Bon Appetit! Sidney’s Edible Pansy Primer

I love pansies, especially in the mid-winter months and especially during the Mardi Gras season! The pansy is a variety of viola that grows well either in the sun or the shade, but blooms best when it’s chilly. Another added bene-fit to growing pansies is that they are edible! Edible flowers have been used for centuries and have experienced a resurgence thanks to gourmet chefs and food-centric magazines. Growing and using edible flowers is a great way to add color to the landscape and exotic variety to the menu.

Pansies taste like a mild salad green, some with a hint of perfume, and can be used in everything from salads to punch to desserts. They are beautiful on a cake and are commonly sugared.

Crystallized Edible Flowers

Candied flowers and petals can be used in a variety of imaginative ways – to decorate cakes large and small – all kinds of sweet things, such as ice cream, sherbet, cremes, fruit salads, and cocktails.


  • Egg White
  • Super fine granulated sugar
  • Assorted edible flowers


  • Clean and dry your flowers or petals.
  • Use a brush to paint a thin layer of egg white onto each side of the flower petals or blossoms.
  • Gently place them into a shallow bowl of superfine sugar and sprinkle sugar over them to coat.
  • Remove from the bowl, and place them on a piece of parchment or waxed paper and sprinkle more sugar over them.
  • Allow them to dry uncovered in a cool place until the coating is crisp, about4-8 hours.
  • Store at room temperature in an airtight container until using. Best used within a few days.


When growing ornamentals for their edible flowers, the plants need the same growing conditions as if you didn’t plan to eat the flowers. Those conditions vary depending on the variety of plants you are growing. One very important growing condition if you plan to eat the flowers, DO NOT treat them with insecticides or fungicides that are not labelled for vegetables that will be used for human consumption.

If you are interested in learning more about edible flowers, check out these websites:

Thanks to Dr. Joe Willis and GNO Gardening from LSUAgCenter for inspiring me to write this article.

How to Get Started Growing Without Gunk

In the article How to Get Started Growing Without Gunk, the GCA gives recommendations on how to control weeds naturally in your yard. The method depends on the weed, where it is, and how widespread the scope of the problem is. The information below is excerpted from that article:

Out compete them In general, the best way to get a jump on weeds is to out compete them. Native plants will flourish in your garden bed and make it really easy to weed. A thick, healthy lawn will shade weed seed so that it is much less likely to germinate. 
Hand weeding In garden beds regular hand weeding is the best bet. 
Mow them down In a field that we don’t usually mow until late September so that it provides habitat to local birds and pollinators, there are some years we have had to mow early and regularly because bittersweet was pop-ping up, and it was too tough to pull all of it out. Mowing it solves the problem, and we can usually let the field grow the following year. 
Mechanical weeding, with a little help Some things are easy to just pull out. For deeper roots mechanical weeding with a Fiskar UpRoot Weed and Root Remover 7870, or an Uprooter often works well. Both work best if the ground is a little moist. 
Solarize with plastic Cover the weeds with plastic. Some people recommend black because it retains heat and hotter is more effective at killing weeds, some recommend clear because it encourages weed seeds to germinate and then kills them. This actually works on Phragmites. 
Vinegar Horticultural Vinegar is 20% acetic acid, much stronger than table vinegar, but the same basic stuff. It is great for weeds on driveways and patios. For substantial invasive plants you will have to treat them repeatedly because it does not kill the roots. However, repeatedly killing the top of the plant prevents it from photosynthesizing and it will eventually die. This is true for killing turf, too. 
Citrus oil Works just like vinegar, but is an oil. 
Weed torch If you learn how to correctly use a weed torch it is a great tool. If you use it after a rain when the plants are wet it will cause the water in the roots to boil and kill the roots. For substantial weeds you will need to cut them back before you use the weed torch on the stump. Also, you really need to learn what you are doing and be very careful not to cause a fire. Don’t try this on phragmites, however, because fire spreads phragmites. 
Boiling water On my brick patio boiling water works well. You have to be careful not to use it on bluestone or other stones that can crack with heat. 
Biologics Biologics, such as lady bugs, are wonderful, but very pest-specific. And of course, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where there are unintended consequences. So keep it pretty simple. Here is a great link about how to get rid of purple loosestrife. #9 on their list of 10 is biologic controls. 

