Growing your own edible flowers can be a fun and interesting hobby that will add wonderful tastes, colors and nutrients to your diet. However, they are not for everyone.
Starting slowly is the safest way to decide whether they are right for you.
Those who have seasonal allergies might react to eating edible flowers, so they should exercise caution. Watch out for trouble breathing or a swollen tongue. In terms of preparation, in most cases the pollen from the flowers should be removed, to reduce allergens and improve the flavor overall.
Know Which Are Edible
Some flowers look and smell gorgeous, but are poisonous. Others might not look too appetizing, but are great to add to recipes. A good book on edible flowers can get you started. So too can buying small amounts of dried flowers. In this way, you can explore what each tastes like. Then you can decide if you would like to grow and harvest them yourself by setting up a container garden indoors, or flower garden outdoors.
With so many to choose from, it will take some time to find your favorites, but it can be a fun and tasty journey of exploration.
Slowly Add Them to Recipes
As with most plants, edible flowers can have various digestive effects – including a laxative one. Gas and upset stomach can also occur when trying new foods. Eat small amounts first to see how well the flowers agree with you. You might like to keep a food journal to note your results.
The best thing about growing your own edible flowers is that you can go organic. Certain flowers and herbs serve as natural insect repellents, such as mint and rosemary, so you can keep bugs at bay.
Be Careful with Composting
Compost is organic matter from food, such as orange rinds, tea leaves and so on, that are used to fertilize plants. Always put your compost on the soil, never on the leaves or flowers of your plants.
Get a Detailed Book
A detailed book of edible plants should have a photo, the English name, the Latin name, and basic details about the care of the plant. Use sticky notes to help you identify the plants you have tried that you like the taste of, and be sure to bring the book with you to your local nursery or garden center when you visit to buy seeds or plants.
Above all, check which parts of the plant can be eaten, and how they should be prepared. For some, it might be the flowers only; for others, the leaves as well.
Be Sure You Get the Species Right
Some edible flowers are part of a larger family of related plants, some of which might be poisonous. When buying seeds or plants, use the exact Latin name of the species listed in the book you are using.
Keep the Seed Packets and/or Plant Tags
Be sure to keep these items so you have instructions on care and feeding readily and hand.
Label or Tag Everything
The last thing you want is to get confused and ruin a recipe because you have put in the wrong flowers.
When growing these plants, you are going to be prolonging the harvest and keeping the flowers active for longer than they would be in nature (when they turn to seed and then never flower again until the following year). There are lots of fertilizers available, but aim for an all-natural one like liquid seaweed or cocoa mulch to keep the nutrition levels in the soil high throughout your growing period.
Test Your Soil
If you have a garden, take a sample to your local garden center to have it tested. In this way, you can be sure you are making the right choices of plants and will get healthy blooms that will not get mildewed and become inedible.
Follow these precautions to get the most out of your harvest.