Flowers for Food, Flowers for Thought

Zinnias! More than just a pretty plant, this multicolored annual is good for eating!

Perhaps they’re already your favorite garden flower: they’re fast-growing, low maintenance, and if you cut one flower-head, more flowers grow in its place! The long stems make them perfect to place in a decorative vase. Plus, their bright colors call all sorts of much needed pollinators to your garden, including the beautiful black-veined Monarch Butterfly. No wonder the Chicago Botanic Garden calls Zinnias “the hardest working flower in the summer garden”.

But, did you realize you could eat them?

Katie Shank from Acadia Farms gives us the scoop on how to best consume Zinnias here. Try them in pasta, stir-fry, and pancakes. Or maybe sip on some Zinnia tea or limeade!

And what are we most excited to try?

Garden Tacos! With our bountiful amount of cilantro, onions, garlic, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and beans getting close to harvest, plus our meat CSA from Rambling River Pastures being delivered weekly, adding a taco shell and some Zinnia petals for garnish sounds like the perfect summer meal!

At the Painted Turtle Farm we have about 50% of one of our rows dedicated to Zinnias. The third row from the front, they catch your eye immediately. They’re strategically placed, anchored on either side by cilantro, with unobstructive spinach and evenly spaced garlic in front of it, and in front of that, the flowering mix of ovation greens and dinosaur kale. It is a wonderful arrangement of vegetables and herbs which we eat and make useful with a variety of recipes. At first, I wondered “Why did we plant flowers when we could plant more food?” Yet it took something as simple and soft as a rainbow of Zinnias to remind me that I do not tend, weed, and water food. I water plants. It reminded me that the very existence of these vegetables and herbs is extraordinary.

How lucky we are to be a part of that existence!
When planting and tending to your summer garden, remember it’s not a chore, it’s an art! I hope you enjoy every sight and every petal – maybe even some food for thought. Happy planting!


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