Louisiana Super Plants

Autumn is the time to check out cool season annuals! There are many flowering and ornamental cool season plants for your gardens and containers. The list of Louisiana Super Plants that you might want to consider includes Supertunias, sorbet violas, Amazon dianthus, Swan Columbine (bottom circle, right) and Redbor kale (upper circle, right).

So what is a Supertunia? I think you can answer that question. It is a super performing petunia hybrid from Proven Winners. Two Louisiana Super Plants that are Petunia Winner hybrids are: Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunia (Petunia x hybrida ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’), super plant for fall 2017, and this year’s super plant Supertunia Mini Vista Indigo petunia. Want to know more about these two gems? Read on…

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum is part of the Supertunia Vista© series from Proven Winners. Currently, there are six different color varieties in the series: Jazzberry, Silverberry, Snowdrift, Paradise, Bubblegum, and Fuschia. Supertunia Mini Vista petunias are mounded but will spill over the edges of containers. They are great container plants and function as both spillers and fillers in combination planters. They are densely branched plants and have small to tiny flowers, smaller than standard petunia blossoms. Mini Vista series petunias also have a slightly smaller stature. Supertunia Vistas grow up to 2’ tall and 3’ spread. Mini Vistas grow up to 1’ tall and 2’ spread.

Supertunia Mini Vista Indigo has deep blue-purple flowers that transform over time to give a mixture of deep indigo shades mixed with lighter hues. Indigo is one of seven members of the current Proven Winners Supertunia Mini Vista Series: hardy, vigorous, densely branched and prolifically flowering petunias that will perform well in any Louisiana garden.

Mother Nature’s Favorite Mulch: Tips from Carro & the NOTG Conservation Committee

Everyone knows that mulching suppresses weeds, buffers soil temperature, retains soil moisture, and reduces soil erosion. Decomposing mulch also adds organic matter to the soil. Pine straw seems to be the most popular choice for mulch, but I would like to offer you an easier, greener and cheaper option… your yard’s leaf litter.

Don’t bag your leaves and send them to the landfill! Leaf litter makes wonderful mulch both under the tree from which they fall and in your garden beds. Macro and micro invertebrates decompose the leaves which release nutrients into the soil to nourish your plants. Additionally, leaf litter aids in creating a biodiverse ecosystem in your yard by providing habitat for frogs, earthworms, beetles, crickets, centipedes, millipedes and butterfly pupae. Birds will come to forage for these insects to feed their young.

Let’s all adopt this easy and beneficial home conservation practice.

Armchair Travel Guide for Gardeners

Cherished are winter days curled up with a good book, and cherished too are winter nights curled up with the remote and a “binge worthy” program or movie. Your faithful Compost Heap editor recommends the following for chilly nights ahead.

Monty Don’s French Gardens


British television host Monty Don leads a tour of France’s gardens and gardening history. From Le Notre’s formal parterres at Vaux le Vicomte and Versailles to the artistic gardens at Giverny, this is a feast for the senses and a celebration of France’s love affair with gardens through history.

P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Home, Garden Style, and Garden to Table

If you’ve been enchanted by Allen Smith’s gardening and lifestyle programs on PBS, you may be delighted to find that you can access any of them via YouTube, Roku, Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV. Visit his website to learn more.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

PBS, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video

This six-episode series by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns chronicles the story of our national parks. It is a treasure. You can purchase specific episodes or the entire series on Amazon Video. PBS supporters can stream from, and you may find the series on streaming services where it appears from time to time.

Get Those Bulbs in the Ground!

The next few weeks are an important time for planting tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs that have been taking up room in your refrigerator. Best results are usually obtained when prechilled tulip and hyacinth bulbs are planted into the garden in late December or early January as the soil may stay relatively warm until late December. Planting these pre-chilled bulbs in a soil that is still too warm can cancel the chilling process and lead to the bulbs blooming poorly.

Also, bulbs planted earlier bloom earlier – as early as February – and the weather is so unsettled at that time that the flowers may be more likely to be ruined by freezes and storms. Tulips and hyacinths planted over the next few weeks generally bloom in March and early April when the weather is more likely to be favorable.

Plant tulip and hyacinth bulbs in sunny to partly shaded areas that have good drainage. The bulbs should be planted into well-prepared beds that have been generously amended with organic matter and a light application of general-purpose fertilizer. Here in Louisiana we generally do not plant spring-flowering bulbs as deeply as is recommended for areas farther north. Tulips and hyacinths are planted about 5 inches deep, spaced about 3 or 4 inches apart.

Happy Planting!