GardenWise with Edible Flower Power!

A Tasty & Fun Garden Project – Edible Flowers! 

I think the best first garden project for Spring should always be a fun small side project that you can successfully complete in a short period of time that will yield quick results.  It’s  such a confidence  booster  to  have  a  great success under your belt as you prepare to undertake larger garden projects over  the  next  three seasons.  An edible garden is a great small  project to  think about for Spring that will  become a favorite gift that keeps on giving.     

It can be difficult to find edible flowers to purchase, but they’re easy to grow yourself.  And there’s no greater personal touch when cooking for  family  and  friends  than  adding  edible flowers grown right  in  your  backyard.   Lavender, Marigolds, Thyme — they’re all edible!  For  the  freshest  tasting  goodies, your edible flowers should ideally be harvested in the cool, morning hours. If you’re not going to use the flowers immediately, cut  them  with  the  stems intact and keep them in water.  You can also store them in damp paper towels in the refrigerator.

Some tasty edible garden delights:

Lavender
Lavender has a sweet floral flavor, with a hint of lemon and citrus. Use as a garnish for sorbets or ice cream. Lavender also goes well with savory dishes.

Violas
Violas give a sweet perfumed flavor. The tender leaves and flowers can be eaten in a salad. Or the flowers can beautifully embellish desserts and iced drinks.

Sage
Sage flowers have a more delicate taste than the leaves, so be sure to be careful when pruning. Sage 
can be used in salads or as a garnish.

Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is indigenous to Southern Europe but is now cultivated worldwide. 
Lemon balm flowers have a gentle lemon scent and can be used as garnish.

Oregano
Oregano can be found growing wild on mountainsides of Greece and other Mediterranean countries where it is an herb of choice.  Oregano flowers can be used as you would the herb; it’s a milder version of plant’s leaf.

Marigolds
Marigold flavors range from spicy to tangy. Their sharp taste resembles saffron and the plant is sometimes referred to as poor man’s saffron. Their pretty petals can be sprinkled on soups, pasta or rice dishes, and salads.

Nasturtiums
Nasturtium blossoms have a sweet, spicy flavor similar to watercress. Their leaves add a peppery tang to salads. Use the entire flower to garnish platters, salads, and savory appetizers. Nasturtium seeds are edible as well when they are young and green and have been likened to capers when pickled.

Thyme
Like sage, thyme flowers have a milder taste than the leaves. Use as you would the herb — the flowers also make a beautiful garnish.

June Gardening Checklist

Hurry, Summer is Coming!  

It has been cold, warm, and wet this spring, which will be great for the summer But it’s made for a difficult time in trying to start and finish the usual spring garden chores. Here is a June list, a few days early.

Eliminating at least half of your lawn is a great green garden step, but if you’ve decided to keep your lawn areas, take care of them! Mowing and feeding your lawn areas is important for the continued health of the lawn. It will encourage the lawn to grow portfolio-landscapes_r1_c1_f4thick and green and help to keep it weed free. Mowing will  prevent seeds from forming on the grass or any weeds you may be cultivating, thus keeping them from spreading to other parts of the lawn. It is recommended to fertilize your established lawn several times through the season, but especially important in the spring. Choose a fertilizer that is suited for the type of grass you have and select slow-release, granular complete fertilizers for established lawns – they deliver a consistent supply of nutrients during the lawn’s fastest growth times. Fertilize at least one more time during the growing season, and apply a winter formula in early fall if one is recommended for your lawn  type. Don’t worry if you forget, research says that once a year, whenever you remember, is actually fine for established turf.

You say you don’t have weeds in your lawn?  You are a lucky gardener! For those of us who do, there are weed formulas that you can apply in the early summer months if you missed the April deadline. Again it is important to know what type of weeds you have and choose the most appropriate formula accordingly. Be advised if you are top seeding areas; you have to be very specific that you apply weed control that won’t affect the grass seed. As we try to be as eco-friendly as possible, we recommend you try natural formulas and products first.

As the early showers start to slow down, be sure to water your entire garden regularly. Although it doesn’t seem so, it is time to get all the warm weather vegetables in the ground. The soil temperature is warm enough and the cool nights aren’t going to be a problem for most plants. Be careful about working the soil when it is too wet though. After a good rain wait until the soil easily flows through your fingers before you get in and dig around. 

portfolio-landscapes_r1_c1_f5Many of you have asked about drought resistant flowers for planters and boxes. Planters  need to be watered once or even twice a day during the heat of summer. We have some suggestions for you if you are using annuals; begonia, salvia, marigolds, gazania, gallardia, portulaca and zinnias among others, all will tolerate drier conditions. They all come in many colors and sizes to choose. If you pair them with perennials  the list is endless. Here are only a few  of the many suggestions for perennials: dianthus, echinacea, helichrysum, lavandula, perovskia, rudbeckia, sedum and thyme. Be adventurous and combine different sizes, shapes and colors of foliage and flowers  to make a big impact.

Enjoy your garden; and always plan ahead for each changing season!