Perhaps eating flowers hasn't earned its place in your diet... yet. A little more bizarre than appealing? But picture a salad of fresh spring greens, tossed with bright yellow and orange chrysanthemum petals. Or a beautiful spring cake, iced and garnished with sugared violets. The possibilities are beautiful, fresh and endless, even if the idea of edible flowers is a new one for you. Do we smell a possible convert?
First things first; growing edible flowers organically is a must. The last thing you want on your fresh, beautiful flowers are the residues of chemical fertilizers or herbicides.
Since you won't be using chemical products, you'll want to build up the soil with lots of organic matter to promote vigorous healthy growth. Why? Because a healthy, strong growing plant is more resistant to disease and insect problems. You can grow edible flowers in containers or in a designated flower bed, but before you plant anything, work in a good amount of organic matter: organic compost, well-dried manure, organic topsoil. If the soil is heavy, work in some sand to lighten things up for better drainage. A too-moist environment can result in fungal diseases.
Keep a simple, organic herbicide or pest repellant on hand and use it for spot treating areas that look dangerous. A simple mixture of 1/2 cup organic peppermint soap in a spray bottle of water can help repel insects.
Choose and plant the flowers that will fit beautifully into your cooking repetoire. Here's a partial list to get you thinking, some of which you may not even have known are eatable:
- Chamomile: The plant itself can be rather weedy-looking, and is tall, so plant it toward the back. The diminutive, daisy-like flowers look lovely in a salad.
- Lavender: Perfect for flavoring desserts or for scenting your linen drawer. These purple buds are great for spring and summer garnishes.
- Chysanthemum: Beautiful, cheerful, many-petaled flowers come in a variety of bright colors.
- Daylily: Plant once, and you'll have a growing crop of daylilies every year. Many colors and variegations to choose from.
- Dianthus: Small, many shades of pink, delicate and lovely in a salad or as a garnish.
- Hibiscus: These large, tropical flowers make a beautiful edible garnish.
- Lilac: Old-fashioned beauties, you can enjoy these in a vase or on the table.
- Marigold: Small, bright and easy to grow, these make an excellent addition to a salad of spinach.
- Rose: Lovely to look at, lovely to smell and lovely with chocolate.
- Scented geranium: Most varieties taste like their scent.
- Snapdragon: Another old-fashioned garden favorite that can also grace the plate.
- Tulip: Like daylilies, these bulbs will spread every year, giving you a better crop with no additional work.
- Violet: Sugared or candied violets are the best edible dessert garnish.