Incredible Edible Nasturtiums

A week or so ago I promised to post the next day about nasturtiums. Here I am a week later...

The kids are in bed, the kitchen is clean and the floor is mopped for the second time this week. Once it's clean I'm easily bothered by every sticky drip of watermelon juice and dirt smear. After a week or so "this too shall pass" and it will be another month before the floor gets a good washing once again.

Black Velvet and Peach Melba
Black Velvet and Peach Melba

Anyway, I'm now ready, finally (sigh of relief) to sit down and finish what I started... a post on why you should plant nasturtiums in your garden.

If you are interested in growing something in your yard, balcony or windowsill but don't have a lot of time, space, or money for plants - I've got the plant for you.

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) are a fabulous plant for your yard or garden and here's why:

Nasturtiums are pretty.

Vegetables can get away with not being pretty, although I prefer my veggies pretty as well. But in my garden there is no space for a less than lovely flower, who needs 'em.

While we're talking about flower types nasturtiums are an annual. Annuals only live for one season (mostly) but bloom the whole time and tend to be very eye catching. But I find annuals' showiness sometimes too... showy. Too pink, too orange, too red, too look-at-me.

The nasturtiums I planted this year are more subtle and luscious than that. Be warned though there are construction pylon orange nasturtiums out there. Last year's vegetable garden nasturtiums re-seeded themselves and bloomed this can't-help-but-be-noticed shade.

Nasturtiums are edible.

Maybe you only have room to grow things you can eat. Hey, you can eat nasturtiums. Put the peppery greens or pretty blossoms (blossoms are mild flavored) in salads. Better yet, bake a cake, ice it with whipped cream, top with nasturtium blossoms and bring it on over (just forget I'm mostly vegan here for a minute) for tea!

Nasturtiums don't need great soil.

In fact, they blossom better in poor soil - how great is that! If you have a patch of yard that you'd like to grow something in but the soil hasn't been enriched yet with compost (you are composting right?) nasturtiums are a great pick. Better soil results in more foliage, less blossoms.

Nasturtiums are inexpensive and super easy to grow.

They grow best from seed which means you might not find them at a greenhouse. Nasturtium seeds are big like peas, they are some of the easiest to plant (perfect for little gardeners). Two packages of seeds, $3.42 including tax, filled the space I had for them.

Nasturtiums do a great job of filling in a future perennial bed.

My flower gardening goal is to have almost exclusively perennial beds, to that end I am building a perennial bed between our driveway and our neighbor's house. Our neighbors let us use this space for our purposes thinking we might want to pave it for more parking space. Ha! Pave a possible garden space, like over my dead body!

It's a fairly long space but time, money and friends with perennials (lots of my plants are donations) are limited so it's a slow go. This season I filled in part of the space with nasturtiums.

Nasturtiums in "perennial bed"

Nasturtiums can grow almost anywhere (except maybe really wet and shady spots).

You can plant them in window boxes, containers and as mentioned already, poor soil. I've seen them in blazing sun, mine get only morning sun and afternoon shade and are thriving. Oh, and they re-seed themselves but may not come true as was my experience with the pylon orange nasturtium in my vegetable garden.

Disclaimer: nasturtiums can have aphid problems, as I experienced in last year's garden. This year, planted in a different location they are, knock-on-wood, aphid free. Instead the aphids are all over my Anthemis - grr....

Have you grown nasturtiums? What are your favorite, easy and beautiful plants for your garden?

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  • Andie

    Andie on July 17, 2008, 2:37 p.m.

    Oh very cool! I rarely plant annuals either. I want to see whatever it is I plant come back bigger and better the next year. To me, that's the fun of gardening, seeing them take off and filling out a bed. Ive always wanted to put flowers in a salad but have been to nervous. Now I think I will try these little babies out. Did you plant them from seeds? Great info, thanks! a.


    • renee

      renee on July 17, 2008, 4:22 p.m.

      Yes, I planted them from seed a while back, mid April I think. You can plant them earlier in the season than most annual seeds. I'm not sure where you are Andie but if you planted them now you may have some by summer's end. Some are earlier varieties, like the peach melba I planted. It bloomed earlier than other types of nasturtiums.

      Good luck and happy nasturtium eating and planting.


  • Samantha

    Samantha on July 19, 2008, 4:58 a.m.

    I love nasturtiums. I just learned about them this year from our CSA. We live in perpetual shade so growing them is not an option but we receive a beautiful weekly supply and I love how beautiful they make my salads look, not to mention how yummy they are.


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