Edible Flowers for the Summer Garden

Growing your own means making the most out of all your garden plants, be they ornamental or vegetable. Many traditionally ornamental plants have flowers that can be cooked or used as a lovely edible garnish. Edible flowers make a wonderful complement to salads and desserts. While the most commonly used edible flowers tend to be those of cool-season plants like viola and calendula, the summer garden also has a bounty of edible blooms to offer.

Young flowers from squash, zucchini and pumpkin plants taste wonderful boiled, stuffed or grilled. You’ll find squash-flower dishes most commonly in Columbian cuisine. Lavender and basil blooms can be used with cooked meats, in mixed green salads and in homemade vinegars. Rose petals can be tossed into salads, steeped for tea and candied for desserts. For a unique anise or licorice flavor, use flowers from hyssop in salads or vinegars. Begonia flowers have a tart, sweet flavor that is excellent in salads. Any small edible bloom can also be frozen in ice cubes to fancy up punches and other party beverages. Realize that different flowers have different flavors. Use flowers with flavors that will complement the dish you’re serving.

Before you use flowers for food, be sure either that the plants have been grown organically, or that no pesticides have been applied to them for three weeks before harvesting. If you’ve purchased plants at a garden center and aren’t sure what they’ve been treated with, grow them at home for at least three weeks before consuming any part of the plant.

April is a great time to start planting many of your warm-season ornamental and edible plants. Right now you can seed squash, zucchini and okra directly into the garden, set out transplants of basil and lavender, or plant perennials like roses and daylilies.

Try these blooming beauties in your kitchen this summer. All edible flowers make lovely garnishes, no matter the occasion.

Marigold , Anise Hyssop, Squash blossoms, Bee Balm, Begonia,  Borage, Daylilies , Chamomile, Dianthus , Citrus blossoms, Purslane , Okra, Roses  Lavender, Salvia , Basil

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