Local September publications were bursting with articles about cool weather veggies and gardening. I encourage everyone to dive in! But what to do with all the veggies that are still coming on? Well if you’ve filled your pantry and your friends and neighbors are no longer accepting donations; consider donating ripe, healthy, unblemished produce to your local food bank, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. It will help you feel at peace with pulling out your summer garden.
I hope everyone participated in last month’s annual Eat Local Week. We are truly lucky to live in an area with so many local producers and crafters who care about quality and community. Here at the Greenhouses we focused on edible flowers. Many fragrant flowers like anise hyssop and scented geraniums are wonderful for infusing teas or flavoring baked goods. Usually we don’t like to see herbs bolt or flower, because it can mean that the foliage has turned bitter, but consider using those herbal flowers like you would their leaves. They will add a different look and texture to a dish. A big surprise to me was that all parts of the daylily are edible. Small buds when sautéed, braised or stir fried taste like a cross between asparagus and zucchini. The petals can also be used as garnish for salads and soups. Another pretty little edible garnish for dishes is pansies and violas, and we have plenty of both.
Pansies and violas are about the only things that will bloom in our region through the winter. Violas tend to be overlooked because their blooms are smaller in circumference than pansies. However, in my opinion, violas are far better performers than pansies. In the cold, pansies tend to keep their faces tucked into foliage, while viola blooms tend to keep their faces pointed upward. And though pansies have larger blooms, violas have more blooms. I recommend trying them as a replacement if you’ve had trouble with pansies before. Or try a mix of both. Violas are also very good at re-seeding themselves which gives you a better chance of having an abundance of blooms come next spring.
Here is a disclaimer: Please don’t start sampling blooms willy-nilly. Before eating anything mentioned, be certain you know it is an edible variety. Sometimes edible plants and flowers can look very similar to others that are not.