Wild and edible flowers - tamed for the table

I love a new project and my latest adventure is to grow the maximum number of edible flowers I can this year.  Things started in earnest yesterday with the delivery of my wild flower seeds ordered from sararaven.com.  An enticing package was eagerly torn open and out spilled an array of coloured coded seed packets and a really useful leaflet – “how to sow your seeds”.  Game on.



Great excitment my Sarah Raven seeds have arrived

I got some encourage last year when I realised that my neglected allotment yielded 3 or 4 months of borage flowers which had obligingly self seeded themselves from the previous year’s sowing.  Throw in a tasty (and really quite spicy) harvest of nasturtiums from the garden and the flowers from courgettes and a new crop of artichokes allowed to flower (really should have picked these earlier and made use of the globes) and a realisation grew that this could be extended.

PJ taste wild flowers Sheffield grown in 2012

So how am I going to tackle this task?  The first job will be to prepare the soil in my allotment a job which really should have been done before the winter by digging in manure and compost, removing weeds and breaking down the soil into a finer tilth.  However I am a great believer that it’s never too late and some action is a lot better than a lot of sloth.  There is a bonus in this belated early spring digging as removing all the dandelions will yield a crop of roots.  These will be dried and roasted in a challenge to make a coffee substitute better than the pretty appalling barley cup I remember drinking (why?) as a student.  The next job will be to understand the bewildering differences between hardy annuals, annuals, biennials and perennials essential as they demand different sowing times, conditions and general care.  Luckily the leaflet from Sarah Raven is a great help and is obviously full of tried and tested best practice which I hope will guide me through.

The flowers of PJ taste Sheffield grown globe artichokes 2012

So here are the seeds I have and I hope to report back through the year to show how they and I are getting on:

Cowslips Primula veris
Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’       
Nasturtium ‘Black Velvet’       
Sorrel Buckler Leaf               
Wild Primrose Primula vulgaris   
Tagetes minuta       
Anchusa azurea ‘Dropmore’    
Garlic chives
Calendula officinalis Indian Prince       

Truely wild cowslips, beautifully situated on the banks of Bala lake – 14th April 2012

And finally what do we do with edible flowers – eat them of course!  Heres a couple of dishes last year in which we incorporated them:

Squares of Malva Pudding (flavoured with apricot) with local Crème Fraiche and very local Nasturiums made for Kuoni November 2012 (yes the plants were still flowering in November!)

Wedding cake with PJ taste grown borage, nasturium. poppy with whirlowhall Farm raspberries