Fresh herbs and edible flowers are always in vogue in culinary kitchens. From the most-basic chef, to five-star hotels, herbs and edible flowers offer culinary delight that provides a finishing touch to summer cuisine.
In pretty petals of golden-orange, tasty and colourful calendula officinalis offers a savory, buttery saffron flavour while a glass of bubbly stirs up nicely with a fresh spring of lavandula angustifolia or English lavender.
Lavender is also a popular finishing touch with chocolate dessert, fondue, sorbet and ice cream. For a sweet-smelling garnish to sorbet, ice cream, cakes and punches, try the citrus-scented blossoms of scarlet plume pineapple sage.
Just for fun, on your next open-faced sandwich, substitute tropaeolum majus (nasturtium flowers) for mustard.
In their popular sunset colours and zangy peppery taste, nasturtium flowers are commonly used to garnish platters, salads, drinks, desserts and savory appetizers. These pretty petals also make a great vinegar.
If you are unsure whether a plant is edible or not, don’t eat it!
It is always best to purchase plants from a well-known organic gardener or, better yet, grow the plants yourself. Avoid plants that may have come into contact with harmful pesticides.
Herbs and edible flowers can be grown on indoor windowsills, container gardens, patios or directly in the garden. Raised beds always look attractive when filled with herbs. For added colour appeal, intersperse edible flowers with various varieties of herbs.
When planning an herb garden, choose an area that receives a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight with fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
When planting herbs in containers, use a soil-less mix. It is well worth the little extra investment to have a sterilized, disease-resistant growing medium.
It is important to have enough room in your garden for easy maintenance of the plants. It is also handy to have good access to the plants from your kitchen.
Herbs prefer to be kept evenly moist, never wet, especially during early growth stages. Herbs can be fertilized with a high-phosphorous solution, up to 10-52-10 for the first month followed by a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer.
If a pest or disease happens to enter your herb garden, be careful to use only pesticides that are organic and safe for edible gardens. It is good practice to remove infected plants immediately from your garden.
This summer, try growing fresh herbs and edible flowers. Whether you have a small indoor window or a large outdoor garden, try experimenting with a few favourite varieties. Gardening for the kitchen is a fun and exciting way to enjoy the savouriness of culinary cuisine while feasting on blossoms of ornamental beauty.
Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. Contact her at [email protected]