Too Beautiful to Eat?
Edibles are versatile plants that can be included in any type of garden environment. Edible flowers can be so pleasing to look at that it may seem a shame to pluck them out and eat them. To get past that feeling, try separately planting the ones intended for the kitchen in containers. Growing your edible flowers and other kitchen herbs in pots near the kitchen door makes them more convenient to access when you need them for a recipe.
Calendula is easy to grow and thrives when harvested frequently. The more flowers you pick, the more flowers the plant produces. The flowers look a bit like daisies and come in red, orange and yellow. The petals can be used like saffron in rice dishes. Chop and saute them in oil to bring out the rich color and flavor. You can also sprinkle petals over salads, or use them to color and flavor an herbed butter. Use the dried petals as garnish for winter soups, such as potato or butternut squash soups.
Marigolds bloom all summer and continue blooming well into the fall, keeping color alive in your garden when most plants have begun to die back. There are two types of edible marigold flowers: Lemon Gem and Tangerine Gem. The flavor sensation is a combination of citrus and tarragon. When you pull the petals from the flower, be sure to trim the pale “heels’ of the petals because they are bitter. Marigolds petals can spice up something as common as deviled eggs.
Eating squash blossom is actually pretty mainstream. You’ll see them sold at community farmer’s markets in summer when zucchini is over-running most gardens. All squash flowers are edible including acorn, patty pan squash, crookneck squash and zucchini. Pumpkin and gourd flowers are edible, too. In Mediterranean cuisine, squash blossoms are usually stuffed with flavored breadcrumbs or ricotta cheese, then fried. Since zucchini squash is notorious for taking over a garden. Harvesting and eating the blossoms helps keep all that madness in check.
Really? In suburbia, we tend to think of dandelions as weeds. Even so, the entire plant is edible: root, leaf and flower. When eaten raw, the flowers have a sweet, honey-like flavor if picked young. Mature flowers are bitter, but cooking softens the bitterness. When breaded and fried, they taste somewhat like mushrooms.
The Kitchen Herb Garden
Most herb garden flowers are safe to eat. In fact, many edibles have medicinal as well as nutritional benefits. Common kitchen garden herbs such as dill, basil, chives, cilantro, garlic chives, and mustard all produce flowers. Adding flowers to a dish as mundane as potato salad or macaroni salad makes it special.
If you’d like some advice on container gardening, or designing a small kitchen garden, feel free to make an appointment to speak with one of our garden management specialists.