Tag Archives: marigolds

Edible Flowers from the Summer Garden

roseSummer is here and the garden flourishes. As you pick flowers for arrangements and harvest vegetables for dinner, you may want to experiment with another crop: edible flowers. Chances are you have edible flowers in your garden already. Edible flowers are flowers from plants that can be eaten safely and can add flavor, color, and interest to just about anything – drinks, desserts, and main dishes.

Look around your garden. If you are growing bee balm, daylilies, roses, signet marigolds, and nasturtiums, you can use the flowers in the kitchen. Just keep in mind two caveats: even if you do not spray with chemicals always wash the flowers; and, after washing, taste a raw petal to determine the flavor which can vary and to ensure you are not allergic. For some such as daylilies, you may want to remove the anthers to remove as much pollen as possible.Monarda didyma

For example, the red flowered bee balm (Monarda didyma) has a sweet and spicy citrus taste. Of all the bee balm plants, this species has the best flavor. The red flowers add flavor and color to tea, lemonade, fresh fruit, fruit tarts, pound cakes, simple syrups, butter spreads, or melted butter for fish. The entire flower heads can be in a pitcher of lemonade or separated petals can be sprinkled on top of whipped cream with fresh fruit. The purple flowering type (Monarda fistulosa) is not as flavorful but is still edible. If you only have that plant in your garden you can still use the flowers as a garnish, on the side of a salad or pound cake, or you can sprinkle the lavender-colored petals on a white-frosted, angel food cake.

daylilyThe flavor of daylily flowers (Hemerocallis spp.) will depend on the type but in general the petals taste like lettuce with a crunch. Because of their funnel shape, they are great for filling with cream cheese or a chicken salad. If you support an individual flower in a small glass or egg cup, you can fill it with a scoop of fruit salad. Remember to remove the pistils and stamens before you use them in the kitchen. Daylily flowers can be stuffed with cheese and fried. The unopened flower buds can be battered and fried or added in a stir fry dish.

rose budsRoses (Rosa spp.) vary quite a bit in flavor but all rose flowers are edible so they can always be used to color a dish. Try eating a petal first to see if there is a good flavor. If not, then just use the petals to decorate cakes, fruit salad, or a cocktail. Rose buds are also beautiful garnishes for cheese platters and cupcakes. Rose petals can be dried, chopped and added like confetti or layered with sugar for a red or rose flavored sugar.

Although people often say marigolds are edible, the common French (Tagetes patula) and African (Tagetes erecta) types are not very tasty. The best marigolds for flavor are the signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia). Usually you will find them as the Gem series – Tangerine (orange), Red, and Lemon. These are bushy plants, about a foot tall, with fine, feathery leaves and small flowers, only about an inch wide. The blossoms have a citrus taste and depending on the type, provide a bright yellow, orange, or red color. Pulling off the petals and adding them to green pea soup or red tomato soup adds contrast and interest. Adding petals to cheese dishes, deviled eggs, butter, potato salad, muffins, quiche, and egg salad add flavor and color. Usually signet marigolds are used in savory dishes, not sweet. Because these are not commonly grown as bedding plants in this area, you may have to order seeds online and start from seed in May. They are as easy to grow as the other marigolds.signet marigolds

Nasturtium flowers (Tropaelum majus) are very flavorful and are used to add a pepper taste. There is a wide variety of nasturtium flower colors and shapes but they are usually bright orange, yellow, or red. The varieties with a prominent funnel shape are great for stuffing with cream cheese or tuna salad. The entire flower can garnish a vegetable dish, or the petals can be sprinkled on green beans for contrast. These savory flowers are great for finger or tea sandwiches, butter for potatoes or seafood, green salads, or cream or goat cheese. Think of using nasturtiums to add red petals to an orange butternut squash or yellow petals to a red tomato soup. The nasturtium leaves also are edible so you can layer a blossom on a leaf for added interest.

Other edible flowers that bloom in the summer include fuchsia, gladiolus, hibiscus, hollyhock, and rose of Sharon. There are many more plants with edible flowers, including spring and fall bloomers, vegetable flowers and herb flowers but we will save that information for future articles. This list of edible and non-edible flowers will give you more ideas.

