Nasturtium: The Edible Ornamental

Nasturtium: The Edible Ornamental 1

Nasturtium, a vibrant and versatile plant, has long been cherished as an edible ornamental. With its stunning blooms and unique flavor profile, it has captured the attention of both culinary enthusiasts and gardeners alike. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of nasturtium, exploring its various varieties, culinary uses, nutritional benefits, growing tips, and more. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the wonders of nasturtium!

Varieties and Characteristics

Nasturtium plants belong to the Tropaeolum genus and encompass a range of varieties, each with its own distinct characteristics. From trailing vines to compact mounds, nasturtiums offer a wide selection for gardeners to choose from. The leaves come in various shapes, such as round or shield-like, while the flowers display an array of vibrant colors, including shades of orange, yellow, and red. The Nasturtium jewel mix is one popular variety. This mix consists of a range of jewel-toned flowers, including shades of red, orange, and gold. These flowers are characterized by their compact growth habit, making them suitable for both containers and garden beds.

Culinary Uses of Nasturtium

One of the most enticing aspects of nasturtium is its versatility in the kitchen. Every part of the plant – leaves, flowers, and seeds – is edible and lends a unique flavor to dishes. The peppery notes reminiscent of watercress are a signature characteristic of nasturtium, making it an excellent addition to salads, sandwiches, and wraps. The bright, edible flowers add a pop of color and a slightly spicy kick when used as a garnish or infused into oils and vinegar.

Nutritional Benefits of Nasturtium

In addition to its culinary appeal, nasturtium offers an array of nutritional benefits. The leaves and flowers are high in vitamin C, providing a natural boost to the immune system. They also contain antioxidants, which help fight harmful free radicals, and possess antimicrobial properties. Nasturtium is a good source of iron, calcium, and beta-carotene, making it a nutritious addition to any diet.

Growing Nasturtiums in Your Garden

Nasturtiums are relatively easy to grow, making them an ideal choice for both beginner and seasoned gardeners. These hardy plants thrive in well-draining soil and prefer full sun, though they can tolerate partial shade. Sowing the seeds directly in the garden or starting them indoors and transplanting them once the danger of frost has passed are both viable options. Regular watering and occasional fertilization will promote healthy growth while avoiding overwatering will prevent root rot.

Design and Aesthetics in the Garden

Beyond its culinary uses, nasturtium enhances the aesthetics of any garden with its vibrant flowers and lush foliage. The cascading vines of trailing varieties can be trained along fences or allowed to spill over the edges of containers and hanging baskets, creating a picturesque display. Nasturtiums also make excellent companion plants, attracting beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, which aid in pollination and contribute to a thriving garden ecosystem.

Nasturtium as a Pollinator-Friendly Plant

As mentioned earlier, nasturtiums have a natural attraction for pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are drawn to the bright colors and sweet nectar of the flowers, making nasturtium an essential addition to any pollinator-friendly garden. By incorporating these plants into your landscape, you not only provide a valuable food source for pollinators but also contribute to the overall biodiversity and health of your environment.

Harvesting and Preserving Nasturtium

To enjoy the flavors and benefits of nasturtium throughout the year, proper harvesting and preservation techniques are key. Leaves and flowers can be harvested as needed, making sure to choose the freshest and most vibrant ones. For longer-term use, drying the leaves or pickling the buds can preserve their flavors. Additionally, seeds can be collected and used as a peppery spice or even planted for future seasons, ensuring a continuous supply of nasturtium in your garden.

Precautions and Considerations

While nasturtium is generally safe for consumption, it’s important to be aware of potential allergies or sensitivities. Some individuals may experience mild digestive discomfort or skin reactions. If you have any concerns or underlying health conditions, it’s always wise to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating nasturtium into your diet. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that the plants are grown organically and free from pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

Nasturtium: The Edible Ornamental 2

Nasturtium truly embodies the concept of “edible ornamental,” offering both visual beauty and culinary delight. With its diverse varieties, versatile uses in the kitchen, and nutritional benefits, it’s no wonder why this plant has captured the hearts of gardeners and food enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re seeking to add a splash of color to your garden or elevate your culinary creations with a peppery punch, nasturtium is a plant worth exploring. So, why not give it a try? Start growing your own nasturtium garden, experiment with its flavors in the kitchen, and embrace the delightful world of this edible ornamental. Happy gardening and cooking!

About The Author

Gina Harper grew up dreaming about farms and growing her own food. She began an urban garden to feed herself and turned it into an incredible hobby. Gina is here to teach you everything from raised beds to container gardening, how to keep plants alive and well in a smoggy city, and the works. It’s time that we carve our own piece of green earth and reap what we sow—she’s here to help you with that.