Flower Power: The Potent Properties Of Edible Flowers

Posted on 9 February 2016
Flower Power: The Potent Properties Of Edible Flowers

We've all seen gorgeous flowers line the street in a beautiful display of nature's artwork, but did you know that many of them are actually edible?

Edible flowers add colour, interest & distinct flavour to our meals, & can provide a bountiful source of much-needed nutrition to maintain health & wellness. If you're after a visually stimulating, rainbow-like garden, then flowers are your best friend let's take a look at some common edible flowers often missed by the average green thumb.

Chamomile

People are used to having chamomile come in the form a tea-bag, but this beautiful, self-seeding plant lights up gardeure white & yellow flowers. These flowers can be picked & added to smoothies & salads, as well as herbal tea preparations. The flavour is cooling & has a hint of vanilla.

Chamomile can be used for

  • helping calm the nervous system & encourage sleep

  • digestive upsets

  • calming muscle spasms &

  • as an antibacterial drink.

Calendula (marigold)

 

Commonly used in gardens for it's anti-pest properties, marigolds can be consumed in salads, smoothies & as a tea!  With a somewhat neutral flavour with a hint of pepper, it's a great way to increase the nutritional value of all your meals.

Used as a medicinal herb for centuries, Calendula can

  • help skin conditions such as sunburn, eczema & acne

  • be used as a powerful anti-microbial agent

  • a powerful anti-inflammatory

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is used regularly in tea conceptions throughout Asia & Africa. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is most commonly used & reportedly has a high vitamin C content. Due to its strong red colour, it is used as a food colouring & dye amongst asian countries.

Use hibiscus to flavour tea, being colour & life to a salad, or hide in a sandwich for the kids. The sound, tender leaves of the plant are traditionally added raw to salads, or cooked like spinach.

A 2008 study from the US Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association found that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in adults with mildly high blood pressure!

Lavender

This purple herb with an instantly recognisable aroma has been used for thousands of years as a herbal medicine.

It has been used for treating insomnia, nervous stomach, and anxiety. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia lists lavender as a treatment for flatulence, colic, and depressive headaches, and many modern herbalists use it to treat migraines. The Spanish add it to teas to treat diabetes and insulin resistance.

Lavender is known for it's scent but also for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, expectorant, stree-relieving, antiseptic and analgesic properties.

Steep lavender in warm water for a delicious, aromatic tea, or simple place it in hot water & let the scent fill the house. Flies & mosquitoes really dislike lavender, so use the plants strategically to keep them away from open doors & windows.

 

The moral of the story? Flowers not only look amazing amongst a garden, but you can actually eat them, too. Before you go wild & consume the nearest wild flower, make sure it is an edible variety. Our Urban Food Garden specialists can help you establish, maintain & learn about your edible garden today.

Posted in: Edible Plants  

Our Need For Weeds

Posted on 9 February 2016
Our Need For Weeds

If you're the typical gardner who's spent hours tolling in the sunshine removing weeds from your garden, then you're almost ready to click away now BUT don't go just yet.

Did you know that some our most detested 'weeds' are actually some of nature's most powerful medicines?

As someone once said, "the difference between a weed & a plant is who's looking at it". It couldn't be more true; the compost you've been throwing away might just contain some hidden gems that'll boost the amount of nutrition you can bring into your home. And the best thing is, often these plants are the most resilient!  Let's have a look at a few.

Dandelion

A potent liver tonic, dandelion has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. It's name stems from the French meaning for lion's teeth: dent de lion.

Dandelion can be found everywhere & its not hard to gather a flower head which will turn into a white seed-filled ball to bring dandelion into your home garden.

Dandelion can be used as a diuretic, liver detoxifier, blood cleanser & even as a prebiotic! If you're after a hit of coffee without the caffein, try having roasted dandelion tea with a dash of your favourite milk deeeeelish!

Nettles

Nettles are a powerful herb with a long history of use in parts of Europe. Frequently, if ill, the english would consume nettle tea to strengthen the immune system & promote wellness. According to Dr. Andrew Wiel M.D. author of Natural Health/ Natural Medicine, nothing is more effective than nettle for allergy relief.

Nettle has been studied extensively with positive outcomes in treating Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, kidney stones, laryngitis, multiple sclerosis, PMS, prostate enlargement, sciatica, and tendinitis! Externally it has been used to improve the appearance of the hair this is likely due to its high content of the mineral silica.

All parts of the nettle plant can be used, including the roots.

Picking nettles: yes, stinging nettle can be a pain literally! Wear gloves when picking them, or grab the underside of each leaf. Your saliva actually neutralises the sting of the barbs, or simply add to a green smoothie for a huge boost of nutrition.

Watercress

This from Dr Mercola: "An aquatic plant found near springs and slow-moving streams, watercress is an often-overlooked, leafy green food source that is a close cousin tomustard greens, cabbage, and arugula. An attractive, succulent plant, watercress bears small, round, slightly scalloped leaves, which, in summer, produce tiny white flowers that become small pods with two rows of edible seeds. Watercress has been cultivated in Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas for millennia for use as both food and a medicine.

One of the best culinary aspects of watercress is its versatility. It can be used as a salad green (a very nutritious one!) with Romaine lettuce or fresh spinach, steamed and eaten as a vegetable, and in soups for a subtle, peppery flavor. It's also a standard ingredient for sandwiches in Britain for both common and high tea."

Interestingly, watercress has been used since the founding of medicine. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, located his first hospital close to a stream to ensure that fresh watercress would be available for treating patients. Now, science has indeed confirmed at least 15 powerful nutrients in watercress including iron, calcium, vitamin C & actually contains over 300% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin K! Vitamin K has been shown to be extremely important for maintaining bone density & blood health.

Need help establishing, maintaining or learning about edible weeds & how to include them in your garden? Speak to one of our dedicated UFG specialists today!

Posted in: Edible Plants  

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