans and peas can increase the productivity of a small garden by utilizing vertical space. Same for cucumbers, which benefit from being planted near sunflowers.

Berry bushes and fruit trees can be worked into plantings and both will benefit from nearby flowering plants which can help attract pollinators. Remember, blueberry bushes require a soil Ph between 4.5 and 5.5. With that in mind, position them along with perennials and shrubs that also appreciate a higher acidity of soil like hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, hollies, heathers, marigolds, iris, parsley, rhubarb, strawberries, and a variety of annual vegetables.

Plant a lot of edibles, or plant a few — having fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits and berries at hand can make your summer grand. Start from seed or buy plants already started and see how easy it is to do it yourself.

Lynette L. Walther is the GardenComm Gold medal winner for writing and a five-time recipient of the GardenComm Silver Medal of Achievement, the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She is a member of GardenComm and the National Garden Bureau. Her gardens are in Camden.