June Gardening. As we rapidly approach the longest day of the year the extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on a vigorous burst of growth. This also means that weeds will also sprout up from nowhere so keep on top of them by hoeing regularly in dry conditions. This and the next few articles will feature both edible and medicinal plants. Edible flowers add colour, flavour and texture to both savoury and sweet dishes, as well as cordials, oils & butters. Edible flowers have been used for thousands of years, and recipes can be traced back as far as 3,000B.C. Today, many restaurants around the world are using edible flowers to enhance their dishes. Even if you are not keen on ‘nouvelle cuisine’ many flowers are nice to eat and it’s surprising how many flowers growing in our garden are edible. Growing flowers for eating is easy, although there are a few practical considerations. It’s always best to grow your own edible flowers, so you can be sure that they are clean, fresh and free from pesticides, pests and disease. Avoid faded or dusty flowers from roadsides or area frequented by livestock or dog walkers. People susceptible to allergies, especially pollen, should not eat flowers. And as with any food and salad preparation always maintain good personal hygiene and practices. Should any of your plants grown for edible flowers be infested with insects or disease these are best dealt with by cutting back and encouraging re-growth as no pesticides are specifically approved for use by home gardeners on edible flowers. When collecting flowers for eating accurate identification is essential, if you are in any doubt do not eat. Pick young flowers on dry mornings, so that the colours and flavours will be at their most intense. For best results, use flowers immediately or refrigerate in a plastic bag. Dried or frozen flowers are best used cooked. Generally only the petals are used, discard all other parts of the flowers. Smaller flowers in umbels can be cut off and used whole. Edible flowers from the Vegetable Garden: Courgette/ Marrows: Use male flowers as not to affect yields. Can be eaten hot in tomato soup, or cold stuffed with cooked rice, cheese or nuts. Garden Peas: Add flowers and young stems to salads for a fresh pea taste. Part 2: Edible Flowers: Herbs & Ornamentals to follow in July’s edition. Whatever June brings, I hope you are able to enjoy some time simply relaxing in your garden. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk Disclaimer: P&R Garden Supplies has researched all the edible flowers listed and to the best of our knowledge all the information provided is accurate and true. However, individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk. No liability exists against P&R Garden Supplies or any member of P&R Garden Supplies. P&R Garden Supplies always recommends following good hygiene practices. We cannot guarantee that everyone will react positively to the edible plants listed and P&R Garden Supplies cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction, side effect, allergy, illness or injury caused by the flowers or information provided in this article. In case of doubt please consult your doctor.