Many gardeners specialize in a particular gardening arena. My friend Cathie has a theory that there are two types of gardeners: vegetable gardeners who plant a few flowers and flower gardeners who plant a few vegetables. Cathie is a flower gardener and I'm a vegetable gardener and yes, we each have a few of the other type.
When you expand your gardening world beyond what you've always done before, you can find some wonderful success. A vegetable gardener, I have flower gardens too. Though my coneflowers and daylilies didn't do well last year, my hollyhocks and snapdragons did. If I only focused on my vegetable garden, I wouldn't have enjoyed the hummingbirds savoring my penstemon and honeysuckle. If I hadn't planted roses, I wouldn't have had a lovely backdrop for my daughter's wedding.
Gardening outside of your comfort zone exposes you to opportunities and new adventures. While looking for new vegetable seeds you may stumble across an amazing catalog of unique flowers. While choosing new flowers you may encounter edible plants. By adding flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds to your garden you can improve the pollination of your beans and tomatoes. You may discover a method of weeding your vegetable beds that carries over to your Hostas. There are many things to discover.
One of my new adventures this year will be fish in the garden. That's right, fish. Do you remember the story about Squanto teaching the Pilgrims how to plant corn? He buried a fish and covered it with a mound of soil into which he put the corn seeds. My friend David has a freezer full of fish. When the weather and soil are warm enough for me to plant corn, I'm going to take David's donation and plant the way that Squanto showed the early settlers. It will be a fun experiment.
I covered some of my raised beds with mini greenhouses (see my blog, "Extending Your Growing Season With Mini Greenhouses"). My lettuce, radishes, and peas are under cover, planted a few weeks sooner than they would have been without the aid of the soil-warming protection. I'll be savoring the results of my labors earlier than I ever have before.
Last year I planted sunflowers that thrilled my wife. This year I'll add many more varieties and will grow a virtual forest of sunflowers. The birds, bees, and my wife will all be very happy.
Of course, I will still have the standard tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers that I grow each year, but I'm adding some unique varieties. A few new short-season tomatoes, "Dragon's Blood" beans, and heirloom cucumbers will liven up my typical summer fare. I'm even planting "Minnesota Midget", a small melon that should provide fruit well before the first frost of fall.
Think about what you can try in your garden. Fish may not be the answer, but there are thousands of varieties of flowers, fruit, and vegetables that you haven't tried yet. If you're a vegetable gardener try a few new flowers. If you're a flower gardener, plant a new vegetable bed. Expand your horizons and enjoy some new adventures in gardening.