Gardener's Grapevine 2012.07.18

Written by David Green.

The break from the heat was nice, I guess. It’s funny how less than 100 degrees can feel like heaven. All this heat has baked my peas in the vegetable garden and they looked so nice. We pulled the vines this past week and the potatoes are not ready yet. All the water in the world couldn’t save them, they can’t ever take the heat. This year I think I could have planted them in February and been safe.

Weird hardly describes our weather in the past year. Anyone who knows Art and me knows we live in what a lot of people refer to as the Rutledge house. In my great-grandmother’s time, it would have been the Stanager house.

We have lived here and worked on this house the majority of our married life. We’ve found lots of things that fall into the “what the heck” category and a few “eeewwww” items such as  the mummified cat in the crawl space. We thought it crawled under there and died, but we couldn’t figure out how as it is sealed. Then we read an article in Old House Journal that told how Victorians often put mummified cats in their basements and attics to ward off evil spirits. The real catcher was that people today collect these things. Some folks just need a different hobby. Anyway, ours went to that great garbage heaven in Adrian known as the dump.

This magazine is interesting. It covers a little of everything to do with homes.  Lots of DIY, Q&A, old homes for sale, new product evals, and of course, my favorite—gardening. Just like everything in my life these days, I get to this magazine when I get to it, which is never the month it arrives, probably because I’d have to pry it out of Art’s hands first. I came home from work today and sat for a few minutes checking out an issue that I hadn’t seen yet, and there was an article in it about edible flowers.

Some of the flowers everyone knows about like nasturtiums and lavender. The article said to stuff the centers of nasturtiums with cream cheese or fold them into an omelet, as they have a peppery punch to them and add color to the table.

A new use for lavender was to grind the buds into a powder and mix one tablespoon into two cups of superfine sugar to add a fragrant flavor to many things including lemonade and whipped cream. It sounds really good. I like to fold lavender into frosting.

Flowers I did not know you could eat were cornflowers, which have an earthy clove-like taste, but cloves can be really overpowering, so I would go easy with this one. Another edible flower is daylilies. You can eat the closed buds or remove the bitter stamens and spoon chicken salad or such into the flower cup. White, cream and yellow are the sweetest varieties. 

Portulaca is a flower used to thicken soups and add vitamins to salads. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible and have a salty spinach-like flavor. While some flowers are edible, not all are and it would be wise to check out a flower prior to using it on the dinning table as some can be poisonous.

This week I noticed the Queen Annes Lace is blooming as is the chickory along the roadsides. Both are extremely drought tolerant. With the downturn in the economy, our ditch banks are not being mowed like in the past, so these beautiful flowers have made a comeback. If you’re bored, take a road trip and look for different wildflowers. It makes for a pleasant afternoon.

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