• Sandi Manna

5 Tasty Edible Ornamentals For Your Culinary Garden

For people who like to cook and garden, browns herbs is a great way to combine the two. There's nothing like cooking a great meal and going right out to your own garden to cut herbs for flavor! Handy in both perennial gardens as well as kitchen gardens, herbs thrive in a variety of light, soil, and water conditions so the are herbs for just about everyone.

Everybody is familiar with basil and other common herbs, but we're going to explore some other herbs that are not as well known. You might find just the perfect herb to compliment your garden and your cooking!

1. Garlic Chives.

Garlic Chives are a great border herb. Along the Connecticut Shoreline, these herbs are perennial and are also very hardy. They grow in either sun or shade. They prefer moderate watering but will tolerate excessive moisture as well as drought. Talk about easy! They reach about 12"-24" and have small clusters of white, start shaped flowers. Garlic Chives have a slightly stronger taste than regular chives, but are not quite as pungent as garlic. Harvest the stalks and chop them for use in omelets or noodle dishes. If your looking for a little kick that's not overwhelming, add the flowers to your salad for just a little zip.

2. Thyme.

Most thymes are perennials, but there are some golden varieties that are annuals. They grow well in sun and part shade, and have low water requirements - making them ideal in drought tolerant gardens. They don't tolerate being soggy, so plant them in an area that gets good drainage. Some lesser known varieties include Spicy Orange which grows in dense clumps, along with Archers Gold, which has beautiful foliage. All thyme is edible, but some are easier to harvest than others. Add them to meat aga poultry, as well as most vegetables.

3. Variegated Mountain Sage.

Is a woody perennial (like lavender) that is part of the culinary sage family. It typically grows 1.5'-2' tall and gets whorls of spiky lavender flowers in late spring. Variegated leaves have a beautiful ornamental quality, are strongly aromatic, and frequently used either dry or fresh in cooking. Attractive also to Pollinators. Sage goes well with beef, pork, poultry and even duck. In Italy it is commonly chopped, mixes with melted butter and served in pasta or gnocchi.

4. Lavender.

There's no real true difference between culinary lavender and ornamental lavender. Some varieties such as 'Munstead' are more commonly used. This variety has the sweetest fragrance among latest varieties, creating more flavor during cooking. The leaves and stems can be used in cooking, but the flowers themselves give dishes a subtly sweet, almost citrus flavor.

5. Nasturtiums.

Nasturtiums are very high in Vitamins A and C (10 times as much as lettuce) as well as Vitamin D.

Nasturtium blossoms can be used in stir-fries, pasta aga stuffed flowers. The leaves have a bolder, peppery flavor and can be used in salads or flavored oils. Nasturtiums are grown as annuals in Connecticut and thrive on neglect. Plant in full sun and keep the bed reasonably watered and you'll see vigorous growth and abundant flowers.

For more information on growing edible flowers, check out this link:


Photos Courtesy of: Prides Corner Farms and American Meadows

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