It is surprising how many flowers growing in our gardens are edible. Edible flowers have been used for years in cooking or as decorations for various dishes. Today many fine restaurants around the world are using more and more edible flowers to enhance salads with their colour, texture and intriguing flavours, as well as for decoration on appetisers, starters, cakes and many other dishes.
Edible flowers can be used fresh as a garnish or as an integral part of a dish, such as a salad. They can be candied, frozen in ice cubes and added to beverages; made into jellies and jams; used to make teas or wines; minced and added to cheese spreads, herbal butters, pancakes, crepes, and waffles.
They can be used to decorate huge wedding cakes or little cupcakes and many flowers can be used to make vinegars for cooking, marinades, or dressings for salad. Herbal flowers normally have the same flavour as their leaves, with the exceptions of chamomile and lavender blossoms where the flavour is usually more subtle.
It is always best to grow your own edible flowers, and then you can be sure that they are clean, fresh and free from pests and disease. The majority of edible flowers are always best picked fresh from the garden the day you want to use them. Growing your own also allows you to experiment and show off to dinner guests both what you have grown and what you’ve created with a colourful and tasty dish.
Edible Flowers and Decorative Herbs Mix
This fabulous range of edible flowers and herbs give decorative petals and leaves for use as garnishes and flavourings. Some are spicy, and some herbaceous, while others are floral and fragrant, the range is surprising. They will bring a stunning finish to the food and drinks that you love.
Very easy to grow, whether you have a garden the size of a tennis court or a teacup, a formal potager or allotment, they can be added to an existing shrub border and flower garden or tucked into a raised bed with your vegetables. Growing to a height of 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in), they grow well in containers and are perfect for attracting pollinating insects to your garden.
Major Components include:
Calendula officinalis dwarf, Monarda citriodora, Perilla frutescens, Tagetes tenuifolia, Tropaeolum majus nanum, Agastache Foeniculum, Allium schoenoprasum, Allium tuberosum, Borago officinalis, Carum carvi , Diplotaxis erucoides, Hyssopus officinalis, Levisticum officinalis, Matricaria recutita, Melissa officinalis, Mentha spicata (viridis), Ocimum basilicum Mrs Burns, Ocimum basilicum Large Sweet, Ocimum basilicum Dark Opal, Origanum vulgare, Petroselinum crispum, Salvia officinalis, Thymus vulgaris
Seeds can be sown thinly at around 1 gram per square metre. Do not sow too thickly, while it is good for plants to offer each other a little support you don't want them to out compete one another.
Timing: Sow in Spring or in Autumn.
Sowing can begin from late March to early June as the soil begins to warm up (often indicated by the emergence of weed seedlings). It may begin earlier in milder gardens of the south and west; in colder northern gardens sowing may be later.
Seeds can also be sown in the autumn so they flower earlier the following year. A spring sowing differs from an autumn sowing in that it tends to produce a later flowering display. It should be noted that although these plants usually withstand frosty conditions without protection, some would benefit with a covering with horticultural fleece or a cloche when a heavy prolonged frost is forecast.
Weed the bed, level the soil with a rake and tread lightly before sowing. Mixing the seeds with dry sand will ensure a more even distribution of seeds. You can easily see where seeds have fallen and any bare patches can be covered.
Sowing the seeds can be done either by broadcast sowing or by sowing in drills. Broadcasting sowing is quick and easy, the seeds are simply scattered evenly over the surface of the soil. The main disadvantage of broadcasting is that you cannot easily tell weed seedlings apart from your sowings.
Alternatively, the seeds can be sown in drills (shallow grooves) 30cm (12in) apart. Although this takes a little more time it is time well spent as the flowers appear in rows and can be told from any weed seedlings easily.
Water seeds / plants if conditions are dry. Tall plants may benefit from support in exposed gardens.
At the end of the season you can either leave the seed heads for the birds to eat or cut the flowers down.
The dead stalks should be cut down and any weeds removed, the area can then be re-cultivated in time for the following season.
Beds and Borders, Herb gardens and Potagers, Cottage/Informal Gardens, Low Maintenance, Wildlife Gardens.
Edible flowers can be used fresh as a garnish or as an integral part of a dish, such as a salad. They can be candied, frozen in ice cubes and added to beverages; made into jellies and jams; used to make teas or wines; minced and added to cheese spreads, herbal butters, pancakes, crepes, and waffles. They can be used to decorate huge wedding cakes or little cupcakes and many flowers can be used to make vinegars for cooking, marinades, or dressings for salad.
Flavour can vary with growing conditions and cultivars. Conduct a taste test before harvesting large amounts of a particular flower. Flowers should be picked in the cool of the day, after the dew has evaporated.
For maximum flavour choose flowers at their peak. Avoid flowers that are not fully open or that are past their prime. To maintain maximum freshness, keep flowers cool after harvest. Long-stem flowers should be placed in a container of water. Short-stemmed flowers, such as borage, should be harvested within 3 to 4 hours of use, placed in a plastic bag, and stored in a refrigerator. Damp paper towels placed in the plastic bag will help maintain high humidity.
Because pollen can distract from the flavour, it's best to remove the pistils and stamens. Pollen may cause an allergic reaction for some people. Remove the sepals of all flowers except violas and pansies.
For flowers such as calendula and marigold only the flower petals are edible. The white base of the petal of many flowers may have a bitter taste and should be removed.
Wash all of the flowers carefully under a stream of running water. This will dislodge any dirt or debris that may be caught in the petals.
Be aware that not all flowers are edible; some may taste bad and some are poisonous. Eat flowers only if you are certain they are edible.
Never pick flowers from the roadside or an unfamiliar garden and do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries, garden centres. These flowers may have come into contact with chemicals, dirt, pollutants or waste so avoid using them with food.
Chemicals for pest control should be avoided. Hand-pick harmful insects. Beneficial insects can be used to decrease insect populations. Growing different flowers together provides diversity to support a good beneficial insect population and keeps pest problems low. If you do use chemicals, locate your edible flower garden far enough away to avoid chemical spray drift.
Many allergies are due to sensitivity to pollen of specific plants. If you have hay fever, asthma or allergies, it's best to introduce flowers into your diet one at a time and in small quantities. To be on the safe side always remove the sepals inside the flowers and wash the petals before eating.
- Additional Information
Genus Mixed Varieties Cultivar The Edible Garden - Flowers and Herbs Mix Natural Flower Time June to September Height 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) Position Full sun or partial shade Soil Moist, well-drained, fertile soil is best. Coverage Sow at around 1 gram per square metre