Nasturtiums make a comeback to the garden


By MARILYN McKINLEY

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

CANFIELD

Another old-fashioned flower is making a comeback – nasturtiums.

My grandma had a goldfish pond that was always rimmed with orange and yellow nasturtiums. I liked to sit and watch the fish dart around, chasing after flakes of oatmeal that grandma fed them. She would toss in a few nasturtium blossoms, and we would watch the fish nibble at them.

I plant these little gems every summer. This flower is perfect in beds or in the vegetable garden. The leaves and flowers are edible. They will flourish in poor soil. All these attributes earns them a spot in our yard.

Nasturtiums are an annual, with interesting blooms and ornamental-like leaves. They do best in semishade. They grow best in the early summer and fall. They will require watering during the hot days of summer, but will then reward you later with beautiful fall colors.

There are climbing varieties that are easily trained to grow on a support and the more compact bushy type. The soil needs to be well-drained. Plant the seeds about a half-inch to 1 inch under the soil surface. I always soak the seeds in lukewarm water for a day before planting.

Colors range from shades of yellow, orange and pink, creamy white, and red. I like the bicolored varieties. You should see plants in week or so. Space about 8 to 10 inches apart.

As mentioned, the flowers and leaves are edible. I think they have a peppery taste, a bit like arugula. Young leaves and flowers can be harvested throughout the season.

Here’s a couple of ways to eat nasturtiums.

Stuffed blossoms: In the morning, select flowers and leaves, gently wash and pat dry. Mix whipped cream cheese and finely chopped herbs of your choice. Put the mixture in a piping bag – in our house that’s a small bag with a tip cut off. Gently pipe the mixture into the flower until the center is filled. Arrange stuffed flowers on a bed of nasturtium leaves. Serve with crackers at room temperature.

Nasturtium and shrimp salad: 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, one-quarter cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 1 cup of cooked shrimp, 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, a small tomato, half an avocado (cubed), 2 tablespoons of chopped nasturtium, serve on a bed of lettuce.

Nasturtium blossoms for garnish: Whisk juice, oil, salt and pepper, toss in shrimp and scallions. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add tomato, avocado, and leaves. Place on lettuce garnish with flowers.

Learn more about this plant and how to grow it at: http://go.osu.edu/nasturtium.

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