Sunday, May 21, 2006

Garden Desktop: Nasturtiums

This week's Garden Desktop is also a Weekend Herb Blogging feature! Nasturtiums are a wonderful addition to any garden. The leaves, flowers, and seedpods are edible, they self-seed easily, and they attract pollinators with their sweet, but low-key, fragrance. They thrive in poor soil, and don't need deadheading of spent blooms in order to continue blooming.

Some nasturtiums are climbers, and some are ground covers. They all enjoy spreading, so don't plant them very close to anything you don't want overwhelmed! They make a great fence cover, with their lovely splash of color, and come in many color varieties and showy double-blossom beauties.

Any list of edible flowers is incomplete without the nasturtium. As you've seen here before, they can turn a simple salad into a fancy gourmet salad, and can adorn cakes and cheese trays. NPR's Splendid Table has a recipe for nasturtium pod capers, slightly differing from the Poor Man's Capers recipe at PlanTea, home of the UpBeet Gardener newsletter.

I was surprised to hear that the young seedpods are used, rather than the flower buds. Given the spiciness of the flowers, I'd think the latter would make more interesting capers. Seeds of Knowledge offers some cultivation tips and recipes, and the interesting tidbit that the dried seedpods were ground and used as a pepper substitute during the shortages of WW II. That's pretty nifty-- and since the capers recipe says use young, still-tender seedpods, if you find the other kind then you can let them develop fully and then save some to replant and some to experiment with grinding.


Blogger Kalyn said...

I've seen these used in salad in cooking magazines, but I don't think I've eaten them. Do you think they would grow in Utah where it's so dry, especially in the summer? I'd love to try growing some. As always your garden looks fantastic.

1:10 PM PDT  

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