Edible Flowers from the Summer Garden

roseSummer is here and the garden flourishes. As you pick flowers for arrangements and harvest vegetables for dinner, you may want to experiment with another crop: edible flowers. Chances are you edible flowers in your garden already. Edible flowers can add flavor, color, and interest to just about anything – drinks, desserts, and main dishes. Edible flowers are flowers from plants that can be eaten safely. While many are tasty and used for flavor, others add color and interest to a meal, decorate a dessert, or garnish a cocktail. Continue reading

In a Vase on Monday: Marigolds for Autumn Color

Just good old fashioned marigolds but makes a great fall flower for the vase. Have been saving the seed each year and planting again until I forget where they originally came from. Easiest flower for saving seed. #inavaseonmonday



Successes in my Virginia Garden: July 2016

Cardinal climber among oregano and sage

Cardinal climber among oregano and sage

July is a good time to take stock of the garden and determine what worked and what didn’t. This year I tried growing cardinal climber because I have banisters and rails in several locations on my property. Cardinal climber (Ipomoea x multifida) is a flowering vine, grown as an annual in Virginia. It is easy to grow indoors in the spring from seed which I obtained from Renee’s Garden. In May, I transplanted them outside and trained them up to the banisters with yarn. They learned quickly and began to wrap themselves around the banisters. Now that it is hot, they bloom every day in full sun. The flowers are bright red and simple but I discovered that they add a pop of color against the other plants. The leaves are very lacy and the vines are light enough to weave into neighboring plants (I like it when two or more plants tumble into each other’s space).  Cardinal climber is a winner in my book.

Vanilla Cream marigold with Cossack Pineapple ground cherry

Vanilla Cream marigold with Cossack Pineapple ground cherry

The other winner flower this year is ‘Vanilla Cream’, part of the Alumia series of French marigolds from Park’s Seed. I started the seed indoors in the spring although it was not necessary, I could have started them outside later. In May I plant them outside in a row in front of a vegetable bed so the lawn service crew wouldn’t get too close to the veggies with the weed wacker. The marigold plants have filled out nicely. Each bushy plant has several blooms at a time. The flowers are unusual for a marigold, they are anemone-shaped and bright yellow. I like the fact that they are a clear solid yellow — they glow like beacons in the garden.

ground cherry

husks pulled back from ground cherry fruit on spoon

Speaking of yellow, this year I grew Cossack Pineapple ground cherries. I bought seed from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and started them indoors under lights in very early spring. I was surprised at how well they germinated. In May, I transplanted several in my tomato patch and although I thought I gave them enough space I did not realize how fast they grew. Mine are a few feet wide and tall and completely cover the ground. Members of the tomato family, the fruit is small like a pea covered in a papery husk. The husks are green on the plant and gradually turn yellow and drop to the ground. I have learned that some of the ones on the ground are empty, maybe something got to them before I did, so I gather the ones on the ground and gently touch the yellow ones on the plant to see if they will drop into my hand. The fruit really does taste like pineapple but without the zing so more like a cross between a pineapple and an apple. They can be eaten raw, used in desserts, or used in savory dishes like salsa.

These are just a few success stories in my garden, more to come!

Seedlings Ready to Go — Waiting for Rain to Stop!

Just waiting for the rain to stop so can plant marigolds, beans, and pumpkins!

marigoldsMarigolds, an annual that flowers all summer and into fall, can be started from seed easily (and cheaply if you saved seeds from last year!). I find it is best to start in a small container and then transplant. You can direct sow but birds may get them or rain may wash them away.

I had an old cell pack from something I bought at the nursery and filled with seed starting mix. Using a pencil to create a hole, I plopped a marigold seed into each cell, and watered. You can start inside under lights but it is not worth the space when you can  start outside in April and May and bring in if frost threatens. These are ready to transplant into the garden, it just has to stop raining!

beansBeans are so easy to grow you can direct sow or start in a container. Large seeds work well with jiffy peat pellets. After letting the pellets sit in a tray of water until they fully expand, pull back the netting at the top with two pencils, poke a hole, drop one bean per pellet and cover with soil.

bean rootsThese were started a while ago and have been ready to go into the garden bed but it has been raining!! You can see how the roots have come through the pellets and have interconnected themselves with other beans. When I plant these into the garden, I will separate, take off the netting, and remove the colored paper clips, which are my way of identifying the type of bean. I am starting different types of beans to celebrate this year as the International Year of Pulses (see my January article, https://pegplant.com/2016/01/25/celebrate-the-international-year-of-the-pulses-eat-more-beans/).

Pumpkins also are large seeds that are easy to grow. This one is from seed saved from last year’s Halloween  pumpkin, one seed per  jiffy peat pellet (see last Halloween’s article on saving seed, https://pegplant.com/2015/10/31/happy-halloween-and-dont-forget-to-save-those-pumpkin-seeds/). I love the way it is so self-contained but it is not quite ready to be transplanted. The large “leaves” are the cotyledons, formed during the embryonic stage. The inner piece of green are the true leaves emerging. I am sure by the time it stops RAINING, the true leaves will have grown to the point that this will be ready to transplant into the garden if it does not FREEZE again!! pumpkin seed