The COVID-19 lockdowns have kept many people at home resulting in a renewed interest in self-reliance skills such as growing food. In many parts of the world where drought is a frequent occurrence however, such as Australia, across the African continent and in the state of California, water shortages and drops in groundwater levels are a threat to farmers and the humble home gardener.
Edible landscapes are the most practical form of gardening when faced with water scarcity and shortages. For those who love ornamentals but can’t justify the water expenditure on impractical blooms, growing plants with edible flowers is a great alternative as they look good in the garden, and they have practical culinary uses too.
Here is a list of edible flowers to consider planting and to harvest from your organic gardens:
An annual herb that is also considered medicinal as the flowers, leaves and stems are used to treat fever, cough and depression. Borage grows to 90cm and has striking purple-blue flowers that can be added to soups, drinks and stews.
2. Zucchini blossoms
Often found in farmers’ markets with the zucchini still attached, the zucchini blossom is a beautiful treat that is often fried in batter, baked and stuffed with cheese and eaten raw in salads. If you’re growing zucchini plants, don’t throw the flowers in the compost bin, add to your meals instead to reduce food waste.
3. Garlic chives
The white flowers of garlic chives are edible, along with the leaves, stalks and even unopened flower bulbs. Unsurprisingly, garlic chives flowers have a garlic flavour that can enhance stir-frys, salads, soups and stews.
4. Passionfruit flowers
While most growers will leave passionfruit flowers to grow as fruit, they are edible. In fact, the leaves are edible, whether cooked or eaten raw. They can be used as a green leafy vegetable in salads, soups, curries and even in stir-fries.
5. Dandelion flowers
A common plant found in many backyards across the world, the dandelion is also a widely recognised edible weed. All parts of the dandelion can be consumed – stem, flower, leaves and even its roots. The yellow petals of the dandelion flower can eaten in salad or thrown in tea.
A pretty edible flower (and closely related to the pansy) that makes a great groundcover and grows well in pots. Adds a splash of colour in salads, cocktails and even on desserts and cupcakes.
This vigorous shrub can grow up to four meters and showcases fragrant and delicate white flowers that are often used medicinally in teas. The blooms are also used in cordial, wine, drinks, desserts and jams.
8. Society Garlic
A drought-hardy perennial related to the garlic, Society Garlic’s delicate lilac flowers and leaves are used in making soups and salads. It also makes a great companion plant in ecological gardens.
One of the most popular plants in a permaculture garden for the purposes of companion planting, marigolds are easy to grow and its flowers are edible too. The bright flowers can be a little bitter but when adding to a salad, it is less noticeable. It can also be steeped in tea.
A trailing plant that can grow rampantly in the right conditions, all parts of the nasturtium –flower, stems, leaves and seed pod – are edible and adds a peppery flavour similar to watercress when added to salads.
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Cover image by Toa Heftiba.