Sunday, June 26, 2011

Herb'N Gardening: FlowersHerbs

I stopped by a local farm with a community garden to discuss ways to preserve the harvest to use during the “off” season when fresh herbs may not be so abundant or even available.  We discussed  freezing, infusions, drying methods, ways to maintain color,  flavor and aroma.   Then  I noticed the dill, mints, cilantro, and even some basils over-flowered.  What does this mean?  Well for particular herbs that I have mentioned, it is important to know that herbs that are used for their leaves should not be allowed to flower until the season is ready to conclude with flowering heads to grace the soil with the seeds for next year's crop.  The energy of the plant should go toward more leaf production and when the energy goes toward flowers and forming the seeds, the quality of the leaves decline and are compromised. Ultimately my point is if you want the leaves with an abundance of size, color, flavor and aroma then you need to continuously cut back the flower heads.  Plus the flying insects will fight you for their tasty blossoms if you dare try to harvest without consulting with them first.  Trust me I have received the bites and stings to speak confidently from this lesson. As you cut back the flowering heads of most herbs, they are edible.  Consult a reliable herbal reference to see if your herbs bear edible flowers.  If so, then by all means use the flower for tea or salad, sandwich, soup, etc...  
Waste not, want not.