It seems with the coming of Summer, our garden knew and bloomed! Everyday we’ve been seeing new flowers, veggies, and the signs of things to come. This is a lovely picture of our chamomile and nasturtiums blooming. I have started cutting and drying the chamomile for tea. Imagine how yummy!
This year, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about chamomile. I knew I wanted to grow an edible flower in my garden and chose chamomile because of all it’s medicinal purposes. There are 2 types of chamomile: English and German. The English (or common) Chamomile is a low growing, ground covering. The German (or wild) Chamomile is more of a floral bush. We are growing the German chamomile.
Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory and carminative. It is excellent for digestion, calming, and/or first aid. We drink lots of chamomile tea and I also use it for the kids when they have a wet cough. I fill the tub with warm/hot water, a couple of drops of thyme oil and enough chamomile to brew a couple of cups worth of tea. I then let my kids take a bath in this. I swear, in a few hours – you can see and hear the difference. Wet coughs go away much quicker when we do this. Chamomile is great in a pinch, if you have to clean an abrasion or have a rash. Just soak a cloth in strong chamomile tea (or put the tea bag directly on the spot). It will help clean and reduce any scar/rash. Chamomile is also an amazing diaper rash remedy. Again, just take a strong tea (cooled) and clean towel. Soak up the chamomile tea and press against the rash or let the baby bath in water steeped in chamomile.
Thanks to Golden Gate Gardening, when harvesting chamomile – look for flower heads that are taller than wide, pluck only the heads off. Dry at room temp and store in an airtight bag/container. It took me some time to de-head all of the chamomile flowers. I started room temp drying them, but they were not even close to dried after 2 days, so I popped them in my dehydrator for another 24 hrs to finish. The chamomile plants are so abundant that I was able to fill a pint mason jar with dried flowers. By the end of the summer, I will probably have at least 2 quart mason jars full – enough for more than a years worth of tea! The next step is to make essential oils. I would love to try to do this with chamomile and calendula (the other medicinal flower I planted this year). If anyone has done this, please let me know!
This is a close up of our Father’s Day salad. Everything but the tomatoes came from our garden! For those that haven’t tried them, nasturtiums are quite yummy. Nasturtiums were the only flower we planted to simply enjoy eating. They have a mild garlicky taste and are really quite beautiful in a salad. All the other flowering plants we are growing are for more “medicinal” reasons. I went to a restaurant as a girl that put flowers in my salad. I was so tickled by them, I at my whole huge plate of greens without a complaint. This inspired me to plant the same flowers, to inspire others to try more foods out of their own gardens. If you purchase nasturtiums at a garden store – make sure they are organic! Often times, plants are sprayed and you don’t want to eat them. According to several books, nasturtiums are better grown from seed, but I was lucky enough to find starter plants that were organic (this is not always easy to do). But if you have a special occasion or want to dress up a plate or a salad, consider adding edible flowers. They are very pretty and add a nice touch to your meal.