If you are looking for an edible plant for your garden that will spread and have an ocean of brightly-colored blossoms, nasturtiums are your plant. They also add a lovely fragrance to your edible garden.
Nasturtiums basically come in two forms: compact and trailing. The compact variety is about a foot tall. They are useful for creating a colorful and dense edge to your planting.
The trailing variety cascades down walls and hanging baskets. They are nice for window boxes and container herb gardens, but be sure to keep them trimmed back or they will crowd out the other plants.
Once established, Nasturtiums are easy to grow. Snails don’t like them, and they will self seed and return the next year as a signal that summer is here. They will quickly cover an area within a short time and begin to produce an abundance of pretty blooms.
The blossoms are very durable and make for vibrant and long-lasting garnishes, one of their best uses. Use the blossoms to decorate salads, creamy soups, cheese spreads, cakes and platters. Impress your master gardener friends by pairing nasturtium blossoms with violets on open-faced cucumber sandwiches.
Make your own flavored vinegars by using the blossoms. Place blossoms in a decorative bottle (five blossoms per cup of vinegar) and cover with hot, but not boiling, white wine vinegar. Strain out the spent blossoms after the liquid has cooled and settled. Replace them with fresh blooms to make a beautiful and zesty nasturtium infused vinegar.
The sweet, peppery taste of the nasturtium adds an interesting flavor. In fact, the nasturtium is named for its tangy taste. It comes from the Latin “Nasus Tortus” meaning convulsed nose, referring to the faces people made when tasting the spicy plant.
Most varieties can survive when grown in partial sun, but they will flower less. Ideally, nasturtiums like to be in full sun, with moist, well-drained soil. Since it is considered an annual, plant the seeds in spring when the danger of frost has passed. Once they are established, nasturtiums will continue to spread and bloom until the first frost, with little more than the occasional sprinkling.