Compost bin or salad bowl? Last Spring I waited gleefully to see how many dandelions would come up in the garden, I then wondered out into the nearby lane to see how many more there were. I couldn’t wait to see an abundance of yellow flowers.

You may think that this is a strange pre-occupation for someone who says they love gardening, afterall, they are considered weeds. However, I only saw the possibilities of making marmalade and infusions. Dandelion marmalade is lovely and the leaves make a soothing tea.

The saying goes that “a weed is only a plant in the wrong place” and many of the plants we readily call weeds and would discard to the compost or green waste are in fact edible, nutritious and make lovely additions to salads, soups or as infusions.

The same is true of many common garden flowers. So as you’re hoeing and weeding this spring and summer take another look at them, you may just decide to add them to the pan as opposed to the bin.

Chickweed: Is a common perennial weed that often graces our gardens, the leaves and flowers can be picked and tossed into a salad.

 Photo Credit: Chickweed, Leslie Seaton via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Chickweed, Leslie Seaton via Compfight cc

Bittercress: Add the leaves to salads.

 Photo Credit: Bittercress, bobistraveling  via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Bittercress, bobistraveling via Compfight cc

Purslane: All parts of young plants can be eaten, and new shoots can be added to salads. At later stages of maturity only the leaves are good for eating.

 Photo Credit: Common Purslane, Jason Hollinger  via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Common Purslane, Jason Hollinger via Compfight cc

Clover: Mild and sweet. Often used in infusions. Add the flower heads to salads.

 Photo Credit: Yellow bee on clover, Waferboard via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Yellow bee on clover, Waferboard via Compfight cc

Ajuga (Bugle weed): This plant which is often seen in shady places covering the ground may seems like an unlikely salad option. However, the new growth can be eaten as salad greens.

 Photo Credit: Ajuga, Forest and Kim Starr via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Ajuga, Forest and Kim Starr via Compfight cc

Dandelions: Best picked in spring and early summer when their leaves are young (on maturity they are slightly bitter). Add raw to salads or you can lightly sauté in a stir fry.

Dandelions make lovely marmalades and teas  Photo Credit: Dandelion, Slgckgc via Compfight  cc

Dandelions make lovely marmalades and teas Photo Credit: Dandelion, Slgckgc via Compfight cc

Daises: Both the buds and petals can be eaten. Best to pick just before eating so that they don’t close-up. Add them to salads.

 Photo Credit: daisies03, Dave Bleasdale via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: daisies03, Dave Bleasdale via Compfight cc

Nasturtiums: Often used in hanging baskets and to climb up bean poles, these come in a range of lovely colours from deep rich velvety reds to pale lemons the colour of a pale moon. They are annual flowers but seed easily and they will appear year after year if planted in the ground. The blossoms are sweet and pretty as a picture in salads as garnish. The leaves can also be eaten and have a slightly peppery taste adding a kick to salads and soups.

Nasturtiums.  Edible flowers with a peppery taste bringing vibrancy to summer salads.

Nasturtiums. Edible flowers with a peppery taste bringing vibrancy to summer salads.

Calendula: Pot marigolds are wonderful as a husbandry plant as a natural pest control in organic gardening and you will see many used among vegetables on allotments and in gardens. The flowers can be used as a saffron substitute due to their wonderful colour. The gorgeous yellow or orange petals can be added to salads or a stir fry.

 Photo Credit: Calendula, Yun Huang Yong via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Calendula, Yun Huang Yong via Compfight cc

Cornflowers: Pretty cornflowers have a slightly sweet to spicy taste and can used as a garnish for salads.

 Photo Credit: Cornflowers, David Wright via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Cornflowers, David Wright via Compfight cc

Rocket: Once you plant rocket in your garden it is likely to pop-up in different places as the seeds spreads. Both wild and cultivated varieties can show-up in the garden. The leaves are good in salads with a lovely peppery taste.

 Photo Credit: Rocker Leaves, Ula Gillion via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Rocker Leaves, Ula Gillion via Compfight cc

Pinks: Dianthus has a wonderful clove-like scent and used as decoration to be added to salads or desserts.

 Photo Credit: Pink swirls, aussiegall  via Compfight  cc

Photo Credit: Pink swirls, aussiegall via Compfight cc

Pelargoniums: The lovely lemon-scented variety is a favourite of mine. Add the flowers as garnish to salads.

Lemon scented Pelargoniums

Lemon scented Pelargoniums

Voilets: The flowers make for pretty additions to salads.

Lovely violets (violas) come in a range of pretty colours.  Perfect as garnish on salads.

Lovely violets (violas) come in a range of pretty colours. Perfect as garnish on salads.

 

A good guide book to edible weeds and flowers is useful in understanding which plants can be eaten. Only use plants that have not been in contact with chemicals – herbicides, pesticides etc., Wash leaves before using. Flower petals just require a good blow or shake to dislodge and insects or soil that maybe sat in the petals.

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  1. disappearingwoman

    Very interesting! When I was a child, my grandmother and I would gather the leaves of the dandelion plant to make salad. She made a wonderful sweet and vinegary dressing for them. I’ve never heard of making marmalade with dandelions.
    I’ve had violets as a garnish on salads at restaurants, but have never tried any of the other things. This was really informative! :)

    Reply
    • oneorganicjamaican

      Thanks for sharing and for stopping by :-) I’ve just bought a fabulous book on hedgerow plants so will be updating this with some other top tips watch this space :-)

      Reply
  2. mamasandbebes

    I Love This Post ! I just ventured into foraging and made dandelion tea from the roots and leaves last year. So many great ideas and tips. I love the pictures. Do you have a foraging book you recommend?

    Reply
    • oneorganicjamaican

      Hi, sorry it’s taken me a little while. Work and loving life keeping me a busy chick :-). Thank you for visiting! I’m a big fan of Alys Fowler. You can take a look at her book The Thrifty Forager and Abundance. I’ve also recently bought The Hedgerow Handbook by Adele Nozedar. If you’re really interested in the subject of foraging then I would recommend to take a look at Fergus the Forager. This dude is totally committed to living off the land, it’s at the far end of foraging but totally enlightening and you may find it inspiring!

      Reply

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