Annual Herbs – Flowers and Seeds
AnnualMostly Used for their Flowers
Borage is one of the best bee plants, a good accumulator of minerals for compost and grows well with. The flowers add colour to beverages and tender leaves can be added in small amounts to salads. Borage tends to sprawl, so is best at the back of borders. Sow in situ, thin to a foot or so apart and allow to self-seed thereafter. Kept renovated, with occasional trimming, borage can be in flower most of late spring and summer.
Pot Do not try French or African . It is the flower petals of pot marigolds (Calendula) that are edible. Use their petals freely in salads and with seafood; they are also surprisingly good in stews. Sow in pots or direct any time of year at a foot apart each way and allow to self-seed.–
Nasturtiums are edible in all parts —the flowers are colourful additions to salads and the young leaves add piquancy. The seeds and pods can be pickled and used as a better substitute for capers. Sow nasturtiums after the last frost in a moist place or in pots and grow at a foot apart. Do not overfeed the plants or there will be few flowers.
Sunflowers are usually grown for their seeds but the petals are bitter sweet and the young heads can be eaten while they are in bud like globe artichokes. For good heads sow in early spring and give each plant at least a foot each way.
Annual Herbs Grown for their Seeds
All of the following will give bigger crops per plant if given enough space, say a foot each way. However, the total yield is higher if they are crowded a bit, so sow three inches or so apart.
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a pungent annual herb often used in ointments against insect bites and stings. A host to predatory, it also deters . The flavour of the herb goes well with both sweet and savoury foods; the leaves are used fresh and the seed dried. Sow in warm soil after the last frost.
Caraway can be difficult to establish and takes one and a half years to crop. It is best sown in situ in early summer, or autumn if fresh seed is available. The feathery leaves and tiny pungent seed are used in salads and savoury dishes and the seeds are really good on baked products. The roots may be boiled as a vegetable.
Coriander seeds are often added to bread or baked dishes to give them a warm, spicy flavour. The leaves are also popular in some cuisines. Coriander repels aphids and has been used as a spray against spider mites. Sow in situ in late spring.
Cumin seeds are the real curry flavour and need to be well dried to keep. If you acquire the taste, they can be used like black pepper and in almost every dish. Station sow in early summer a finger or so apart. Support the plants with sticks to stop the seed heads falling over and getting dirty. Black cumin comes from the seeds of Nigella sativa, the seeds of the closely related Nigella damascena are also edible. Both have a spicy aromatic flavour that is quite pleasant, especially with sweet sticky buns. Sow in spring in situ.
Poppies (Papaver somniferum) have been grown for their seed for use on baked products for many years. They are a weed and self-sow wildly. For the best seed, give them full sun and pick the dried heads before they open.