I had a friend who grew up on a farm and even now, years later, she won’t plant anything unless it’s some type of usefulness. To make a spot in her garden, plants need more than pretty petals; they must deter pests or provide a supply of food. Today, a growing number of people are planting similar helpful gardens by combining edible plants with blossoms in an attempt to introduce more home grown foods in their diet.
This mixture of blossoms and food is also very practical for people who have small yards or even balconies. Years ago, people lived off the food from their gardens, similar to my friend with the farmer roots. Commercial food production took over and people changed their gardens by planting lawns and blooming plants. Now, however, we are seeing a merging of both as home owners are moving back to their grass roots. Often, fruit trees have been chosen over decorative varieties. Fences and trellises are presently being adorned by grapes, and vegetables are being planted in one of summer annuals. Even landscapers are noticing the difference, with requests for edible landscape designs becoming more prevalent.
- Add color by planting cabbage, red peppers, purple eggplants or rainbow chard. Combining these nourishing plants with blossoms attracts more valuable insects and increases flower production and vegetable yields. Certain plants like garlic when planted next to roses, provides a natural insecticide by repelling aphids.
- Rather than ornamental shrubs, try blueberries for their yummy fruit, fall color and very low maintenance. Others include Saskatoon/Juneberry, Grosella espinosa, or Blue Elderberry. Hazelnuts when trimmed, make excellent hedges, and strawberries make a yummy ground cover.
- For filling in those big areas, attempt horseradish, or Jerusalem artichoke with its showy yellow flowers.
- Shade tolerant veggies include beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, garlic, leaf lettuce, spinach, turnips and radishes. Once you taste the taste on your homegrown delicacies, you will be increasing your crop each year.
Edible flowers are both cosmetic and tasty when added to salads and soups.
Some of my favorites edible Flowers
- Nasturtiums – Adds a peppery taste to salsa and gazpacho.
- Anise Hisopo – Sweet anise or black licorice taste.
- Albahaca – Flowers have a similar, milder flavor than the leaves.
- Bee Balm – Use leaves and blossoms to make tea with an Earl Grey taste.
- Borraja – Large shrub with purple star-shaped blossoms that taste like cucumber are wonderful in soups and salads.
- Caléndula – The bright orange blossoms taste like saffron with a peppery flavor that adds a golden colour to foods.
- Carnation – Has a peppery, hot taste.
- Manzanilla – Tastes very similar to apple and produces a relaxing tea that is easy on the stomach.
- Chicory – The beautiful bright blue blossoms tolerate the worst of all growing conditions. The roots may be used to create a coffee substitute, the buds can be pickled like a caper, and the young leaves make a wonderful addition to a salad.
- Cebollino – Flowers have a mild cebolla flavor and the chopped stalks are a wonderful addition to soups, salads or just about any recipe you’d add onions.
- Pansy – Flowers have a mild sweet to tart flavor.
- Violet – Sweet nectar-like taste.