Gardening

"Harvest what you have"

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Five Edible Garden Flowers

Here are five edible garden flowers you might enjoy.  Bon apetit!

Daylily

 

These grow in abundance in our area. We have eaten the blossoms raw in our salads.  They have a nice mild flavor. Some say the taste is between asparagus and sweet peas, others say it is more akin to iceberg lettuce.  Personally, I think it is somewhere in between. We have also tried these mixed with oxeye daisies and pickled. One interesting quality to note is that the Old Farmer's Alamanac says that these are used to thicken soups (see here).  For that purpose, we have dried some blossoms to add to our soups this fall and winter.  I will have to report on the effectiveness of the dried blossoms for that purpose in a future post. 

Borage

While the plant is a bit prickly, the blossoms themselves are smooth and taste like cucumbers. These are fabulous for adding both color and flavor to your salad. The blossoms and leaves can also be dried for tea. As a bonus, borage seed oil is high in essential fatty acids and is reportedly good for helping with inflammation (see here). This bonus makes it a good candidate for your survival garden, especially if you have an oil press. 

 

Nasturtium

 

Nasturtium is a popular vining flower in garden boxes and garden beds.  While some have likened the taste of the blossom to diesel, I found it to be quite pleasant.  It has a flavor similar to radish or a spicy turnip and is a great addition to your summer salad. Both the leaves and blossoms are edible and flavorful.

 

We planted these in the corners of our garden beds this year as an experiment.  Since they had not grown well for us before and I had not done a lot of research other than to find out they were edible, I didn’t realize that they were a vining flower.  They spread out all over the garden! Next year, we will be planting them next to a trellis to allow them to climb and to get more usage out of our raised bed.  Vertical gardening in small spaces can be such a help!

 

Rose

Roses have long been used in beauty products and fragrances, but did you know that they are edible as well? You can eat rose petals fresh. Like borage, they add color, flavor, and vitamins to salads and lemonade (see the blog post about summer hydration here).

This flower is very versatile. Its petals can be dried for teas and recipes, used in drinks, infused in honey, infused in oil, or made into rosewater. Rose water is a common ingredient in baked goods such as Turkish delight, cakes, and cookies.  It also makes a nice addition to some savory dishes. See the Ode a la Rose website here for some ideas on cooking with roses.

Once the rose blossoms are all gone and fall has come, you can collect the rosehips from your bushes. Rosehips can be made into jelly and syrup, or dried for teas. They are known to be a good source of vitamin C.  In fact, during WWII, the British made rosehip syrup as a vitamin C supplement for their children when wartime rations did not provide much in the way of fresh fruit. (1) If you choose to experiment with rosehips, be sure to strain out the seeds, which contain fine hairs that can irritate your throat.

Squash blossom

This is one flower I have yet to try.  These blossoms can be eaten raw. A good friend of mine, however, told me that fried squash blossom is one of her favorite dishes. Intrigued by this recommendation, I looked up fried squash blossom recipes and found a fried stuffed squash blossom recipe (click here) from Well-Seasoned Studio  that sounds amazing. I can’t wait to try it!

 

(1) https://rosellyspread.com/history/

 

A word of caution: Always be sure to properly identify all plants and avoid plants that have been sprayed with chemicals!

Nasturtium

Orange mint hanging to dry

Why Grow & Forage Herbs?

Growing and foraging herbs are easy skills to learn that will benefit your preparedness plan, help with your budget, and maximize your health. See below for more...

Adding herbs to your preparedness plan only makes sense.  Are you planning to “bug in”? If so, you will want to be able to grow your own food. Growing herbs is an easy way to begin even if you have never planted your own garden.  Herbs can be planted directly in the ground, in raised beds, or in containers.  Many of them can be grown in indoor containers year-round. Are you planning to “bug out”? Then learning how to identify and harvest plants in your area will be crucial.  What can be used raw, what needs to be cooked, and what can be dried for later use are all good questions to investigate now before you find yourself needing this information. If circumstances become dire, having a way to add flavor to your food will help avoid food fatigue (a condition that can develop where, even though hungry, a person may not eat when given the same thing to eat over and over). (1) (2) This can be especially helpful with the young, who may not have yet developed the self discipline to eat if the food is bland.

 

Growing and foraging herbs can help save you money.  Having fresh herbs in your garden or in a pot means you do not have to buy them from the store.  While the seed is an initial investment (and the soil if you do not plan to use your own), you can easily recoup your money after a few cuttings. Beyond that, all it takes is water and perhaps some fertilizer (which you can make yourself) on occasion. To be even more frugal and self-sufficient, save the seed from your plants to use in your garden the following season.  Foraging herbs is practically free – all it takes is time and effort for you to find and collect them. Be sure to correctly identify any plant, to collect from spray-free areas, and to practice good foraging etiquette. 

 

Finally, growing and foraging your own herbs is beneficial to your health.  You can be assured of getting chemical free plants (do your research to avoid plants that may have been exposed to chemicals) to use in your teas and your dishes, which will decrease the toxic load on your body and increase your overall health. Discovering new plants to grow and forage broadens your repertoire of edibles and seasonings, adding variety to your diet. This expanded variety can help add vital nutrients to your diet, especially if times get tough or variety is hard to find in the stores (think of the shortages seen in the stores during the COVID era). Furthermore, some gut-health experts suggest that a wide variety of foods is important for a healthy intestinal tract.(3) Finally, many herbs have medicinal value and, if used properly, can help heal you in times of illness.


