From the peppery heat of colourful Nasturtium flowers to the dainty white flowers of Garlic Chives with their punchy garlic/chive flavour or the hint of mild cucumber of pretty blue Borage, edible flowers are more than just decoration. They make dishes look more appealing, appetising and give little bursts of unusual and unexpected flavours.
Trendy TV shows like Master Chef have shown it's all the rage to dress up a dish with colourful, tasty edible flowers and as a home gardener it is very easy to pick a few flowers through the season that are an added bonus of the plant you have nurtured. A bolting Rocket can give beautiful dainty yellow/white flowers with a punchy peppery hit, herbs that have begun to flower like Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Basil or Oregano can liven up a salad or the home grower can choose to grow whatever flowers they wish to use for edible flowers like Nasturtiums.
Edible flowers are at their best picked shortly before use when they are at their freshest and plumpest. They deteriorate quickly making them difficult to buy in shops so a home grower has the advantage of picking them as and when required and creating individual, colourful dishes.
Here our some of our favourites that can add colour, flavour or both to a dish and also prettify the garden & veg plot.
Why not grow your own edible flowers and dress up your dishes like a Master Chef professional with your own individual home grown colourful and flavourful edible flowers. Perfect!
Jack with his Bean Stalk was missing a trick when he sowed his ‘magic beans’ - he missed the jewels that hung from the stalk, there was no need to climb to a different world as there is treasure buried within the foliage - tasty French Beans…
Home grown fresh seasonal produce is hard to beat and French Beans that can be picked whilst young, tender and stringless are at their peak of perfection. With pods that break in two with a snap rather than shop bought ones bendy ones that are past their best and travelled 1000’s of miles to our plate.
If you get the conditions right French Beans are very easy to grow and if the pods are regularly picked they can be very productive over a long period. However French Beans do not like cold conditions and will not take a frost of any sort so the most fool proof way to grow them in May is in a greenhouse or somewhere where frost will not touch these tender seedlings or be too cold or wet to prevent germination.
Our guide to French Bean sowing in May..
- Sow seeds 5cm deep into root-trainers or small pots & keep under cover.
- When seedlings are about 5cm tall and the risk of frost has passed, transplant outside after a period of 5-7 days ‘hardening off’
- Space plants 25cm apart and water well.
April is an excellent month to sow perennial herb seeds like Rosemary, Oregano, Sage and Thyme. A pot of herbs growing by your kitchen door will mean you will be just a couple of snips away from a bunch of fresh home-grown flavoursome leaves that will enhance meal times for years to come!
Here are 12 of our favourite perennial herbs that can be sown in April through to May and will return year after year with very little effort!
Thyme English Winter
Thyme Purple Creeping
Damping Off’ is a soil dwelling fungal disease that occurs in cool wet, poorly ventilated conditions. It can prevent seeds from germinating and cause seedlings to collapse & topple over as the base of the stem withers. Sometimes a fine cotton wool thread like appearance can be seen on the surface of the compost/soil.
To help prevent it occurring, use quality sterile seed sowing medium (compost/soil), use clean pots/trays, ensure the medium is not waterlogged or overwatered, sow seeds thinly to avoid overcrowded seedlings and have good ventilation as this reduces humidity which the disease loves.
If ‘damping off’ occurs remove infected seedlings immediately and you might just be able to salvage a few healthier seedlings by referring to the tips above.
Lemongrass is easier to grow than you may think. It's surprising that something as exotic as lemongrass can be grown in the UK, but this oriental flavoursome herb can do really well with a bit of warmth and a little attention.
Lemongrass seeds will require a heated propagator to get them germinating but once established this tender perennial can be kept outside during summer.
- Sow seeds (February to May) thinly on top of compost, in a seed tray & lightly tamp down to ensure good seed to soil contact. Do not cover seeds with compost.
- Place seed tray in a water tray to water from the bottom, as seeds will be displaced if watered from above.
- Place seed tray in a heated propagator and keep at 20°C. Germination is slow and can take between 15-25 days.
- When seedlings large enough to handle, 'prick out' into small pots and then 'pot on' into final pot when root system is well established.
- When risk of frost has passed and after a week of 'hardening off' move outside. Or keep in an unheated greenhouse but don't allow to get too hot!
- To harvest Lemongrass just carefully pull & lightly twist the stem to harvest the fleshy stem that is bound in a harder papery bark that is easily peeled away.
Lemongrass is a tender perennial and may make it through winter but must be moved indoors when temperatures fall below 8°C if it is to have any success in overwintering.
Home grown Lemongrass can be used fresh in Thai curries, stir-fries, herbal teas or popped into pot-pourris to perfume the house. A lovely variety that smells and tastes great!
See our Oriental & Herb Spice Collection Pack which contains 5 grow your own herbs & spices to make Thai inspired dishes & includes Lemongrass.