Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Flowers: Nasturtiums

Last week I visited a patient in a small town in our region. I parked a distance away from his home and walked a couple of blocks through the hamlet. A house on the corner boasted an abundant display of Nasturtiums that covered half the sidewalk. I haven't seen these bright blooms for years and admired the reds, yellows and orange colours among the round leaves.

I remember my first little garden in Durban, South Africa. When I was about six years old, Mom let me plant some seeds in a little plot at the side of the house. I remember opening the packets of radish and nasturtium seeds. The large seeds were easy to handle and plant. They germinated quickly and withstood my daily prodding to see if they were growing.

Mom often grew them after we moved back to Canada. All parts of the plant are edible, from the roots to the flowers, leaves and seed pods. They can be used in salads or stir fries and have a peppery flavour. I have never eaten them as they were often covered in black aphids. Ugh! Because they attract aphids, they can be planted as companion plants for crops and plants that could be damaged by the little pests. They repel squash bugs and cucumber beetles while attracting other beneficial insects.

Here is an old recipe for Nasturtium salad found in a Turkish recipe book from 1864 called Turabi Ejendi.

“Put a plate of flowers of the Nasturtium in a salad bowl, with a tablespoonful of chopped chervil; sprinkle over with your fingers half a teaspoonful of salt, two or three tablespoonsful of olive oil, and the juice of a lemon; turn the salad in the bowl with a spoon and a fork until well mixed, and serve."

I will have to remember to plant some of these flowers next spring.


  1. Nice photos--such vivid colors! The salad sounds like it would be too pretty to eat...

  2. Gosh, you really jigged my memory - I had forgotten about nasturtiums- lovely color.

  3. Those are beautiful Ruth, but like you, I would be cautious in not wanting to add aphids to my :c)

  4. I remember eating nasturtiums as a kid. They had a sort of tangy taste--I think I only ate the leaves, but can't be sure.
    They are one of those olde tyme flowers!

  5. Don't think I'd eat them...but they are pretty!

  6. I often grow these just for the bunnies - they love the flowers especially! They're the easiest flower to grow, I think, and look so pretty with very little attention, but for the aphids.

  7. Peggy- Thanks. We really don't use edible flowers much in our salads, do we?

    Jean- Funny how they have gone out of fashion compared to our more common annuals.

    Jayne- Sometimes I wonder about our bug-less vegetables. How much pesticide is really used?! But I am not into bugs for food.

    KGMom- They are supposed to have quite a distinctive flavour. I will have to blog about the taste nest year ;-)

    Mary- I suppose if other foods were scarce, you would give them a try. They do grow quickly.

    Laura- That is neat! Cute bunnies eating pretty flowers. I have had wild bunny visits in my garden this year. I will have to see if they like them as much as they liked my pansies.

  8. I've eaten both leaves and flowers. They are peppery and a nice addition to salads ... the flowers add a real splash of color! It is true though, that aphids are VERY fond of these plants. I guess they know a good thing when they find it.


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