I had hoped to get started on this a few days ago, but thanks to the little germ factories otherwise known as my children’s classmates, I have been holed up in bed, wishing for death or at least some decent codeine cold medicine.
So without further ado…
(Source: http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/blflowers.htm, photo sources: Wikipedia Commons)
Today’s post is about edible flowers! I first got interested in edible flowers when I started the Armagarden. That’s my mash-up of Armageddon and Garden. It’s what I jokingly call my Veggie/Edibles Garden, since Hubs (also jokingly) says it is what will help sustain us once we run out of gasoline and enter Mad Max Times.
We live on a large corner lot at a busy intersection. My kids rake in the dough at the lemonade and art & artifact stands they set up throughout the year, but that’s a post for another time. My point is that our yard is highly visible from all four sides of our house.
Hubs thinks that Veggie Gardens are kind of ugly. I completely disagree, but I digress, again. Since he wasn’t all that excited about having a Veggie Garden visible to everyone that passed by our house, I decided to pretty it up for him by adding edible flowers and other ornamental edibles / edible ornamentals.
I planted several varieties and they filled our salads, garnished our plates, and amazed our potluck participants. They add loads of color and nutrition to your plate and they are so much fun, they even encouraged my kids to eat more salads and healthy whatnots. So I decided to share the joy with you, friends!
There are tons of recipes on the interwebs using edible flowers (I mostly used them for green salads, potato salads, pasta salads, all kinds of salads), but first I should share a few warnings…
1. Don’t eat flowers that have been treated with pesticides, including any flowers purchased at florists, grocery stores, etc. unless they are specifically marked “edible”. Regardless of your thoughts about using commercial pesticides on your veggie garden, the pesticides used for ornamental flowers are NOT tested for consumption and could be considerably stronger and much more dangerous.
2. Don’t eat flowers unless you are certain of their identity. A few edible flowers closely resemble poisonous varieties. Not many, but still… Err on the side of safety.
3. If you have pollen allergies, use caution when eating edible flowers. You are likely to also have an allergic reaction to eating the pollen if you have a reaction to breathing it. I have pollen allergies that are pretty easily controlled by OTC allergy medicines like Zyrtec and Claritin and I’ve never had any problems. But if you go into anaphylactic shock when you sniff a daisy, you probably shouldn’t eat one.
4. If you have any doubts about any of the above warnings, don’t eat them! I play things a little fast and loose and haven’t had any issues, but I refuse to be responsible for your poisoning yourself! Do some extra research if you have any doubts whatsoever. Seriously.
I will be posting a pretty exhaustive list of edible flowers with photos shortly, so stay tuned!
This is a photo of my edible garden space. I call it the “Armeggarden”. Hubs is about halfway convinced that Mad Max times are coming and that we need to be prepared. Ok. Whatever. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of living ~comfortably~ off the grid, so this is a first step!
We found out a couple of years ago, when we had to get a 10 foot deep chasm in our yard to connect to the city sewer line, that our yard was filled with top soil when they built the house. For the uninitiated to Tennessee red clay and hard pan, it means luscious, dark brown soil, 10 fricken’ feet deep! I can dig it up with a garden fork instead of having to rent a gas powered tiller (and still having to bust my butt to get it decently tilled) and it is filled with big, fat, healthy earthworms.
The space pictured is a little over 2 feet deep and about 23 feet long. In that space, I can actually grow quite a bit! Last year, I got well over 20 lbs of tomatoes, county fair prize-winning sized cucumbers, 7 kinds of basil, and tons more.
I’ve expanded this year and gotten most of my seeds planted. If all goes well, I will have:
Dragon Tongue Beans
Purple Pole Beans
Sugar Snap Peas
Evergreen Bunching Onions
Several colors of Nasturtiums
Orange, Yellow, Red, White, and Purple carrots
7 or more varieties of lettuce
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Pink and Red Dianthus
Blue and Black Bachelor Buttons
Tiger Eyes Marigolds
Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
Pink Brandywine Tomatoes
Cherry Belle and Rattail radishes
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Regular and Garlic Chives
Vit Corn Salad
Citrus and Chocolate Mint
Lemon, lime, Genovese, purple, and globe basil
Tiffany, Electra, and Peace roses
And those are just the edible ones! I have a few more that are strictly ornamental, but I will get into those another day.
In my main beds, I use soaker hoses on a timer during the hottest part of the summer. I use Amdro slug baits to control our slug and snail infestation and plain dish soap/water solution for other bugs. I use compost and fish emulsion for fertilizer.
Right now, I’m having problems with aphids on my peas and either squirrels or rabbits are eating my bean and sunflower sprouts. I’ll write more tomorrow about how I’m dealing with these annoyances.