Foraging; Edible Flowers in a Dry Summer Garden

My garden had some special visitors recently, when my niece and my god-daughter came to visit for a couple of days. The girls both love exploring the outdoors, cooking and learning new things, so it was a natural that we would head out to the garden to see what we could nibble and pick.

harvesting bolted kale

Emily and Anika clip leaves and flowers from bolted purple kale.

 

Fortunately, even in a dry year, where we’ve had less than normal rain and I’ve  left many parts of the garden un-irrigated, to save water, there are still plenty of things to find to add to a summer salad.

The girls found late blue-berries, early black-berries and edible radish pods to nibble – but the highlight of the evening salad were the edible flowers.

 

sampling edible flowers

The girls sample their foraged goodies as they go.

 

The mainstay of the mid-season flower choices were the blossoms from members of the brassica family that had bolted and were blooming away in their leggy splendor.

Providing color and a zesty mustard-y bite, each type of blossom tasted reminiscent of the vegetable or herb they had come from and provided plenty of options for customization of the final flower salad mix.

 

edible flowers and leaves in bowl

Assorted greens and edible flowers ready to be made into a salad.

 

One of the favorites was the flower of the “wild” radish (Raphanus sativus or R. raphanistrum), a weed that I allow to grow in certain places because it doesn’t take over the garden and thrives with no water, from me, at all. The plants secret is the really long tap root that germinates with the winter rains and somehow sustains the plant until late into the summer. Wild Radish can be a problem in wildlands and agricultural fields, so eating them before they set seed seems like a social service.

 

wild radish flowers and pods

Wild radish flowers come in a variety of colors and the seed pods are delicious when young.

 

Many herbs are very hardy, especially the perennial ones. When herbs are flowering, their blossoms can provide colorful and tasty additions to a foraged salad. Flowering now in my garden are; Society Garlic (Tulbaghia), Marjorum (Origanum) and the yellow-flowered, perennial Arugula (Diplotaxis muralis) aka Rustic Arugula or Wild Rocket.

 

edible flower salad with mustard and radish

Rustic arugula and society garlic  flowers will add plenty of flavor to this foraged mixed salad.

 

So, the girls found plenty of things to highlight their salad, in spite of the stingy water.  Fortunately I like to let some of my vegetables keep their flowers and finish their life cycle, rather than pulling them out as soon as they bolt. (I have to admit this is partially by design and partially from not-enough-hours-in-the-day).

 

kids enjoying a foraged meal

The girls relax with a drink after foraging for their salad.

 

To let the flavors of  edible flowers really shine, choose a balanced classic vinaigrette  or lightly dress with a mild creamy style like Green Goddess or a homemade Ranch. Of course, like any meal, a salad tastes best when you appreciate where it comes from and enjoy it with people you like to be around.

 

edible flower salad with berries

The lettuce came from the farmers market, but the rest of the ingredients are from a low-water, low-maintenance, summer garden. Yum.

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Categories: Enjoying the Garden, Things to Eat

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2 Comments on “Foraging; Edible Flowers in a Dry Summer Garden”

  1. July 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

    I love edible flowers. I should plant more.

  2. July 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    Definitely. Or just don’t pull out your brassicas too soon and ta’ da!

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