Monday, February 14, 2011

Eat Your Flower Garden

We’re all used to growing things to eat in our vegetable garden, but browse the produce section of a high-end grocery in the right season and you’ll see some other things we don’t always think of as edible: Flowers.

What’s more is that they are horribly expensive for a reason – they don’t keep or transport well but they do make a stunning impact on a dinner salad. That’s why they often show up on summer salads in restaurants.

Abandon economics and think of practicality. You can make your flower garden do double duty.
Your flower garden can yield gorgeous salad accouterments. Plant some nasturtium, dianthus, pansies and calendula. All will add color and a beautiful flavor to a salad.

Chamomile makes great tea and has an almost apple-like flavor, Day Lilly blossoms taste almost like asparagus. They also are very durable, meaning you can stuff them with cheese, batter and fry.

Top-setting onions are fascinating to watch grow and quite attractive. Broccoli will grow to good size in your flower garden. After a couple cuttings, let it bolt. The yellow flowers will add an interesting texture.

Johnny jump ups have a mellow, minty flavor. Arugula and radish can add interest to your flower garden as well.

Many a restaurant kitchen, especially those of the modern “keep it local” ethos, has an herb garden outback. In recent years, as we understand fresh is better, those gardens are often moved out front next to the parking lot or walk, letting diners know they are in for a real treat.
Treat your flower soil the same as your vegetable soil. Stay away from chemicals. Organic matter matters most, whether from your home compost, rotted manure from a farm or compost from municipal brush grindings.

A word of caution: Always be certain you know exactly what you have planted and what you are eating. A simple mistake, like not knowing daffodils or floral sweet peas are toxic, can have dire consequences.

About the Author
Joe Genco gardens in Clarence, NY, and is a contributing writer to Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, who operates the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook
and can be contacted at

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