Nasturtium is an easy-to-grow plant whose leaves and flowers are edible. Although most often grown as annuals, nasturtiums are, botanically, herbaceous perennials; that is, they die to the ground in fall and grow again the next spring.
In Latin nasturtium literally means “nose twist.” While most edible flowers have a subtle flavour, nasturtiums don’t muck about – they really hit you with their strong peppery taste! Plus, it’s not just the flowers and buds that are packed with a zippy flavour; the young leaves are tender and edible as well.
You can also eat the seeds – check out the recipe to transform nasturtium seeds into Poor Man’s Capers!
Nasturtium pods have a powerful peppery flavour and are a little too strong to eat raw. But, pickled in slightly sweetened vinegar, they are transformed into delicious green jewels that can be used just as you would conventional capers… add them to homemade pizzas and pasta dishes or use them to jazz up chicken or fish, grilled with a little butter and a grating of lemon zest.
Bethan John – Decorator’s Notebook
Nasturtiums are also a fave in many permie gardens for its companion planting features.
…Repel whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, many beetles and cabbage loopers. Nasturtiums could be considered the poster child for companion planting, which is growing a variety of plants close to one another for the benefits each brings to the others. Nasturtiums release an airborne chemical that repels predacious insects, protecting not just the nasturtium but other plants in the grouping. Because many of the insects nasturtiums repel favor vegetables — tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, cabbage and radishes — nasturtiums are an ideal choice for planting along the edges of vegetable gardens.
Mother Nature Network
Kids love nasturtiums too – while eating them may be a bit much for younger palates, the vibrant colours, easy-to-find seed pods and the ridiculously ease in which they grow make them the perfect plant to get your kidlet interested in the wild outdoor garden!
To grow from seed, soak the seeds for up to 24hrs (no more, or they’ll rot) and place them 1-2cm in the soil. Plant nasturtium seeds in early spring in moist, well-drained soil in full sun. They can grow in partial shade, but they will not bloom as well. Nasturtiums prefer poorer soils (yay!) as fertile soil will produce fewer blooms and more foliage.
So next time you see some rambling nasturtium, stop to eat a flower or two, and grab yourself a handful of seed pods – you can dry them out and you’ll have seeds to get your own nasturtium patch started!