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Edible flowers are a wonderfully imaginative and inexpensive way to add some punch to your next party. There are a variety of flowers that can be eaten, and not only do they add beauty to your meal, they really enhance the taste. One such flower is the Nasturtium. This flower comes in various shades of yellow and orange, and is very attractive and easy to grow. The flowers make a wonderful compliment tossed in a salad and have a rather peppery bite. Once you have tried these delicate petals in your salad, you may be hooked, but be sure to let some of the flowers mature on the plant. The mature flowers will go to seed and produce small pods that can be treated like capers, and used as a condiment.

Other flowers for your salad are dandelion greens (the young, small plants are much milder) and a variety of herbs. Snip a bit of oregano, parsley or thyme right over the top of your salad before serving. Delicious.

Are you ready for the main course? Squash blossoms are easy to prepare and intriguing to look at. Take several large blossoms from your squash plant and rinse well. Stuff with a mixture of cream cheese and peppers (hot and sweet), or a mixture of ground beef (browned) and rice. Dip the blossom into a well-beaten egg, and then fry in a hot skillet. This can be as light or as hardy a meal as you like, depending on the filling that is used.

On to dessert. Probably the easiest way to integrate flowers into your desert is by adding them to your ice cream. A few rose petals or snips of lavender added to some premium vanilla ice cream is absolutely decadent, and gorgeous. Another idea is to garnish your cake with a few violas. A spectacular finish to any meal.

Now that you know how to serve flowers with your meals, you may be wondering how to grow them. Simply follow the directions as you would for any plant, with two notable exceptions.
· Do not fertilize unless the plant clearly needs it. Food, water and sunlight should be enough to keep your plants going. If they seem a little puny, use a well-rounded liquid fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will give you plenty of nice green foliage, but not many flowers.
· Do not use chemicals. Although you will certainly wash all of your flowers well before use, the delicate structure of a flower has many fissures and crevices for pesticides to lurk. You are better off using organic methods if you have a bug or fungus problem. Ask at your local garden center, they will steer you in the right direction.