Before I even had children, my husband and I planted edible flowers in our garden just for the joy of it. One day, a neighbor girl about four years old joined me in my long, narrow garden to ask what I was doing.
“Eating flowers,” I told her.
“They taste good. Do you want one?”
I gave her a Johnny Jump Up and asked her to take it to her mother to ask if she could eat it.
Last year I suggested growing a bowl of salsa to give child gardener an easy success. This year, I suggest planting a salad—and making it interesting with edible flowers.
Yes, it is sometimes difficult to convince a child to eat greens. If they put the care into growing lettuce and spinach themselves, they may be more likely to eat a salad. I don’t have trouble getting either of my children to eat salad, but edible flowers make salad all the more fascinating.
I have found that if I designate one area to be the responsibility of one child, my children take more interest in keeping the plants alive and healthy. If you create a salad area of the garden for your child, they will know exactly what area is theirs. Be sure to give them the tools and the support they need to be successful. My children have gardening gloves, small tools, and a child-sized watering can.
Try a variety of lettuces and other greens. With a big mixture, you can hold taste tests and plan your next year’s garden based on what everyone likes best.
Be sure to research which plants will grow best in your climate. Is it best in your area to start seeds indoors or to plant seeds directly?
Easy for children to grow:
- Johnny Jump Up
Edible Flower Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t use flower fertilizers or plant foods on flowers you plan to eat.
- Don’t eat flowers from flower shops unless they grow them specifically for eating.
- Harvest early in the morning when water content is highest.
- Only eat petals.
- Be cautious if you or your child have allergies.
In addition to garnishes and salads, try eating flowers in other ways.
- Jelly or jam
- Butter or honey
VERY IMPORTANT WARNING!
If you are going to teach your child to eat flowers, you must also teach them that not all flowers are good to eat. Better yet, purge your garden of poisonous flowers and put medicinal flowers in an area that is difficult to reach. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, since the flowers of some vegetables are considered poisonous.
I ended up NOT teaching my children to eat flowers out of our garden because we also had Datura (Jimson Weed or Moonflower) lining the other side of our house for about 20 feet. This is a very toxic hallucinogen, so the children were not allowed to even touch the plant despite the beautiful flowers that we often watched opening up within minutes.
Only teach your children to eat flowers if you can either control their access to flowers or they are old enough to understand that some flowers can be eaten and some absolutely should not be eaten. Children should always be taught to check with an adult before eating out of a garden, in the woods, or anywhere else. If both the adults and the children are well educated about edible gardening and wild edible plants, you have a great adventure ahead of you.
- See our Grow a Bowl of Salsa post for more ideas about growing your independent and successful young gardener.
- List of edible flowers with colors.
- Several great flower recipes.
Throughout March we will offer guides to getting started with some of the basic practices of attachment parenting and sustainable living. This is Spring Week with ideas, crafts, and recipes.