LET IT FLOUR­ISH

Ed­i­ble Gar­den City co-founder Bjorn Low shows us how to grow ed­i­ble flow­ers right in our own back­yard

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Starter Ingredients -

Flow­ers, in all their del­i­cate con­struc­tion, must be con­sumed al­most as quickly as they are picked and must not have been treated with chem­i­cals. This alone makes their com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion on a large scale im­pos­si­ble. But they are an un­de­ni­ably lovely way to bring a sense of na­ture to the dishes we cre­ate. By grow­ing them in easy-to-man­age pots and planters at home, they make for a great way to brighten our ev­ery day and teach chil­dren about where food can come from.

The kitchen at Open Farm Com­mu­nity (a restau­rant with an on-site farm that dou­bles as a com­mu­nity hub ed­u­cat­ing din­ers about the ori­gins of food) would head to the gar­den be­fore ser­vice to har­vest what they can.

Most plants, shared a spokesper­son, should flower ev­ery other month. “But­ter­fly sor­rel will bloom af­ter a cou­ple of months and then take a break; we would then cut it back to stim­u­late a win­ter so that the plant can grow and bloom again—which can take three to four months,” added ur­ban farmer Bjorn Low of Ed­i­ble Gar­den City.

Ro­jak flower, he added, is a gin­ger and so a root. “Once planted and estab­lished af­ter four months, it will con­tin­u­ally give flow­ers for a long while, say four to six months af­ter­which it will lose vigour; we will cut it back and the cy­cle con­tin­ues again.”

Whether prince or pau­per, peas­ant or king, ed­i­ble flow­ers are a sus­tain­able and af­ford­able culi­nary tra­di­tion. And re­claim­ing it, es­pe­cially in this era of ur­ban farm­ing, re­quires lit­tle more than a patch of earth and a lit­tle care and at­ten­tion. In re­turn, the re­wards are man­i­fold.

GROW FLOW­ERS THAT ARE NA­TIVE AND ADAPTED TO OUR CLI­MATE…

Like moringa, roselle, In­dian snake­weed or ulam ra­jah, to name a few. One of the eas­i­est ed­i­ble flow­ers to grow here is the but­ter­fly pea flower. It thrives in poor soil and is a legume that nat­u­rally trans­fers ni­tro­gen from the at­mos­phere into the soil.

DE­CIDE ON THE TASTE PRO­FILES YOU WANT TO EN­JOY...

If you want some­thing spicy, look at the ulam ra­jah. For some­thing sour, try be­go­nias or laven­der sor­rel. Some ed­i­ble flow­er­ing plants are best grown from seeds that can be pur­chased on­line. Al­ter­na­tively, wan­der into one of your friendly com­mu­nity gar­dens where you can get your hands on some seeds.

CHOOSE A SPOT WITH GOOD SUN­LIGHT…

En­sure you have good, fer­tile soil and ded­i­cate time to cul­ti­vat­ing and caring for the plant with a rou­tine of wa­ter­ing and fer­til­is­ing. When the plant is in flow­er­ing mode, pick it reg­u­larly, which en­cour­ages it to pro­duce more flow­ers. Don’t over-fer­tilise dur­ing the flow­er­ing stage as it en­cour­ages veg­e­ta­tive growth rather than flow­er­ing.

THE FLOWER OF A VEG­ETABLE OR HERB PLANT IS USU­ALLY ED­I­BLE TOO...

Eat flow­ers from most of the veg­etable or herb groups, like pak choi, mus­tard and basil. Some veg­eta­bles pro­duce flow­ers that are less palat­able or poi­sonous, so do some re­search when in doubt.

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