There are many resources out there for tips and tricks both for gardening and foraging.  My biggest foraging go-to is The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies. This is the book I tend to check first for plant identification and herbal remedy suggestions for just about any condition.  An herbalist friend recommended Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine to me last year. It even has some recipes for meals that you can try. The Self-Sufficient Backyard is another book that touches on gardening, foraging, herbs, and SO much more.  There are many more guides out there that are useful, some of which are specific to your own region. So, what is keeping you from starting your herb journey?  

 

(1) https://www.apetito.co.uk/news/how-to-combat-food-fatigue

(2) https://millerfortexas.com/why-am-i-tired-of-eating-food/

(3) https://www.wellandgood.com/eating-same-thing-every-day/


Note 1: Always be sure to properly identify all plants, forage from areas free from spray, and forage responsibly!


Note 2: This article includes affiliate links for your convenience. As an affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Easy Up Fencing

Do you have little knowledge or talent for fence building? Perhaps you are focused on planting your garden and don't have the time to build a fence right away.  If you have trouble with deer getting into your garden and need a quick fence to deter them, there is an option for keeping out the critters until you are able to build a permanent structure.  Tulle fencing may not seem like a sturdy alternative, but it works wonders for deterring deer and more...

I can't remember where I first heard about this option, but we implemented it last year.  It kept out deer, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. I even saw a hare attempting unsuccessfully to enter our garden area.  It jumped, hit the tulle, and bounced right back on its haunches.  It probably could have entered by crawling underneath the tulle, but it never attempted it.  This year we will also be using it to deter the neighbors' cats from using our garden as a litter box. We added bricks at the bottom to help discourage the felines from crawling underneath.

This fencing method is super simple (if I can do it, so can you!) and only requires three items to build.

Supplies:

-Tulle

- Plant Stakes

- Office Clips

Why tulle? Tulle allows air, sun, and water to pass through it.  You can put it around, or even over your plants without it blocking out the sun and you can water the plants right through it.  In spite of its lightness, the look and feel of it deters some of the animals.

Finding the supplies:

You can find tulle at many stores. I purchased mine from JoAnn Fabrics and Walmart.  It ran between .99/yard and 1.99/yard. I found the wider 72" tulle at JoAnn Fabrics. I was quite fortunate that their salesperson used this method of fencing the previous year and was able to give me a few tips. She put my initial doubts to rest by assuring me the tulle fencing works well. She said the deer don't like the feel of it on their noses and recommended the 72" wide fabric so we could leave the top to wave a bit in the wind as an extra deterrent.

Plant stakes and office clips are equally easy to find. Plant stakes can usually be found during spring in the gardening section at places like Lowes or Ace Hardware, or you can purchase them online. I found mine at Amazon.com.  You can find something similar to what I purchased here. Office clips can be found at any office supply store and in many department stores. I found medium size office clips at both Walmart and Staples.  They were under $5 for a pack of 15 at Staples in spring of 2023. They did have better deals online, so you can find a  better price per item by shopping around a bit.  Amazon had a much better price  online than what I found in the stores in 2023 (see here)

Building the fence:

I set the stakes at each outside corner of the garden area.  No tools were required.  All that was needed was to push them into the ground.  I found that twisting them back and forth a bit while holding very near the bottom helped the pointed edge to better work its way into the turf.  I also set stakes in between the corners to help secure the middle of the sides and to keep it from sagging. Before erecting the sides, I planned where I wanted the ends of the tulle to meet so that I could easily unclip the ends to enter the garden. I wanted access at two points, so I cut my tulle into two sections.  I ran one from the center of the tall garden bed to the gap between the two shorter beds, using an office clip to secure the tulle to each stake at the top and the bottom of the stake. I ran the second piece in the other direction, clipping the beginning to the same post as the beginning of the first piece and the end to the same post as the end of the first piece.  This left me with the two pieces clipped together in the middle of the tall bed and the other ends clipped together near the center of the two shorter beds. To access the garden, I only need to unclip the tulle where the two pieces meet to make an opening.  When erecting the tulle this year, I made sure to leave a couple of inches at the bottom on which to set the bricks and the rest I left at the top to flutter in the breeze.   

Usage review:

These materials are durable, but not indestructible. Wind was the most detrimental factor to this set up. We had one really strong wind storm last year that bent a few of the stakes.  We tried gently bending them back into position this year, but the stakes I purchased were hollow and broke from the metal stress. Nevertheless, I used them again this year by breaking off the bent part.  They are somewhat shorter, but still usable. Also, one section of the tulle tore a bit in the last storm so I just trimmed it off. In spite of this, we were able to re-use all of our materials from last year and had enough stakes left over to enclose a bush on the hill and two more garden boxes that we added this year.  We only had to buy a bit more tulle and a few more office clips for the new beds.

Would I change anything? This set up worked really well, though I would definitely prefer a sturdier stake. However, given the temporary nature of this type of fencing, the cost difference would have to be fairly minimal before I would consider making the purchase.

I wanted to add a final thought. I have no illusions that this fence is the perfect deterrent. We have not had a deer jump the fence, but that is not to say that a deer couldn't jump the fence. What I do know, is that it is a deterrent and that it has helped protect our garden for the past two seasons.


This article contains affiliate links for your convenience.  As an affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

Should you wish to view the garden beds we use, you can find them here and here

Tulle "fencing" around the garden beds.