Nasturtiums as Food and Companion Plants

comments (2) June 19th, 2009

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Nasturtium Flower Salad
 
 
Photo by Pink_Fish under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Nasturtium Caper
 
Photo by Jess Beemouse under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Photo by Robin Rkc under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
Nasturtium Flower Salad
 
 
Photo by Pink_Fish under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Nasturtium Flower Salad

 

 

Photo by Pink_Fish under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.


I’ve always loved garden nasturtiums in my flower beds. Oh, I know they’re touted as ordinary and flowers that are easy to grow often get a pretentious sniff. The simple flowers in cottage gardens don’t get much press these days.

As much as I love the currently favored gardens like the Japanese themes (and I adore Japanese gardens) the cottage garden still holds the most magic for me (it's where the fairies dance naked, after all). So, it stands to reason that I fancy the old-fashioned charmers like nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus).

That said; there might be a couple of surprising things you don't know about this underappreciated annual. If you don’t use them for companion planting for other plants, you’re missing out and if you’ve never thought of them as food, you really need to get out more.

Nasturtiums as Food


You may not see them sold in the grocery store as food, but nasturtiums are used as a peppery addition to salads and sandwiches right along with dandelions, purslane, borage, and calendula. They’re beautiful as a garnish and contain oodles of vitamin C.

Herb spreads can be made with a combination of mayonnaise and the herbs of your choice such as nasturtium flowers. A common spread recipe is 1-2 TBSP of mayonnaise with an equal amount of nasturtium petals, spread on toasted rye bread.

Nasturtium seeds can be used as a substitute for capers, as well. Just pick the nasturtium seeds while they’re still green and haven’t hardened. Put them in a glass bottle or jar and cover them with vinegar. You can use them after three days of them soaking in the vinegar and they don’t need refrigeration.


Nasturtiums as Companion Plants

Companion planting is defined as plants you plant among other plants that you value such as roses or a vegetable crop that attract beneficial insects, repel bad guys, or trick the bad guys with scent disguise. Nasturtiums fit nicely into the companion plant category by attracting hoverflies, which will destroy aphids on your prize roses or in your vegetable garden.

Nasturtiums are super-duper easy to plant, in fact the only way they’d be easier is if they hopped out of the seed pack for you. This makes them ideal for kids because the seeds are easy to handle and almost always germinate. You can choose climbing, dwarf, trailing, or traditional nasturtium varieties. They do well in nearly every zone and come in both single and double flowers. Garden nasturtiums bloom in creamy white, red, red-brown, orange, yellow, and maroon.

They prefer sandy soils, but do fine anywhere as long as it’s a well-draining area. Usually the poorer a soil is, the more flowers you’ll get. Full sun to part shade is the best exposure for nasturtiums. Plant nasturtiums in the early spring and by June you’ll have blossoms for salads. Plant them and don’t be a snob.


posted in: nasturtiums as food, nasturtiums as companion plants

Comments (2)

shante_K writes: My father's ALWAYS grown Nasturtiums in our garden. In fact, they just keep growing by themselves year after year from the fallen seeds, though, they do need a bit of care.
Chris McLaughlin's written a nice piece, but I'd like to add for global readers that in warmer, tropical climes, they grow in winters and are EXCELLENT along walls, hedges, around trees, or just by themselves. Late spring or early summer heat withers them away.
They not only look Sprightly and colorful all through the season, they are great as fresh salad, too..!
In fact, during our childhood- Salad days (pun intended)- we used to just pluck off the leaves n flowers n pop into our mouths.
A word of CAUTION, and a GREAT use,but More of that later...........!!!!!!!!! Isn't this already too long...???!!!
Lolz....!!!!
Posted: 2:49 am on July 2nd
Kate_Frank writes: I love nasturtiums! I planted them everywhere this season.
Posted: 10:45 am on June 22nd
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