How to Harvest a Flowerfetti
Everything is blooming! I’ve been so busy gathering flowers for drying and making Flowerfetti’s that I seem to be spending all my time in the garden. No complaints here, but my husband has learned that if he doesn’t get dinner started… I won’t come in. (Why didn’t I think of this before!)
So, what is a Flowerfetti? It can be a mix of dried flowers used for making potpourri, floral paper, candles or other floral crafts. An edible Flowerfetti is for sprinkling on cupcakes, fresh fruit and other delightful desserts.
I’ve gotten to know my blooms pretty good since we have been spending so much time together, so I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned and what I’m collecting to make my floral concoctions.
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In the above picture, clockwise from the top:
Every morning, right after the morning’s dew has began to dissipate, I walk from garden bed to garden bed gathering blossoms. I do two rounds, one for an edible Flowerfetti and the second for the floral crafts.
Then they are carted off to my potting shed for drying. The same table that was used for starting seedlings, now dries those same petals. All of the edible varieties included in this post were started from seed to avoid pesticides and any other nasty substances plants may become exposed to on their way from the store to the garden.
Renee’s Seeds provided me with my edible seeds this year and I trust their product as they have taken the safe seed pledge. I like to know where my food is coming from and since I plan to give gifts of edible Flowerfetti’s to friends and family, it has to be safe.
Gathered petals are spread out in trays lined with newspaper. I just use the trays you get from the garden center for this job. My potting shed has several windows that open that create a nice breeze and I’m able to dry these petals out of the way of direct light.
If you have a dark area with good air circulation, that would work great too. Several times a day I ‘fluff’ the piles to make sure they are drying evenly. Some petals dry very quickly while others take days. I’ll get more into the details of each below.
Once they are thoroughly dry, they are transferred to mason jars and labeled. I’ve been saving the silica packs from vitamin jars and other edible containers to use for this purpose. Don’t use the ones you find in packages that didn’t contain an edible product, I can’t say they are not safe to use, but the ones in my consumable jars are certain to be. I simply pop one into the jar with the petals to help control moisture.
You should be aware that it takes A LOT of fresh flowers to get even 1 cup of dried. They are mostly water and as they dry up, some flowers will shrink up to 80% of its original size. Another words, grow lots!
For Flowerfetti’s, you can mix your petals when they are fresh. But try sectioning them off in the trays so you can mix and match later. Keep in mind that different flowers may dry at different rates so a mix can take much longer to ensure everything is dried through.
So, let’s move on to harvesting and what flower varieties are suitable for edible and those that are best for decorative Flowerfetti’s.
The best tool I have for harvesting my precious blooms are my Fiskars Micro-Tip Pruning Snips. The needle nose tip gets in close and I’m able to prune and harvest what I need without destroying surrounding emerging stems and buds.
Some blooms are easy to pop off with your thumb, like Chamomile but I have accidentally pulled up the entire lanky stem destroying the unopened blooms below it. I prefer to use my snips so I don’t make that mistake again.
Harvest Chamomile when the blooms are wide open but before they begin to droop back. These can be air dried or put in a low temp oven to speed up the process. They are beefier in the center than other flowers so they can take more time to dry, be patient and fluff often.
Chamomile is used in a variety of edible and beauty product recipes. It would be safe for an edible Flowerfetti, but may be a little large for sprinkling on cakes… I’ll be posting how to make simple recipes with this favorite herb later on in the season.
My PepperBox poppies are up and open very early and the blooms only last for one day. The bee’s go crazy over these tickling through the anthers and coming out absolutely covered in pollen.
The petals are already papery, so if your not sure they are ready to fall off, give them a light tug. This poppy is referred to as a Bread-seed variety and its seeds can be used in baking and dressings. The petals which start off a cherry purple when fresh, dry to a dark maroon. I tear these in strips and will add them to a colorful dried decorative Flowerfetti mix.
I read somewhere that the petals are edible, but I would recommend NOT using them for that as this plant contains alkaloids and other parts besides the seeds should not be consumed.
Today I pinched a bee by his bum while he was foraging my Borage blossoms for pollen. He was equally surprised as I was when I pulled him away from his work, but seemed to not take any offense because he went right back into the flower after I quickly released him. All I can say is Phew!…. a stinger in my finger would greatly reduce flower gathering efficiency.
