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.