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Top photo: Calendula in bloom. You only eat the color petals which come in many shades of yellow, orange, and red. Calendula lives on for many years in our mild temperate West Coast maritime climate. Plus it self-seeds readily.

Edible flowers in your garden and salad bowl

Edible flowers add interest, color, and piquant taste to any salad. After 10 years of homesteading and gardening, we've found that we like 6 flowers the best for their looks and taste: calendula, nasturtium, edible Chrysanthemum (shungiku, whose greens are used for chop suey), zucchini (I leave most to grow into zucchinis), kale (great when few other edible flowers are around, like in early spring or late fall), and borage. Apple blossoms are nice, too, but we don't eat them because we want the fruits more. We don't include figs, even though what we think of as fig fruits are actually the inverted flower of a fig tree. Of course, broccoli is a flower, too, so we actually do eat more than just the six. Violets are good to eat, too, and add a nice purple color to salads, but it's difficult for us to grow them in our sunny and dry location, so we make do without them.

Edible flowers are great in many other ways, too. They attract beneficial birds and insects to help with pollination and insect control. Their ripened seeds feed wildlife. And they are beautiful to look at. We interplant them everywhere with our vegetables and at the base of fruit trees.

Nasturtiums are probably the most well-known edible flower of them all. Its unique taste with a bit of bitterness and tang goes well with greens. And the colors are gorgeous; you can have nasturtiums in yellows, oranges, reds, and a combo of these colors. The spicy, bitter leaves are edible, too, and in small quantities are good in salads.

ven though sunflower is a flower, the part of it that we eat are actually the ripened seeds, so technically a sunflower doesn't qualify as an edible flower.

This is not an edible flower, but since I haven't made a section on garden flowers, I'm posting the photo of this gorgeous flower here. Please don't go and eat this flower!

This is borage. It's the tastiest flower of them all, in my opinion. It tastes somewhat like cucumber. Borage is in the same family as comfrey, which we grow all over the garden because the leaves are great for compost tea and mulch. It's in the bio-active category as it helps speed up decomposition. Borage leaves are rough and abrasive to the touch and resemble comfrey leaves.

Our dinner salads won't be as nice, colorful, or tasty without edible flowers.

without edible flowers.

d the compost pile. You push into the flower and dislodge the blue edible petals and discard the rest which is bitter.