Yes, Borage is a friend to bees… and aphids… and ladybugs….. there is a whole mini drama playing out on this plant and I’m certainly cast in it as a starring role. “Not that flower thief again!” I visit Borage several times a day because the flowers are continuously opening and the blooms only last about 12 hrs before they drop.
The key to harvesting them free of their star shaped sepals is to pinch the center of the flower firmly and pull it off the stem, leaving sepals and developing seeds behind. I guarantee a dozen bees beat you to this bloom before you got there, so chances are the little green seeds left behind are pollinated. But if you desire to save the seeds (these will self sow in your garden anyway) then leave a few blossoms attached each time you harvest.
A few last things to say about Borage. Harvest when they are dry, the dampness of morning makes them tough to pull off. They dry very quickly and shrink up tremendously so harvest as often as you can to maximize your yield. And yes, these are edible so add them to tea’s and edible Flowerfetti’s.
Use them when they are fresh too! Pop one in your mouth to taste their cucumber like essence, freeze them in ice cubes for beverages and of course add them to salads to impress your friends.
Calendula (Pot Marigold) is a must in my garden. The petals look amazing in salads and frozen in ice cubes. It can be brewed in teas and added to beauty products. More to come on those recipes soon.
I just go around and pull the wilted petals off the spent flowers. Then I snip the stem down to the second set of leaves to encourage more blooms to come. Leave a few seed heads behind for collecting for next years harvest, but chances are they’ll sow themselves. Mine always do.
Bergamot or Bee Balm is from the mint family and has scent similar to it’s cousin. I wait until the petals open and then gently pull them from the flower head leaving behind all that are still closed and a couple for the bee’s and hummingbirds which adore this plant.
Edible and delicious in salads or as a fresh brewed tea, these will curl up tight when dried for adding to Flowerfetti’s.
Sunflower petals are edible as well. I pull out the spent blooms when they have reached a wilt point that makes them easy to tug out. You could steam the bud like an artichoke, but I let them go to seed. Some for me and some for my feathered friends this winter.
I literally just got up from this post and headed out to the garden to grab a shot of that sunflower. You’d think I cued those bees, but they were already there. In the middle of my shot, one of those bees backed right up into my iPhone (yes, all my videos and photos are shot with a phone!) then he tossed the ant he just pulled off the sunflower to the ground and got back to work. Just thought I would share that because I found it humorous…. it’s that drama I was talking about earlier and you only get to witness it when you spend time with your flowers.
Garden Phlox is heavily scented and adored by hummingbirds and butterflies. I pull out tufts of the blooms leaving 80% of the opened flowers behind until the unopened buds fill in the gaps… then I raid the plant for more.
These will make a great addition to a potpourri but realize that they shrink tremendously. Don’t expect your blooms to retain their color either. All of the flowers I mentioned will discolor as they dry, some hold it better than others.
Bright Pink Phlox will dry to a lavender color after about 2 days.
Now, you may not have all these flowers growing in your garden, but chances are you brought home some hanging baskets. You’ll need to prune these back by the end of June or the first week of July if you want them to look good all summer long and you can save the blooms for non-edible flower crafts for later.
My hanging basket here is getting leggy. Yes it’s looking good, but if I wait another week or two, it’s going to become haggard so I gave it a haircut.
Lobelia and petunias just need to be trimmed back, but Verbena needs to be pruned to a set of two buds lower down on the branch like this….
Out of all of my gardening tools and supplies, my Fiskars Micro-Tip snips are perfect for this job, no accidental slips and I can get in nice and close to the emerging leaves that will flush out and fill my plant with blossoms all over again.
The verbena flowers were pulled out of the flower heads and made their way to the drying room, so I only shed a tear or two… cause I get to keep them anyway.
Now a note about flowers you do NOT want. I’m growing lot’s of Coleus this year because the growers came up with a dozen new varieties I just couldn’t resist. It’s their fault I brought them home… that’s what I told my husband.
You see that stem that doesn’t look like the others? That is the flower and once it emerges and blooms, it will slow the plant down from putting on size. This plant is grown for its gorgeous leaves, not the non-descriptive flowers, so off with their heads.
I think you have the idea on how to harvest and dry flowers for a Flowerfetti now. If you want to definitive list of what edible flowers you can grow, visit the post I did in spring:
We have barely scratched the surface here… we haven’t even discussed all the awesome recipes, crafts and beauty products I plan to make with these gorgeous blooms. For instance, have you ever enjoyed Nasturtium flowers stuffed with Herb Cream Cheese?
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