Edible Flowers & Herbs for Your Containers
May 03 2022 Kevin Keane

Edible Flowers & Herbs for Your Containers

This week’s topics; 

  • A Planted container with edible flowers & herbs
  • A few jobs for the week ahead

It’s great to have a pot or container full of colourful plants out on the patio or at the back door and as an added bonus you can have some edible flowers as part of the mix or have it all edible or culinary uses. You can have some of the plants in the container that you’ll use in refreshing drinks and cocktails, plants that you’ll use as a garnish or to decorate cakes or salads or some you’ll freeze in ice cubes and drop them into your Gin & Tonic. I’ll go through a range of plants that you can add to containers and you can make up your own recipe with your own favorites.

Flowers are best when picked fresh from the garden and picking them early in the morning before they get too much sun is best. You can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days if needed and always give them a bit of a wash to remove any bugs or dirt before using them.

Pansies and Violas are excellent flowers to use in the kitchen and are really versatile along with being colourful and long lasting in containers - you can use the petals to garnish salads or to decorate the tops of cakes for a beautiful splash of colour or freeze them in ice cubes and add them to some refreshing summer drinks - violas are the smaller flowers and are probably easier to use, they have a sweet, mildly spicy flavour and are a great garnish for almost any dish.

Nasturtiums are another great plant for its ornamental and culinary uses, and both the leaves and the flowers have a peppery, spicy flavor and add a great bite to salads. They come in a range of colours including orange, yellow and red, easy to grow and a source of iron. Both the flowers and leaves, chopped, can be used in vinaigrettes, sauces, and dips and you can also use the flowers to decorate cakes and desserts.

Orange or Lemon scented geraniums are perfect in containers and will flower all Summer long, the leaves have a lovely zingy citrus scent and can also be grown inside on a window sill to help keep flies away. These are another plant that you can freeze the leaves in ice cubes and make a tasty refreshing addition to drinks -  Lemon-Scented Daiquiris or Gin & Tonics. You can also use the leaves and flowers in salads, deserts or to flavour tea.

Calendulas are such a great plant to grow - super easy from seed or in a tray of bedding plants and they flower for ages - usually in orange or yellow flowers - sometimes referred to as “poor man's saffron”. The leaves and petals of calendulas are edible, they are great to garnish salads, use when cooking scrambled eggs or quiches and use when making salsas and great for soup - they have a peppery, slightly bitter flavour and the colourful petals add a great decoration to dishes.

Chives are another great addition to a mixed planted container - they have lovely light purple, edible flowers with a slight onion flavour - they are great garnish for dishes and can be mixed in a salad and the flavour and colour really suit egg dishes, use them mixed through softened butter as an alternative to garlic butter or add them to potato salad - so lots of uses and again easy to grow and widely available as plants or to grow from seed.

There are lots of variety of Mint that are good to grow in containers, we’ve got Moroccan Mint, Strawberry Mint, Apple Mint, Spearmint and even chocolate Mint - mint can be a little invasive so sometime good to grow in a pot within a bigger pot - plunge planting, where you bury the pot in the compost or soil in a bigger pot to prevent the plant from taking over. The flavours of the different varieties of mint are great for desserts, cocktails and refreshing drinks and a sprig of mint can look great as a garnish in both drinks and desserts.

Other edible plants to consider are cornflowers, dianthus, sunflowers, primrose, lavender - all with different strengths of flavour so use as appropriate or just enjoy the great colour and scent that they add to beds or containers

 

A few jobs for the week ahead;

  • Plant up hanging baskets and window boxes for colour that will last all summer - use some water retaining gel and feed with some tomato feed or Nutri One
  • Keep an eye out for slugs for any recently planted flowers or veg plants - little and often is the key for using some organic slug pellet
  • Look at planting up some herbs for a container at the back door - all easy to grow and great to have close to hand to use fresh and enjoy the homegrown flavour.
  • Treat the lawn with some feed & weed and set it up to look good all summer