Many of the flowers growing in the garden can be edible, edible flowers have been used in cooking historically for a long time. Edible flowers have now become very fashionable especially with fine dining restaurants. By growing your own edible flowers your flowers will always be fresh having been picked straight from the garden on the day you want to use them.
It is very important to note that there are also some very poisonous flowers so you must do your research thoroughly before you set out to grow and eat any flowers. There are also some flowers that are edible in small quantities only and others that should be avoided by pregnant women or women who are breast feeding. Borage is a prime example as consuming too many flowers can act as a diuretic and can also have an effect on breast milk production. This is just one example, there are many more.
2015 – At the end of February I planted a few seeds into a 36 cell seed tray with clear plastic propagator lids using a mix of seed compost and sieved soil. The seeds planted are Evening Primrose ‘Apricot Delight’; Cornflower ‘Double Black’ and ‘Blue Ball’; two varieties of Nasturtium – ‘Tom Thumb’ and ‘Alaska Mixed’ and Calendula Officinalis ‘Neon’.
Once the seeds germinate and grow into little seedlings they will then be planted out into the cutting patch. We have allocated a little section just for edible flowers. They will be flowering, I hope, in May and at the same time as the Sweet William planted at the end of last July as seedlings grown from seed and the cornflowers grown from seed planted last September. I will then plant more seed at the end of March or early April depending on the weather conditions directly into the ground and hopefully these will then flower from July onwards through to September or October.
My plans for an edible flower patch are developing week by week. The seeds planted back in February all germinated really well and a month later were ready to be potted on and were moved from the window sill to the cold frame. All except the evening primrose which took slightly longer to germinate and having been potted on, they are now in the cold frame.
The Easter Weekend was a really busy one; the seedlings in the cold frame grew really quickly and were ready to be planted out in the cutting patch on Good Friday. Luckily the weather had turned a bit warmer and stayed warm for nearly a whole week, enough time to get the young plants established in their new home. We did, however, cover them with cloches at night as the nights are still really cold with temperatures going down as low as freezing.
We now have an edible flower patch with two varieties of sunflowers ‘copper queen’ and ‘garden statement’; two varieties of cornflowers ‘blue ball’ and ‘double black’; two varieties of nasturtiums ‘alaska mixed’ and ‘tom thumb’ and one variety of calendula ‘neon’. We have covered all the young plants with netting cloches to protect them from the wildlife. We have also planted another variety of nasturtium seeds ‘prince charming’ directly into the ground and have left a space to add the evening primrose seedlings when they are ready to go out. All very exciting!
It has been a busy April. The evening primrose seedlings and the nasturtium ‘prince charming’ seedlings have all been successfully planted out into the edible flower patch. All the plants are looking so healthy; just have to keep the rabbits away from them!
End May – All the plants in the edible flower patch are growing really well and we have only had a couple of casualties, two of the Sunflowers snapped in the wind and something ate one of the Nasturtiums. The two varieties of feverfew, lemon balm and fennel that we planted into the edible patch as small plants in the middle of April have more than trebled in size. Having now run out of space we have had to resort to planting our herbs in tubs, one tub with five different varieties of mint, Lime Mint, Basil Mint, Black Peppermint, Indian Mint and Peppermint, which make delicious mint teas as well as chopped and sprinkled on spring lamb and salads.
In the other tub we have Dill, Hyssop and more Lemon Balm and Fennel and in our herb barrel together with the existing Sage and Marjoram we have added new Parsley, new Thyme and also a Sorrel. Our Chives and Wild Garlic are also growing well and will be added to the edible flower collection.
Of the plants grown from seed this year, the plants in the edible flower patch are just beginning to flower. Two out of the three Nasturtiums are flowering as well as the two different colours of Cornflowers and also the Calendula. The sunflowers are growing taller and taller; they are going to be amazing!
End of June – The highlight of my edible flower patch project has been to be able to make edible flower arrangements and have them as a feature on the table outside for Al fresco dining. These are three of the most colourful and my favourites.
Using my favourite brass jug is my third favourite edible flower arrangement. I simply made an outline using lots of different Calendula and then filled in with Nasturtiums and Cornflowers. It just took a few minutes to make and looked quite lovely!
Most of the plants in the edible flower patch are now flowering. The three different varieties of Nasturtiums are just a mass of colour with orange, yellow and red all intertwined. The Evening Primrose has just started to flower and what a beauty it is, delicate and sweet scented but sadly does not last long enough for cutting and arranging. Never the less it was well worth growing just for the experience. The blue Cornflowers and the dark purple Cornflowers are really tall and a waving sea of colour and the Calendula are a bright splash of orange right in the middle. It really is a feast for your eyes. I have had great fun making edible flower arrangements to have on the table outside for Al fresco dining.
Another collection of edible flowers and herbs but this time with the very pretty little Feverfew flowers added!
Compared to this time last year when the edible patch looked wonderful and everything was in flower, this year is a very different story. Everything, apart from the Nasturtiums, are going to be at least three weeks later. This is due to the cold April that we had and now the wettest June on record.
By the middle of July the edible flower patch is also in full flower in all of my favourite hot colours, the sunflowers are spectacular and the cornflowers, calendulas and nasturtiums are beautiful, bright and cheerful.