I can’t believe all the years I missed out. Nasturtiums are delicious, highly nutritious, packed with medicinal properties, and repel bugs from your curcubita plants. Of course pretty too, especially in omelets. Sorry, I’m not a big flower person. I love wild flowers but being extremely practical the vegetable garden came first but now I know that you can have your flowers and eat them too.
The base of the nasturtium flower tastes peppery and we loved it. The flowers are ho hum in flavor but are a delight in omelets as they greatly beautify the dish. Now I want to try the flowers in a green salad for the same reason. If you want to eat them choose the dark red or orange ones since they are high in antioxidants. Nasturtiums have mustard oil in them and are in the mustard family which is in the Brassicaceae family. We have lots of plants that are related. Since nasturtiums do well in poor soil, I think we will get along fine and I’m growing lots more of them.
I had hoped that the peppery taste would be intensified when dried but it wasn’t. I was hoping to use it as an herb. The thought was further diminished when the delicate petals shrunk so small. It would take a lot of dried flowers to fill a jar. The petals I did little with but munch on a fresh one. After my research that will change. I learned that some make pesto with them and they have great medicinal properties. Since winter lasts a whole lot longer than summer, folks freeze the leaves and petals too and I learned they recommend storing nasturtium in jars rather than plastic which suites me since I’m trying to lower my usage of it.
The plant produces an airborne chemical which repels whiteflies, squash bugs, aphids, several beetles, and cabbage loopers so the plant not only protect itself but other plants in the grouping. I grew mine near my pumpkins last year but cucumbers, zucchini, or anything else in the cucurbita family will do. Not that we usually have bugs in either but it would be a good prevention habit and I’m looking for plants to group together.
Nasturtiums also attract bees and humingbirds increasing your pollination to your other plants.
Nutritionally, the flowers are plentiful in vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C and also contain manganese, iron, phosphorus and calcium. A flower that has beauty and health benefits too. That I would grow.
Nasturtiums are annuals so you’ll need some of those flowers to go to seed. The seeds won’t winter over here and grow come spring or they didn’t a long time ago when I failed to pick them when green. The green seeds are called ‘poor man’s capers’ since they have a similar flavor. I have two recipes I use capers in and the real deal from caper plants isn’t cheap. I wasn’t attentive enough and my seeds went black and fell to the ground. From my little experience I’ve come up with a plan. Leave the earliest and hardiest plants to produce seed for the next year. The next group let go to the green seed stage to produce a small amount of capers.
The leaves are a natural antibiotic which are most effective when they are picked before the plant flowers. They are good for coughs, colds, and boosting the immune system. You can be sure I will be drying them.
If you are pregnant or breast feeding, have kidney disease or ulcers of the stomach or intestinal tract you should not use this herb. Don’t know why but that’s what the experts say so check with a specialist before proceeding.
Nasturtiums will cross-pollinate so only grow one variety at a time if you wish to save seeds or separate by 1/2 a mile. Seeds are formed in pods beneath the blossoms containing around 2-3 large seeds. The plant can grow in poor soil which means ours. I found a recipe for the ‘poor mans capers’ in The Spruce eats if you want to try the capers substitute.