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Six edible flowers to plant yourself
Many plants are not just a feast for the eyes, but are also a taste sensation — and you can plant them on your balcony too. Edible flowers and blooms in pots or boxes are ideal for salads and are a tasty decoration for jazzing up all kinds of dishes. Here is a list of six delicious examples.
1. Scented geraniums
The clue is in the title. Rubbing the petals between your fingers gives off an intense scent. The scent depends on the variety. To this end, growers have cultivated numerous varieties over the years. The "Lemon Fancy" scented geranium (Pelargonium crispum "Lemon Fancy") is strongly reminiscent of lemon, "Purple Unique" (Pelargonium capitatum "Purple Unique") of wine gums and "Sue Ellen" (Pelargonium "Sue Ellen") of pineapple.
And you can use them to make jam and syrup, or for ice cream or baking. You can also add them to vinegar and oil or a herb butter.
Despite the differences in scent, all pelargoniums (common name scented geranium) originate from the same place: South Africa. It is relatively easy to look after them. They need a lot of light and water and grow best in soil that is slightly chalky. You should also cut their shoots regularly. A huge advantage is that they are hardy.
True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a welcome addition to French cuisine. You can identify it by its relatively narrow leaves. The scent of its fresh or dried flowers is reminiscent of rosemary. It has a fairly strong bouquet and should therefore only be used sparingly in the kitchen.
For example, true lavender complements lamb, fish, game, stews and casseroles. You should use very young leaves for these and similarly hearty dishes. Older leaves develop a rather soapy taste. Dried lavender flowers are really good in sweet desserts.
On the balcony, lavender feels most at home in a larger pot. It likes the sun and a mostly dry location. It needs pruning back twice a year, but no further than up to shoots and leaves. For it to survive the winter, cover its pot or tub in straw or coir matting.
This edible flower originates in the Mediterranean, but can now be found in many regions of Europe for the purpose of cultivation. This means you can discover borage (Borago), also known as star flower (due to the shape of its leaves) sometimes growing wild in this country. Its unique leaves are particularly good for cooking. They are hairy, oval and smell of cucumber.
This not only gives it the popular name "cucumber king", but also makes it a great addition to many dishes. For example, the leaves, when freshly picked, are well-suited as an ingredient in quark and cream cheese. Chopped up, they add a special touch to salad, egg or mushroom dishes, sauces and stews, among other things. Chefs also treasure the edible flowers of borage and use them to embellish sweet dishes such as cakes and jams or add them to salad or soups.
On the balcony, you should plant borage in large pots and tubs. The annual kitchen herb likes bright locations that are protected from the wind as well as calcareous soil, which should always be kept moist.
This fruit and ornamental shrub is already on its way to becoming a culinary classic and enriches a variety of recipes and dishes. The flowers and berries of the black elderberry are particularly suited to this. The berries are used in cakes or in elderberry soup. The juice of the elderberry forms the basis of jelly, compote and syrup, for cocktails, the Hugo cocktail for example. These can be all jazzed up with elderberry flowers as well. Cut them at the flower head and shake them out before using them straight away in the kitchen, as a tasty cake decoration for example. Give them a quick soak in cold water before allowing them to drain thoroughly on a rack.
Elderberry proves to be an undemanding addition to your balcony. In terms of where to put it, consider a sunny to semi-shaded location. Its container should have a capacity of at least 40 litres for loose, nutrient-rich soil which should always be kept moist. Because the elderberry cannot tolerate being water-logged, it is essential to have a water drain in the pot. Apart from that, it will benefit from the odd drop of liquid fertiliser.
The University of Würzburg honoured the nasturtium (Tropaeolum) with the title of Medicinal Plant 2013 because it has many healing properties. An infusion of its freshly picked leaves acts as a decongestant when you have a cold. Massage in the nasturtium juice from pressed parts of the plants to help combat lacklustre skin and hair. Its high content of vitamin C strengthens your immune system.
And the nasturtium is tasty too. Its leaves contain mustard oil, have a pungent taste, and if chopped or sliced up, are perfect in herb-seasoned quark and butter, scrambled eggs and salads. Use the flowers to embellish cream cheese, sandwiches or calf's liver, for example.
The nasturtium is a creeper which naturally forms rich carpets when left to its own devices. Provide a plant support when positioning in a pot or balcony box. You can also simply let it trail over the edge of the pot. The container should be positioned in a semi-shaded to shaded location and must not contain excessive amounts of nutrient-rich soil.
These colourful little chaps are not just a feast for the eyes, pansy flowers tickle the taste buds too. They have a sweet taste and chefs often use them as a salad ingredient. They also add an interesting, attractive touch to salads. Since they are very popular and so widespread, these edible flowers are particularly suited to for your first culinary experiments,
particularly as they do not require any special care or attention. They should be placed in a semi-shaded to sunny location in a flower box which is permeable to water and filled with nutrient-rich soil. However it must not contain a lot of lime. You should add fertiliser every two weeks and quickly remove any withered leaves to promote new growth.